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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Luther Vandross Christmas 1995

19 years after the Luther photo in the vinyl Funky Christmas Cotillion album, Mr. Vandross captures the decade of the 1990’s as a superstar.

Sony Music released This is Christmas in 1995, featuring 10 memorable Luther Vandross holiday favorites on the CD:

  1. “With A Christmas Heart”
  2. “This Is Christmas”
  3. “The MistleToe Jam”
  4. “Every Year, Every Christmas”
  5. “My Favorite Things”
  6. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
  7. “I Listen To The Bells” (duet with Darlene Love)
  8. “Please Come Home For Christmas”
  9. “A Kiss For Christmas”
  10. “O’ Come All Ye Faithful”

A true classic.

Posted by King on 12/27 at 01:02 AM
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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Funky Cotillion Christmas

The year was 1976.

Do you recognize the classic soul stars celebrating Christmas?

This album from the PowerhouseRadio.com archive brought together artists from Atlantic Records’ Cotillion label.

From left to right, Lou Donaldson, Willis Jackson, Luther (Vandross) is at the piano, directly behind him is John Edwards, (later a member of the Spinners).

The 4 guys on the right are the Impressions.  Margie Joseph is directly behind the Impressions (in front of the Christmas tree).

Merry Christmas 2007!

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Posted by King on 12/25 at 01:02 AM
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Thursday, December 13, 2007

12 Days of Christmas in Soulsville

2007 has been the year of Stax Records reissues.

Concord Music Group now owns the Stax catalogue.  Concord has been aggressively re-releasing music in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Stax.

New this holiday season is Christmas In Soulsville.

This CD is a Southern Soul loverís sweet treat.  The tracks reflect the bluesy sound that dominated Memphis and Stax in the 1960’s and early 1970’s.

You won’t find fancy synthesizers, glossy production gimmicks, or city slicker orchestration on these sparse arrangements.  Simple is better as these songs are sung from the heart using the emotions of soul to carry the tunes.

One track appears for the first time on CD, “That Makes Christmas Day,” a charming daughter and father collaboration featuring Carla & Rufus Thomas.  The song is a slow blues with lots of Memphis horns, lots of Rufus, and not enough Carla, but it works.

2 versions of “Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’” from both Albert King and Mack Rice are included.

Christmas In Soulsville is a historic time capsule.  Who better to serve up a buffet of classic soul Christmas delights than the R&B - blues stars of Stax.

  1. Otis Redding - “Merry Christmas, Baby”
  2. The Staple Singers - “Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas”
  3. Booker T & The MGs - “Winter Wonderland”
  4. Isaac Hayes - “The Mistletoe and Me”
  5. The Emotions - “Black Christmas”
  6. Albert King - “Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’”
  7. Rance Allen Group - “White Christmas”
  8. Rufus Thomas - “I’ll Be Your Santa Baby”
  9. Little Johnny Taylor - “Please Come Home for Christmas”
  10. The Emotions - “What Do the Lonely Do at Christmas”
  11. Mack Rice - “Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’”
  12. Isaac Hayes - “Winter Snow”
  13. The Temprees - “It’s Christmas Time Again (The Christmas Song)”
  14. Albert King - “Christmas Comes But Once a Year”
  15. Rufus & Carla Thomas - “That Makes Christmas Day”

Remember to listen to PowerhouseRadio.com’s 12 Days of Christmas featuring all holiday music through Christmas Day, 2007.

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Posted by King on 12/13 at 09:00 PM
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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rhythm King Ike Turner Dies at 76

Ike Turner, an R&B and rock innovator, has passed away at the age of 76.

Ike & Tina Turner were shocking audiences 40 years ago with an explosive show featuring the leggy lady Ikettes, Tina’s dynamic moves, and Ike’s slave driver dominance of the band.

His abuse of Tina Turner is well documented in the movie, What’s Love Got To Do With It.

Ike formed his first band, the Kings of Rhythm, while he was still in school.  He played guitar on some early rock and roll hits in the 1950’s, including the song “Rocket 88” in 1951 by saxophonist Jackie Brenston, (recorded at the famous Sun Studios in Memphis).

By 1956, Tina Turner became a vocalist with Ike, and in 1958, the same year they were married, she became the band’s lead vocalist.

Between 1958 and 1966, Ike and Tina worked hard to establish their reputation as gifted electric entertainers.

Producer Phil Spector gave them their first big break leading to international success in 1966, with “River Deep, Mountain High,” a #3 hit in the U.K.  Despite the global acceptance of “River Deep, Mountain High,” the song did not connect as well with American audiences.

By 1969, Ike and Tina were recording cover songs originally performed by Sly & The Family Stone, and The Beatles.  Another cover, “Proud Mary” from Creedence Clearwater Revival’s songbook propelled the duo to #4 on the U.S. charts in 1971.

Just this year, Ike Turner won a 2007 Grammy Award in the traditional blues album category for Risin’ with The Blues.

Ike will probably be most remembered as a tragic figure.  Despite exceptional musical talent, his demons of drug addition and wife-abusing are always going to be associated with his legend.

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Posted by King on 12/12 at 05:30 PM
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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Jerry Butler and Brenda Lee Eager's December Song

"Ain’t Understanding Mellow,” Jerry Butler and Brenda Lee Eager’s dazzling duet hit the charts on December 11, 1971, eventually becoming a #3 R&B hit.

One of those rare quiet storm songs that builds slowly to a sensational climax, “Ain’t Understanding Mellow” was Eager’s biggest hit, and her first.

Discovered in the Windy City of Chicago, Brenda Lee went on to record several other songs with Jerry Butler.

Flashback 25 years to my special conversation with the Ice Man Jerry Butler from the PowerhouseRadio.com archive.

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Posted by King on 12/11 at 01:02 AM
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Monday, December 10, 2007

50th Annual Grammy Grab to Spotlight Great R&B

There a 7 R&B categories in the 50th Annual Grammy Awards to be held Sunday, February 10th, 2008, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

Elligible music was released between October 1, 2006 through September 30, 2007.

Once upon a time the Grammy honorees shared about 26 awards each year.  Now with over 100 categories and enough awards to stroke everyone’s ego, the special nature of winning has been watered down.

If all of the nominated records in the Best R&B album category are new productions, rather than reissues, then what’s the difference between this category and the Best Contemporary R&B album?

Maybe it’s an artificial separation between some old school and new school performers.

Here are 5 of the 7 R&B categories and the nominees:

  • Best Female R&B Vocal Performance

    “Just Fine”
    Mary J. Blige

    “When I See You”

    “No One”
    Alicia Keys

    “If I Have My Way”
    Chrisette Michele

    “Hate On Me”
    Jill Scott

  • Best Male R&B Vocal Performance

    Raheem DeVaughn

    Musiq Soulchild

    “Because Of You”

    “Future Baby Mama”

    “Please Don’t Go”

  • Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals

    “Same Girl”
    R. Kelly Featuring Usher

    Chaka Khan Featuring Mary J. Blige

    “Hate That I Love You”
    Rihanna Featuring Ne-Yo

    Angie Stone Featuring Betty Wright

    T-Pain Featuring Akon

  • Best R&B Album

    Funk This
    Chaka Khan

    Lost & Found

    Musiq Soulchild

    The Real Thing
    Jill Scott

    Sex, Love & Pain

  • Best Contemporary R&B Album


    Just Like You
    Keyshia Cole


    East Side Story
    Emily King

    Because Of You

Grammy.com has all of the Grammy Nominees and categories.

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Posted by King on 12/10 at 09:30 AM
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Thursday, December 06, 2007

7 Top Soulful Picks for Classic R&B 2007

If you look hard enough, and dig deep enough, you can always find good new music.

Here are our 7 Top Soulful Picks for Classic R&B 2007 in order.  The releases all reflect the best traditions of vintage classic soul you or someone on your gift list will enjoy.

7 Top Soulful Picks for Classic R&B 2007:

  1. Diana Ross - I Love You - Thoroughly enjoyable over repeated listening.  Mostly hit parade oldies from the catalogue of others served up Diana Ross style, packed with diva charm all the way.

  2. Alicia Keys - As I Am - When Stevie Wonder recorded the albums Where I’m Coming From and Music of My Mind in 1971 and 1972, he pushed the boundaries of what people expected from R&B.  He also pushed himself forward into uncharted waters as a creative artist.  Alicia Keys has taken some risks with As I Am, and has crafted one of the most inventive albums of the year.  Excellent stuff.

  3. Thelma Houston - A Woman’s Touch - Mostly danceable chestnuts from a grab bag of good time hits and heavies we all remember.  A nice effort putting Thelma Houston back in the game.

  4. Chaka Khan - Funk This - Features one of the best tracks of the year, “Disrespectful,” with Mary J. Blige.  Almost as adventurous as the Alicia Keys release, Chaka lets loose with new tunes and some classics you might not expect.  Nominated for a best R&B album Grammy (2007).  Let the funky times roll.

  5. Stax 50th Anniversary Celebration - various artists - 50 fabulous tracks from the Stax Records vault to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the southern soul giant.  They did make one mistake.  Isaac Hayes’ “Shaft” appears in its 3 minute 10 second single form, rather than the 4 minute 30 second full version.  For a song that won both a Grammy and Academy Award, I would have used the album version.

  6. Chris Jasper - Invincible - The former Isley Brother creates a spiritually uplifting collection of praise worthy songs fusing sacred themes with secular grooves reminiscent of his past hits with the guys.

  7. Patti LaBelle - Miss Patti’s Christmas - LaBelle’s Christmas album is the best soul/R&B holiday release of 2007.  A joyous Hallelujah!

Here they are again, with additional links to album sources:

  • Diana Ross - I Love You
  • Alicia Keys - As I Am
  • Thelma Houston - A Womanís Touch
  • Chaka Khan - Funk This
  • Stax 50th Anniversary Celebration
  • Chris Jasper - Invincible
  • Patti LaBelle - Miss Patti’s Christmas

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    Posted by King on 12/06 at 01:02 AM
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    Tuesday, December 04, 2007

    George Clinton is Commander in Chief of P-Funk

    George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic were all inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

    P-funk master George, who will turn 68 next year, shows no sign of slowing down.

    "One Nation Under a Groove,” Chocolate City,” “Atomic Dog,” “Flashlight."

    George Clinton’s resume of funky hits are fan favorites.

    Innovators usually work hard for their success, and in the early years, George was no exception.  He relates a very funny Parliament/Funkadelic story to Marc Taylor in Marc’s excellent book, A Touch of Classic Soul 2: The Late 1970’s.

    George Clinton is Commander in Chief of P-Funk.  Catch the full back story on his official web site.

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    Posted by King on 12/04 at 01:02 AM
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