Thursday, July 31, 2014

New Releases - Sam Cooke - The Complete SAR Recordings; Willie Hutch - In Tune; Ullanda McCullough - Ullanda McCullough / Watching You, Watching Me


The first-ever release of this full album of material by LC Cooke – the younger brother of the late Sam Cooke, but a hell of a singer in his own right! LC issued a few labels for Sam's SAR label in the early 60s, but this full set never saw the light of day – as it was scrapped after Sam's untimely early death – which makes this package the long-overdue release of the album at last! LC's style is a bit deeper than Sam's – still as well put-together, but with a bit less polish on the edges, and a lot more grit in the grooves – and the album mostly features production by Sam Cooke, over sessions from the early 60s – plus some final recordings done by LC with the Magnificent Montague. These 18 tracks are a great revelation – especially when taken together – and Peter Guaralnick wrote a great essay for the notes, which really ties the whole thing together. Titles include "Tell Me", "Take Me For What I Am", "The Lover", "Magic Words", "Sufferin", "Miss Sally", "Gonna Have A Good Time", "Do You Wanna Dance", "You're Working Out Your Bag", "Chalk Like", and "Put Me Down Easy". Dusty Groove


Willie Hutch got his first big break writing, producing and arranging songs for the 5th Dimension, but when he penned the lyrics to the Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There;” Berry Gordy immediately hired him as a Motown writer, arranger and producer. After co-writing songs for Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, the Miracles and others, Hutch stepped into the spotlight as an artist in his own right for Motown, becoming a go-to Blaxploitation film score composer (The Mack; Foxy Brown) and scoring hits with “Brother’s Gonna Work It Out,” “Slick” and “Love Power.” But in 1977, Willie joined fellow Motown producer Norman Whitfield’s own Whitfield label, and the following year cut this disco/funk classic, which married Whitfield’s trademark psychedelic soul sound to his own sharp songwriting, with a bit of Barry White thrown into the mix. Long requested by soul and disco fans across the globe, this record features the R&B chart hits “All American Funkathon” and “Paradise,” and makes its worldwide CD debut with this Real Gone release. Gene Sculatti’s liner notes explore Willie’s distinguished career. ~ Real Gone


One of the most respected and active session singers of the mid-‘70s and early ‘80s, Ullanda McCullough’s distinctive voice could be heard on numerous popular jingles (including 1971’s Coca-Cola campaign, “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing”) as well as albums by Eddie Floyd, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Patti Austin, Cissy Houston, Bionic Boogie, Carly Simon, Chic, Roberta Flack, Diana Ross, the soundtrack for the movie The Wiz and Ashford & Simpson, with whom she toured as a primary background vocalist during the late ‘70s. In 1979, Ullanda recorded her first solo album (Love Zone) for Ocean/Ariola Records before signing with Atlantic Records where she recorded two albums, a 1981 self-titled set and 1982’s Watching You, Watching Me.  Ullanda McCullough was written and produced in its entirety by Nick Ashford & Valerie Simpson and includes the cut “Warm And Gentle Explosion,” which became a popular rare groove track in the UK in the ‘90s along with other gems penned by the famed pair such as “Bad Company” (with a single edit included here as a bonus track), “Rumors,” “It’s You” and “You’re Gonna Wanna Come Back.”  Key musicians included Simpson on piano, guitarist Eric Gale, drummer Yogi Horton, keyboardist Philip Woo and percussionist Ralph MacDonald. Watching You, Watching Me was produced by renowned arranger/conductor and producer Bert DeCoteaux and featured an all-star cast of famed players (such as keyboardist Ray Chew, bassists Marcus Miller, Tinker Barfield and Wayne Brathwaite and percussionist Sammy Figueroa) and the cream of New York’s session singers, including Luther Vandross—who did the background vocal arrangements for four of the album’s eight tracks—Tawatha Agee (of the band Mtume) and Brenda White, who would go on to sing on albums by Vandross and tour with Aretha Franklin.  Standout tracks include “Men Kiss And Tell,” (originally recorded by Carrie Lucas), Ullanda’s own “What’s It All About” and William Eaton’s compelling title track, covered in 1985 by Bill Withers. ~ Real Gone

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