MERRY CLAYTON – GIMME SHELTER
As the Academy Award-winning documentary 20 Feet from Stardom made abundantly clear, Merry Clayton is one of the greatest and most distinguished female backup singers in rock and soul history, having sung with everybody from Bobby Darin to Ray Charles to Joe Cocker to Linda Ronstadt to Neil Young to Lynyrd Skynyrd (on “Sweet Home Alabama”). But her most famous vocal turn, of course, was her 1969 duet (“It’s just a shot away!”) with Mick Jagger on “Gimme Shelter.” The notoriety she gained from that led to a recording contract with Lou Adler’s Ode label, and to this 1970 debut solo record, which took its title from the Stones track and featured Merry’s own hit solo version of the song. But don’t stop there—produced by Adler, arranged by the great Gene Page, and featuring Billy Preston on keyboards, this album is an overlooked soul classic, with Merry’s indomitable voice taking songs like James Cleveland’s “Here Come Those Heartaches Again,” The Doors’ “Tell All the People,” and James Taylor’s “Country Roads” to dizzying heights (she also turns “Bridge over Troubled Water” into the sanctified gospel hymn it truly is). First-ever vinyl reissue, in limited edition (of 900) opaque white vinyl! Includes: Country Road; Here Come Those Heartaches Again; Forget It I Got It; Tell All the People; Bridge over Troubled Water; You've Been Acting Strange; Gonna Worry My Life; I've Got Life; Gimme Shelter; Good Girls; and Glad Tidings.
LARRY CORYELL – AT THE VILLAGE GATE
Larry Coryell unexpectedly passed away earlier this year right after our Real Gone reissue of his second solo album, Coryell, and with the renewed attention given to his monumental recorded legacy, we decided to move up our long-in-the-works domestic CD debut of his album At the Village Gate in order to expose this classic record to the largest audience possible. This is the recording where Larry really went axe-to-axe with Jimi Hendrix, who had passed away four months prior to the January 1971 gigs that formed the basis of this release; perhaps in response, Coryell formed his own power trio of his own composed of himself, drummer Harry Wilkinson and bassist Mervin Bronson to play material that stylistically wasn’t too far removed from the funk/jazz/rock of Jimi’s Band of Gypsys. The result was a fan favorite that somehow has never been issued on CD in the U.S. (and came out overseas over a decade ago on a couple of lightly-distributed labels of suspect provenance). Coryell’s Gibson 400 has seldom sounded as slashing as it does here, while Wilkinson’s playing (aptly described as “busy” by Downbeat) is a cross between Mitch Mitchell, Tony Williams, and Buddy Miles; Bronson keeps things rooted when Coryell heads for the stratosphere. Which is often…this is maybe the most “heroic” of this underappreciated guitar hero’s records. Mike Milchner’s remastering captures every coruscating note, and Bill Kopp’s liner notes feature an interview with drummer Wilkinson. One of the truly great jazz-rock guitarists, loud, free ‘n’ fiery!.
SOULE MONDE – MUST BE NICE
A tight little duo who don't seem to need anyone else – given the tremendous power of their work on drums and Hammond B-3! These guys are funky jazz at the core, but also open to lots more ideas too – and really blow us away with their work here, which seems to include no other instrumentation besides organ and drums – yet makes us feel like there's a much larger group working on the album! Both artists have a legacy that includes lots of years on their instruments, and stints with bigger acts – but here on their own, they don't need to answer to anyone else at all – as they take to the skies on the power of funky drums and Hammond. Titles include "Compared To Jody", "Kota", "Nina", "Took You Long Enough", "Immigrant Too", and "Take My Hand". ~ Dusty Groove