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Mr. Eric J. Charge "Irresistible_Eric" (Lodon England)

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Caston & Majors (Expanded Edition)
Caston & Majors (Expanded Edition)
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £6.50

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MOTOWN'S BURIED TREASURE, 25 Mar. 2013
The Caston & Majors album is my favourite album of all time. Motown had not released anything like it before and nothing like it since.

Leonard Caston is one of the unsung talents at Motown, where he relocated after being the director of the studio band at Chess Records (and one time member of soul group the Radiants). His flair for unusual rhythms and piano driven compositions shaped some of Motown's most memorable releases of the seventies, including The Supremes' Nathan Jones and a string of hit singles and albums for former Temptation Eddie Kendricks.

With the Caston & Majors album, Leonard , together with former gospel singer Carolyn Majors had a plan, as he described in interviews back in 1975. The album was to be a gospel-rock thing, leading to a staged production. "We're really searching for a spiritual concept and we chose music as the media because it was something we both loved and because it is the best way of communicating with a lot of people at one time," Leonard said.

Despite all the plans for the development of the project, Motown changed tack and chose not to release any singles in the US. The follow-up album was canned, and the project was not promoted. In the UK, three singles were released, the radio favourite (and almost-hit) Child Of Love, the jaunty Sing, and the albums' masterpiece, I'll Keep My Light In My Window. This latter inspirational song became something of a standard, with versions by the Mighty Clouds Of Joy, Shirley Caesar, Eruption, the New York Community Choir , Maria Muldaur, and, more recently Quantic with Alice Russell.

Motown stripped Caston & Majors vocals from I'll Keep My Light In My Window and replaced them with a duet by Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye. At the same time, they took one of the songs from the unreleased follow-up and added Smokey Robinson's vocal to it.

This CD release shows off the beauty and brilliance of a lost masterpiece. These songs have stirred my soul for 28 years and I play this album when I am down. When it was first mooted as a project for CD release, I could hardly believe it and when I heard that the unreleased second album had been found in Motown's tape vaults, it was a huge surprise.

It's a delight to find that the second album is complete, fully orchestrated, beautifully arranged, with Caston's trademark odd rhythm, and plenty of up-beat uplifting songs. The songs change direction in interesting ways - it's never predictable - and I am delighted to find that it is a perfect extension of the original album, with musical themes re-appearing here and there. There are several tracks which should have been singles and could well have been hits.

It's a little bit rock-opera, a little bit gospel, and a lot of soul. Quite simply, it's the best Motown album ever and this is the CD release of the year. I hope that Big Break Records are rewarded with substantial sales for taking the risk of putting out such an unknown, yet high quality set.

Do yourself a favour and sample some of the songs on YouTube.

Essential listening.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 15, 2013 4:14 PM BST

The One Who Really Loves You / Two Lovers
The One Who Really Loves You / Two Lovers
Price: £14.02

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Queen Of Motown, 7 Feb. 2013
This CD is Ace Records' ninth foray into Motown territory and it maintains the very high standards of previous collections by Marv Johnson, The Monitors, Shorty Long, The Satintones, Eddie Holland, The Spinners, Patrice Holloway and The Contours. This set combines the second and third albums released by Mary Wells, dating from mid 1962 and early 1963. This is the very first time that the original mono albums have been released on CD (previous releases were based on tapes re-mixed for stereo some years after the albums were first issued). With the spotlight on Mary recently (there has been a biography, a collection of her later recordings for 20th Century Records, and a superb set entitled Something New which contains rare and previously unreleased Motown recordings) this pairing of Mary's two best albums reminds us what all the fuss was about and is an essential CD for Motown fans and those who adore the early sixties girly sound.

Motown supremo Keith Hughes' detailed liner notes explain that Smokey Robinson's very first efforts at production outside of his own group are on this CD. The magical pairing of Smokey with Mary lead to a string of collectable singles by other female Motown artists and it's safe to say that they all follow the template of great lyrics and emotional performances. Indeed, Mary's Operator, on this set, was later covered by Brenda Holloway. Brenda was one of many young women who were deeply influenced by Mary's style. Hits on the CD include Two Lovers (recently voted the best single release of 1962 by Motown fans) You Beat Me To The Punch, and The One Who Really Loves You, all of which were top ten pop hits in the USA and brought Mary to the attention of The Beatles. The single Laughing Boy made it to the pop top twenty. The non-hit, Strange Love, was the only single not produced by Smokey and it showcases a powerfully dramatic side of Mary and is a forgotten classic.

So, you can buy inferior out of copyright releases (dubbed from vinyl) or rely on reviews written by people who haven't got the CD (duh) or you can own this slab of prime Motown and hear beautifully mastered tracks by the woman who helped put Motown on the map and launched the careers of so many others. And that doesn't even touch the excellent booklet, the detailed track by track annotations, and a great essay. Mary truly was the Queen of Motown!

Soul Jazz Records Presents Country Soul Sisters: Women In Country Music 1952-74
Soul Jazz Records Presents Country Soul Sisters: Women In Country Music 1952-74
Price: £16.00

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A PERFECT COLLECTION, 3 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The first surprise, on receiving a copy of Country Soul Sisters is that it is accompanied by a huge 68 pages long book. Each singer has her own potted, yet informative and well-written, biography together with some stunning photos. Stuart Baker is the man behind this compilation and he wrote the notes too. Now, there's a name I shall be looking out for, in future.

Don't be misled by the album's title. This is not soul music as we know it but it is a vivid illustration of the music and song of poor women from the hinterlands of the USA. It therefore neatly parallels the path of Black America's soul music. The things soul and country music have in common, as well as having roots in the lowest strata of society, are deeply emotional stories expressed in entertaining song and performed by well-honed singers who have lived the lives they sing about. hat more could anybody ask for.

Being a soul music fan, I've always had an ear for the story-telling heart-felt songs of country music and, in particular, the recordings of country women. This set is an absolute gem of a collection. There are a sprinkling of big pop hits, such as Ode To Billie Joe and Harper Valley PTA, mixed together with some less familiar but no less entertaining songs from famous and less recognisable names.

As well as one of the best CD booklets around, the CD has been very well sequenced so that the whole thing flows along beautifully. At this price, and with this quality, it would make a perfect gift for anyone who loves music and wants to broaden their horizons.

More, please!

The Complete Albums, Singles & More
The Complete Albums, Singles & More

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GET DOWN WITH THE CHUNK O' FUNK, 17 Jun. 2012
This a two-CD set, selling at a bargain price and, somehow, the track list is incorrect on Amazon. The displayed list shows Disc 2 plus the last 5 tracks from Disc 1. The rest of Disc 1 consists of the album THAT MOTOWN SOUND, the legendary 1965 album of Tamla Motown classics with vocals removed and replaced by lead keyboards. The one original track, ALL FOR YOU, was a Tamla Motown single back then and is an in-demand item. The rest of Disc 1 consists of sixties non-album singles plus a few very tasty previously unreleased items. Other highly regarded Tamla Motown singles are I CAN'T HELP MYSELF and the storming 6 BY 6 which features the Motown Brass. So, you actually get 45 tracks and not what it says here.

This is a very well put together set and a great tribute to Motown's Funk Brothers. As well as king of the keyboards Earl Van Dyke, there are three tracks by bass player supreme James Jamerson, two of which haven't seen the light of day before. There are too many gems in this collection to name them all but some of the standouts include Norman Whitfield's re-working of TOO BUSY THINKING ABOUT MY BABY, which he re-cut in preparation for a vocal by Gladys Knight & The Pips in 1969 and dubbed-in Earl's lead instead. The instrumental version of The Velvelettes' HE WAS REALLY SAYIN' SOMETHIN' and the Northern Soul stomper ALL DAY, ALL NIGHT, an unreleased Vandellas tune complete with backing vocals, have snuck out before on the CELLARFUL OF MOTOWN series. The latter tune is so good that it became an instant collector's item when it was released on 45 a few years ago. Earl Van Dyke's own composition, OPUS AND FUNK from 1965, is another unreleased dancer made for the mod market and anyone who loves Booker T & The MGs.

Added to all this essential music is a lovingly put together 28-page booklet, stuffed with rare photos, detailed track-by-track recording details and an essay by author and music-fiend Allan Slutsky, jam-packed with new information about Motown's backing band. If you already have the highly acclaimed DVD film STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN, then this is an essential accompaniment.

Grab a copy before they are all sold out!

Here Comes...The Complete Motown Stereo Masters
Here Comes...The Complete Motown Stereo Masters
Price: £14.29

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SHORT GUY, BIG TALENT, 27 Mar. 2012
I confess to being a huge fan of Shorty Long, whose talent was cut short when he died at the tender age of 29. It seems there were people at Motown who recognised Shorty's talent. Marvin Gaye described him as a "beautiful cat" and told Holland Dozier Holland that they should be producing Shorty instead of Marvin. The Funk Brothers describe him as one of their favourites, too.

Shorty was one of the few Motown singers who was allowed to produce his own material. 14 of the 26 tracks on this CD were produced by him. In the decades since his demise, his production of recordings by The Elgins and Martha Reeves & The Vandellas have come to light. Shorty had a versatile, bluesy, soulful voice that could sound dead cheeky at times.

He released not one, not two immortal tracks which have been covered over the years; Devil With The Blue Dress and Function At the Junction but his main claim to fame was with the novelty track Here Comes The Judge. This superb party record includes The Spinners and allegedly Sammy Davis Jr., who delivers the spoken introduction.

Several of the tracks are cover versions of old hits. These are all excellent renditions and so good that some of them were released as singles. One of these singles, Chantilly Lace, never made it to an album but has been included as a bonus track here in a unique stereo mix never-before heard. Famous for his uptempo party records, Shorty could deliver deeply emotional songs, like his tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. the single I Had A Dream, which is also on this CD. Northern Soul fans will be wetting themselves over Baby Come Home To Me, an uptempo stomper recorded back in 1966.

Not all Shorty's Motown recordings are here but we do get the complete stereo recordings, which means we get, for the first time, both his albums.

As the latest of Ace Records continuing releases of Motown material, this has to be the best one yet.

Who knows what Shorty Long would have gone on to, had he survived. Shorty's was truly a giant talent.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 21, 2013 4:34 PM BST

The Red Bird Girls
The Red Bird Girls
Offered by soulsearchingplus
Price: £15.25

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RED BIRD MAGIC, 24 Feb. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Red Bird Girls (Audio CD)
Well, well, well.

This CD is stuffed with surprises. These tracks have all been remixed from the original session tapes into stereo by Ron Furmanek. As well as delivering classic tracks in clear stereo, Ron has gifted us with plenty of extended versions. The disc includes one Ellie Greenwich track which has never appeared anywhere before, as well as the Jelly Beans' biggest hit with an alternate lead vocal and a different take on the Ad-Libs The Boy From New York City.

Most of these tracks will be familiar to girl group fans but none of them have sounded quite like this before. There are Spector-ish tracks, Motown-ish tracks and Brill Building-ish tracks amongst them. There are an extra eleven tracks on this CD - session tapes with studio chatter - which will delight music fans. It's fascinating hearing the songs being built.

Liner notes are by James Moniz with input from a bunch of talented people from Red Bird.

Some of the most popular girl group songs, like Chapel Of Love and Baby Be Mine and Iko Iko are not here. The Shangri-Las are totally absent, which means there is more room for the other ladies. Real Gone Music says there is more to come from the vaults by the AdLibs and the Jelly Beans, so expect these missing tracks to make an appearance further down the line.

Real Gone Music has already released some fantastic CDs from the Cameo Parkway labels and singers of the calibre of Bill Medley and B J Thomas, so keep an eye on this company.

I thought we'd heard everything from Red Bird on earlier compilations, but this one is so special. An essential purchase, methinks.

It Moves Me ~ The Complete Recordings 1958-1964
It Moves Me ~ The Complete Recordings 1958-1964
Price: £19.77

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CANDY TO ME, 7 Feb. 2012
At last, the complete recordings of Eddie Holland are available on a double CD. Eddie recorded some astounding singles on Motown and all of them are present in this set. Many of the songs were recorded later by other Motown artists, so some of the tracks will be more familiar by The Isley Brothers, Martha & The Vandellas, Kim Weston, The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, and others.

The booklet is stuffed with the most amazing illustrations. I've lost count of the number of old trade advertisements, many of which I was unaware of. It's a huge 28 pages long booklet, with track by track notes and an amazing essay. The essay is built around fresh interviews with Eddie. I don't recall reading much about Eddie's solo career before, so we gain a wealth of Motown history with many details which will be new to Motown fans.

The second disc, the "rare and unreleased" tracks, has been a revelation. The most important thing is that Eddie Holland is a very good singer indeed. He may have started sounding a little like Jackie Wilson, but he soon developed an impressive sound and style of his own.

It's interesting to note that the famed team of HDH are the sole composers of just five tracks on each disc (that's just 9 tracks in total, as LEAVING HERE is on both in mono and stereo versions). The "new" HDH tracks are TOO LATE TO CRY, PRETTY LITTLE ANGEL FACE, and I LIKE EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU ( re-tread of TOO LATE TO CRY, recorded 15 months later). A good deal of the songs on the second disc are unfinished recordings, rough demos, or even polished demos (which sound like official recordings to me). Fortunately, this doesn't mean the tracks are poor or uninteresting.

It's fascinating hearing the skeletal forms of these songs, some of which were recorded by others or re-cycled as subsequent compositions. In particular, I'd pick out the evolving background vocals. On some of the earlier material, there is a raw gospel feel to the singing and you can hear, as time passes by, that vocal sound become smoother and better-placed in the structure of the song. The interplay between male and female voices is interesting.

Also of interest is the prominence of different musical instruments in each recording and the intriguing solos in the breaks. You can tell that, as Eddie says, "We were very,very fortunate to have a place where we could record that many pieces of product, and experiment that much , with somebody paying for it. That was like going to school."

In the excellent interview, Eddie is modest about his recordings and labels some of his early material as "bad music". I think he is a bit hard on himself and the material, because the whole thing is enjoyable on so many levels. Keith Hughes is the man behind the interview and the note-writing. We are blessed to have somebody who is such a good writer working on these Ace Records/Motown projects.

This is an essential purchase.

Bonnie Pointer - Expanded Edition
Bonnie Pointer - Expanded Edition
Price: £10.44

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Seventies Motown, 2 Feb. 2012
The combination of Bonnie Pointer and Motown resulted in two essential albums and the first is re-issued here on CD by BBR. The eight track album is special in every way with a great portrait by Brian Davis on the cover and the back of Bonnie's head on the reverse. Even with a range of styles from ballads to jazz to funk to country, the album has a cohesive sound, thanks to production on every track by Jeffrey Bowen and Berry Gordy, and the great backing vocals performed by Bonnie herself.

There are two cover versions, Smokey Robinson's lovely When I'm Gone and Holland, Dozier, Holland's classic Heaven Must Have Sent You, both of which have string arrangements from Motown stalwart Paul Riser. It's great to see a couple of the Funk Brothers, bassist James Jamerson and percussionist Jack Ashford, amongst the musicians.

There were two singles, both of which appeared in twelve inch extended versions. Heaven Must Have Sent You is given a huge disco make-over, with a stunning middle string section. Without a doubt, this is Motown's best disco record. The other single, Free Me From My Freedom, sub-titled Tie Me To A Tree, Handcuff Me, is an amazing tour-de-force with a mind-boggling banjo solo and Norman Whitfield-like burbling percussion. The song was so good that Motown re-cut it with Jose Feliciano on one of his albums.

Both extended versions appear with other edits and an instrumental version as bonus tracks on this CD.

Released in 1978, this has to be one of Motown's best albums. You have to hear it to believe it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 8, 2012 9:52 AM GMT

50th Anniversary: The Singles Collection 1961-1971
50th Anniversary: The Singles Collection 1961-1971
Price: £42.02

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Temptations Collection, Ever!, 28 Nov. 2011
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Temptations, we have this remarkable set "a tribute to the classic 5 + Dennis" Temptations line-up. The Singles Collection embraces all the singles with Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams and David Ruffin on them, surely the greatest Tempts the group ever had.

