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Charles Williams - Love is a very special thing

July 19th, 2012

Charles Williams - Love is a very special thingCHARLES WILLIAMS

  • Love is a very special thing
  • EMI
  • 1975
  • Finland

Born in Columbus, Georgia, Charles Williams – not to be confused with the saxophonist Charles Williams who recorded for Mainstream records – started his musical career very early. He was only six when he had his first performance in a local church. Soon after a short period abroad, his family had moved to San Bernardino, California. Few years later, he started studying classical music at Music Teachers’ Association. By the late 1960s he had switched to rock and soul, and his first public performance from that period was in a religious concert in 1969 in front of 11000 people. And he got standing ovations. After a short period when he had a jazz trio called Sensations, he formed his own soul rock group called Manna. On that group was playing one Billy Carson, who followed Charles to Finland and later played drums and percussion with for example Jukka Tolonen and Timo Kojo. Billy Carson did by the way the first rap recording in Finland with Kojo in 1982 (it was released in 1983 on Kojo’s Time won’t wait album). They also recorded an album with Manna but it never got released - although the raw mix versions got some airplay in California. By the mid 1970s he had already recorded most of the tracks intended for his forthcoming album when he met a Finnish girl in Cali and followed her up north to Finland.

“When I got here I soon realised that there wasn’t that much soul music in Finland. One day I heard Kirka singing his cover of “Living for the city” and it sounded nice to me. I contacted his label (EMI) and I told I had done such music myself. They took my music for listening and they liked it. So next I went to the Marcus Music studio in Stockholm to do the final mixing for the album. Why Stockholm? Because I knew Marcus Music was the place in Scandinavia.”

The band backing Charles Williams on this album (except on “Reason to make you smile”, that was backed by Finnish musicians) was called Psalm 150. They were all white gospel-rock band - although they called themselves funky gospel band. They recorded two albums in mid 1970s but the second one remains unpublished to this very day. Their only album that came out was called Make up your mind and it was released in 1974 by Manna music. It’s also released in Sweden by Pilot if somebody got interested. I guess by the time Love is a very special thing was released, Finland wasn’t ready for soul music as sophisticated as this was. The album sold poorly and the distribution was very minimal, thence the album is extremely rare and in some circles very in demand.

Musically Love is a very special thing is very soulful and calm toned with strings and Williams’ falsetto. It starts with the blaxploitation anthem sounding instrumental “Theme from long road” with strong percussion work by Greg Eckler, wistful strings and very catchy horns stabs. Williams had said that this tune came to his mind while driving his car on a highway. There was nothing good on the radio so he started to hum something he wanted to hear. For me it’s clearly the best track on the album. Next is a guitar heavy ballad called “Helen”. It’s followed by the reason why the record is in demand, the crossover soul track “Standing in the way” where Williams does himself his own backing chorus. “Standing in the way” was also released as 45, but it’s ever rarer than the LP. It was also reissued on 45 by Lifesaver records ten years ago. Last track on side a is another ballad, “Reason to make you smile”, the only track that was composed and recorded in Finland. B-side starts with another funky midtempo soul track “Change it”, which was also on the a side of the “Standing in the way” 45. According to Williams it wasn’t intended to be for dancefloors, it was a reflection of a person shouting ‘I wanna change it’. Next comes again another ballad, the title track “Love is a very special thing” followed by the instrumental of “Standing in the way” called simply “Standing”. Finally the last track, epic ten minute “Your life” ends the album. It’s a main theme from the film Too late to wait - although I’m not sure if such film was ever made. Overall Love is a very special thing is quite a nice album as a listening experience, though I personally don’t consider it worth the 200-300 euros people keep asking for it.


Theme from long road


Standing in the way


Change it


Standing


Your life

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 18.00, filed under europe, soul | No Comments »

Geraldo Pino & The Heartbeats - Let’s have a party

November 26th, 2011

Geraldo Pino - Let's Have a PartyGERALDO PINO & THE HEARTBEATS

  • Let’s have a party
  • EMI Nigeria
  • 1970
  • Nigeria

Geraldo Pino was born in Sierra Leone, but moved to Nigeria via Ghana quite early. He was one of the originators of afrobeat in the early 1960s when he was mixing highlife, funk and jazz together in his music. Actually the often credited pioneer of afrobeat and the most famous musician that ever came from Nigeria, Fela Kuti, wasn’t playing afrobeat since day one of his career, but only after he was exposured to Pino’s styles.

This is how afrobeat legend Fela Kuti later recalled the situation

“I was playing highlife jazz when Geraldo Pino came to town in ‘66 or a bit earlier with soul - that’s what upset everything, man. He came to town with James Brown’s music, singing “Hey, hey, I feel all right, ta ta ta ta…” And with such equipment you’ve never seen, man. This man was tearing Lagos to pieces. After seeing this Pino, I knew I had to get my shit together. And quick!”

Throughout the 1960s Pino continued to perform highlife jazz and afrobeat until he slided more and more to afrofunk in the late 1960s. He was also more and more influenced by James Brown in music writing and in his performances. In 1970 was released one of the hardest afrofunk albums out of Nigeria, Let’s have a party by Geraldo Pino and his band The Heartbeats. As it was typical for the afrofunk records, there is only six songs on the album, but quality is what counts. And the length of the songs, which is also typical for the afrobeat and afrofunk songs. Although Pino was eventually overshadowed by Fela and other afrobeat stars, his legacy still lives throughout the few albums he made.

