Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Not Just The Blues

Chess Records is the undisputed champ when it comes to electric blues in the early sixties, but there were also great R&B, soul & jazz records made there as well. Towards the end of the decade the heyday of Chicago blues had passed and Chess was finding more success with soul acts such as Etta James, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Fontella Bass and Billy Stewart.

One of these soulful singers was Marlena Shaw. Marlena dropped out of college and played small clubs throughout the mid sixties until she hooked up with Count Basie with whom she toured for four years. She is still performing today and it is on stage where she really shines. That energy is captured on Liberation Conversation recorded in 1969 for Cadet Records which was Chess' Jazz subsidiary. The songs erupts into a frenzy of scat (Ga,Ga,Gan,Ga,Ga,Ga,G) that has been sampled numerous times. It appears on her LP Spice of Life.

Marlena Shaw: Liberation Conversation

Terry Callier is a jazzy mystic whose style defies genre. A Chicago native, Terry caught the attention of Chess execs while playing local coffeehouses. Ordinary Joe appears on his 1972 LP Occasional Rain. The song has an easy swing that instantly puts you in a great mood and makes you want to say hello to your neighbor.

Terry Callier: Ordinary Joe

The Rotary Connection possessed a lavish sound that still sounds modern today. The group that featured the remarkable 5 octave voice of Minnie Riperton recorded 6 albums between 1967 and 1971. Black Gold of The Sun appears on 1971's Hey Love and is arguably the group's best track. I love an epic song like this!

The Rotary Connection: I Am The Black Gold of The Sun


Anonymous said...

great info! i love to read the background while i listen to these these great songs

Heyyy brother! said...

I love the selection of songs. I just wish I wasn't at work listening. I should be sitting in the sun with a cold beer in my hand!