Disc 1 reaches back to the group's early non-hit early singles. It's interesting to hear tracks produced by Smokey Robinson and Norman Whitfield before that familiar Temptations hit sound of THE WAY YOU DO THE THINGS YOU DO stepped things up a notch, and which is usually the earliest song on any Temptations hits compilation. Around the time of that hit, the Motown Sound really kicked in. My preference is for Eddie Kendricks' lead vocals, but how can anybody fault David Ruffin's incredible vocals. I would urge everybody to give time to the B-sides where there are some fantastic, if not hit-making, Motown classics. With the exception of the dancer GIRL (WHY YOU WANNA MAKE ME BLUE), the string of hit singles is produced by Smokey Robinson.

GET READY opens Disc 2 and this is the final A-side produced by Smokey. Disc 2 is solid gold Motown, with Norman Whitfield's great mid-sixties productions and the Temptations at their peak of perfection. About half-way through the second disc sees the arrival of Barrett Strong as Whitfield's composing partner and the songs begin to change from love songs to the social comment songs which are so prominent on the third disc. There are gems on Disc 2, with Northern Soul favourite YOU'RE NOT AN ORDINARY GIRL tucked away on one B-side, and an odd but fabulous single, ALL I NEED backed with SORRY IS A SORRY WORD, which has two of Motown's greatest producers, Frank Wilson and Ivy Jo Hunter, taking the Tempts in new and exciting directions.

Excluding the duets with The Supremes and the foreign language songs, every Temptations track on the final disc was produced by Norman Whitfield. These slot into the so-called psychedelic period and include all the singles released in 1969 and subsequently. With Dennis Edwards taking the lead, there are classic songs from this period, like I CAN'T GET NEXT TO YOU, BALL OF CONFUSION, PSYCHEDELIC SHACK, and especially Eddie's graceful JUST MY IMAGINATION, but my preference is for the earlier material. You can feel the funky influence of Sly & The Family Stone in the way some of these tracks have been constructed, with each member of the group taking turns to sing lines on some of them.

Throw in a Christmas single, plus I TRULY TRULY BELIEVE with an alternate vocal, and you have 79 fantastic and unbeatable Temptations tracks from the group's prime years. This is way better than any greatest hits compilation, because you will hear the hits and much, much more. The booklet contains detailed track by track annotations. These are based on the essays from The Complete Motown Singles series which have been up-dated and expanded. As well as all this, the booklet is illustrated with rare photos. It really is perfect.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 11, 2012 1:11 PM GMT

Time Will Reveal: The Complete Motown Albums
Time Will Reveal: The Complete Motown Albums
Price: £19.19

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MOTOWN'S BEST SOUL FAMILY?, 24 Nov. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's hard to think about the DeBarge family without being influenced by all the sensational trials and tribulations surrounding them. If you're interested in the dysfunctional family history, there are books by group member Bunny DeBarge and mother Etterline DeBarge which spell out some of the painful truth.

Leaving aside the troubled stories, the family's music is something truly special and it is a crying shame that everything fell apart before the group became international stars. This set collects the four albums the group released on Motown between 1981 and 1985. Popular opinion has it that the Jacksons were the best family group on Motown. True, The Jacksons were huge and world-famous, whereas The DeBarges struggled to gain attention in the UK. Unlike The Jacksons, The DeBarges wrote all but three tracks from their first three albums. The first was produced by big brother Bobby, the second co-produced El with Iris Gordy, the third produced by El alone. Leaving aside the fourth album, these three contain some of the most inventive musical arrangements, delicate song confections, and glorious vocal harmonies ever released on Motown or by any soul group of the time.

El's subsequent solo career makes fans think that he was the sole creative genius and sole lead singer, but this is not true. Sister Bunny sang some leads and so did brothers James and Randy. All of the family wrote songs, too. The songs were so good, that it is unsurprising to find the likes of Billy Preston and Jose Feliciano as guests on some of the tracks. These were amongst the last great Motown recordings - real musicians, real talent, and a really unique sound.

This set concludes with the fourth album - their biggest hit, ironically, thanks to Diane Warren's RHYTHM OF THE NIGHT - by which time the group was falling apart and had less input than before. Bonus tracks include some juicy extended versions and disco remixes, but the highlights are the instrumental tracks of four great (and apparently oft-sampled) DeBarge compositions.

The music speaks for itself. Magical.

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