Monday, December 31, 2012

F*U*N*K*Y New Year's Eve G*R*O*O*V*E

... comes this year from the Los Angeles-based outfit Senor Soul, from 1969.

Senor Soul released two albums for Double Shot in 1968-69, It's Your Thing being their second; the group was composed by Willie Briggs, Ed Stevenson, J.T. Crump, Howard Talley and Charles Miller. True to their style, their 1969 LP features funky (& soul-jazzy) instrumentals, many of them adapted from known songs (like Proud Mary, Working In The Coalmine and others). The title song It's Your Thing reached the Top 40s R&B. And that's just about all I know about the LP, really. If you got two spare minutes, find out more about their album over at GrooveAddict and Funk-o-logy.

There are two heavy funk pieces on this album, »The Mouse« and »Make The Funk Jump« ... just the right stuff for New Year's Eve. Hear them below!

A peaceful 2013 to all of you!
May everything you desire come true.

Senor Soul: »The Mouse« / »Make The Funk Jump« from the Double Shot LP # DSS-5005 (1969):

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

My God, my Freedom

Jewel/Paula ad in Billboard,
Aug. 11, 1973, p. 25
In November 1971, Stan Lewis of Jewel-Paula signed Fontella Bass. »She is the daughter of the great gospel singer, Martha Bass. Fontella was the musical accompanist for her mother and traveled extensively through the country playing Gospel music. In 1969 Fontella and her family moved to Paris, and there she recorded several albums with The Art Ensemble of Chicago. One was the soundtrack of the French film "Les Stances √† Sophie." Fontella also has had numerous successes on the domestic scene. Now she'll be released on the Paula label« ran the short Billboard notice a few days later (Dec. 04, 1971, p. 14).

Billboard, Sept. 11, 1971, p. 35
At this time, around 1970-71, Fontella's career was indeed at a turning point. For one thing, she had started to work outside the pop and soul circuit, as with the above-mentioned Art Ensemble of Chicago (The soundtrack LP Les Stances √† Sophie was recorded and released in France in July 1970, and in the US only in 1971). For another thing, she was picked up by Jewel-Paula in late autumn 1971 and embarked upon another pop-/soul career. However, the resulting album Free (Paula LPS # 2213, rel. 04/1972) was to be her last LP release in the field of secular music. In August 1973, her LP Free was, justly, described as »an instant success«, and Paula- Jewel announced »plenty of tunes still waiting for release« (BB, Aug. 11, 1973, p. 22). Yet these tunes were never released for their major part, and only some of them are found on the CD re-release of the 1972 Paula LP (Varese/Sarabande 2000).
     Fontella's 1972 LP is certainly, as has often been claimed, a lost jewel in the realm of post-1970 soul music (read a review here). It was arranged and produced by Oliver Sain, Fontella's old mentor, producer and musical manager. Lightyears away from the often shallower pre-1970's productions, this LP comprises a wide array of well-arranged songs: love songs, political songs, and gospel, all adorned and made special by Fontella's outstanding performance. That we find a gospel song on her 1972 Paula LP prefigures the turn her later career took, when she focused mainly on gospel. Although she occasionally appeared live to sing R&B stuff, she only released gospel material after 1972 (apart from less than a handful of other songs exclusively on 45''). An incomplete overview over her post-1972 LP/CD releases would include the following:
  • From the Root to the Source (Soul Note LP # 1006, 1980, together with her mother Martha)
  • Everlasting Arms (1991)
  • No Ways Tired (1995, arranged by James Cleveland and nominated for the 1996 Grammy Award of Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album)
  • Speaking In Tongues (1999, together with saxophonist David Murray; read a review by Stan North here)
  • Travellin' (Fontella Bass with The Voices of St. Louis, 2001)
From her 1972 Paula LP comes this gospel gem, written by accomplished guitarist Morris Dollison (his real name being said to be Maurice Dollison; he often used his showbiz name Cash McCall) and entitled »My God, My Freedom, My Home«. Musicians and background singers are not credited, so we have to live with the simple fact that it's Fontella singing. But that just about suffices, doesn't it? Ah, by the way, it could well be Fontella herself playing piano on this recording; in any case she did it on a number of other occasions. (If somebody can corroborate this, please let me know.)
Blessed Sunday all!

Fontella Bass: »My God, My Freedom, My Home« from the Paula LP Free (1972):

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Farewell ...

... sweet-timbred light of (my) soul !!!

Fontella Bass: »Rescue Me« from the Checker LP # 2997: