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Quickie Album Review: Theodis Ealey - You and I, Together
When I was a teenager growing up in New York, most of the time I listened to the same radio station. I was a loyal WBLS-107.5 listener. Although I would also listen to WWRL-1600 AM, WLIB-1190 AM, WRVR-FM 107.1 and even sometimes WBAI, WNJR outta Newark, occasionally WMCA-570 AM & WABC-770 AM, mostly after around 1971 or so I pretty much tuned in to WBLS-107.5 all of the time.
That's because my very favorite DJ, Frankie "Hollywood" Crocker was on each & every day from 4pm - 8pm. In NYC back in those days, Frankie "Hollywood" Crocker wasn't just the most popular DJ on the radio. He was an institution and kids like me all over the New York area paid very close attention to every word that Frankie Crocker said. We knew that he was also the Program Director for the station and that whenever he said also went for WBLS-107.5 FM as a whole.
At first he said that WBLS stood for "Black Liberation Station." Later he said that WBLS stood for "The Total Black Experience in Sound." Frankie Crocker explained his concept of "The Total Black Experience in Sound," by suggesting that the station was about a whole lot more than "just soul music." Frankie said that as WBLS Program Director it was his responsibility to bring to us the listener, "The Total Black Experience in Sound." That meant that we would hear:
-Both Little Richard & Richard Pryor.
-Both James Brown & James Baldwin.
-Both Jackie Wilson & Jackie Robinson.
-Both Miles Davis & Buddy Miles.
-Both John Lee Hooker and Dr John "The Night Tripper."
-We would hear Dukes, & Counts, Kings (BB) and Queens (Aretha) -We would hear Doo Wop & Funk & Rock & Blues & Soul & Jazz.
And we would hear it "all mixed up," just the way "we" invented it!
So how influential was Frankie Crocker?
We may never know the answer to that question.
However if you have been paying attention to Soul-Patrol for any amount of time, clearly Frankie Crocker's whole "Total Black Experience in Sound," has had a pretty big impact on a certain teenager named Bob Davis.
And that is my long winded way of bringing you back to the subject of this review...
MR. THEODIS EALEY
Yes my friends. Theodis is a Frankie Crocker kinda artist!
I think that if Frankie were still around he would add every song on the album, Theodis Ealey - You and I, Together to the WBLS-107.5 FM playlist. Below is my track-By-Track review of the album...
Theodis Ealey - You and I, Together
1. Theodis, What's Up aka Shut The Puck Up Theodis Ealey
[Stevie Ray Vaughn Style Blues Rock + Richard Pryor Style Comedy]
2. You and I, Together Theodis Ealey & Lacee
[Moments/Sylvia Style East Coast Slow Jam]
3. 634-5789 Theodis Ealey
[Very tasty Southern Fried Wilson Pickett Cover]
4. Love's Guarantee Theodis Ealey
[Moments/Sylvia Style East Coast Slow Jam]
5. Number One Baby Theodis Ealey & Lacee
[Otis Redding/Carla Thomas type duet, with just a taste of Johnnie "Guitar" Watson style guitar playing]
6. Think It Over Theodis Ealey & Lacee
[Jerry Butler/Brenda Lee Edgar type duet, Tyrone Davis style relationship advice, Curtis Mayfield style guitar playing]
7. Slow Grindin' Theodis Ealey
8. The Old Man's Story Theodis Ealey
[These two songs sound like what Black folks would call "country," kinda "Clarence Carterish," featuring blusey harps, twangy guitar playing, spoken word monologues, these are really an artistic multi-genre songs that could easily be played on both Blues or Country radio stations. Or better yet a Blues or Country music jukebox, just to keep em guessin. Let me put it this way, if he were still alive, Elvis might want to cover these two songs. Then what "genre" would you call it?]
9. The Last Time Theodis Ealey
10. Sweet Curvaceous Love Theodis Ealey
[These two songs are the kind of songs that would be "jukebox hits." BTW jukeboxes still exist in the "deepest/darkest" parts of the Black community. Just go to the ghetto at 2pm in the afternoon on a hot summer day, and look for a bar that's open. Usually the door is wide open to create a nice cross-breeze with the open back door, just walk right in and order a drink. Observe the scene closely and you might just see 7-10 older males & females. They are doing some heavy drinking, mostly talking a whole bunch of crap about their jobs, their family & neighborhood gossip. However there is always one couple in the bar that aren't participating in the general conversation. They are having their own private conversation. Eventually one of the two will walk over to the jukebox and play a song. These are the type of song that will be selected and the two (illicit?) lovers will find a dark corner of the bar to do a wild/erotic x-rated grid....]
11. Baby's Got Them Blue Jeans On
[More Curtis Mayfield style guitar, this time combined with Stax style horns]
So when you take it as a whole, this album is a pretty good example of "Total Black Experience in Sound." If you have any interest whatsoever in incorporating what Frankie Crocker would call "Total Black Experience in Sound," or perhaps you are a person who doesn't think that such a concept even exists in 2013, I think that you will be pleasantly surprised if you take a moment, to check out Theodis's website (http://www.theodisealey.com ) ignore the Twitter/Facebook/TMZ world that we are living in for just a few moments.
You will find that despite the recent passing from the scene of some great artists, that...
Theodis Ealey - You and I, Together
PROFILE: Theodis Ealey (by Blanche Valentine)
Folks in this day of lip sync performances, auto tune and music tracks instead of live bands it is a natural high to catch not only a live performance but a performance of a super talented vocalist and guitar master such as Theodis Ealey. Besides owning several of his CD's I have had the opportunity to see him live as well as seeing him back Faith Evans in Fighting Temptations and a few other movies.
Probably my favorite performance is Theodis live at a outdoor Blues Festival here in the Atlanta area, it was about dusk when he took the stage and just came out blazing. Most people know him because of the commercial success of his chart topping (yep, he topped the charts over Kanye and Beyoncé for a few weeks) "Blue Blues" hit Stand Up In It" but he blew folks drawers off with his RAW guitar blues styling.
Playing his own stuff. He was all over the stage, on his knees, on the edge of the stage, all the while doing his thang as band leader keeping everyone tight. When he slowed the pace to chat with the audience we were exhausted. I keep looking because the man infront of me kept saying, "damn, he finger tips must be bleeding." He stomped on us for 40 minutes, in between songs he strummed and played rifts but what stuck with me was no dead air and he talked a lot of sh*t, knew how to make his audience laugh, yep he has the power to seduce you with his guitar and I actually felt sorry for the "more established" artist (based on line up) coming in behind him because Theodis had folks on their feet rockin' and the following artist tried to open with a bluesy ballad, wanting to be mellow and really fugged up our groove.
Another super performance was a duet with also super talented Bennie Latimore. The two of them recreated a scene from a movie they were in together(N-Secure). They played themselves performing in a juke joint and they tore it up. Both of them are electrifying live artist with long track records of audience satisfaction.
BIO: Theodis Ealey
Blues Guitarist, Vocalist, Songwriter, Producer and Entertainer......just a few of the titles that describe the phenomenon of Theodis Ealey. This Mississippi native first picked up an instrument when his older brother, "Y" "Z" Ealey first taught him how to play at the age of 4. Ten years later, Theodis, on bass, was playing at his first gig with brothers, "Y" "Z" and Melwin Ealey, in a group called "Y" "Z" Ealey and the Merrymakers. This brotherly trio made their debut in their hometown of Natchez, Mississippi at a local nightclub called the Horseshoe Circle. One year later, Theodis traded his bass for a guitar and began performing with another Natchez group, Eugene Butler & the Rocking Royals. It was here that Theodis sharpened his guitar playing skills, hitting the local circuit.
