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Album Review: Latimore: Ladies Choice"
We've bantered back and forth about the state of our African-in-America culture whether it's about the current and future state of our music (i.e. The Black Hole), the interesting but underrated phenomena that is Southern Soul and of course the undercurrents of politics and government and it's effect on all of the above.
First up is the latest release by our good Southern Soul friend Lattimore. The name of this is CD is called Ladies Choice. Before we get into this review let's take a look at this thing called Southern Soul.
The fact that it's rarely if not ever mentioned or discussed as a viable genre or niche in American black music is a major injustice to it as well as ALL music ever made in this country.
I don't know if any of you have had the chance to read Chancellor Williams excellent book The Destruction of Black Civilization. If you haven't and especially if you're black and of the African Diaspora living here in America it should be high on your list of books to read in 2012. In it Mr. Williams speaks of the very basic aspects of early pre-Euro civilization and how that came to be diverted, diluted and eventually undermined and stolen outright and completely.
One of the things he spoke of is the way some native Africans chose to retreat further into 'the bush' (those virtually impenetrable areas of the continent that are so named because the overall natural boundaries of flora and fauna make it impossible to access). In so doing much of the culture and civilization of those indigenous people remain intact and untainted by any outside influence. In fact it's an arguable point to say that much of what remains is a direct link to antiquity and ancient times gone by. Southern Soul is very similar in that while maintaining it's allegiance to the beginnings of classic American black music with Blues, Gospel, R&B and one of it's children early Soul, Southern Soul is probably the ONLY pristine music we have today. Untouched and basically unchanged since it's peak in it's 60's Stax/Volt heyday, this musical niche is probably the ONLY form (with the possible exception of straight-ahead Jazz-thru-the-Blues) that will survive that time when there'll be nothing- The Black Hole of music surely to come.
Folk like Millie Jackson, Latimore, Marvin Sease, William Bell, Mystery Man, Clarence Carter and so many more carry on the work of the greats like Otis Redding, Johnny Taylor, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Porter and Hayes, Sam and Dave and the like. In fact Millie Jackson, Latimore and William Bell might as well be living on the Equator (to go back to my 'bush' concept) as they've taken what was started by others and have bridged the gap for many, many years holding the torch and place setting for whatever/whichever youngun ready and willing to take it into the future (more of that later). They will NOT however go away quietly or give up that torch to just ANY ol body either.
All of this brings me to Latimore and Ladies Choice.
As with most of this music all you can do is smile because it is so unabashedly black in its creation, inception and delivery. Latimore, a big linebacker of a black man lies on the cover of this album on a sheepskin rug. What makes this figure even more arresting is that he's resplendent with a beautiful mane of white hair with an equally if not handsomely trimmed goatee! He reminds me for all the world of Caesar, Kimba the white lion's pop (for any of you who are fans of and remember late 60's-early 70's era Japanese anime like Tobor the 8th man, Astro Boy, Speed Racer and so on).
He's just as notorious as Wicked Pickett, raises mo hell than Stag-O-Lee...yeah THAT kind of cat. But you see also present in Southern Soul is the long gone, dead and buried badass male lead singer. JB, Pickett, Teddy, Jackie and, hell even Bobby Brown fit the bill. In that tradition also lies Latimore.
This man by the way is true to what he writes and sings as it relates to this music. Like the stereotypical idea of traditional blues there's a feeling here of that 'ol fatback negro' which may be off putting to some. There's all of that guitar playing and the singing is guttural bordering on the anecdotal preaching feel of All Is Said and Done to the lusty, dusty Bow Wow (I'm An Ol' Dog). But maybe I'm nit-picking.
The only real problem I have with this really well performed recording is the insistence of fusing today's technology and its sequenced sounds with the naturalness that this good ol Southern Soul brings to the table. I know bout the economy and all of that but the money saved using that hokey sounding 'horn' patch is more than made up for in post-production. I swear it would've been so much better to hire a sax and trumpet man, hand em the horn charts (there's software that handles the charting automatically) and get em in and out. The sound is so much better. The same thing with the gates and whatnot on the drums: this stuff was made to have slapping not echoing snares and deep thudding kicks not implied ooomph. Besides the 'keeids' that find that sort of thing attractive aren't into this anyhow...not yet.
Other than that these lyrics as with any real folk music (and that's what it is: see Taj Mahal) is easily the highest point of interest on this album. On Made In America he admonishes one who 'called him the 'n' word' to 'kiss his 'a' word and get the 'f' word out of his face! Great!
Here's the track listing:
1- A Woman's Love- nasty Ike Hayes/ Walk On By groove
2- Made In America-ode to the woes of being black as well as growing old here in America and for that matter anywhere
3- All Said and Done- traditional gospel-sounding tune. More of the same from Made In America
4- Dance With Me- tale of a night out with his young lady- she likes "dat hippity hippy hop..but when it comes to that low down dirty slow music I want you ta dance with me". Um, decidedly NOT Delfonic
5- Big Ol Pretty Girl- you've heard it all before. Bad Mamma Jamma, BrickHouse etc.
6- Bow Wow (I'm an Ol Dog)- Think the movie Colors and that scene with Sean Penn and Robert Duvall with their conversation about bulls and cows. Young pups are cool but 'I still know how to bury the bone'
7- Sleeping With The Enemy- not quite Made In America or All Said And Done but similar in it's 'life's cautions' theme in an almost anthem-like protest song setting.
8- Cat's Got My Tongue- again the 'folk music' of Harry Belafonte or The Mighty Sparrow or Odetta or Ledbelly finds it's way here in the form of a Sweet Sweetback ode, with an almost note-for-note chord structure of a slowed down, bluesy, r&b One Nation Under A Groove. Again-nasty.
9- What You Wont Do For Love- as they are wont to do, many of these artists try their hands at covering a current 'flava' or 'what they're doin today'. This is neither good nor bad but maybe its filler. It serves it's purpose.
Soul Patroller Harry Stone is the distributor of note on his LaStone Records label. Latimore (lead and background vocals;keyboards) is accompanied by only a rhythm section:
The ever-present glue holding things together is the incomparable Roach Thompson on lead and rhythm guitar;mastering-done at T-Bone studios.
George 'Chocolate' Perry is basically the 'E'-man of this production. Covering bass, drums, engineering, mixing and production chores in His studio (Chocolate studios), this guy is responsible for the sound that is today's Latimore. he's probably the guy that is the object of my ire with his 'hot' mixes and sequences. However it must be said that he IS a whiz at it or HK Stone wouldn't be backing this project.
There's added background vocals by The Gospel Filtrations. That's Southern Soul fo ya!
The artists that we support feed the culture yesterday, today and tomorrow. Think of that when walking past these Southern Soul offerings. This genre won't die but it is really good, classic black music that is deserved of our support. At least once a year a caravan of these artists roll into your town. If you can go check em out and pick up some of their merchandise, visit their websites and show em some love. I say this because YOU WILL BE THOROUGHLY ENTERTAINED! I GUARANTEE YOU!!!!
Hire A Band
Blues, Hip Hop and Soul Music Director www.radioio.com
Album Review: Latimore - All About the Rhythm and the Blues
“Maybe my age is showing. Maybe my bias to traditional classic Soul. Maybe it's my affinity to time honored performers who still have something to say musically, say it and without compromise with whom they are. Then again, "maybe" this is just a good album.
If you still have an appreciation for Classic Soul. If you still have an appreciation for "Da Blues", then this album should be in your library. The album is called "All About the Rhythm and the Blues" by the legend of "Southern Soul", LATIMORE. He's still got it, he's still the "High Priest" of Southern Soul.
--DROWN IN MY OWN TEARS
--AROUND THE WORLD ( I really like this one. I think most cats will relate.)
--EVERYDAY IS A BEAUTIFUL DAY
--OBAMA AND THE FAT MAN
--DON'T GIVE UP ON OUR LOVE
--EVERYDAY I HAVE THE BLUES (His rendition of the Blues Classic)
--PASS THE PIANO BLUES (..a continuation of "Everyday..." with a piano solo)
--SINGING AND PLAYING THE BLUES
--MR. RIGHT NOW (This one tickles the hell out of me. Talking 'bout "cutting to the chase.)
--AROUND THE WORLD (Club mix bonus track)
Now I know that there will be those who will offer the "dated" argument. Well they are welcome to it. This is "Latimo' "! No more and no less what we, who have listened to him over the decades, can or should expect. Pure Southern Soul/Blues with the stories that are from the "down home" experience and perspective. Believe it or not, we really haven't gotten too hip to relate no matter how "citified" we have become. I think we still need these kinds of projects to remind us of just how simple things really are in the end of the day.
I guess it's pretty plan, Earl Gregory gets "the Grown Folks" albums. This is a "Grown Folks" album for sho'. This "is" LATIMORE as we have come to appreciate him for decades, and this album exemplifies his continuing reign as the "High Priest" of Southern Soul and Blues.
CD Review: Benny Latimore - "The Early Years" (Southern Soul)
Benny Latimore is an icon in the Black community in the United States and while he may not be a household name in the "mainstream" his name is such in the Black community that he is counted among the very few artists for whom you don't even have to say his entire name and people know who you are talking about. He's one of the great Ballad singers in the history of Black music and on this CD rescued from deep in the vaults of Henry Stone Music, we get to hear what the "early years" of this icon sounded like.
The "black music experts" at places like Rolling Stone, VH-1, Vibe, Clear Channel and other places may not know much about Latimore, but if you go deep into the heart of the community ("tha hood") they know all about Latimore.
Imagine this scene from the 1980's for just a moment…
Imagine yourself (a kid who thinks he knows all there is to know about music/life) in a neighborhood bar at 3pm (that's right I said THREE P.M IN THE AFTERNOON) in say Bed-Sty/Brooklyn, Hill District/Pittsburgh, 5th Ward/Houston, etc. You all know the types of places I'm talkin about (and shame on you if ya try to tell me that you have never been in one of this type of places cuz we all KNOW that you would be lying….lol)
This is the type of song that might be playing on the jukebox when you first walk in and are treated to the sight of the 60ish 350 lb owner doing a type of super NASTY FAST WILD ASS GRIND along with his equally "girthful" wife/girlfriend. The way that the two of them are dancing is about as close to actually having sex while still remaining fully clothed……lol
After the song ends the owner (who you hadn't realized was watching you) comes over to you and you sit and have a beer with him since the bar only has about 10-15 people in there, and he then proceeds to tell you the history of Black music from his perspective (which is quite a bit different from the history of the music as described by "rock critics"…..lol) you leave the bar having consumed 3 free beers that he wouldn't let you pay for, just having made a new friend for life.
It is in these types of places, far removed from the line of sight of the folks who make programming decisions at radio & tv stations, editorial decisions at magazines or make design decisions at internet companies that you will find the music of Benny Latimore loudly playing on the jukebox and see people both dancing and crying in their beer. Fast forward to the year 2006 and guess what? You will still find the music of Latimore playing at same type of inner city bars/clubs in cities large and small across the United States that I guarantee you are never reviewed by the editors of the local tourist guide.
Anyhow, on the new release on Latimore called "Benny Latimore - The Early Years", Henry Stone gives us peek at what Latimore sounded like at the beginning of his career and there are a few surprises. "The Power and the Glory" is a duet with what sounds like a small gospel choir that will make you cry. Another example the cover version of Brook Benton's "It's Just A Matter of Time" is excellent and makes one think that perhaps Latimore can beat Brook Benton at his own game? However I quickly forgot about going into analytical when I got to track number 11. "I'll Be Good To You" (co-writen by Clarence "Blowfly" Reid) comes on and we are treated to one of the great Soul records of all time. That's followed by "I Pity The Fool" a great soul shouter where Latimore takes us to church (by way of a few "back ally's"….lol). "Rain from the Sky" is a great slow jam that would be perfect at a "bluelight basement" party in your house sometime soon.
Track Listing: "The Early Years"
1. There She Is; L. Edwards Jr., L. Weiss; Roosevelt, BMI; 138s
2. Ain't Gonna Cry No More; Latimore; Sherlyn, BMI; 149s
3. Girl I Got News For You; Bradley Shapiro, Bobby Puccetti; Sherlyn, BMI; 145s
4. The Power and the Glory; Doc Pomus; Screen Gems-Columbia, BMI; 186s DEMO (594KB)
5. It Was So Nice While It Lasted; Bill Nash; Nom, BMI; 159s
6. Move and Groove Together; M. Nash; And, BMI; 152s
7. Love Don't Love Me; Steve Alaimo, Clarence Reid; Sherlyn, BMI; 124s
8. Life's Little Ups and Downs; M. A. Rich; BMI, Makamillion Music/Warner-Tamerlane; 183s
9. It's Just a Matter of Time; Hendrix-Otis-Benton; Eden, BMI; 163s
10. I'm Just an Ordinary Man; David Brown, Bobby Puccetti; Sherlyn, BMI; 154s
11. I'll Be Good to You; Clarence Reid, Willie Clarke; Sherlyn, BMI; 168s
12. I Pity the Fool; Malone; Lion, BMI; 189s
13. Have a Little Faith; Jackie Avery; Redwal, BMI; 181s
14. I'm a Believer; Jackie Avery; Redwal, BMI; 160s
15. Rain From The Sky; Benny Latimore; Sherlyn, BMI; 163s
16. I Can't Go On; Conlon, Shapiro, Latimore, Puccetti; Sherlyn, BMI; 157s
Check out the CD online by clicking here
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