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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Chris Jasper's Journey from The Isley Brothers to Invincible

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Chris Jasper was an important member of the expanded Isley Brothers.

Chris, along with Marvin and Ernie Isley, joined original members Ronald, Rudolph, and O’Kelly Isley in 1973.

After 13 years with the Isley Brothers, Chris, Marvin, and Ernie formed Isley/Jasper/Isley in 1984, delivering the number one 1985 hit, “Caravan of Love,” featuring Chris on lead vocal.

After moving on from Isley/Jasper/Isley in 1988, Chris formed the independent label Gold City Records.

While with Gold City Records, Chris Jasper has performed and written music for other artists.

Invincible, is his new 2007 release, featuring these tracks:

  1. “Invincible”
  2. “Keep Reaching Higher”
  3. “I Know That You Love Me”
  4. “Without Love”
  5. “Let God’s Will Be Done”
  6. “Thank You Lord”
  7. “A New Life In Christ”
  8. “He’s The Judge”
  9. “Do You Believe”
  10. “Come On and Testify”

Invincible is very much a producer project.  Jasper writes, produces, and performs all of the tracks.  He sings lead and background vocals.

Each original song is based on a particular scripture from the Bible, (listed in the CD credits).

Jasper projects a clear, inspirational, positive message, skillfully weaving divine themes into these 10 “songs of praise."

Chris doesn’t deviate from the melodic rhythms of his past success.  This CD presents familiar Isley styled instrumentation that should easily appeal to progressive R&B fans.

When an artist conceives and implements an entire project by themselves, there’s a danger that the final result becomes an expression of perceived perfection.  One point of view controls every aspect of the creative process.

There’s a formula to how the lyrics are integrated into these songs, and the lyrics are the focus.  I suppose I was expecting more musical virtuosity highlighting Jaspers’ skill as a musician with more instrumental soloing.

I wonder if the spiritual message of some of these poetic praises might have been better presented in a more traditional way with more gospel, and less R&B.  However, it’s clear that the aim of this release is to appeal to both R&B and sacred fans, and C.J.’s goal for the most part has been accomplished.

I found Jasper at his best on “Without Love,” and “A New Life in Christ.” Vocally, “Without Love” recalls the classic harmonies of The Impressions with Curtis Mayfield.

Compared to the first 7 songs, the last 3 tracks, “He’s The Judge,” “Do You Believe,” and “Come On and Testify” embrace the Isley/Jasper/Isley-Isley Brothers style more openly with slightly more funk to the bottom beat.

"Come On and Testify” has a nice guitar riff that hints respectfully to “Move On Up,” the solo track by Curtis Mayfield.

Tailor-made for the lovers of inspirational music, Invincible may attract an expanded base of R&B lovers too, as Chris Jasper has fused a sound he pioneered together with the reverent message of God on this accessible release.

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Posted by King on 08/30 at 09:00 AM
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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Joe Tex, Denise LaSalle, & Leon Haywood Deliver Southern Soul

Many artists never become superstars, but their talent still pushes them to big success.

Turn on the radio during the golden age of classic soul, and you’d hear hundreds, if not thousands of groups, bands, and solo vocalists.

Here are 3 R&B performers who put their heart and soul into their craft - and had their share of hits back-in-the-day.

Joe Tex, (1933 - 1982), had several novelty hits.

He doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the very good straight-forward R&B in his catalogue.

This image of Joe is from the cover of the original vinyl album, Joe Tex Spills the Beans.

Tex, born in Rogers, Texas, has a large collection of songs, recorded primarily for Atlantic, between 1965 - 1979.

The Top Joe Tex Hits:

  1. “I Gotcha”
  2. “Show Me”
  3. “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (with no Big Fat Woman)”

Another Southerner, from Mississippi, the bluesy and bombastic Denise LaSalle released more than 25 albums between 1972 - 2007.

This photo is from a vinyl copy of her very first release, Trapped By A Thing Called Love.

The title cut from the album was an R&B hit, dominated by the Memphis arrangements of producer Willie Mitchell, the guy responsible for crafting much of the Al Green sound.

LaSalle reminds you a lot of Koko Taylor, (the Chicago blues Queen).  LaSalle has an amazing voice.  She should have had many more R&B hits.

Everyone tries to carve out their own niche.

Leon Haywood certainly found his.

He took Johnnie Taylor’s direct message, ("Who’s Making Love"), to the next level with blatantly sexual songs.

Haywood avoided “double entendre” and got right to the point.

While Marvin Gaye, Barry White, and Isaac Hayes were romancing, Haywood skipped the foreplay and dived right in for some instant satisfaction.

The Houston, Texas native had a string of classic soul hits:

  1. “I Want’A Do Something Freaky To You”
  2. “Don’t Push It Don’t Force It”
  3. “Strokin’”

This photo of Haywood is from the back of his 1976 vinyl album “Leon Haywood,” which contains “Strokin’."

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Posted by King on 08/28 at 08:30 AM
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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Roberta Flack Hits the Road

4 Time Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Roberta Flack has several highly anticipated concert appearances coming this Fall.

