Meet Lonnie Mack

Hard to believe that Lonnie Mack‘s obvious winner of an instrumental – “Soul Express” – is not yet available for preview on YouTube and, thus, in danger of being lost in our cultural memory. The title of this piece is gallows humor expressing sadness over the fact this song is not more widely known:

[Pssst:  Click the triangle above to play “Soul Express” by Lonnie Mack (1968)]

You can find this recording (and “Snow on the Mountain“) on Ace’s Lonnie Mack collection, Lonnie on the Move, a compact disc retrospective that I am happy to report has since been expanded to a 26-track stocking stuffer entitled, Lonnie Mack:  Still on the Move – The Fraternity Years 1963-1968.  Er, wait a second – it turns out that Ace gave “Soul Express” the ol’ heave ho!  Check it out:

“This collection does not repeat the mistakes of its predecessor by including both ‘Soul Express’ and ‘Jam And Butter’ – per the original Trip album – as it becomes fairly obvious in an A/B test that these are, in fact, one and the same master (albeit the ‘Jam & Butter’ tape runs marginally faster than the tape for ‘Soul Express’). In fact, we haven’t included it at all, as we have a splendid stereo mix of that mono ‘Soul Express’/’Jam & Butter’ master on Memphis Wham, where it appears under its “proper” title, ‘The Freeze’!”

Photo courtesy of Ace Records

Lonnie Mack-hippy mod

As Trey Faull notes in the original liner notes, Lonnie Mack (it is fun to point out) contributed guitar work on recording sessions for Freddie King, James Brown, Mike Nesmith, and even The Doors.  Greil Marcus, in The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years, writes about the conspicuous impact of the very presence of “recently signed” artist, Lonnie Mack – who played bass on “Roadhouse Blues” for fellow Elektra artists, The Doors – thereby validating Wikipedia’s assertion that “the sessions only took off on the second day [of recording], when resident Elektra guitarist Lonnie Mack joined in on bass.”

Faull would also describe “Soul Express” & “Jam and Butter” as “one funky onion with stabbing horns and plenty of flair.”

Lonnie Mack - Soul Express 45

Lonnie Mack - Fraternity 45“Snow on the Mountain” Update:  Tambourine Part Now Fully Restored!

In the historical notes that accompany Lonnie Mack:  Still on the Move, Ace Records makes the following announcement on its website:

“Our previously reissued version of ‘(There’s) Snow On The Mountain’ lacked the tambourine overdub heard on the single (as, to be fair, did the version on the Trip album that was taken from the same tapes!), so we’ve put that right here.”
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Ohio Valley + Muscle Shoals = Rick Powell

I am eternally grateful that a hometown musical troupe – The Raisins – just happened to be one of the greatest rock bands of the 1980s.  Amusing to recall in retrospect my adolescent disbelief when a friend once informed me that Rick Powell‘s musical life was not wholly enveloped by The Raisins — that, in fact, he had played on 1978’s The Leblanc-Carr Band’s Live from the Atlantic Studios album.

Rick “Bam” Powell — the “writing-singing drummer” who joined forces early in his career with the aforementioned Wayne Perry, as well as Roger “Jellyroll” Troy (later with Mike Bloomfield & The Electric Flag) — would cut his first piece of wax providing the soul-rockin’ vocals for “Gonna Have a Good Time” on Randy McNutt’s Beast imprint:

[Pssst:   Click on the triangle above to play “Gonna Have a Good Time” by Rick Powell & Little Flint]

Did I mention that Powell was a high-schooler at the time?  Powell would record the song with his own group – The Chamberly Kids – along with Wayne Perry’s outfit, Little Flint.

Recorded in 1970/71 –  Released in 1973 – Distributed by Counterpart Records

Little Flint 45

Randy McNutt, who produced some of Powell’s earliest recordings, would include both versions on his CD compilation, Souled Out:  Queen City Soul-Rockers of the 1970s.  For the (unreleased) Chamberly Kids session, Powell was excited to work with Roger Troy, whose band, Jellyroll, had just been signed by Kapp Records.  According to McNutt, “Wayne [Perry] joined him on harmonies and Roger ‘Jellyroll’ Troy, leader of the band Jellyroll, played bass.  During the memorable session at Jewel, Jellyroll’s car was repossessed and he wore red, white, and blue shoes.”

Rick Powell recording at home in 1974 (photo courtesy of Randy McNutt)

Rick Powell - 1974As Powell recounted later to McNutt:

“One day I got a call from a guy who claimed he managed LeBlanc and Carr in Muscle Shoals, Alabama,” Powell says.  “I asked him, ‘All right, who’s pulling my leg?’  But he was their manager, and he was offering me a job as one of their two drummers.  I auditioned and got the job.  Later, they cut back to just one drummer—me.  I toured and recorded with them for the better part of four years.  We were on the road constantly.  It was insane, really.  We opened for a bunch of hit acts—Robert Palmer, England Dan & John Ford Coley, Taj Mahal, and others.  I was based out of Muscle Shoals, where I visited the famous studio where the Swampers [studio musicians] cut the hits.  I feel like a small part of history.”

Sticker Shock:  Wayne Perry & Little Flint’s “Pain” b/w “Gonna Have a Good Time” 45 – categorized overseas as “northern soul mod” (!) – can fetch upwards of $100.

This drummer sings, you know

Rick 'Bam' PowellGood News for Music Fans:  Rick Powell, who once declared he has “no intention of quitting — they’ll have to drag me off the stage when they’re through with me,” has an excellent album of “funky pop rock” = 2009’s Eat the Fat, Drink the Sweet = that is yours for the taking at CD Baby.  Watch out for “Step by Step” – that one is particularly infectious.

