Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Grooms "I Deserve A Little Bit More" (Shiptown)

When it comes to the Tidewater music scene of the 60's & 70's, there were few figures more important or better regarded than Shiptown Records founder Noah Biggs. Ever the dapper gentleman, Mr. Biggs, always attired in a fine suit and matching brimmed hat, was nearly as famous around Norfolk for his sharp fashion sense as his business savvy. In the early 60's he managed the local group Norman Johnson and Showmen and succeeded in getting them signed to New Orleans label Minit. With their name simplified to The Showmen, the group immediately achieved huge national success with "It Will Stand". Building on this triumph, Mr. Biggs soon opened the record store Nimrod (named for the Biblical great-grandson of Noah) on Church Street in Norfolk. Nimrod soon became an epicenter for youngsters with an interest in music. There was a booking agency based out of the store, and even a make shift recording studio in back with The Positive Sounds serving as the house band.
By the second half of the 60's, Noah Biggs had christened new record labels including How Big, Gregory and Shiptown to serve as outlets for the talent he had been discovering and developing. With a roster boasting the likes of Ida Sands, Barbara Stant,and The Soul Duo, Biggs's family of labels had achieved quite a reputation regionally.
Constantly aspiring to utilize his extensive connections to get his artists to the next level, Mr. Biggs viewed many of the releases on his local labels as demos to showcase songs and performers and create a buzz in order to get them placed with larger national companies. As a result, some Shiptown releases can be hard to track down because they had very limited pressing runs (sometimes 200 or less).

One of the last releases on Shiptown, the lone 45 by The Grooms, came in the mid 70's, only a few years before the passing of Noah Biggs in late 1978. The single's A-side, "Slow Down", is phenomenal mid tempo funk with amazing vocals and a killer horn arrangement. Please check out Brent Hosier's Ol' Virginia Soul: Encore! CD for "Slow Down" as well as more information about The Grooms and selections from some of the group's Shiptown labelmates.

The devastating B-side "I Deserve A Little Bit More" is a nearly five and a half minute beat ballad that slowly builds to a spine tingling crescendo. This is raw group soul at its best, with a wonderfully gritty mix of tight harmonies and nearly unhinged emotion. You can feel the longing, as the lead's voice cracks a little bit at the very end. If this one doesn't move you, check your pulse.

Please visit Shiptown Records, recently relaunched by the new Mr. Biggs, Noah's son Howard, for an amazing collection of sounds, video and photos of artists past and present. The tradition continues!

Special thanks to group harmony advocate and unwavering champion of the ballad, Kym Fuller.

The Grooms "I Deserve A Little Bit More"

Friday, November 14, 2008

Randolph Bros "What It Is Pt.1" (Star City)

On November 23rd, 1949 the city of Roanoke, Va switched on an illuminated star high atop Mill Mountain, which still shines there to this day. Perhaps the mountains of Virginia would not be the first place to come to mind as a hotbed for soul & funk, but "The Star City" boasted such heavyweights as Earl Carter & the Fantastic 6 and fellow funkateers The Randolph Brothers. In the early 70's, The Randolphs decided to put The Star Of The South on the R&B map with two strong singles, "What It Is" was the first. (Don't worry kids, we'll get the other one up soon.)

Randolph Bros. "What it is Pt.1"

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Blackdog "Something Funky" (Studio 1)

Indeed it is. In an area best known for bluegrass and southern rock comes this slab of synth laden funk. The Tazewell/Bluefield VA area is rich in musical history and culture, but I dare to say there's not much "funk" to be found. Could it be a song written to cash in on a trend? Probably, but they did one hell of a job (The B side ballad shows that they probably should have stuck with R&B). The Average White Band did one thing, their three degree of separation copycats at least were a bit more interesting. Check out the organ as well, it's very tasty.

Blackdog "Something Funky"

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lenis Guess "Just Ask Me" (S.P.Q.R.)

Hot on the heels of the 1966 garage punk classic "Do You Have To Ask" by the Swinging Machine, Frank Guida released yet another two sided monster. "Working For My Baby" was an even bigger regional hit for the label, and would become the record that really launched the long career of Lenis Guess. The song was big enough to merit a re-release with a more uptempo b-side version on Guida's Legrand label. In fact, "Working For My Baby" possessed enough staying power that it was subsequently covered by Gary U.S. Bonds (with the exact same backing track, again on Legrand), as well as blue eyed soul rockers King Edward & His BD's (Roga). Then Lenis came back a couple years later to make another run at it on the New Faces '68 label.
Here we spotlight the flip side of the original S.P.Q.R. release. "Just Ask Me" has been getting attention overseas in Northern Soul circles for quite some time, and with good reason. Inspired by The Four Tops' "I Can't Help Myself", Guess enlisted veteran Tidewater band Charlie McClendon and The Magnificents to lay down the pounding back beat, accentuated to devastating effect by Frank Guida's trademark bottom heavy production, the legendarily huge "Norfolk Sound". Staccato horn lines build on the intensity. Lenis's excellent lead is supported beautifully with the soaring backing vocals of The Royal Robins to top off this heavenly soul stomper, a record that still packs dance floors to this day.
Lenis Guess went on to sing on a number of records, and more importantly, became a true force in the Tidewater music scene, writing, producing and releasing countless masterpieces (on his own local labels as well as nationally). Mr. Guess lives in New York now, and continues to work tirelessly in the entertainment business, and has even tried his hand in the movies. Check out his website, to see what this multifaceted artist, entrepreneur and ultimate producer is up to these days.

Lenis Guess "Just Ask Me"

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

3rd World Band "Third World Tripping" (New World) / Third World Connection "Hot Seat" (Pesante)

The two singles by 3rd World Band, offer a glimpse into a Norfolk, Virginia scene that had no shortage of insanely tight bands in the 70's. Their first single, "Third World Tripping" is about as mind blowing as the title would have you hope. From the opening horn salvo and rapid fire snare roll, this one never lets up. With nary a wasted note, The Third World Band delivers one of the most dynamic funk instrumentals you're ever likely to hear. Fast, concise and hard hitting, with bold horn lines that stay with you. Add the punchy production of Lenis Guess, and you've got all the elements for serious Funk perfection.

By 1976, The 3rd World Band had become The Third World Connection. Chester Benton and company traveled west on 64 to Richmond's Alpha Audio to record their second single, a Disco Funk killer for Joe Riley's Pesante label. "Hot Seat" opens with the Connection rolling through the zodiac, exhorting everybody to hit the dance floor. From the get go, you know it's on. "Scorpios, get off!"

Special thanks to our friend Kevin Coombe of D.C. Soul Recordings for the great band photo!

3rd World Band "Third World Tripping (Part 1)"

Third World Connection "Hot Seat (Pt.2-Disco)"

Friday, September 12, 2008

Flip Flop Stevens & His Psychedelic Soul Orchestra "Philly Hump" (Dynamite)

Willie Stephen, better known as Flip Flop Stevens, was legendary in the Tidewater area as a high energy performer. Flip's three known singles offer some insight into just how dynamic his live shows must have been. His first record for Shiptown, 1968's "Come On Let's Do That Thing", even came complete with over dubbed crowd hysteria. In the next two years Stevens went on to release two more 45's, both on Dynamite. "Live Your Own Life" (available on the Ol' Virginia Soul: Encore! CD) was his first for the new label, a 100 MPH funky soul stormer widely regarded as his best.

Here we present the B Side, "Philly Hump" for you approval. Flip Flop grabs a well deserved rest on this one and shines the spotlight on his Psychedelic Soul Orchestra. "Psychedelic" might be a bit of a stretch to describe the band's sound, but the ominous organ that drives this funky instrumental does sort of sound like it was rescued from a haunted castle. Maybe if Iron Butterfly had some soul... Nah, this would still be miles better!

Special thanks to our friend Kevin Coombe of D.C. Soul Recordings for the great photo of Flip Flop!

Flip Flop Stevens "Philly Hump"

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The 35th Street Gang "The Dance Of Love" (Guess)

The 35th Street Gang, also known as Raw Soul, did extensive work for Lenis Guess during the 70's. As the house band at the Brockington-Guess Recording Studio on 35th Street in Norfolk, this insanely tight trio appeared (credited & uncredited) on a slew of outstanding tracks. Brent Hosier's Ol' Virginia Soul: Encore! compilation offers a well chosen survey of these recordings, many of which were previously unreleased, as well as some very informative liner notes.

One song that didn't make the cd is "The Dance Of Love", an oddball b-side to the bouncy soul tune "I Spy". "The Dance of Love" is a steamy offering. Backed by an otherworldly chorus, our deep voiced narrator (Lenis Guess) spins the tale of an ancient fertility rite in a far off land. Any good ritual needs strong drums and Grover "Groove" Everett goes above and beyond the call. Bassist Maurice Glass and Guitarist Barry Saunders further flesh out the rhythm with uncanny precision. Then comes the searing fuzz guitar, perhaps supplied by local psych veteran Dean "Gooseberry Pie" Kohler, who Lenis enlisted around the time to give his records more of a rock appeal.

It's hard to imagine that anyone had any aspirations for this song getting any airplay, but stranger things have happened. Maybe it could be viewed as a novelty. Who knows? More than likely it was just a throw away track destined to fill space on a flipside. Simple as that. Regardless of what the thought process was, we're just glad that little pieces of weirdness like this actually make it to wax. Wondering how & why is just part of the fun.

Special thanks to our friend Kevin Coombe of D.C. Soul Recordings for the amazing band photo!

35th Street Gang "Dance Of Love"

Friday, September 5, 2008

Weekenders "Signed, Sealed, And Delivered" (Wayne-Way)

Waynesboro, Va has traditionally had a rich reservoir of musical talent to draw from in the surrounding Shenandoah Valley. In The 1960's, record labels like Major (MRC), Lark, and Wayne-Way flourished, as each vied for its own slice of the market in the western part of the state and beyond. For a town whose population is still just over 20,000, Waynesboro has been impressively prolific, both in terms of the sheer number of records released as well as the wide variety of genres represented.

As was typical of fellow Waynesboro labels, Wayne-Way put out a hodge podge of music from Garage to Rockabilly to Soul to Country (The Statler Brothers got their start at the label doing backing vocals). "Sign, Sealed, and Delivered" by the Weekenders is an interesting example of a number of these styles coalescing in a wonderfully unrefined concoction. Inspired by the James Brown cover of this Cowboy Copas Country Western classic, the boys turn in a rockin' version of their own. The vocals are snarling, squealing white boy soul with attitude to spare and even a hint of country twang, while the backing band gives it their all, sounding like they were recorded while playing a teen dance inside an airplane hanger. The B side is possibly a vague attempt at a Booker T style instrumental or a perhaps an attempt to make their parents happy. Or maybe The Weekenders were the house band at the only strip joint in town. Your guess is as good as ours.

Weekenders "Signed, Sealed, And Delivered"

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Robert Tanner "Tell Me Your Name / How I Feel" (Megatone)

Legendary Soul two-sider from Lynchburg, VA. This record is pure class. The elegant vocals of Robert Tanner show the confidence of someone who doesn't need to resort to histrionics to express deep emotion or get someone's attention. His voice is a unique blend of strength and vulnerability that conveys an honesty, a truth that is at the core of the best Soul Music. The tasteful backing of his band, The Jivers, (in particular the guitarist) makes this subtly powerful 45 irresistible. This is one of those records that just works its magic the more you listen to it.
Robert Tanner's follow up release on Megatone, "Sweet Memories", is arguably even better and equally as rare. Both 45's have achieved true grail status amongst discerning soul collectors and have gotten spins for decades to appreciative dance floors at Northern Soul nights in the UK and beyond. Later in the 70's, Tanner went on to form The New Sounds, releasing a superb album for Sylvia Robinson's Turbo label out of New Jersey. One of the label's rarest and most sought after releases, the self-titled New Sounds album contains stellar updated versions of "Tell Me Your Name", "How I Feel" and "Sweet Memories".
Mr. Tanner still resides in Lynchburg as does fellow New Sounds member and writer and producer of the Megatone sides, Dawson Smith. Smith had a great release of his own on the nationally distributed Scepter label, the funky "I Don't Know If I Can Make It", that even managed to scratch it's way onto the Billboard charts in 1975.

Special thanks to our good friend Jason Hamlin for loaning us this elusive masterpiece. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Robert Tanner "Tell Me Your Name"

Robert Tanner "How I Feel"

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Wild Sound Unlimited "I Know You" (Colpar)

Richmonder Nick Colleran founded the seminal frat rock band The Escorts in 1961, while attending Douglas Freeman High School. Through the balance of the 60's The Escorts became one of the the most popular bands in town, releasing five singles and even a full length album, "Bring Down The House", which was recorded live at the Richmond Mosque in 1966. In addition to handling guitar and vocal duties, Nick also produced the band's records and started the T.E.O. (The Escort Organization) label.
After the break up of The Escorts in 1969, Nick continued to engineer, produce and release records. "I Know You" by Wild Sound Unlimited is an interesting example from this period. This infectious blue eyed soul tune fits comfortably enough into the Beach Music category, but to our ears it has a little extra "oomph" that sets it apart from what you would normally associate with the genre. Sure, it has the prerequisite tight horns, the warm vocal harmonies, the bright, catchy melodies (even though the actual lyrics are about a really ugly break up), but the punchy production on this record really brings out the break-neck drumming. The drummer on this track is bonkers!
Mr. Colleran definitely knew his way around a recording studio, but he also had a strong entrepreneurial streak. By 1972 he co-founded Alpha Audio in Richmond, which soon became Virginia's first major state of the art studio, recording everything from commercial jingles (national and regional), to t.v. and movie voice overs, to up and coming local bands, to platinum selling major label acts. But we'll save that story for another day...

Wild Sound Unlimited "I Know You"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Truth "Maybe Soon" (Thoth)

Beach music in the south side of Virginia has been a huge musical force since the mid sixties when clubs along the VA/NC coasts thrived with R&B loving teens flocking to the beach wanting to dance to the sounds of a full live band. Truth were a late entry in the beach music scene, they were more of a show band but still kept the feel of a classic beach band (well before the late 70's, early 80's revival of the "shag scene"). The lone single from Truth come out on the Thoth label in 1972. These guys played all over the east coast, opening for everyone from James Brown to Blood Sweat & Tears. "Maybe Soon" is classic mid tempo beach all the way around, overly optimistic and as breezy as the Carolina beaches.

Truth "Maybe Soon"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Royale VII "Hand Out Love" (Windmill)

Hailing from the Hampton area, The Royale VII released two 45's in the early 70's, both on the Windmill Label. "It's An Explosion" is now a high dollar record on the Northern Soul scene, and rightfully so. But here we turn our attention to the uptempo stormer "Hand Out Love". Call it what you want: White Boy Soul, Horn Rock, it doesn't matter. This track kills.
No surprise, the Royale VII had years of experience under their belts. These guys cut their teeth as the Sheepherders, playing tons of frat parties and club dates across the region. The band also released a great single, "If Ever You Need Me", on the Sounds International label out of Norfolk. Featuring vocalist Bubba Bailey, the Sheepherders were yet another interesting example of a white band fronted by a black singer touring and recording in the Commonwealth during the turbulent 60's.
As they entered the 70's, the band changed singers and became the Royale VII. The horn section was the focal point, as evidenced on both their singles. The horns are absolutely huge on "Hand Out Love", but the rest of the band is just as tight. The rhythm section sets a torrid pace, with the bass in particular pushing things along. Add some fuzz guitar to the mix along with some urgent vocals, and you've got a power packed two and a half minutes!

Royale VII "Hand Out Love"

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Stars Of Virginia "Soul Religion" (MRC)

The aptly named Stars Of Virginia were among the elite groups from the gospel hotbed of Richmond, VA. In a career spanning decades, this highly regarded outfit recorded for several labels, local and national, including Atlantic and King Records.
The quintet cut at least four LP's and a handful of singles for John Major's Major Recording Company (MRC). Located in Waynesboro, the prolific MRC was responsible for a wide variety of recordings from Virginia artists. The bulk of these releases seemed to be Country or Bluegrass, but there were also quite a few interesting exceptions, including some pop, garage, light psych and black gospel records.

Led by Mr. Clyde Wilson, The Stars of Virginia were responsible for countless hard hitting gospel tracks, but this is the only one we know of that could be classified as a true "funk" record. Recorded in the early 70's, "Soul Religion" stands as a great example of a record that not only delivers but actually exceeds everything its title might promise. From the opening chords of wah wah guitar to the booming bass to the tight echoing horns to the rock solid back beat and tambourine, this song has all the right elements. Top it all off with the awe inspiring vocals of a world class gospel group and this one sails into the stratosphere.

Stars Of Virginia "Soul Religion"

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Roc-Kays Band "A Love As True As Mine" (Nairobi)

The enigmatic Roc-Kays Band released their only 45, a raging 3:00 afrofunk workout backed with a deep soul ballad, some time in the early 70's. Recorded at D'arcy Studio Center in Norfolk, the A side "Roc-Kays Afro" is available on the Ol' Virginia Soul: Encore! CD. While here we present the B side cut "A Love As True As Mine" for the first time anywhere, unless, of course, you are lucky enough to have your own copy.

Roc-Kays Band "A Love As True As Mine"

Friday, August 1, 2008

Jerry Wilson "I Like The Music / Everybody Spread A Little Love" (Dusk & Dawn)

Danville's own Jerry Wilson got his start as a vocalist for the integrated Soulmasters band in the mid 60's. The Soulmasters played the beaches of Virgina and the Carolinas, local Coke bottling plants, drive-ins, just about anywhere they could get a gig, and in 1967 released what is now a highly sought after 45. At some point in the 70's Jerry took off from southside Virginia and ended up in the DC metro area where he met up with the great Al Johnson (of "Peaceful" fame) and recorded this nice piece of disco soul.
For more info on the southside scene go here

"I Like The Music"

"Everybody Spread A Little Love"

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Jack & The Mods "It's Your Thing" (Hamtown)

No doubt inspired by the Jackson 5, the Towns brothers (who also numbered five) were joined by two more members for good measure. These seven lads most likely hailed from Smithfield, Va (hence the label moniker "ham town"). Ranging in age from 11 to 18, Jack & The Mods performed with a well rehearsed professionalism far beyond their years. The percussion laden intro to their sped up version of the Isley Brothers' "It's Your Thing" demonstrates a tight funkiness that musicians twice their age would envy. These very impressive youngsters breathe new life into a funk standard that's been covered too many times to even begin to count. This version however, led by 12 year old vocalist Ricky Towns, has to be among the most memorable of them all.
Recorded in 1971 "It's Your Thing" is actually upstaged by its flip, the phenomenal original composition "One Is Enough For Love". Eleven year old Jake Towns sings lead on this sublime sweet soul ballad, backed by group harmonies that would melt the heart of even the most jaded listener. Check out the Numero Group's outstanding collection "Home Schooled" for "One Is Enough For Love" as well as other rare kiddie soul treasures from around the country.
We would also strongly urge you to check out Brent Hosier's Ol' Virginia Soul: Encore! compilation for the previously unissued Jack & The Mods funk stormer "The Jack Mod Kick". While you're at it, pick up the limited edition 45 issued by Mr. Hosier on Bamtown containing "The Jack Mod Kick" and the stellar ballad "Don't Wake Me Up" (also previously unreleased).

Jack & The Mods "It's Your Thing"

Monday, July 21, 2008

Preacherman Isidore Womack "I've Got Power In My Mind / Every Time I Think Of You"

Perhaps not gospel in the most traditional sense, but no less moving. Isidore Womack testifies in his own unique way. Real talk for grown ups about struggle in life and love. The music and the message are stripped down with nothing to hide. Funky, Bluesy, Powerful. You can feel the anguish in Womack's voice as he confesses "She don't give a damn about me" or states point blank "Every time I think of you, baby / You come around telling me that same old lie / You is not my everything in my life".
But Brother Womack keeps his head up: "I've got power in my mind / I've got loving in my heart...All love goes to my God." Preach on...

These two sides were recorded in 1978 at Alpha Audio on Broad Street in Richmond. The story goes that the Preacherman would routinely pop into local record shops peddling his self-released 45. Apparently, he had some lofty expectations as to where his career was headed. In a perfect world, maybe this single would have gone places, but some 30 years later we can at least give Mr. Womack his due for creating these wonderful songs and wish him peace wherever he may be.

Preacherman Isidore Womack "Ive Got Power In My Mind"

Preacherman Isidore Womack "Every Time I think Of You"

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Church Of God In Christ Youth Choir "Strive!" (Redeem)

The angelic voices of a youth choir soaring over raw pounding funk, a match made in heaven. Recorded at Alpha Audio in 1976, the impassioned female lead on this track is one C. Maroney. Precious little information besides that is revealed on this uplifting 45's label, but the message contained in the grooves tells you what it's really all about. "You Better Strive!"

Church Of God In Christ Youth Choir "Strive!"

