Saturday, October 29, 2016

John Hammond - 1970 - Southern Fried

John Hammond 
Southern Fried

01. Shake For Me 2:44
02. Cryin' For My Baby 2:42
03. I'm Tore Down 2:45
04. Don't Go No Further 2:40
05. I'm Leavin' You 3:19
06. It's Too Late 3:02
07. Nadine 3:41
08. Mystery Train 2:59
09. My Time After A While 4:01
10. I Can't Be Satisfied 3:12
11. You'll Be Mine 2:35
12. Riding In The Moonlight 2:28

Baritone Saxophone – James Mitchell (tracks: A5, B1, B3, B6)
Bass – David Hood, Marlin Greene (tracks: A2, B5)
Drums – Roger Hawkins
Guitar – Eddie Hinton
Guitar [Rhythm] – Jimmy Johnson (tracks: B1, B2)
Keyboards – Barry Beckett
Lead Guitar – Duane Allman (tracks: A1, A2, A5, B5)
Tenor Saxophone – Joe Arnold (tracks: A5, B1, B3, B6), Lewis Collins (2) (tracks: A5, B1, B3, B6)
Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone – Ed Logan (tracks: A5, B1, B3, B6)
Trumpet – Gene "Bo-legs" Miller (tracks: A5, B1, B3, B6)
Vocals, Harmonica, Guitar – John Hammond

John Hammond, Jr. is one of a handful of white blues musicians who was on the scene at the beginning of the first blues renaissance of the mid-'60s. That revival, brought on by renewed interest in folk music around the U.S., brought about career boosts for many of the great classic blues players, including Mississippi John Hurt, Rev. Gary Davis, and Skip James. Some critics have described Hammond as a white Robert Johnson, and Hammond does justice to classic blues by combining powerful guitar and harmonica playing with expressive vocals and a dignified stage presence. Within the first decade of his career as a performer, Hammond began crafting a niche for himself that is completely his own: the solo guitar man, harmonica slung in a rack around his neck, reinterpreting classic blues songs from the 1930s, '40s, and '50s. Yet, as several of his mid-'90s recordings for the Point Blank label demonstrate, he's also a capable bandleader who plays wonderful electric guitar. This guitar-playing and ensemble work can be heard on Found True Love and Got Love If You Want It, both for the Point Blank/Virgin label.
Born November 13, 1942, in New York City, the son of the famous Columbia Records talent scout John Hammond, Sr., what most people don't know is that Hammond didn't grow up with his father. His parents split when he was young, and he would see his father several times a year. He first began playing guitar while attending a private high school, and he was particularly fascinated with slide guitar technique. He saw his idol, Jimmy Reed, perform at New York's Apollo Theater, and he's never been the same since.

After attending Antioch College in Ohio on a scholarship for a year, he left to pursue a career as a blues musician. By 1962, with the folk revival starting to heat up, Hammond had attracted a following in the coffeehouse circuit, performing in the tradition of the classic country blues singers he loved so much. By the time he was just 20 years old, he had been interviewed for The New York Times before one of his East Coast festival performances, and he was a certified national act.

When Hammond was living in the Village in 1966, a young Jimi Hendrix came through town, looking for work. Hammond offered to put a band together for the guitarist, and got the group work at the Cafe Au Go Go. By that point, the coffeehouses were falling out of favor, and instead the bars and electric guitars were coming in with folk-rock. Hendrix was approached there by Chas Chandler, who took him to England to record. Hammond recalls telling the young Hendrix to take Chandler up on his offer. "The next time I saw him, about a year later, he was a big star in Europe," Hammond recalled in a 1990 interview. In the late '60s and early '70s, Hammond continued his work with electric blues ensembles, recording with people like Band guitarist Robbie Robertson (and other members of the Band when they were still known as Levon Helm & the Hawks), Duane Allman, Dr. John, harmonica wiz Charlie Musselwhite, Michael Bloomfield, and David Bromberg.

As with Dr. John and other blues musicians who've recorded more than two dozen albums, there are many great recordings that provide a good introduction to the man's body of work. His self-titled debut for the Vanguard label has now been reissued on compact disc by the company's new owners, The Welk Music Group, and other good recordings to check out (on vinyl and/or compact disc) include I Can Tell (recorded with Bill Wyman from the Rolling Stones), Southern Fried (1968), Source Point (1970, Columbia), and his string of early- and mid-'90s albums for Point Blank/Virgin Records, Got Love If You Want It, Trouble No More (both produced by J.J. Cale), and Found True Love.
He didn't know it when he was 20, and he may not realize it now, but Hammond deserves special commendation for keeping many of the classic blues songs alive. When fans see Hammond perform them, as Dr. John has observed many times with his music and the music of others, the fans often want to go back further, and find out who did the original versions of the songs Hammond now plays.

Although he's a multi-dimensional artist, one thing Hammond has never professed to be is a songwriter. In the early years of his career, it was more important to him that he bring the art form to a wider audience by performing classic -- in some cases forgotten -- songs. Now, more than 50 years later, Hammond continues to do this, touring all over the U.S., Canada, and Europe from his base in northern New Jersey. He continued to release albums into the new millennium with three discs on the Back Porch label, including Ready for Love in 2002, produced David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, In Your Arms Again in 2005, and Push Comes to Shove in 2007. Rough & Tough arrived in 2009, with a fine live solo set, Timeless, recorded in the spring of 2013, appearing in early 2014. Whether it's with a band or by himself, Hammond can do it all. Seeing him perform live, one gets the sense that some of the best is still to come from this energetic bluesman.

Southern Fried differed little from other early Hammond albums in its repertoire, consisting entirely of covers of blues and R&B songs. As usual, the Chicago sound came in for especially heavy tribute, with versions of songs by Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, and Chuck Berry, as well as a pass at "Mystery Train," though more vocal-oriented R&B got a nod with Chuck Willis' "It's Too Late" and some of the other tunes. Where this might have a leg up on some other early Hammond efforts -- and a leg up on blues cover albums in general -- is in the stellar band, featuring Muscle Shoals stalwarts like Eddie Hinton and Roger Hawkins. Allman Brothers fans, too, will want to keep an eye out for it as it features Duane Allman playing fine lead guitar on four tracks; certainly his peeling slide guitar solo on "Shake for Me" rates among his best work as a session man. Original the album isn't it, yet though Hammond isn't a great vocalist or interpreter, these are indeed very solid and joyful blues-rock versions of classic '50s-style electric blues. Horns on four of the songs add some soulful variety and spice to set this a little further apart from the ordinary blues-rock album.

Doris Duke - 1970 - I'm A Loser

Doris Duke
I'm A Loser

01. He's Gone 4:34
02. I Can't Do Without You 2:06
03. Feet Start Walking 2:28
04. Ghost Of Myself 3:06
05. Your Best Friend 2:48
06. The Feeling Is Right 2:44
07. I Don't Care Anymore 3:05
08. Congratulations Baby 2:00
09. We're More Than Strangers 3:28
10. Divorce Decree 2:28
11. How Was I To Know You Cared 2:38
12. To The Other Woman (I'm The Other Woman) 2:55

Jesse Carr Guitar
Paul Hornsby Organ, Piano
Robert "Pops" Popwell Bass
Johnny Sandlin Drums
Jerry Williams, Jr. Piano
Duane Allman Guitar

On the sleeve
Front & spine: Stereo 7704
Rear: Stereo 7704 Canyon Records

Canyon Records Inc. • Hollywood, Calif.

Deep soul diva Doris Duke was born Doris Curry in Sandersville, GA, in 1945. After stints in a series of gospel units, including the Raspberry Singers, the David Sisters, and the Caravans, by 1963 she was settled in New York City, working as a session vocalist in addition to backup duties at the legendary Apollo Theater. Under her married name of Doris Willingham, she cut her debut solo single, "Running Away from Loneliness," for the tiny Hy-Monty label in 1966; "You Can't Do That" followed two years later on Jay Boy. Despite solid reviews, neither record made a commercial splash, and she returned to her session career, often commuting to Philadelphia to record with the production team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. When former Atlantic Records producer Jerry "Swamp Dogg" Williams Jr. struck out on his own, he signed the singer and renamed her Doris Duke, recording the 1969 LP I'm a Loser at Capricorn, Phil Walden's studio in Macon, GA.