You probably remember these 10 Flack favorites:

  1. “Killing Me Softly with His Song”
  2. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”
  3. “Feel Like Makin’ Love”
  4. “Reverend Lee”
  5. “Making Love”
  6. “Where Is the Love” with Donny Hathaway
  7. “You Are My Heaven” with Donny Hathaway
  8. “Back Together Again” with Donny Hathaway
  9. “Tonight I Celebrate My Love” with Peabo Bryson
  10. “At The Concert” with Michael Henderson

But are you aware of The Roberta Flack School of Music?

Funded entirely by private donations, the school sponsors children who demonstrate a strong interest in studying music.  Students are educated and encouraged to master fundamental principles of music, and are taught to read, and write music.

As a former Washington, DC teacher, Ms. Flack is helping to inspire the crown of creation in blossoming young minds.

Catch an evening with Roberta Flack coming soon for an “Oasis” of musical joy:

  • August 27, 2007 Althea Gibson Evening of African American Women’s Firsts, Opening Ceremony, 2007 US Open Tennis Tournament, New York, NY

  • September 7 & 8, 2007 Chinook Winds, Lincoln City, OR

  • September 22, 2007 Concert for Autism, Palace Theatre, Stamford, CT

  • September 26 - 29, 2007 National Symphony Orchestra with Marvin Hamlisch, Kennedy Center, Washington DC

  • September 30, 2007 Ho-Chunk Casino, Hotel and Convention, Baraboo, WI

  • October 27, 2007 Keswick Theatre, Glenside, PA

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Posted by King on 08/23 at 01:02 AM
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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

War and Mandrill Connect Together in Concert

War and Mandrill connect together for a live concert event in Philadelphia, PA, Saturday, August 25th, 2007, at the Mann Music Center.

Lou, Ric, Carlos, and Wilfredo: the Wilson Brothers, formed Mandrill in Brooklyn, New York.

Their first album was released in February, 1971.  Today, the Wilson Brothers keep the Mandrill beat pumping.

Mandrill continues to be sampled by a new generation of performers.  From “Fencewalk” to “Can You Get It (Suzie Caesar),” the distinctive Mandrill sound serves up a progressive gumbo of classic soul.

Another unique musical powerhouse with a similarly eclectic yet highly successful track record is War.

They’ve been creating memorable street beats even longer than Mandrill.

For the complete War and Mandrill stories, follow the links to their websites in the R&B Music Artists Official Website Directory.

War is also appearing...

  • Saturday, September 8, 2007 - Hampton, Virginia
  • Monday, September 10, 2007 - Albuquerque, New Mexico, State Fair
  • Saturday, September 15, 2007 - Irvine, California, Verizon Amphitheatre
  • Friday, September 28, 2007 - Huntsville, Alabama, Big Spring Park Jam
  • Saturday, September 29, 2007 - San Antonio, Texas, City Festival

Catch Mandrill on Monday, August 27th, at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, (right outside of Washington, DC).

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Posted by King on 08/21 at 01:02 AM
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Thursday, August 16, 2007

13 Powerhouse Radio Summertime Favorites

With two weeks left, there’s still time to plug into these lucky 13 Powerhouse Radio summertime favorites, just waiting to share space on the digital music player close to your heart.

  1. “Hot Fun in the Summertime” - Sly & the Family Stone
  2. “Indian Summer Love “- Con Funk Shun
  3. “Long Hot Summer” - Jimi Hendrix Experience
  4. “My Sweet Summer” Suite - Love Unlimited Orchestra (Barry White)
  5. “Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer"- Stevie Wonder
  6. “Summer” - War
  7. “Summer Breeze” - Isley Brothers
  8. “Summer Madness” - Kool and the Gang
  9. “Summer Snow” - Blue Magic
  10. “Summertime” - Billy Stewart
  11. “Summertime” - Sam Cooke
  12. “Summertime” - Will Smith
  13. “Summertime” - Janis Joplin with Big Brother & the Holding Company

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Posted by King on 08/16 at 07:45 AM
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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Patti LaBelle, Sarah Dash, and Nona Hendryx Reunion Album

Patti LaBelle is currently working on a reunion album with former LaBelle members Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx.

LaBelle, the group, was an early 1970’s trendsetter during “the decade of funk.” Their blended voices were dominated by the soaring sonics of Patti LaBelle, and lyrically energized by the excellent songwriting of Nona Hendryx.

Dash, Hendryx, and LaBelle created a unique songfest mixing up musical genres in an unpredictable way.

LaBelle Albums:

  1. LaBelle - 1971
  2. Moonshadow - 1972
  3. Pressure Cookin’ - 1973
  4. Nightbirds - 1974
  5. Phoenix - 1975
  6. Chameleion - 1976

3 LaBelle Picks:

  1. “Lady Marmalade”
  2. “Isn’t It A Shame”
  3. “Come Into My Life”

Patti LaBelle is negotiating to sign a new record deal with Island/Def Jam soon.

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Posted by King on 08/14 at 01:02 AM
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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Ronald Isley’s Brothers, Sisters, and Fans Shout for a Presidential Pardon

According to the Isley Brothers website, The White House has received thousands of telephone calls in support of a pardon for Ronald Isley who was due to begin serving a 3 year sentence for non-payment of taxes on August 7, 2007.

