All Albums

with reviews

Universal Togetherness Band ‎(1979-1982) Universal Togetherness Band

Anyone who questions the value of higher education has clearly never heard the story of the Universal Togetherness Band, a funk/soul/R&B combo whose body of work would be lost to the ages if Chicago’s Columbia College had never offered courses in audio engineering.  Andre Gibson, the…

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Hank Ballard – 1969 – You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down

Produced by James Brown in an attempt to resuscitate Hank Ballard’s waning commercial fortunes, You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down remains a minor soul classic — Brown’s admiration for Ballardgalvanizes each and every groove, and his inimitably funky arrangements fit the singer’s gritty vocals like a glove. While “Thrill on the…

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Loleatta Holloway – 1973 – Loleatta (Aware)

Although one of the most recognizable voices in music is Loleatta Holloway, many people are unaware of the two legendary soul albums she recorded for Michael Thevis Aware Records in the seventies. These were Loleatta in 1973 and Cry To Me in 1975. Instead, many…

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Dianne Brooks – 1976 – Back Stairs Of My Life

Dianne Brooks, a Toronto R&B singer, was very much in demand as a backup vocalist in the increasingly hectic Toronto recording scene through the 1970s, working with everyone from Anne Murray to Funkadelic, Ronnie Lane, and Craig Fuller’s pre-Little Feat band Pure Prairie League. Her…

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Honey Cone – 1971 – Sweet Replies

The second album by Honey Cone and the one that really broke them out of the box! The record’s got a groove that gets going right from the start, a sense of upbeat, soulful energy that really shows why the Honey Cone approach was so…

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Jimmy McGriff Organ And Blues Band ‎ – 1968 – The Worm

This is just totally classic. McGriff fronts a classic blues band setup with a perfectly balanced brass section and a swinging rhythm section. Smartly McGriff employed the help of legendary drummers Grady Tate and Mel Lewis who take turns laying down the foundation for some…

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Rufus Thomas – 1973 – Crown Prince Of Dance

Dig this. In the summer of 1972, during the legendary WattStax Festival, the then 55-year old Rufus Thomas had thousands of young people flapping their wings and breaking down in a dancing frenzy at L.A. Memorial Coliseum. The World’s Oldest Teenager turned that sucker out….

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The Natural Four – 1974 – The Natural Four

Sweeeeet soul from the 70s! The Natural Four were one of the greatest soul harmony groups of the 70’s – and their work on the Curtom label has an amazing “rough with the smooth” quality that really sets them apart from east coast groups of…

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Booker T. – 1974 – Evergreen

  A surprisingly great album by Booker T – recorded after his Memphis years with The MGs, and his duets with Priscilla – and done in a sweetly mellow style that has Booker emerging as a whole new style of songwriter! As with all the…

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Rufus & Chaka Khan – 1977 – Ask Rufus

This is a wonderful slice of underrated late seventies soul gold. It has a fantastic funky edge too with just a hint of a disco feel on the more uptempo tracks. This LP is the perfect blend of Rufus’ songwriting and production and the stunning…

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Bobby Caldwell – 1978 – Bobby Caldwell

Bobby Caldwell is one of only a handful of white vocalists (Van Morrison and Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall, to name a couple more) who legitimately transcended the blue-eyed soul tag. Caldwell’s genuine mix of R&B and jazz signatures as well as his bittersweet yet buttery vocal tones conjure up images…

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Margie Joseph – 1974 – Sweet Surrender

A truly excellent Soul album, sumptuously produced, arranged and orchestrated by Arif Mardin. It sounds on par with the best Aretha Franklin’s albums, due to the musicians involved: Cornell Dupree, Richard Tee, Chuck Rainey, Bernard Purdie, Ralph MacDonald … The back singers include artists who recorded their own solo albums: Cissy Houston, Judy Clay, Gwen…

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Barbara Acklin – 1969 – Seven Days Of Night

An excellent second album by Barbara Acklin – and a perfect demonstration of her really unique Chicago soul talents! Acklin’s really at the cusp of two generations here – at one level still with some of the sweetness of the earlier style of 60s girl…

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Eugene Mc Daniels – 1971 – Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse

A monster album that’s gone onto influence a generation – but which was barely recognized at the time! Singer Eugene McDaniels had scored big with some pop hits in the 60s under the name Gene McDaniels – but here, he steps out in a righteous…

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Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – It’s a Holiday Soul Party

Holiday albums are a longstanding pop tradition, from crooners like Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole taking on “O Holy Night” to more modern reinventions by Willie Nelson, James Brown and Bob Dylan. Now, following up their Grammy-nominated 2014 LP, Give the People What They Want, Sharon…

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Curtis Mayfield – 1970 – Curtis

This is undoubtedly one of the most important albums of seventies soul. Besides the awesome opener, Curtis isn’t making stuff as funky as he does on Superfly, but I feel this is about on a par. This is probably the most sophisticated Chicago soul I’ve…

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Nancy Wilson – 1968 – Welcome to My Love

In Her Loving Memory Most of Nancy Wilson’s late ’60s releases contained four or five good tunes and the rest would be filler from the day’s batch of B-grade pop material. Her 1967 date Welcome to My Love, though, is an exception. It offers a…

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The Staple Singers – 1962 – The 25th Day of December

Recorded in 1962 but then out of print for decades, this is a forgotten classic: Christmas-themed gospel sung by three amazing sisters (the mighty Mavis Staples was only 23), backed with just organ, drums, and “Pops,” their father, playing funky electric guitar. The Staples’ first…

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Jimmy Smith – 1964 – Christmas Cookin’

As cookin a Christmas album as you’ll ever find! Jimmy works with Billy Byers to craft some sublime instrumentals that have his Hammond interpreting Christmas classics like “We Three Kings”, “White Christmas”, “Silent Night”, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”, and “Santa Claus Is Coming To…

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Lee Dorsey – 1970 – Yes We Can

Massive work by Lee Dorsey, recorded years after his classics in the 60s, and even funkier overall! Lee’s really cooking on all burners here, working with the production team of Allen Toussaint and Marshall Sehorn, and getting some incredible backing from The Meters – who…

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