Larry Nager’s 1999 biographical profile for The Cincinnati Enquirer is also very informative.

Powell’s soul-rockin’ Adrian Belew-produced B-side for 1983 Raisins 45

Raisins 45-21981 Debut Raisins 45                                   Final Raisins 45 from 1984

Raisins 45-1Raisins 45-3

insert for 1981 debut 45 “Quarters” b/w “Tour Guide”

Raisins

A-Side Turned B-Side?

Louisville’s Soul Inc. is another music group from my hometown’s Ohio Valley region that recorded a local hit (“Love Me When I’m Down”) on a local label (Counterpart) that had been recorded locally (at Louisville’s Falls City perhaps?) and played on local AM hits radio station WSAI (thus, giving further credence to Nick Clooney’s recent statement that Cincinnati was a uniquely endowed media market that rivaled/bettered Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles):

“Love Me When I’m Down”     Soul Inc.     1968

“Love Me When I’m Down” is the A-side of a 1968 ‘rock ‘n’ soul’ Counterpart single that directly led to the band’s signing with the respected independent label, Laurie — only to have the A & B sides reversed on their debut Laurie 45!

A-Side                                                            B-Side

Soul Inc - Counterpart 45Soul Inc - Laurie 45

As Soul Inc. explains on its own website:

The band’s in-your-face quality was evident on Love Me When I’m Down,’ released as their next single along with ‘I Belong to Nobody.’  More than anything else the group recorded, Love Me When I’m Down’ captures Soul, Inc.’s live sound, with Young and Bugbee’s driving guitars (the solo is by Bugbee), Settle’s aggressive vocal, and Maxwell’s pounding drums.  We always said that we wanted the drums to sound like a bag of rocks,’ Maxwell recalls.”

Interesting to note that, as with The New Lime, (a) Soul Inc’s first 45 would also be issued on Cincinnati’s Fraternity label and (2) Shad O’Shea’s Counterpart Records would likewise help pave the path toward the band’s getting signed to a more nationally prominent label.

In a 2011 auction, an original Counterpart 45 sold for $45, while at this very moment, someone on Ebay is hoping to sell a copy for a whopping $100!

*Previous Zero to 180 piece about Laurie ‘rock ‘n’ soul’ 45 from 1966 — Ernie Maresca‘s “The Good Life.”

“Think”: Squeezing Soul From a Stone

I had assumed lots of people were already familiar with Chris Farlowe’s kicking mod soul version of Jagger & Richard’s “Think” – but viewership numbers on YouTube tell otherwise:

“Think” wisely enjoyed release in India and Sweden, as well as its native UK, where it went to #37 on Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate label.  “Think” is also the kick-off track on Farlowe’s 1966 LP, 14 Things to Think About.

14 Things and Yet Only 10 Faces – What Gives?

Chris Farlowe LP

Q: “Do You Feel It”? A: Quite

The Soul Survivors enjoyed lots of radio play in 1967 with “Expressway to Your Heart,” a #4 hit that was the first million-seller for legendary producers, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, who went on to form the Philadelphia International label – Motown’s big rival – in 1971.  The Soul Survivors’ debut album, When the Whistle Blows Anything Goes, on the Crimson label, curiously, did not fare nearly as well as the single, only hitting #123 on the pop chart. The album’s rock ‘n’ soul kick-off track, “Do You Feel It,” features fun stereo separation between the lead and backing vocals – and also the drums during the first big instrumental break:

Soul Survivors LP

Their second album would find them signed to Atlantic subsidiary, Atco – with Duane Allman playing slide guitar on a few tracks at their December 1968 recording sessions at Fame Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

“Goin’ Up the Country”: The Duck & The Bear – and Duane

Interesting to learn that Canned Heat’s big 1968 hit, “Goin’ Up the Country,” is basically a re-write of 1929’s “Bull Doze Blues” by Henry Thomas, down to the flute part (listen here). The next year, 1969, saw the single release of a spirited cover version by The Duck (Johnny Sandlin) and The Bear (Eddie Hinton) of the Muscle Shoals Sound Rhythm Section, with help from Duane Allman and the Memphis Horns.  I like how the intro fools you into thinking that the song is heading in one direction before it shift gears and heads somewhere else altogether:

“Goin’ Up the Country”     The Duck & the Bear      1969

Did Atlantic really intend the title of the track to be “Goin’ Up to Country”?

Goin' Up to Country - The Duck & the Bear 45

Johnny Sandlin:  Drums & percussion
Eddie Hinton:  Lead guitar
Duane Allman:  Slide guitar
Barry Beckett:  Keyboards
David Hood:  Bass Guitar
Wayne Jackson:  Trumpet
Andrew Love:  Tenor Saxophone
Joe Arnold:  Tenor Saxophone

Ernie Maresca Simply Wants to Live “The Good Life”

I first learned of Ernie Maresca through Chris Barrus’s formidable 209-song collection of songs from the year 1962.  Ernie had a big hit that year with “Shout! Shout! Knock Yourself Out!” and somehow I got the mistaken impression that Ernie was kind of a minor figure in pop music.  But then I borrowed a friend’s CD anthology of songs from the legendary Laurie label and quickly learned that Ernie was also a songwriter who wrote hits for friend and labelmate, Dion DiMucci (of Belmonts fame), as well as himself and others.  Maresca later ran Laurie’s publishing arm.

In May 1966 Ernie released a nice little piece of rock ‘n’ soul – “The Good Life”:

I found this cool rockin’ song on Laurie’s 1988 LP compilation, 20 Collector’s Records of the 50’s and 60’s, Volume 13:

Laurie Records # 13Ernie talks a little about “The Good Life” in an interview posted on Spectropop.

Free Educationclick here to browse Laurie’s entire LP catalog.