SONG OF THE DAY Dixie Nightingales – I Don’t Know


PrimaryAlso known as Ollie & The Nightingales and The Nightingales, The Dixie Nightingales were an African-American male vocal group who specialised in all things soul, R&B, and gospel. Founded as The Gospel Writer Juniors in the late 1950’s, the band was founded by Ollie Hoskins, Willie Neal, Nelson Lesure, Bill Davis and Rochester Neal. After Ollie left, the band’s name changed again so, with its various band member/name changes along the way, you’ll do well to keep up!

With Hoskins as lead singer, The Dixie Nightingales became one of the most prominent and successful southern gospel groups of the 1950s and 1960s, issuing their early releases through Pepper Records in 1958. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, one member that joined up was a teen-aged David Ruffin, who would later go on to find fame as lead singer of The Temptations!! 

As the years went on and some members came and went, the band eventually turned to soul, not deviating as much from this path – which I find a great shame!! This early stuff is raw!! Today’s song is a perfect example of this and was released in 1966 when the band were known as the Dixie Nightingales. Backed with the gutsy wonder of Keep On Trying on the B-side, I Don’t Know is a little belter defined by mighty vocal layers and a glorious spirited piano melody…. Check it out above and listen to it’s flip-side below! Enjoy!!

Posted in Funk, gospel, Soul | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

SONG OF THE DAY Kathy Heidman – Fine Street Woman


PrimaryI love the way music resonates in different ways, on different days and how integral it is to the mood of the moment. I heard today’s song a few days ago and did like it at the time, but today I really like it – today and would love nothing more than to share it with you…

I was trying to guess the release date of this before I had a look and was about three years out, I estimated 1973, but Fine Street Woman was actually released in 1976. The song appeared on the only album an artist called Kathy Heidman released and the story behind its creation is really very interesting. In fact, we are lucky be hearing this song considering how close it was to disappearing into obscurity. Had a chance find not unearthed one of Heidman’s songs, this may not have ever re-emerged! 

The record was the result of a brief collaboration between two artists and the product of this all-too-fleeting project was Move With Love – a 10 track offering issued on a label called Country Flavour Records. 

In 2013, Numero Group reissued this rare album, together with a write-up, outlining the story behind Kathy Heidman. This I have pasted below for your reading pleasure, and what a pleasure it is too!! Such a cool story!! I really love Kathy Heidman’s full-bodied, stirring vocals, emotion just pours out of every word! …Enjoy!!

  ________________________________________________________________

“Sometime in the mid-’70s, a young country singer named Kathy Heideman walked into Tiki Studios in San Jose, California to do a job. She was there to record a set of songs written by a woman she’d just met named Dia Joyce. She’d spent the days leading up to the session working out Joyce’s chords and melodies, turning over the gently arcane lyrics about cosmic heavenly fathers and living your truth. Along with a band of “three, maybe four” sympathetic players on barroom piano, shuffling drums, bass, and acoustic guitar, Heideman cut a brief, ten-song LP: Move With Love.

And that was it. Heideman and Joyce parted ways, and their lone collaboration fell into total obscurity. The record, intended as a song writing demo but barely distributed at all, disappeared. Joyce decided at some point that she didn’t like the thing and by her own account burned the master tapes and disposed of most of the small vinyl run. But time has a strange way of unfolding: Around 2007 the band Vetiver’s Andy Cabic found a copy of the album in a San Francisco thrift store, and a year later 2008, Kathy Heideman’s rendition of Dia Joyce’s “Sleep a Million Years” got a new performance by Vetiver with vocals by UK folk-psych legend Vashti Bunyan for the band’s Thing of the Past covers album. Future Numero Group A&R Douglas Mcgowan got to know Joyce shortly before she passed in 2010, setting the stage for a 2013 Numero Group reissue of Move With Love, revealing yet another lost folk masterwork for a new generation of listeners.

But Heideman remained elusive. Dozens of late night online search sessions yielded nothing more than a half-remembered rumor of Heideman gigging in Telluride, Colorado. It would not be until mid-2019 when Mcgowan asked Jackie Shane social media manager and San Jose resident Mark Christopher to take a look at early 70s San Jose white pages that a series of clues emerged which quickly led to a Kat James living in Utah. The former Ms. Heideman had mostly forgotten about the record, and surprised to learn the record had taken on a new life in the internet age.