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Little Wink & Eddie's 25th Century Band "Sentimental Love" (Brock)

This moody, exotic beauty was the flip of the majestic dancer "Peacock" (which can be heard on the outstanding Ol' Virginia Soul: Encore! compilation). "Sentimental Love" is one of the more unique and imaginative instrumentals you'll ever hear. Hypnotic lead guitar weaves it's way around bubbling rhythms, striking the perfect balance with the popping percussion: laid back yet funky.
Recorded in Norfolk (1972)at Dorsey Brockington & Lenis Guess's studio on 35th Street and released on the Brock label (named for Dorsey) this elusive two-sider was followed up about four years later with a souped up remake of "Peacock" recorded at Alpha Audio in Richmond.

Little Wink & Eddie's 25th Century Band "Sentimental Love"

Rick (Bat) Masterson "Comin' Home Ruby" (Stage 4)

Heading off the beaten path we end up in Charleston, West Virginia to visit blue eyed funkateer Rick Masterson. If Elvis was a truck driver listening to CCR on the eight track with a Tony Joe White on deck, he may have been inspired to write this song. Recorded in the back of a Greyhound bus station, it's as raw as any funk track you could find with its gut bucket drums, scraggly guitar and manic organ playing,
but it's core is pure country. "Comin' Home Ruby" is possibly one of the best examples one could find of a pure country-funk hybrid...straight from the hills of WVA.

Rick "Bat" Masterson "Comin' Home Ruby"

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

William C Belton, Jr & Elcomb "Come On Back To Me Baby / Apart In Miles" (Elcomb)

Midlothian VA's own William Belton Jr has been recording for almost three decades. After being briefly signed to CBS Records in the mid 80's, he now owns his own record and publishing company, Phase International, and has been releasing new material at an inexhaustible rate. This, his first record, recorded at Alpha Audio with the mysterious Elcomb, is a nice example of the late 70's Modern sound with a touch of Southern funkiness straight out of the suburbs of Richmond. The haunting "Apart in Miles" is a brilliantly sparse ballad sung from the perspective of a prison inmate longing for his woman.
A truly under-rated Virginia Soul gem. Kudos to you, Mr. Belton and keep up the good work.

William C. Belton Jr. "Come On Back To Me Baby"

William C. Belton Jr. "Apart In Miles"

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Untouchables with Mark One Band "The Dragster Boy" (FAAP)

Oh, The Humanity! The tragic tale of a young hot rodder meeting his fate during a high speed police chase. Propelled by wah wah guitar, organ & trumpet "The Dragster Boy" just can't outrun the fuzz. Sirens blare as our hero loses control of his ride and we hear a gut wrenching crash. "It's too late". He's run his last race.
Whatever restraint was exercised on side one of this 45 is completely thrown out the window on "The Dragster's Encore". A countdown to a rocket launch kicks things off and a locomotive makes an appearance as the Mark One Band goes for broke under a barrage of sound effects.
Recorded at label owner Elmer Hillard's infamous basement studio in Richmond's Fulton Hill, this FAAP (Fine Artists of America Productions) Records release is a real head scratcher. However, this lo-fi opus is not without it's charms. In the category of early 70's funk 45's about dead drag racers this record ranks among the best.
"The Dragster Boy" was the second release by The Untouchables on FAAP, the first being the crazy fast bongo fueled killer "Find A New Love" which you can hear on the superb Ol' Virginia Soul Part 2 compilation. Said collection also has more details on the fascinating stories of The Untouchables, label mate Laurie Tate, and FAAP Records. If you don't own all three volumes of Ol' Virginia Soul, snap 'em up right now!

The Untouchables And Mark One Band "The Dragster Boy"

The Untouchables And Mark One Band "Dragster's Encore"

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Jade "Boodi Shakes Money / Paper Man" (Pesante)

"Paper Man" popped up on most people's radar after its inclusion on Dante Carfagna's deadly Black Rock mix Chains & Black Exhaust. It's a plodding sludge fest of layered guitars that would pummel just about any "hard rock" band of the time into submission. The steady percussion underneath, including an unrelenting cowbell, gives it just the right amount of funk to keep your head nodding.
"Boodi Shakes Money", though not quite as heavy, is equally impressive with the bass making its presence felt along with some infectious vocals. But don't fret; the fuzz guitar and cowbell haven't gone anywhere.
It's hard to believe that this is the same band that is best known for the Modern Soul masterpiece "Music Slave". If you're not familiar with Jade's breath taking album "In Pursuit" check out our pal Kenny Bloggenz's blogspot and give your ears a treat.
These two very distinct phases of Jade's career make them one of the most compelling and enigmatic bands to ever hail from the Commonwealth.
P.S. Special props to label head Joe Riley for using a picture of The Norfolk Scope in the Pesante label design!

Jade "Paper Man"

Jade "Boodi Shakes Money"

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bernard Calvin "Greedy" (Tobacand)

The opening drum break on side 2 of this 45 leaves little doubt why Bernard Calvin was one of the most highly regarded drummers in the Richmond area back in the 70's. But it's the guitar work throughout that makes this one special. A definite touch of Hendrix, and a huge nod to Phelps Collins' astounding style on "Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved", whoever the guitarist was on these tracks, was a monster. Released on Hopewell's Tobacand Label, "Greedy" is a definite mind blower, especially towards the end of part two when the dubbed out vocals are in full effect.

Bernard Calvin "Greedy (Part 1)"

Bernard Calvin "Greedy (Part 2)"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Deceptions "Of All The Hearts / People" (Brooks)

The Deceptions were nothing but the truth! A three piece vocal group formed in 1968 and consisting of Malcolm Mason, Jimmy Williams, and leader Daniel Goldstone, they released three phenomenal singles: "You're Gonna Run To Me" recorded at Brockington & Guess Studios in Norfolk and released on the Peace label, "Of All The Hearts" for Walter Coleman's Brooks Records out of Hampton, and "Success" for Goldstone's own Stone Gold label, located in Newport News at the time.

"Of All The Hearts" appears to have been the more successful of the three outings, meriting two pressings. With it's distinctive harmonies, catchy chorus, moody guitar and up front drums, it's no wonder this uniquely beautiful beat ballad would have caught some ears. Interestingly, there is another version of this song done by the group Black & Blue on the Charlotte, N.C. label Game. The Black and Blue record lists Duke Hall as the song writer, while Daniel Goldstone is credited on the Deceptions version. We still haven't been able to get to the bottom of this discrepancy, and while the Black and Blue version is quite polished and seems to be better known, we prefer the Deceptions' more direct, stripped down approach.

On the flip side "People", we find Goldstone and company attempting to unify the worlds of R&B and Rock stylistically and lyrically. "You might be White/ You might be Black/ But don't let that hold you back/ We all want the same things in life/ So don't be ashamed/ To do it!" "People" reflects the upheaval of the changing times with a heady blend of searing guitars, funky drums and social consciousness. A heavy dose of Psychedelic Soul that serves as an indelible snapshot of a turbulent era, as well as carrying a message that's still relevant in today's world.

Their third single, "Success", as well as being the initial release for the newly formed Stone Gold label, would mark the final record under the name The Deceptions. Shortly after, the group would become Peace, Justice and Equality. PJE released two albums, It's Time (1976) and At The Disco (1978), both on Stone Gold. In fact, the exact same recording of "Success" appears on It's Time as well as reworked versions of "People" and "Of All The Hearts", with "People" evolving into an anti-drug track "Gettin' High".
The prolific Mr. Goldstone has had a hand in nearly every aspect of the music business for decades now, and has recently resurrected Stone Gold Records.
Special thanks to our friends at Virginia's Music Soul for the great group photos and info. Check out one of the web's best kept secrets!

The Deceptions"People"

The Deceptions"Of All The Hearts"

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Ray T Jones "That Norfolk Sound" (Wee-Too!)

What is it? Folk-funk? Psych-soul? Well, it's from 1975, but sounds more like '68, a fuzz infused ode to the Norfolk, Virginia club scene, where "fists flying in the night" was nothing out of the ordinary.
Ray Jones is best known amongst funk aficionados for the killer 45 "Beat The Knees", also released on Wee-Too a year later. Despite that track telling the tale of a guy from Norfolk named Leroy, with a flip side entitled "Take Me Back To Norfolk Town", the label shows a Philadelphia address. Turns out that Mr. Jones is a Philly native who relocated to the Hampton-Roads region while serving in the U.S. Navy. Judging by these songs Norfolk made a lasting impact on Mr. Jones. "Come on down to Norfolk, and get some ghetto in your life."

Ray T. Jones "That Norfolk Sound"

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Welcome To Funky Virginia!!

Our goal is to bring you sounds, photos & stories of funk & soul artists both well known and obscure from the Old Dominion. We can be reached at Comments and submissions are encouraged!