Barrett Strong – Stand Up And Cheer For The Preacher

Barrett Strong - Stand Up And Cheer For The Preacher

 

As I’m bringing you this update on a Sunday I thought I’d go for something a little more “spiritual” today. I’m sure many of you are aware that Barrett Strong recorded Motown’s first big hit with “Money” way back in 1959 and recorded right through until the early 80s. However, more than any of his other releases, Strong was probably better known for his songwriting alongside Norman Whitfield. Together they would pen legendary hits like “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”, “War”, and most notably much of the Temptations’ late 60s/early 70s output.

Today’s choice vinyl cut sees Strong at his most funky, with the largely unknown but super cheap 45 “Stand Up And Cheer For The Preacher”. It’s no surprise when listening to this record that you can hear a lot of the similar sound to the Temptations at this period. I don’t know who all played on this track, but that guitar sound certainly sounds like Dennis Coffey. There’s some great strings on here as well as nice backing vocals and much like The Isley Brothers you’ll appreciate the journey from the late 50s r&b sound to the early/mid 70s funky vibe that they both progressed to. Stand up & cheer indeed!!

The Stovall Sisters – Hang On In There

Stovall Sisters - Hang On In There

It’s not too often that I dip into my collection and pull out a gospel record to feature, so today’s selection is something a little different from that which I normally bring you. Even though the track itself is a gospel song, it’s heavily drippin’ with funk and probably one of the best known/well respected tunes in the gospel funk genre.

The Stovall Sisters featured 3 sisters (Lillian, Netta & Joyce) who were born in Kentucky along with 19 other siblings – yes 22 children born to the one group of parents!! At one time or another pretty much all of the children had a stint as gospel singers but it was the aforementioned sisters who went off on their own to achieve recognition.

They had a career as both studio & touring backing singers where they performed with artists including Al Green, Ray Charles, Jackie Wilson, Etta James, Bobby Womack, Sam Cooke and countless other well-known acts in the r&b world. Few people knew, but they also provided the backing vocals to Norman Greenbaum’s massive ’69 hit “Spirit In The Sky”

The sisters growing profile and popularity encouraged Reprise Records to allow them to record an eponymous album in 1971 (their one and only album) This LP yielded three singles – one of which was a cover of Norman Greenbaum’s classic and the rest as they say is history…

For those of you eager to hear more than just one track, I’ve uploaded a new mix to my mixcloud page entitled “Funky Popcorn”. You can check it out here www.mixcloud.com/gazfunk (along with my other mixes)

 

Guest Contributor – Shane Walsh

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It’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to bring you a guest contributor and I’m delighted to put that right with this week’s update thanks to a storming bit of gospel soul courtesy of Mr Shane Walsh.

Shane Walsh is an original vinyl collector and DJ from Dublin, specialising in Soul, Funk, Rhythm & Blues, Jazz, Reggae and Ska. He can be heard doing his thing at clubs like Pow City, For Dancers Only, Reggae Got Soul, B Sides and Afterglow amongst others. He also hosts a regular radio show and podcast called Twine Time.  Check out the best of the Twine Time radio show here…. https://www.mixcloud.com/shane-walsh2/  As if that’s not enough he plays drums with Dublin beat combo Beatfink who gig regularly. Busy man indeed! But that’s enough from me – over to you Shane….

Bobby Lee Fears

I’d like to thank Gazfunk for asking me to review a record for his blog, and my choice is Bobby Lee Fears- Exodus, on the Forward label. I picked it because it’s a recent purchase of mine and it’s on heavy rotation at the moment. I was lucky enough to find it with its original company sleeve too. I do trawl the internet looking for new (to me) Soul, Funk and Reggae tunes, but I first heard this one in a club spun by SteveBohs and I was straight up to the decks asking about it. I fall in love with tunes the most when I hear them played on the big speakers. It sounds like a live recording, but it may not be, there’s crowd noise at the start which adds to the “preacher man” effect. It sounds like a 1971 record; it’s a very big sounding record quite typical of its time. There’s a nice flowing funky beat, with a bell ringing in the background (which being a drummer myself instantly drew me in), there are congas, brass stabs, guitar solo and a beautiful choir which make the record sound Gospel right from the start.

At the moment I am listening to a lot of the early 7t’s hard edged Gospel tinged music, probably as a direct result of the type of clubs I’m attending lately. I buy a lot of records because I like the music, but I rarely know anything about the artist or industry facts about releases etc, so this has prompted me to do a bit of homework.

Bobby Lee Fears vinyl

Ok, Bobby Lee Fears. Who is he? I have to do a search to find out. According to Discogs he only released two solo singles, one of which was Exodus on Forward records and the other one is Let’s Get Together on Bell, and that he died in January 2007. They also suggest that he recorded under the names Bobby Brown and Bobby Dixon, but not a huge outfut there either. I had never realised that he sang with Ohio Players in the 6t’s, while they were on the Compass label, and Ohio Players were in fact part of the Compass label house band. I assume he sang on the Soul Club classic “You Don’t Mean It”, and that the deep lead vocal belongs to him.

In a nutshell; I can’t provide a huge amount of information on Bobby, and that is kinda typical of me anyway. I rarely know too much about the singers of my favourite records, and then when I’m asked to look for some information, I can’t find any!

However, this marvellous slab of Gospel Funky Soul is a great tribute to the man. Enjoy! 

 

 

 

Loleatta Holloway – Bring It On Up

This week’s update brings you a track by an artist who sadly passed away only very recently. Loleatta Holloway would surely rank as one of THE most underrated soul singers. Much like Aretha Franklin, Holloway started out at a young age singing in a gospel band that was formed by her mother.

Holloway was well-known for her disco sound and she has been heavily sampled throughout the years (particularly “Love Sensation”). It was this song that brought Holloway back into the media spotlight by virtue of the fact that the lyric was “taken” to form the basis of the smash hit single “Ride On Time” by Black Box. Holloway achieved arguably more fame for the fact that she successfully sued Black Box for using Love Sensation, than what she did during her recording career.

This selection (released in ’71) showcases her incredible voice and shows a completely different sound to the disco style she was noted for.

R.I.P.