Music has always been a part of his life. Growing up, Theodis says this life-long love affair with music began when he lived on Highway 61 on the other side of the road from Miss Willie Mae's Juke Joint. "I would just sit on the steps and listen to the sounds coming from there", the heart and soul of the Blues. Since leaving Mississippi, Theodis always carried the "Mississippi Juke Joint Spirit" with him through his music. As one of 11 children in his family, Theodis wanted to travel the world and the U.S. Air Force provided the opportunity. During his military tour of service, Theodis was stationed in Hawaii for 6 years and then moved to Oakland, California before making Atlanta, Georgia his permanent home. Still holding strong to his Mississippi roots, Theodis played guitar with such notable artists as Little Milton, Johnny Clyde Copeland, Richard "Dimples" Fields, the Blues Brothers and the 'legendary' Charles Brown. This musical journey enabled Theodis to generate a personal style based upon his love of diverse music -- blues, country, soul and rock.
Established as an accomplished guitarist, Theodis took a chance and the music industry soon discovered the voice behind the guitar. Theodis "the artist" was born. Ichiban Records, a respected blues label in Atlanta, recognized Theodis' multiple talents and immediately signed him to a deal in 1991. Over the next 6 years, Theodis and Ichiban Records would enjoy 4 very successful albums. It was Theodis Ealey's charm and magnetism that attracted audiences worldwide. His electrifying stage performances also opened doors to Hollywood. Theodis appeared in the NBC Movie of the Week, "A Kiss To Die For", the Emmy Winning HBO special, "Miss Evers' Boys", the major motion picture, "The Fighting Temptations" and commercials for Rooms To Go and The Cartoon Network, forever "The Bluesman Lover". His latest accomplishment was his appearance in the Tyler Perry movie, "Daddy's Little Girls" in 2007. Theodis Ealey generated industry recognition for his innovative style and authentic Mississippi flavor as the recipient of the Male Vocalist Top Star Award in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1994 and Mo' Better Blues Male Artist of the Year Award in Atlanta, GA in 1997. Theodis' most recent awards include the Jus' Blues Best Blues & Soul Man Song of the Year 2007 for "Francine" and the Jus' Blues Lowell Folsom Legends Award for years 2006 and 2008. Theodis Ealey also crossed music genres and performed as a featured vocalist with Hip Hop group Ghetto Mafia on their "On Da Grind" CD, further expanding his fan base.
The "Bluesman Lover" made lemonade out of lemons when Ichiban Records eventually closed its doors. Seizing the moment, Theodis Ealey used this opportunity to create his new label home, IFGAM Records. The name alone is symbolic of the Theodis Ealey spirit . . . I Feel Good About Myself (IFGAM). At his new label home, Theodis released his fifth project entitled, "It's A Real Good Thang", continuing with the Theodis Ealey tradition of music diversity filled with pure soul. The 2004 "Stand Up In It" project was a runaway success as the #1 Single on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles Sales Chart for 5 consecutive weeks, debuting at #5 on Billboard's Blues Album Chart and #69 on Billboard's R&B/Hip Hop Charts. Theodis thought this song and album was just for "grown folks" but the radio industry and listeners thought otherwise, earning him 2 "JACKIE" Awards in 2004 for Best Recording by a Single Artist and National Blues Artist of the Year--The Little Milton Campbell Award. Rewardingly, the female population has claimed "Stand Up In It" as the Women's National Anthem.
While retaining his title as the "Stand Up In It" man, Theodis decided to take some time to introduce "Francine" to the world and, boy, was she welcomed with open arms. In 2006, Theodis released his first full-length solo CD after three long years, "I'm The Man You Need". Based on input from fans and DJs, it was surely worth the wait. For all the fans who needed a "Theodis Ealey -- L I V E" fix, they got exactly what they wanted in 2009 -- exciting, magnetic, juke joint blues. Continuing in the juke joint spirit, Theodis released two singles, much to his fans' delight -- "The Old Man's Story (MBFDD)" and "Slow Grindin'". Now, a brand new year brings about a more passionate side of Theodis Ealey that the fans and DJs will surely love with his new CD, "You and I, Together".
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