As their divergent paths indicate Heideman and Joyce made for an unlikely pair. Joyce went on to live a genderfluid life with partner Julie, tinkering with odd children’s toy concepts and animal rights activism. Heideman continued singing country music, playing in bars using the name James (her musical partner and second husband). She never incorporated the Move With Love songbook in her sets, but now takes great pleasure in asking her Amazon Alexa (she calls the device “Miss A”) to pull up selections from Move With Love to play for friends.

Everybody likes it,” Ms. James says from her home in Park City, Utah. And she does too—it reminds her of her days playing local honkytonks recording whenever the opportunity presented itself—but she notes one exception. “The song ‘Daddy Do’—I can’t stand [that song],” she says. “That is an embarrassing song, you know? It just seems so kindergarten, a little kids’ rhyme.”

Dia Joyce nearly awarded the gig to someone else. She’d initially inquired about Juice Newton, who’d soon go on to great success as a country/pop crossover artist. Newton and Heideman were both regulars on the local country scene loosely affiliated with Tiki Studios, hanging out, playing in different bands and turning each other on to opportunities when they arose.

“Juice Newton was a friend a mine,” Kat James says. “She called me and said there was this woman who’d written some songs and wanted them recorded. This is before Juice got real famous—but [she was] going on the road, so she couldn’t do it.”

Kathy Heideman auditioned with a few songs to get the gig. She was a fan of Emmylou Harris, Patsy Cline, Linda Ronstadt, and her repertoire reflected those interests. Joyce was impressed enough: she booked time at Tiki, worked up a backing band, and handed over a stack of sheet music.

“I didn’t read music that well (I played mostly by ear) but I was able to figure out what was going on with it,” James says. She remembers the album being cut over the course of two sessions, with the second requiring some logistical creativity.

I was playing in Fresno and had to take a plane up to San Jose to go to the studio, then take a plane back so I could play my gig in Fresno,” James says. “It was pretty weird, but she and her partner took me to their place and gave me dinner. They were very, very nice people.”

Move With Love’s lyrics occasionally veer from swooning declarations of love into metaphysical territory. In “The Earth Won’t Hold Me,” Dia Joyce wrote and Kathy Heideman sang, “I leap into the moving sun, I feel the heat but I won’t burn, I’ll use the light for my return.

James says that while Joyce might have been after spiritual transcendence, her concerns at the time were more worldly. “I hate to say it, I did it for the money,” she says. “I was a struggling single-mom musician. Somebody said, ‘You want to come into the studio?’ and I said ‘OK.’ I did my best, got along pretty well with the sidemen, and we had a couple good afternoons.”

And while she didn’t personally relate to the subtle psychedelia of the lyrics, she says the process of the album returning into her life—lauded by strangers on the internet, lusted after by collectors, appearing in various movie soundtracks—has convinced her that something significant happened during those two afternoons in San Jose. I was totally taken aback,” James says. “It’s the strangest thing—that’s the psychedelic part.”

Posted in Acid rock, Folk, folk rock, Numero Group, Psychedelic rock | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

SONG OF THE DAY Vinicius De Moraes and Baden Powell – Canto De Lemanjá


PrimaryWhen I first heard this song earlier, the two words that sprang to mind were ethereal and otherworldly – It’s a pretty enchanting one is this! 

Canto de Iemanjá is a piece of music written over 50 years ago by Brazilian guitarist, Baden Powell and poet Vinicius de Moraes. The song honours the orisha Iemanja –also spelled Yemanjá (Orisha being a deities of the Yoruba religion of West Africa). Orisha is the African goddess of the oceans and river and is one of the most important saints of the African diaspora, in Haiti, Cuba, and West Africa where she originated. Iemanja is revered in Caribbean islands wherever slaves landed. In Brazil, with its thousands of miles of Atlantic coastline and vibrant African heritage, she is celebrated in music, religious iconography, jewellery, tattoos, and other adornments.