Though considered the finest deep soul record of all time by no less than soul expert Dave Godin, I'm a Loser was rejected by dozens of labels before it finally surfaced on Wally Roker's Canyon label. Although the first single, "To the Other Woman," cracked Billboard's R&B Top Ten, Canyon soon spiraled into financial disaster, destroying the album's commercial momentum. Duke spent the next several years in creative limbo, finally reuniting with Swamp Dogg for 1975's Mankind label release A Legend in Her Own Time -- their partnership ended acrimoniously prior to its release, however, and the record received scant attention. Duke next resurfaced on the British label Contempo with Woman, a much-acclaimed set released stateside on the Scepter imprint. After 1981's Manhattan set Funky Fox, she retired from music, and at the time of this writing her whereabouts and activities are unknown.

I'm a Loser is the standout recording from Southern soul singer Doris Duke; problem is, it's nearly impossible to find. Originally released on the Canyon label in 1970, I'm a Loser found only intermittent life on small domestic and Japanese labels. For fans of the gritty soul style of early Millie Jackson and Denise La Salle recordings, this title is worth searching for. The 12 medium-tempo tracks were mostly penned by fellow Southern singer Gary "U.S." Bonds and producer Jerry Williams Jr. and are executed nicely by a crack Capricorn Studio band. There's nothing here on the level of Aretha Franklin's contemporary triumphs for Atlantic either in the quality of the vocals or material, but Duke's own gospel-imbued voice, with its slightly hoarse and urgent tone, finds its own niche. The lean, Stax-inspired numbers also are very decent and even contain Duke's big hit "To the Other Woman (I'm the Other Woman)." The fate of the love weary is the main subject matter here and all its attendant drama is not only captured well by Duke's pleading vocal delivery, but it is unobtrusively underscored by the minimal and tasteful string arrangements. I'm a Loser may be a somewhat obscure title, but it is one that would fit into any good soul collection.

It's always struck me as a shame that outside of hardcore soul circles Doris Duke isn't better known given that she was easily as talented as many of her better known soul contemporaries.

Like so many others, Duke (born Doris Curry) started her musical career in Gospel music.  As a teenager and a young adult she toured and recorded with a number of Gospel acts including The Caravans, The David Sisters, The Evangelistic Gospel Choir, and The Raspberry Singers.

By the early 1960s she'd relocated to New York City, paying her bills as a backup sessions singer, supporting everyone from Frank Sinatra to Aretha Franklin.  Under her married name of Doris Willingham she also managed to record a couple of obscure 45s for small labels such as Hy-Monty and Jay Boy.  In 1968 she was hired as part of Nina Simone's touring band.  

Returning to sessions work in 1969 she caught attention of former Atlantic A&R man/producer/singer/songwriter Jerry Williams Jr.  Williams quickly signed her to a recording deal on his small RRG label.  Billed as 'Doris Duke' she debuted with the Williams written and produced 'Congratulations Baby' b/w 'Divorce Decree' (RRG Catalog number 44004).  While the single did little commercially, it attracted enough attention for Williams to finance a follow-on album on Wally Roker's Canyon label (which was coincidently Williams' label).  

Like the earlier single, 1969's "I'm a Loser" was produced, arranged, conducted and largely written by Williams.  Recorded at Phil Walden's Capricorn Studios, the collection featured support from guitarist James Carr, drummer Johnny Sadlin and the cream of local studio musicians.  Propelled by Duke's deep and world weary voice, the album featured an engaging mixture of Gospel, R&B and Stax-influenced soul.  Technically Duke wasn't the world's greatest singer.  She didn't have a great deal of range and her delivery was occasionally brittle and shrill.  That said, her ability to channel the hurt and pain of love and real life was simply unsurpassed.  It's hard to imagine Aretha Franklin, or even Millie Jackson having the nerve to take on a song about infidelity ('To the Other Woman') or even more daring for the timeframe, a woman falling into prostitution ('I Don't Care Anymore').  Exemplified by tracks such as 'Feet Start Walking' and 'Congratulations Baby' seldom have you heard someone singing about so much pain and unhappiness.  Simply killer soul !!!  

- Opening up with some pretty Paul Hornsby keyboards and Johnny Sadlin's martial drums, 'He's Gone' was a slow, bluesy ballad that got the album off to a shaky start.  Showcasing Duke at her rawest and most vulnerable, her vocal performances was actually quite good, but the song  just never really kicked into gear.   Canyon tapped this one as the second single off the LP.     rating: *** stars
- Co-written by George Jackson and Ronald Townsend 'Can't Do Without You' frame Duke with a classic soul track.   Kicked along by a great James Carr guitar hook (which has always reminded me of something Eric Clapton would have played on a Delaney and Bonnie track), it was hard to believe a track like this wasn't a major hit for Duke.   rating: **** stars
- Jerry Williams Jr. has always had a gift for slightly off-kilter lyrics and 'Feet Start Walking' was a perfect example of that talent.  Catchy old school soul and among the Seamp Dogg's best songs, Duke's take-no-crap delivery made for one of the album's standout performances.  (You could also hear Williams unique voice on the backing vocals.)   Easy to see why Canyon tapped this one as the lead-off single.    rating: **** stars
- Opening up with some tasty church organ and some fantastic Robert Popwell bass, 'Ghost of Myself ' was a classic soul ballad.  Almost Gospel-ish in its intensity, you could just feel Duke's exhaustion and dispair.  Shame the song faded out just as Duke was starting to get into the track.  The song also sported another great James Carr guitar solo.   rating: **** stars
- 'Your Best Friend' started out as a slinky mid-tempo tale of a scorned woman and was pretty good until the final section when Duke's spoken word segment turned it into a slice of Millie Jackson trash talkin'.    rating: ** stars
- A breezy, slightly MOR-ish ballad with another killer Paul Hornsby keyboard riff, 'Your Best Friend' finally let Duke open up her pipes and has grown to be one of my favorites performances on the album.     rating: **** stars
- So anyone who's ever doubted guys were pigs only needed to hear 'I Don't Care Anymore'.  All hyperbole aside, Duke turned in one of soul's darkest (and perhaps most realistic) tales of female emancipation on this three minute heartbreaker.   rating: ***** stars  
- Hum, the pounding 'Congratulations Baby' wasn't exactly your typical moon-in-June lyric ...   Another classic on the album, I've always loved the urgent 'run girl, run' backing chorus.   rating: **** stars  
- 'We're More Than Strangers' was an out-and-out blues belter that again showcased Duke's amazing voice.  The downside was the song had a fairly pedestrian melody.   rating: ** stars  
- Leave if Swamp Dogg to pen a tune like 'Divorce Decree' showing the female side of this ugly business.   I don't think as great a voice as Aretha could have handled this one any better.  rating: **** stars  
- At least to my ears 'How Was I To Know You Cared' was one of the weaker songs on the album - simply to pop and commercial oriented ...   rating: *** stars
- Another classic Swamp Dogg track, the slow bluesy 'To the Other Woman (I'm the Other Woman)' simply dripped of hurt and pain.  Once again, hard to image another female soul singer being able to tackle the song with such class.   Canyon tapped this as the leadoff single, giving Clark a minor pop and R&B hit.

As mentioned above, released as a single Duke actually enjoyed a pop and R&B hit with 'To the Other Woman (I'm the Other Woman)' b/w I Don't Care Anymore' (Canyon catalog number # 28).  Unfortunately two follow-on singles did nothing commercially:

- 'Feet Start Walking' b/w 'How Was I To Know You Cared' (Canyon catalog number # 35)
- 'He's Gone' b/w 'The Feeling Is Right'  (Canyon catalog number  # 54)

Adding to Duke's problems, Canyon's shaky finances and minimal promotion efforts effectively doomed the album from a commercial standpoint.   Shame, since this is one of soul's overlooked treasures.

Clarence Carter - 1969 - The Dynamic Clarence Carter

Clarence Carter
The Dynamic Clarence Carter

01. I'd Rather Go Blind 3:05
02. Think About It 2:41
03. The Road Of Love 2:52
04. You've Been A Long Time Comin' 2:44
05. Light My Fire 2:50
06. That Old Time Feeling 2:30
07. Steal Away 2:37
08. Let Me Comfort You 2:15
09. Look What I Got 2:57
10. Too Weak To Fight 2:15
11. Harper Valley P.T.A. 3:33
12. Weekend Love 2:38

Backing Vocals – Alvin Willford, Cabwhiss Grandberry, James Price
Drums – Roger Hawkins
Guitar – Albert Lowe, Duane Allman, James Johnson
Organ – Marvell Thomas
Piano – Barry Beckett
Saxophone [Baritone] – Floyd Newman, James Mitchell
Saxophone [Tenor] – Aaron Varnell, Joe Arnold
Trumpet – Gene Miller

Singer Clarence Carter exemplified the gritty, earthy sound of Muscle Shoals R&B, fusing the devastating poignancy of the blues with a wicked, lascivious wit to create deeply soulful music rooted in the American South of the past and the present. Born January 14, 1936, in Montgomery, AL, Carter was blind from birth. He immediately gravitated to music, teaching himself guitar by listening to the blues classics of John Lee Hooker, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Jimmy Reed. He majored in music at Alabama State University, learning to transcribe charts and arrangements in Braille.

With blind classmate Calvin Scott, Carter in 1960 formed the duo Clarence & Calvin, signing to the Fairlane label to release "I Wanna Dance But I Don't Know How" the following year. After the 1962 release of "I Don't Know (School Girl)," Clarence & Calvin left Fairlane for the Duke imprint, renaming themselves the C & C Boys for their label debut, "Hey Marvin." In all, the duo cut four Duke singles, none of them generating more than a shrug at radio -- finally, in 1965 they traveled to Rick Hall's Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals, AL, paying $85 to record the wrenching ballad "Step by Step" and its flip side, "Rooster Knees and Rice." Atlanta radio personality Zenas Sears recommended Clarence & Calvin to Atlantic producer Jerry Wexler, and the label issued "Step by Step" on its Atco subsidiary -- the record failed to chart, and the duo was once again looking for a label.

Backed by a four-piece combo dubbed the Mello Men, Clarence & Calvin spent the first half of 1966 headlining Birmingham's 2728 Club. One Friday night in June while returning home from the nightspot, the group suffered an auto accident that left Scott critically injured, initiating an ugly falling-out with Carter over the resulting medical bill. In the meantime, Carter continued as a solo act, signing to Hall's Fame label for 1967's "Tell Daddy," which inspired Etta James' response record, "Tell Mama." The superb popcorn-soul effort "Thread the Needle" proved a minor crossover hit, and after one additional Fame release, "The Road of Love," Carter returned to Atlantic with "Looking for a Fox," issued in early 1968. "Looking for a Fox" proved the first of many singles to slyly reference the singer's visual impairment, not to mention showcasing the libidinous impulses that dominate many of his most popular records.

But few performances better typified the emerging Carter aesthetic than "Slip Away," a superior cheating ballad spotlighting his anguished, massive baritone alongside the remarkably sinuous backing of Fame's exemplary backing band. The record was a Top Ten hit, and its follow-up, "Too Weak to Fight," also went gold, solidifying Carter's newfound commercial appeal. He ended 1968 with a superbly funky Christmas single, the raunchy "Back Door Santa," in addition to mounting a national tour featuring backing vocalist Candi Staton, who later became Carter's wife as well as a soul star in her own right.

The percolating "Snatching It Back" was Carter's first Atlantic release of 1969 -- its B-side, a remake of James Carr's deep soul classic "The Dark End of the Street," remains one of the singer's most potent efforts, drawing on traditional blues and gospel to explore both the absurdity and anguish of infidelity. Subsequent singles including "The Feeling Is Right," "Doing Our Thing," and "Take It Off Him and Put It on Me" were only marginally successful, but in 1970 Carter returned to the Top Ten with the sentimental "Patches," his biggest hit to date. He nevertheless stumbled again with a run of 1971 releases like "Getting the Bills" and "Slipped, Tripped and Fell in Love," and in the wake of "If You Can't Beat 'Em" -- a duet with Staton -- Carter left Atlantic in 1972, returning to Fame with "Back in Your Arms Again."

Released in 1973, the leering "Sixty Minute Man" proved a novelty hit, but in 1975 he attempted to reignite his career at ABC, releasing "Take It All Off" and "Dear Abby" to little notice. By the end of the decade Carter was relegated to small independent labels like Future Stars and Ronn, and in 1980 signed to Venture for the ill-advised "Jimmy's Disco" and "Can We Slip Away Again?" In 1985 he resurfaced on the fledgling Ichiban label, returning to the ribald deep soul of his heyday -- the LP Dr. C.C. earned positive reviews and spawned the hilariously lewd "Strokin'," a major word-of-mouth hit. (A sequel, "Still Strokin'," followed in 1989.) Carter continued recording and touring regularly into the 21st century, maintaining a strong fan base throughout the South.

Clarence Carter was churning out classic Southern soul in the late '60s. Everything -- from soap opera-ish tales of deprivation to sexually suggestive boasts, country/soul ballads, and up-tempo wailers -- clicked. This isn't so much an album as a string of great singles, all of them sung with fire, conviction, and passion.

Boz Scaggs - 1969 - Boz Scaggs

Boz Scaggs 
Boz Scaggs

01. I'm Easy 3:08
02. I'll Be Long Gone 4:00
03. Another Day (Another Letter) 3:11
04. Now You're Gone 3:48
05. Finding Her 4:09
06. Look What I Got 4:12
07. Waiting For A Train 2:40
08. Loan Me A Dime 12:48
09. Sweet Release 6:17

Backing Vocals – Donna Thatcher, Jeannie Greene, Mary Holiday
Baritone Saxophone – James Mitchell
Bass – David Hood
Dobro, Slide Guitar – Duane "Skydog" Allman
Drums – Roger Hawkins
Fiddle – Al Lester
Guitar – Eddie Hinton, Jimmy Johnson
Guitar, Vocals – Boz Scaggs
Keyboards – Barry Beckett
Tenor Saxophone – Joe Arnold
Trumpet, Trombone – Gene "Bowlegs" Miller

Recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Recorders, 3614 Jackson Highway, Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
MO on center label codes for Monarch pressing plant.

After first finding acclaim as a member of the Steve Miller Band, singer/songwriter Boz Scaggs went on to enjoy considerable solo success in the 1970s. Born William Royce Scaggs in Ohio on June 8, 1944, he was raised in Oklahoma and Texas, and while attending prep school in Dallas met guitarist Steve Miller. Scaggs joined Miller's group the Marksmen as a vocalist in 1959, and the pair later attended the University of Wisconsin together, where they played in blues bands like the Ardells and the Fabulous Knight Trains.

Children of the FutureScaggs returned to Dallas alone in 1963, fronting an R&B unit dubbed the Wigs; after relocating to England, the group promptly disbanded, and two of its members -- John Andrews and Bob Arthur -- soon formed Mother Earth. Scaggs remained in Europe, singing on street corners. He also recorded a failed solo LP in Sweden, 1965's Boz, before returning to the U.S. two years later. Upon settling in San Francisco, he reunited with Miller, joining the fledgling Steve Miller Band; after recording two acclaimed albums with the group, Children of the Future and Sailor, Scaggs exited in 1968 to mount a solo career. With the aid of Rolling Stone magazine publisher Jann Wenner, Scaggs next secured a contract with Atlantic. Sporting a cameo from Duane Allman, 1968's soulful Boz Scaggs failed to find an audience despite winning critical favor, and the track "Loan Me a Dime" later became the subject of a court battle when bluesman Fenton Robinson sued (successfully) for composer credit. After signing to Columbia, Scaggs teamed with producer Glyn Johns to record 1971's Moments, a skillful blend of rock and R&B which, like its predecessor, failed to make much of an impression on the charts.

Scaggs remained a critics' darling over the course of LPs like 1972's My Time and 1974's Slow Dancer, but he did not achieve a commercial breakthrough until 1976's Silk Degrees, which reached number two on the album charts while spawning the Top Three single "Lowdown," as well as the smash "Lido Shuffle." Released in 1977, Down Two Then Left was also a success, and 1980's Middle Man reached the Top Ten on the strength of the singles "Breakdown Dead Ahead" and "Jo Jo."

However, Scaggs spent much of the '80s in retirement, owning and operating the San Francisco nightclub Slim's and limiting his performances primarily to the club's annual black-tie New Year's Eve concerts. Finally, he resurfaced in 1988 with the album Other Roads, followed three years later by a tour with Donald Fagen's Rock and Soul Revue. The solo effort Some Change appeared in 1994, with Come on Home and My Time: The Anthology (1969-1997) both released in 1997. The newly energized Scaggs spent the next few years consistently releasing new material, including Here's the Low Down, Fade into Light, Dig, and a collection of standards called But Beautiful. An expanded reissue of Silk Degrees and Runnin' Blue (a recording of a 1974 performance) appeared in 2007, and Speak Low saw him reinterpreting a number of jazz standards in 2008.

Scaggs toured as a member of the Dukes of September in 2012; the group's other principals included Michael McDonald and Donald Fagen. Scaggs emerged from his recorded silence in March of 2013 with the Steve Jordan-produced Memphis, a collection of original and cover tunes. Recorded at Willie Mitchell's Royal Studio in the city, the album was meant to reflect the heritage of the Southern soul tradition in the 21st century.