There’s no weak points on this album, not even any decent tracks. All the songs are really tough, uptempo English sung afrofunk with electric piano, organ, heavy percussion and guitar work. There’s even some bad ass breaks included here. I must admit that all the tracks sound quite much alike though. That don’t bother me of course, because I find them all very amusing. “Africans must unite” is the only song that starts as a quite mellow groover but soon turns into an uptempo afrofunk track in a way the rest of the songs are. “Let them talk” and “Power to the people” both have long and tough break in the middle. The original is practically impossible to find and the Soundway reissue from 2005 also fetches some prices, so grab it with no hesitation if you see it somewhere.


Africans must unite


Heavy heavy heavy


Power to the people


Shake hands


Let them talk


Let’s have a party

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 18.00, filed under africa, afro funk | No Comments »

Doris - Did you give the world some love today baby

February 27th, 2011

doris-did-you-give-the-world-some-love-today-babyDORIS

  • Did you give the world some love today baby
  • EMI Odeon
  • 1970
  • Sweden

Gothenburg born singer Doris Svensson started her singing career in 1960 at the age of 13. Nine years and few projects later she went to the studio to record her forst solo album, Svenssons Doris!. In 1970 EMI released this second album called Did you give the world some love today baby. It wasn’t an instant success, not even close. But 26 years later when it was first reissued, it aroused a lot of interest and became very sought after album among funk music collectors. This album is not a funk album however. It’s more of a mixture of soul, pop and rock with a lot of funk touch. Most of the tracks were composed by jazz-pianist Berndt Egerbladh, who also did the big band brass arrangements and played the organ. The heavy drumming on the album was played by Jan Carlsson (of the Hansson & Karlsson fame), guitar by Bengan Karlsson and bass by Doris’ husband Lukas Lindholm. The backing band was called Heta linjen.

This LP marks the highlight in the career of a talented Nordic blond vocalist - Doris Svensson from Gothenburg, Sweden. It seems as though she’s finally managed to find and record a set of songs that suit her 100%. Maybe this isn’t surprising when you consider the musical genius that went into writing and scoring the album. Most of the material was written and arranged by TV producer, jazz-pianist, composer, “rarely-out-of-the-news-man-about-town” Berndt Egerbladh. Lyrical assistance was generously provided by a 6 foot kiltless Scottish giant, Francis Cowan. Francis also plays the cello on a few tracks which explains why he’s kiltless. Anyway, quite a combination which gave a fantastic result, with a little help from the producer Håkan Sterner. Incidentally, Håkan found the job so exciting that he was forced to retreat behind a beard after its completion.

Doris’ album provides 36 minutes of qualified musical jou guaranteed to satisfy all tastes. Discotheques will find that two numbers in particular, “Don’t” and “Beatmaker” are good box office draws. Jazz die-hards might even start visiting discotheques after digesting “I wish I knew” and “I’m pushing you out”. Note too an incredible ballad called “Daisies” and tell me if Sweden hasn’t produced a dangerous competitor for Melanie. Once again, this LP’s got something for everybody, the best of underground, jazz, rock and folk - not mixed up in one gigantic hotch-potch, but all in gentle harmony. Listen to Doris - a good time will be has by all.
(Liner notes by Roger Wallis)

First up is the funky downtempo pop-soul title tune “Did you give the world some love today baby” with some nice string and brass work. The country influenced but quite funky “Waiting an the station” and the psychedelic jazz track “You never come closer” are also worth to mention. The latter was very popular on the UK acid jazz scene of the 1990s. The best ones here however are the heavily funky soul-jazz tracks “Don’t” and “Beatmaker”, where the latter is definitely the winner in here with catchy lyrics and funky arrangements. Doris’ rough voice fits perfectly on these giving the reason to get this album whatever it takes. Can’t help it, I just got to love it.


Did you give the world some love today baby


Waiting an the station


You never come closer


Don’t


Beatmaker

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 18.00, filed under europe, funk, souljazz | No Comments »

Gil Ventura - Sax club number 5

February 3rd, 2011

Gil Ventura - Sax Club Number 5GIL VENTURA

  • Sax club number 5 - filmusic
  • Emi Odeon
  • 1974
  • Italy

Gil Ventura (born Marcello Olmari) is an Italian easy listening saxophonist who began his career in nightclubs in the 1960s. Since 1972 he did a lot of albums similar in every way to those Fausto Papetti saxophone records. The songs are mostly covers, mostly really cheesy and there’s a naked woman on the album cover. In his career he has recorded over 50 albums so I must admit that he’s been a quite productive musician. In this fifth volume of his Sax club -series he dives into the world of soundtracks. As you can expect, the tracks mostly really cheesy orchestrated numbers with Ventura’s wailing saxophone on top. There’s however quite decent versions of Ennio Morricone’s “Il Mio Nome è nessuno” (”My name is nobody”) and Paul McCartney’s “Live and let die” (”Vivi e lascia morire” here). Of course there’s got to be something on this album, otherwise I wouldn’t have brought it up. The standout track is the groovy version of Armando Trovaioli’s “Sesso matto” (”Mad sex” in English). You know, the track with a catchy saxophone riff borrowed from Manu DiBango’s “Soul Makossa”, nice beat thoughout the track and even a break. It doesn’t beat the original though, but it’s still a good one. And this album is not that hard to find either.


Vivi e lascia morire


Il Mio Nome è nessuno


Sesso matto

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 18.00, filed under easy listening, europe | No Comments »
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