Though there are many versions of this song, the original was performed by Vinicius De Moraes and Baden Powell on their 1966 album, Os Afro Sambas (The African Sambas). Featuring the female vocal group Quarteto Em Cy, their chants gives this piece of music the most bewitching, happy-shiver, haunting sound….its stunning!  Four years previous to the release of Os Afro Sambas, Baden was studying Gregorian chant and realised that Afro chants had similarities with Gregorian chants. It was then that he began to compose melodies based on both aspects. The result is beautiful!..this track is magic!  

Aside from their collaborating, Vinicius (who was nicknamed “O Poetinha – The Little Poet) was an important figure in contemporary Brazilian music. As a poet, he wrote lyrics for a great number of songs that became all-time classics. Vinícius was a composer of Bossa Nova, a playwright, a diplomat and, as an interpreter of his own songs, he created several important albums. As a guitarist, Baden also released many popular albums on his own. Together, they were a perfect match! 

I really hope you love this as much as me! I’ve copied the lyrics below and have also included a slightly longer version of this song…as well as including the whole album, should you feel compelled to listen to it. Enjoy!! 

Iemanjá, Iemanjá
Iemanjá is Dona Janaína who is coming
Iemanjá, Iemanjá
Yemanjá is a lot of sadness that comes

It comes from the moonlight in the sky
It comes from the moonlight
In the sea covered with flowers, my darling
From Iemanjá
From Iemanjá singing love
And looking at herself
At the sad moon in the sky, my darling
Sad at sea

If you want to love
If you want love
Come with me to Salvador
To hear Iemanjá

Singing, in the ebbing tide
And in the coming tide
Of the end, more of the end, of the sea
Far beyond
Far beyond the end of the sea
Far beyond

Posted in Bossanova, Folk, latin world, Samba, World | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

SONG OF THE DAY Charles Lembe et Son Orchestra – Quiero Wapatcha


PrimaryThe wondrous fusion of West African and Latin never ceases to amaze me when it comes to Afro-Cuban sounds – the two (seemingly) different elements work so well together. Today’s song is a fine example of this harmonious union and dates back to 1964.

Issued on a label called Ngoma (an early Congolese label active from 1948-1971), Quiero Wapatcha is a dreamy sonic sunbeam that appeared on Charles Lembe et Son Orchestra’s only EP entitled, N° 63. 

PrimaryReleased in 1964, this four-track offering was the only thing Charles Lembe and his orchestra recorded. He did release on his own, but as a band this EP was it….but its a gem worth celebrating!

Singing in both Spanish and Douala, Charles Lembe was a poet, composer, singer and musician.  His band consisted of David Norbert (Bass), Katché (Congas/Tumba), Alfredo Spencer (Piano), Yamayako (Timbales), with Lembe on Vocals/Guitar. Together they created today’s little beauty; Quiero Wapatcha is certainly a nice listen in the sunshine! check it out above.

Posted in Afro-Cuban, Afro-latin, calypso, latin world, World | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

SONG OF THE DAY Monster Rally – Adventure


PrimaryThe delectable and sophisticated sounds of Monster Rally must have wafted into my radar a while back as today’s song was in one of my playlists, but I’ve never actually featured him…..until now.

Created sometime in 2011, Monster Rally is the brainchild of Columbus (Ohio) resident and Cleveland native, Ted Feighan. His sound is quite unique, tapping into something quite nostalgic and utterly dreamy. Producing music that is sampled-based tropical pop, Monster Rally began with the goal of assembling a bunch of old records into a completely different beast. Think, hip-hop-influenced exotica (a description I read about his music a while ago that I particularly liked!).  Feighan began crafting tracks from his collection of records, combining his interests in Hip-hop, Exotica, Tropicalia, and Soul.

Monster Rally creates tracks that manage to maintain an strikingly organic sound, as if they were recorded by a full band on analog tape. To date, he has released about eight albums and a good collection of EP’s. Needless to say I’ve got some catching up to do!!

True to its name in every way, Adventure is glistening and journeying. Taken from his most recent album, Adventures On The Floating Island, which was released in 2019, I love how the warm layers feel familiar….Check it out above.