In the “News” section of the website, all kinds of telephone numbers and links are provided to mobilize fans to rescue Ron “Mr. Biggs” Isley from the big house.

Follow the link to the Isley Brothers site on the Powerhouse Radio R&B Music Artists Official Website Directory page.

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Posted by King on 08/09 at 07:30 PM
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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Thelma Houston Celebrates Her New CD: A Woman's Touch

Scheduled for a Tuesday, August 14, 2007 release, Thelma Houston is back with her first album in 17 years: A Woman’s Touch

Every song is a winner.  There’s not a weak track.

She’s put together a great collection of songs based upon her favorite melodies from some gallant hit making gentlemen you know.

In the tradition of Lou Rawls, Isaac Hayes, and Barry White, Thelma launches a few selections with a quick monologue talking directly to us about her personal observations.  It’s a nice touch serving to reinforce the themes of the songs.

She calls these brief introductions “preludes.” Peitor Angell has contributed to writing three of them, while Thelma has co-written one.

The “Don’t Leave Me This Way” diva sounds as good as ever.  She’s crafted a solid CD, featuring a strong supporting cast of musicians.  Valerie Pinkerton, Myrna Smith, Portia Griffin, Pat Hodges and Denita James are the talented background singers supporting Ms. Houston.  (Hodges & James were formerly of the girl group Hodges, James & Smith).

The CD starts off with a chant to introduce a perky version of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes “Wake Up Everybody."

Luther Vandross’ anthem, “Never Too Much,” is the 2nd track, which really gets my attention.  “Never Too Much” showcases Houston’s strong voice inside of a skillfully crafted, well arranged, dance track.

Here are the songs:

  1. “Wake Up Everybody”
  2. “Never Too Much”
  3. “Brand New Day”
  4. “Ain’t That Peculiar”
  5. “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”
  6. “Distant Lover”
  7. “Love and Happiness”
  8. “Dance (Disco Heat) / You Make Be Feel (Mighty Real)”
  9. “That’s The Way of the World”
  10. “Please Send Me Someone To Love”

”Brand New Day” from Sting gets an uptempo bluesy, gospel, revival.  Thelma testifies with a touch of praise.  Terrific.

You may not recognize Smokey Robinson’s “Ain’t That Peculiar” at first listen.  The Marvin Gaye hit has been turned into a compelling torch song with some big band embellishments.

Thelma captures an enjoyable reading of “By the Time I Get To Phoenix,” songwriter Jim Webb’s classic, a hit for both Isaac Hayes and Glen Campbell.

Marvin Gaye’s “Distant Lover” is produced with a real retro 1950’s – 1960’s feel.  This one is also tastefully done.

Al Green’s original phrasing on “Love and Happiness” is quite unique.  Thelma Houston throws her soul into this one too, and the results are very satisfying.

The Sylvester hits “Disco Heat” and “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real” get real clever arrangements, freshening up these songs, driven along by Houston’s powerful and clear voice.

”That’s The Way of the World” keeps the Earth, Wind, & Fire spirit alive as Thelma captures the fulfilling essence of this song.

She throws her soul into Percy Mayfield’s “Please Send Me Someone To Love,” closing out the CD with a nice bluesy vamp.

A Woman’s Touch by Thelma Houston offers powerful classic soul favorites, sung with inspiration, creativity, and energy.

She’s having fun, and you can hear it.  Her band is excellent too.  Technically, the CD is well produced and mixed, with Thelma’s voice positioned just right so you can clearly hear and appreciate all of the words.

Thelma Houston’s biography has more about her Grammy winning history.

A link to the official Thelma Houston website, (also leading to her MySpace site), can be found in the Powerhouse Radio R&B Music Artists Official Website Directory.

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Posted by King on 08/07 at 01:02 AM
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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Stax Records Story Salutes Memphis Soulsville

The two hour television special Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story is excellent.

Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the story captures the saga of Stax in Memphis in the late 1960’s through early 1970’s.

Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, and Mavis Staples highlight the video story about the rise and fall of the legendary Memphis music making machine.

Updates about the story run through late 2006, so the very latest elements of Stax history are included.

This is “don’t miss” classic soul entertainment.  The focus is on the biographical chain of events that lead to phenomenal success for the record label.

Some amazing rare video is included of Sam & Dave, The Bar-Kays, Otis Redding, Mel & Tim, The Staple Singers, and others.

Congratulations to PBS for putting this on public television.  Watch for replays.

Here are 6 number one R&B songs from the Stax family of artists...

  1. “Green Onions” Booker T. & the M.G.’s - 1962
  2. “Knock On Wood” Eddie Floyd – 1966
  3. “Hold On I’m Comin’” Sam & Dave - 1966
  4. “Soul Man” Sam & Dave – 1967
  5. “Who’s Making Love” Johnnie Taylor – 1968
  6. “I’ll Take You There” Staple Singers – 1972

Final word (trivia tidbit)...M.G.’s stands for “Memphis Group.”

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Posted by King on 08/02 at 01:02 AM
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