A Fool to Care In 2014, Scaggs -- with Jordan again as his producer -- booked four days at Nashville's famed Blackbird Studio with a core band from Memphis. They enlisted top-flight Music City session players as well as guests Bonnie Raitt and Lucinda Williams to supplement the sessions. A Fool to Care, released by 429 in 2015, showcased covers of classic soul, NOLA R&B, rock & roll and country covers, and new material.

Departing from the Steve Miller Band after a two-album stint, Boz Scaggs found himself on his own but not without support. Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, his friend, helped him sign with Atlantic Records and the label had him set up shop in Muscle Shoals, recording his debut album with that legendary set of studio musicians, known for their down-and-dirty backing work for Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett, among many other Southern soul legends. The Muscle Shoals rhythm section, occasionally augmented by guitarist Duane Allman, gives this music genuine grit, but this isn't necessarily a straight-up blue-eyed soul record, even if the opening "I'm Easy" and "I'll Be Long Gone" are certainly as deeply soulful as anything cut at Muscle Shoals. Even at this early stage Scaggs wasn't content to stay in one place, and he crafted a kind of Americana fantasia here, also dabbling in country and blues along with the soul and R&B that grounds this record. If the country shuffle "Now You're Gone" sounds just slightly a shade bit too vaudeville for its own good, it only stands out because the rest of the record is pitch-perfect, from the Jimmie Rodgers cover "Waiting for a Train" and the folky "Look What I Got!" to the extended 11-minute blues workout "Loan Me a Dime," which functions as much as a showcase for a blazing Duane Allman as it does for Boz. But even with that show-stealing turn, and even with the Muscle Shoals musicians giving this album its muscle and part of its soul, this album is still thoroughly a showcase for Boz Scaggs' musical vision, which even at this stage is wide and deep. It would grow smoother and more assured over the years, but the slight bit of raggedness suits the funky, down-home performances and helps make this not only a great debut, but also an enduring blue-eyed soul masterpiece.

Aretha Franklin - 1970 - This Girl's in Love with You

Aretha Franklin 
This Girl's in Love with You

01. Son Of A Preacher Man 3:14
02. Share Your Love With Me 3:16
03. Dark End Of The Street 4:40
04. Let It Be 3:28
05. Eleanor Rigby 2:35
06. This Girl's In Love With You 3:46
07. It Ain't Fair 3:20
08. The Weight 2:52
09. Call Me 3:47
10. Sit Down And Cry 3:49

Bass – David Hood
Drums – Roger Hawkins
Guitar – Duane Allman, Eddie Hinton, Jerry Weaver, Jimmy Johnson (4)
Keyboards – Aretha Franklin, Barry Beckett

"Dark End Of The Street", "Eleanor Rigby", "This Girl's In Love With You" and "Call Me" were recorded at Criteria Studios, Miami, Florida. All other selections were recorded at Atlantic Recording Studios, New York, New York.

Aretha Franklin is one of the giants of soul music, and indeed of American pop as a whole. More than any other performer, she epitomized soul at its most gospel-charged. Her astonishing run of late-'60s hits with Atlantic Records -- "Respect," "I Never Loved a Man," "Chain of Fools," "Baby I Love You," "I Say a Little Prayer," "Think," "The House That Jack Built," and several others -- earned her the title "Lady Soul," which she has worn uncontested ever since. Yet as much of an international institution as she's become, much of her work -- outside of her recordings for Atlantic in the late '60s and early '70s -- is erratic and only fitfully inspired, making discretion a necessity when collecting her records.

Franklin's roots in gospel ran extremely deep. With her sisters Carolyn and Erma (both of whom would also have recording careers), she sang at the Detroit church of her father, Reverend C.L. Franklin, while growing up in the 1950s. In fact, she made her first recordings as a gospel artist at the age of 14. It has also been reported that Motown was interested in signing Aretha back in the days when it was a tiny start-up. Ultimately, however, Franklin ended up with Columbia, to which she was signed by the renowned talent scout John Hammond.

Franklin would record for Columbia constantly throughout the first half of the '60s, notching occasional R&B hits (and one Top 40 single, "Rock-a-bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody") but never truly breaking out as a star. The Columbia period continues to generate considerable controversy among critics, many of whom feel that Aretha's true aspirations were being blunted by pop-oriented material and production. In fact, there's a reasonable amount of fine items to be found on the Columbia sides, including the occasional song ("Lee Cross," "Soulville") where she belts out soul with real gusto. It's undeniably true, though, that her work at Columbia was considerably tamer than what was to follow, and suffered in general from a lack of direction and an apparent emphasis on trying to develop her as an all-around entertainer, rather than as an R&B/soul singer.

When Franklin left Columbia for Atlantic, producer Jerry Wexler was determined to bring out her most soulful, fiery traits. As part of that plan, he had her record her first single, "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)," at Muscle Shoals in Alabama with esteemed Southern R&B musicians. In fact, that was to be her only session actually at Muscle Shoals, but much of the remainder of her '60s work would be recorded with the Muscle Shoals Sound Rhythm Section, although the sessions would actually take place in New York City. The combination was one of those magic instances of musical alchemy in pop: the backup musicians provided a much grittier, soulful, and R&B-based accompaniment for Aretha's voice, which soared with a passion and intensity suggesting a spirit that had been allowed to fly loose for the first time.

In the late '60s, Franklin became one of the biggest international recording stars in all of pop. Many also saw Franklin as a symbol of black America itself, reflecting the increased confidence and pride of African-Americans in the decade of the civil rights movement and other triumphs for the black community. The chart statistics are impressive in and of themselves: ten Top Ten hits in a roughly 18-month span between early 1967 and late 1968, for instance, and a steady stream of solid mid- to large-size hits for the next five years after that. Her Atlantic albums were also huge sellers, and far more consistent artistically than those of most soul stars of the era. Franklin was able to maintain creative momentum, in part, because of her eclectic choice of material, which encompassed first-class originals and gospel, blues, pop, and rock covers, from the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel to Sam Cooke and the Drifters. She was also a fine, forceful, and somewhat underrated keyboardist.

Franklin's commercial and artistic success was unabated in the early '70s, during which she landed more huge hits with "Spanish Harlem," "Bridge Over Troubled Water," and "Day Dreaming." She also produced two of her most respected, and earthiest, album releases with Live at Fillmore West and Amazing Grace. The latter, a 1972 double LP, was a reinvestigation of her gospel roots, recorded with James Cleveland and the Southern California Community Choir. Remarkably, it made the Top Ten, counting as one of the greatest gospel-pop crossover smashes of all time.

Franklin had a few more hits over the next few years -- "Angel" and the Stevie Wonder cover "Until You Come Back to Me" being the most notable. Her Atlantic contract ended at the end of the 1970s. She signed with the Clive Davis-guided Arista and scored number one R&B hits with "Jump to It," "Get It Right," and "Freeway of Love." Many of her successes were duets, or crafted with the assistance of contemporaries such as Luther Vandross and Narada Michael Walden. In 1986 Franklin released her follow-up to Who's Zoomin' Who?, the self-titled Aretha, which saw the single "I Knew You Were Waiting for Me," a duet with George Michael, hit the top of the charts. There was also another return to gospel in 1987 with One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism. Franklin shifted back to pop with 1989's Through the Storm, but it wasn't a commercial success, and neither was 1991's new jack swing-styled What You See Is What You Sweat.

Now solidly an iconic figure and acknowledged as one of the best singers of her generation no matter what her record sales were, Franklin contributed songs to several movie soundtracks in the next few years before releasing the R&B-based A Rose Is Still a Rose in 1998. So Damn Happy followed five years later in 2003 and again saw disappointing sales, but it did generate the Grammy-winning song "Wonderful." Franklin left Arista that same year and started her own label, Aretha's Records, two years later. A duets compilation, Jewels in the Crown: All-Star Duets with the Queen, was issued in 2007, followed by her first holiday album, 2008's This Christmas. The first release on her own label, A Woman Falling Out of Love, appeared in 2011. She signed to RCA and realigned with Clive Davis, who connected her with the likes of Babyface and OutKast's André 3000 for Sings the Great Diva Classics, for which she covered Gladys Knight, Barbra Streisand, and Adele, among others. Despite sometimes poor health, she continued to select new projects to work on; ever the institution, her reputation is secure as one of the best singers of the modern era.

The title song (a cover of Herb Alpert's "This Guy's in Love with You") might lead you to believe this is one of Aretha Franklin's more pop-oriented albums; but in fact, "This Girl's in Love with You" is the only song of the sort on this solid and fairly earthy effort. Besides the hit singles "Call Me" and "Share Your Love with Me," it also includes her most well-known Beatles covers ("Eleanor Rigby" and "Let It Be"), and her interesting version of "The Weight," a Top 20 single featuring slide guitar by Duane Allman.