Posted in downtempo, Electronic, hip hop | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

SONG OF THE DAY Menelik Wossenachew – Belew Bedubaye


PrimaryEarlier this year I featured a track (a cover in fact) by the great Ethiopian singer/music writer and lyricist, Menelik Wossenatchew. His version of Tezeta is really rather glorious and his vocal tone is as mellow as the sinking sun I now find myself staring at…..that is until he flips it round and injects a little fire into the mix!

With his track, Belew Bedubaye, we have the pleasure of experiencing the deliciously darker side to his vocals. His soaring voice swirls round like helter skelter, spiraling up and down as it gathers an almost mystical energy, and I do find it all rather magic!!

Menelik Wossenachew was born in 1940 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and in 1960 he joined the Haile Selassie I Theatre Orchestra.  He was fist hired as a backup vocalist but quickly became a favourite of the director of the Orchestra, the grandfather of all arrangers; Nerses Nalbandian. He spent most of the 60’s and 70’s in various bands as a singer, but was also a writer too! Not only vocally talented, he was a wonderful lyricist and as well as writing for himself, he wrote for other artists too.

Belew Bedubaye (translating as Beautiful Bedubaye) was released in 1971 as the A-side to Tezeta. Issued on Ethiopian label, Amha Records, this is a gorgeous example of Ethio-jazz at its finest, with its entrancing hand-claps and sinuous melody!! Check it out above and enjoy!

Also, if you fancy reading more about Menelik Wossenatchew, I’ve just found an interesting article here!

Posted in African, Ethiopian jazz, World | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

SONG OF THE DAY Skinny Pelembe – Should You Go


As often is the case with lots of my posts, they are the product of lengthy random musical tangents and chance finds. I like that. In a world I often try control, these musical explorations brings about a sense of unplanned and fortuitous opportunity!

Born in Johannesburg, growing up in Doncaster and now based in London, Skinny Pelembe’s music reflects the freedom of his creative make-up. He produces, plays guitar, sings and MCs, tapping into a unique, influence-weaving sound. With an open mind and sample-hunting, studio-meddling mindset, Skinny Pelembe’s music roams hazy, psychedelic realms.  Drawing upon late-night, scribbled notes as inspiration for his lyrics, his sound is “honest and often surreal” and, from what I’ve heard so far, is something of intrigue and attractive possibility.

As described on his Bandcamp page, his compositions are “interwoven amongst loose, textured rhythms and a bright-tinted melodic sheen, his songs exist in the wonderful, hard-to-define fringes of pop. Overlaying sampled, programmed beats with live drums and percussion, sun-flecked riffs cut through the EP’s fuzzy aura…”

His writing and creative ethics are so very reflected in his sound and I love the sense of freedom it brings about, this is so discernible! Should You Go is taken from his debut EP, Seven Year Curse, which was released in 2017. I love the opening, I love seagulls and I love the mindset this song immediately puts me in! I think I mentioned the word possibility earlier, but this is what this music offers. Possibility is hope and with this comes a sense of freedom…this is where it takes me!

As I write I am listening to all five tracks and can highly recommend this to anyone wishing to alleviate any of the days stresses. There is nothing demanding about this music, but it certainly does capture and captivate the imagination. I like that that most of his inspirations are gathered from insightful moments and noted thoughts – as is the case with his debut, which was written as a result of some advice given from a stranger!

I guess the lesson is don’t discount the advice of strangers, even if they’re massive Kula Shaker fans.” So says Skinny Pelembe, as he recalls an important insight he’s gleaned in making his debut EP. As he recounts, it was the advice of an over-familiar German stranger – via a message on Instagram – which prompted him to start writing down his dreams!. Maybe we should all take a leaf out of Skinny’s book!

Enjoy!

Posted in Experimental, Psychedelic, Soul | Leave a comment

SONG OF THE DAY Andrew Wartts & The Gospel Storytellers – Peter & John


PrimaryIn 1982, a record label in Johnson City (and later with an additional presence in Nashville) released an album entitled There Is A God Somewhere.  Recorded by Andrew Watts and the Gospel Storytellers, this LP was issued on Champ Records and seems to be the only offering this group ever put out.

Led by Earl Wright, a US soul/funk gospel guitarist active in the mid 1970’s/early 1980’s, this album has been cited as “one of the best Gospel/Soul LP’s out there” – though I can’t endorse this statement as of yet as I need to check out all ten tracks to see if this lives up to the hype!? ☺️I have put a link the album below for your listening/curiosity pleasure, though!! 

I was really surprised by the release year of today’s track and did initially wonder if 1982 was a reissue date, but it isn’t! Peter and John sounds older to me and, with its lush vocal harmonies, funky bass grooves and rhythmic flutters, it does lend itself to a sound you wouldn’t be surprised to come across in the 1960’s? I like surprises like this!!

Since its initial release, this album has had two reissues: one in 2014 on TWB Recording Company and then another three years later when Superfly Records put it out in 2017….(both, annoyingly, on limited pressings, though!).

Enjoy!

Posted in Funk, gospel, Jazz, Soul | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

SONG OF THE DAY El Opio – Pusher


PrimaryWith a band name that was inspired by a man they saw smoking opium in a store one day, El Opio (Opium) were a Peruvian psych-rock band that formed in the early 1970’s. Active for only a couple of years, the band were defined by their fusions of Latin and folkloric rhythms from Peru.

Hailing from Lima, El Opio were made up of Luis Bonilla (drums and voice), Augusto Bravo (lead guitar), Manuel Verástegui (second guitar/vocal) and Beto Pineda (bass). Their repertoire only consists of a few 45’s on the Odeon label, but their music was pioneering! Together with many other bands of the time, El Opio pushed forward the sounds of huayno (Andean musical genre), whilst combining it with modern fuzz-rock. This was a time of military and social conflict in 70’s Peru, but this new sound shone through regardless!!

Backed with the acid-drenched Dejame Solo on the b-side, Pusher was the band’s first 45…..and what a way to make your debut! Fuzzed-out psych-rock with an organic soul..I love the psych scene that broke out of Peru (and, indeed, many places over the world) in the late 1960’s and 1970’s!! Enjoy!!

Posted in Acid rock, Psych rock, Psych-world, Psychedelic, World | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

SONG OF THE DAY Dan Hicks – I Scare Myself


PrimarySpending just over five decades writing and performing music, Danial Ivan Hicks, a.k.a. Dan Hicks, has somehow never appeared in my radar…until recently.

Celebrating a wealth of albums and singles over his lengthy career, his recent passing (in 2016) created many a nostalgic nod to his unusual sound.  This singer-songwriter was often known for his quirky style which combined elements of cowboy folk, jazz, contry, swing, bluegrass, pop and gypsy music!…and though I’ve got to be honest and say that a lot of this other stuff isn’t for me, this blend is still a commendable mix of sounds!

Born in Arkansas, but raised in San Francisco, Hicks first played as a drummer with the Bay area psych-rock pioneers, the Charlatans before forming his own outfit, Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks. Hicks’ new band first acted as the Charlatans’ opening act before breaking out on their own, signing with Epic Records and releasing their 1969 debut LP Original Recordings.

One of his most renowned tracks came from this debut, but it would be three years later when it appeared on his 1972 Striking It Rich album that it’s effect really took hold.  I Scare Myself showcases his vocal dynamics wonderfully and I love how his voice flips between the slight gruffness one minute and crooning howls the next.  This haunted melody marries the two forces and sets a sinuous path, upon which the magic unfurls and uncurls as it wraps you in its bewitching clutches. At the moment, this is the only track I know really so far, but I do intend to investigate more!

In 2007 David Smay (a writer for the Oxford American) wrote the following statement about Hicks and I think it sums him up perfectly:

“[T]here was a time from the ’20s through the ’40s when swing—’hot rhythm’—rippled through every form of popular music. That’s the music Dan Hicks plays, and there’s no single word for it because it wasn’t limited to any one genre. Django Reinhardt and the Mills Brothers and Spade Cooley and Hank Garland and the Boswell Sisters and Stuff Smith and Bing Crosby all swing. You can make yourself nutty trying to define what Dan Hicks is. Then again, you could just say: Dan Hicks swings…”

…nice! Enjoy!

Posted in Blues, blues rock, folk rock | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment