Dec 20, 2014

RhoDeo 1450 Grooves

Hello, well today's artists' discography should have been much larger but being black and gay in the sixties....well no need to spell that out.  Meanwhile in our more enlightened times murder and mayhem continues, from an alien perspective we are an insane species better left to their road to selfdestruction...

Today's artist was gay, and several music writers have said that his homosexuality was a bar to greater success in the United States and one of the reasons behind his move to Europe and his eventual name change. In 2014, rock historian Ed Ward wrote, "Conley headed to Amsterdam and changed his name to Lee Roberts. Nobody knew 'Lee Roberts,' and at last Conley was able to live in peace with a secret he had hidden--or thought he had--for his entire career: he was gay. But nobody in Holland cared" His music recording career had been limited most of which is here to  .....N'joy

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Arthur Conley sang and (with mentor Otis Redding) co-wrote the 1967 classic "Sweet Soul Music," arguably the finest record ever made about the genre it celebrates. Born January 4, 1946, in McIntosh, GA, and raised in Atlanta, Conley was just 12 years old when he joined the Evening Smiles, a gospel group that appeared regularly on local radio station WAOK. By 1963 he was leading his own R&B outfit, Arthur & the Corvets, which over the next two years issued three singles -- "Poor Girl," "I Believe," and "Flossie Mae" -- for the Atlanta label National Recording Company. Despite Conley's graceful yet powerful vocals (which owed an immense debt to his idol, Sam Cooke), the NRC singles earned little attention, and he dissolved the group to mount a solo career, releasing "I'm a Lonely Stranger" on the Ru-Jac label in late 1964. Label owner Rufus Mitchell then passed a copy of the single to soul shouter Redding, who was so impressed he invited Conley to re-record the song at Memphis' Stax Studios. With Jim Stewart assuming production duties, the recut "I'm a Stranger" hit retail in the fall of 1965, and was just the second single to appear on Redding's fledgling Jotis imprint. Conley's "Who's Foolin' Who" followed in early 1966, and proved the fourth and final Jotis effort.

At Redding's urging, Conley signed to Atco-distributed Fame Records for his next single, the Dan Penn-written "I Can't Stop (No, No, No)." Though his strongest, most incendiary record to date, it met the same commercial indifference that greeted his previous efforts. Likewise, the follow-up "Take Me (Just as I Am)" fell on deaf ears, even though the song was a major pop hit for Solomon Burke the following year. At that point Redding took an even greater role in Conley's career, encouraging his songwriting and advising him in business decisions; while jamming on a cover of Cooke's "Yeah Man," the pair began tinkering with the original song, creating what would ultimately become "Sweet Soul Music." An electrifying tribute to the Southern soul idiom that name-checked icons including James Brown, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, and -- at Conley's insistence -- Redding himself, the resulting single (Conley's debut for new label Atco) proved a massive hit, reaching number two on both the Billboard pop and R&B charts while reaching the Top Ten across much of Europe. An LP also titled Sweet Soul Music soon followed, compiling the singer's little-heard Jotis and Fame sides. Conley's next single, a reading of the Big Joe Turner chestnut "Shake, Rattle and Roll," returned him to the pop Top 40 and the R&B Top 20, although its follow-up, a cover of Cooke's "Whole Lotta Woman," reached only number 73 on the pop chart.

Conley was performing in Florida the night of December 10, 1967, when Redding and members of his backing band the Bar-Kays were killed in a Wisconsin plane crash; without Redding to run interference with Atco executives, the singer's career threatened to revert back to its rudderless beginnings, but in early 1968 Conley righted the ship, traveling to Memphis' American Recording Studios to collaborate with the crack producer Tom Dowd. The session generated some of the singer's finest material, including the Top 20 R&B hit "People Sure Act Funny," "Run On," and the stirring Redding tribute "Otis Sleep On." Best of all was the scorching "Funky Street," which hit number five on the Billboard R&B chart and number 14 on its pop counterpart. Weeks later Conley teamed with Burke, Don Covay, Ben E. King, and Joe Tex as the Soul Clan, recording the all-star LP Soul Meeting; he then embarked on a month-long tour of Europe, returning to American to cut the Dowd-produced "Aunt Dora's Love Soul Shack," a minor hit that was reportedly the inspiration for the Temptations' smash "Psychedelic Shack." Conley closed out the year by recording a cover of the Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da." Featuring the great Duane Allman on guitar, the single reached number 51 pop and number 41 R&B in early 1969.

 After one final outing with Dowd, the Allen Toussaint-penned "Star Review" -- a naked and failed attempt to recapture the brilliance of "Sweet Soul Music" -- Conley signed on with producer Johnny Sandlin, returning to the R&B Top 40 in early 1970 with "God Bless." His final Atco disc, an ill-advised rendition of Harry Belafonte's perennial "Day-O," foreshadowed the poor choices that characterized his subsequent tenure with manager Phil Walden's Capricorn label. Between 1971 and 1974, Conley released only four singles ("I'm Living Good," "Walking on Eggs," "Rita," and "It's So Nice [When It's Someone Else's Wife]"), all of them substandard and none of them hits. In 1975 he relocated to England, spending several years in Belgium before settling in the Netherlands in 1980. There he legally changed his name to Lee Roberts (the first name his own middle name, the surname his mother's maiden name). A live date recorded in Amsterdam on January 6, 1980, was issued commercially in 1988 under the title Soulin' and credited to Lee Roberts & the Sweaters. In the years to follow he emerged as a successful entrepreneur. At one point in time his Art-Con Productions consisted of some nine companies, among them Sweat Records, Upcoming Artists Records, Charity Records, Happy Jack Publishing, and the New Age Culture Exchange radio station. After a long bout with cancer, Conley died in the Dutch city of Ruurlo on November 17, 2003.

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The songs here are basically a mixture written by Conley, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Dan Penn, and Jimmy Reed. The arrangements are straight out of that whole Muscle Shoals/Fame Studios sound , and have that well known instrumental sound. I could talk about highlights, but that would encompass just about the entirety of both albums. Conley had a voice and style of singing that put him in the same league as the above singers--he was that good. He's probably most well known for the hit "Sweet Soul Music", or possibly his remake of "Shake, Rattle & Roll" (both here), but his versions of other artists' songs are equally strong. Check out Conley's version of Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)", or Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" for great examples of Conley's style. And Conley's own songs fit in well--providing a seamless blend of familiar songs and his own efforts.

So, if you like Otis Redding and the rest, and you're unfamiliar with Arthur Conley, do yourself a favor and give this collection a listen. It's the real deal, and will brighten your day as only late 60's hard soul can do. 54 minutes of quintessential 60's soul--nothing more and nothing less.

Arthur Conley - Sweet Soul Music / Shake, Rattle & Roll (flac 272mb)

Sweet Soul Music

01 Sweet Soul Music 2:20
02 Take Me (Just As I Am) 2:58
03 Who's Foolin' Who 2:28
04 There's A Place For Us 2:45
05 I Can't Stop (No, No, No) 2:25
06 Wholesale Love 2:16
07 I'm A Lonely Stranger 2:45
08 I'm Gonna Forget About You 2:10
09 Let Nothing Separate Us 3:04
10 Where You Lead Me 2:25

Shake, Rattle & Roll

11 Shake, Rattle & Roll 2:17
12 I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now) 3:17
13 Love Got Me 2:20
14 A Change Is Gonna Come 3:14
15 Hand And Glove 2:30
16 Ha! Ha! Ha! 2:20
17 You Don't Have To See Me 2:54
18 Baby What You Want Me To Do 3:00
19 I'll Take The Blame 2:50
20 Keep On Talking 2:38

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Months after his tragic and untimely passing, Otis Redding remained a primary source of inspiration to the career of vocalist Arthur Conley. Soul Directions -- which was issued during the late spring of 1968 -- was the artist's third long-player, and while the bulk of the ten-track effort was produced by the legendary Tom Dowd, it is highlighted by two of the last tunes that Redding worked on with Conley, albeit behind the scenes. All the more profound is the gospel-tinged centerpiece, a touching paean simply titled "Otis Sleep On." Although Conley had formidable success recording at Fame in Muscle Shoals, AL, and Stax Records, it was the latter's rival -- the Memphis-based American Studios -- where the project primarily came together. The team of Spooner Oldham and Dan Penn provide the midtempo opener, "You Really Know How to Hurt a Guy," and the soul-stirring "This Love of Mine." Conley supplies half the disc's material, including the happy, hand-clappin' "Funky Street" -- inspired by the true-to-life urban Soulsville on Atlanta, GA's own Auburn Avenue -- which became a Top Five R&B hit. He is likewise credited alongside Dowd on the recommended ballad waltz "Burning Fire." Perhaps because Redding was testing out his chops as a producer, his indomitable spirit remains alive and kicking on the upbeat "Hear Say" -- which needs little help getting the groove off the ground, especially the piquant as ever Memphis horn arrangement. Redding's trademark pleading delivery style permeates the gritty reading of Otis' co-written "Love Comes and Goes." Conley's "Put Our Love Together" stands out for its alternately organic backing choir and the muted nylon-string acoustic guitar that dominates the supporting instrumentation. The fun and funky closer, "People Sure Act Funny," made it into the Top 20 on the R&B singles survey. Here it bears more than just a trace of Joe Tex's influence, even as it had actually been recorded by the likes of Lee Dorsey and Shorty Long. Despite the uniformly strong selection, the album made no pop crossover impact. While it fared a bit better than its predecessor, Shake, Rattle & Roll (1967), Soul Directions would become Conley's final pop LP entry.

Arthur Conley - Soul Directions (flac 159mb)

01 You Really Know How To Hurt A Guy 2:35
02 Funky Street 2:25
03 Burning Fire 2:20
04 Get Yourself Another Fool 3:00
05 Otis Sleep On 2:45
06 Hear Say 2:19
07 This Love OF Mine 3:23
08 Love Comes And Goes 2:19
09 Put Your Love Together 2:56
10 People Sure Act Funny 2:10

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Despite scoring only one national hit, the 1961 instrumental smash "Last Night," the Mar-Keys remain one of the most important groups ever to emerge from the Memphis music scene. As the first house band for the legendary Stax label, they appeared on some of the greatest records in soul history, with their ranks also producing such renowned musicians as guitarist Steve Cropper and bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn. the Mar-Keys formed in 1958 and included drummer Terry Johnson, pianist Jerry Lee "Smoochie" Smith, saxophonists Don Nix and Charles Axton, and trumpeter Wayne Jackson in addition to Cropper and Dunn. Originally dubbed the Royal Spades, in 1960 the group joined the staff at Axton's mother Estelle's Satellite label, backing artists that included Rufus Thomas and his daughter Carla. A year later, the Mar-Keys headlined the Chips Moman-penned "Last Night," which reached the number three spot in the summer of 1961. When Satellite changed its name to Stax, the Mar-Keys remained on board, laying the foundation for the classic Memphis soul sound through with their funky, sophisticated grooves; concurrently they recorded a series of singles including "Pop-Eye Stroll," "The Morning After," and "Philly Dog," although none repeated the commercial success of "Last Night." In 1962 Cropper and Dunn left the lineup to co-found the famed Booker T. and the MG's. Other personnel changes followed, although the Mar-Keys continued on for several more years before the name was eventually dropped. Jackson then formed another top-notch session group, the Memphis Horns, while Axton led the Packers

This combines the Mar-Keys' first two albums, Last Night! and Do the Pop-Eye (both from 1962), onto one CD, with nine pages of historical liner notes by Stax authority Rob Bowman. "Last Night" was a great early-'60s instrumental rock hit, and an important one in helping to establish the basic sound of Stax soul music. It's the linchpin of the Last Night! album, and despite the single's greatness, the LP is a mediocre, filler-filled effort that typifies the low standards of the full-length rock recording at the time. These are basic sax- and organ-driven soul-rock dance instrumentals, good for dancing to in the live shows the Mar-Keys were doing, but pretty boring one after another on record. Only a few of these are group originals; the rest of the cuts including covers of jazz tunes (Cannonball Adderley's "Sack o' Woe"), popular standards ("Misty," "Ebb Tide"), classic R&B ("Sticks and Stones"), and even Paul Anka's "Diana." Do the Pop-Eye was much like Last Night!: functional, simple early-'60s soul-rock instrumentals, prominently featuring sax and organ, and easy to dance to. And like Last Night!, it was unimaginative and dull to listen to all together, with the disadvantage of lacking a single as good as the classic "Last Night," though it was a little funkier in its song selection and execution. The bouncy "Pop-Eye Stroll" had been a very small hit (making number 94), and probably for that reason there were a couple of knockoffs elsewhere on the LP, "Pop-Eye Rider" and "Too Pooped to Pop-Eye." Historically, this is an important record, only because three of the musicians to play in Booker T. & the MG's -- Steve Cropper, Booker T. Jones, and Duck Dunn -- play on it (Cropper and Jones also wrote a bit of the material). You can hear antecedents to the Booker T. & the MG's sound on some of the better cuts, like "Straight From the Can" and "Sit Still," which has some stinging Cropper licks; Rufus Thomas wrote one of the other tracks, "'Cause I Love You." The liner notes, by the way, are pretty fascinating, particularly in the several anecdotes about Stax's early days and the complicated genesis of "Last Night": more interesting, in fact, than (with the exception of the track "Last Night") the music on this disc.

The Mar-Keys - Last Night and Do The Pop Eye (flac 376mb)

Last Night
01 Morning After 2:12
02 Diana 1:56
03 Alright, O.K. You Win 2:54
04 Sticks & Stones 1:57
05 Misty 2:31
06 Night Before 2:10
07 About Noon 2:31
08 One Degree North 2:13
09 Sack O Woe 2:25
10 Hold It 2:03
11 Ebb Tide 3:40
12 Last Night 2:35
Do The Pop Eye
13 Pop-Eye Stroll 2:40
14 Wimp-Burger 2:30
15 Straight From The Can 2:00
16 Cause I Love You 2:36
17 Squint-Eye 2:00
18 Pop-Eye Rider 2:22
19 Gonna Work Out Fine 2:32
20 Sit Still 2:08
21 Too Pooped To Pop-Eye 2:31
22 Sweet-P Crawl 2:04
23 Muscles A-Comin' Home 2:20
24 Sailor Man Waltz 2:42

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Chris said...

please re-up "soul directions", thanks and Merry Christmas!

Rho said...

Hello Chris Thanks and a merry xmas to you too, as for this Soul Directions thing- this is a first a dead artist's almost 50 year old album get's yanked within days clearly Arthur still get's no rest from those feeding of him.. well i've re-upped N'Joy

Anonymous said...

hi Rho, can you re-up The Mar-Keys - Last Night & Do The Pop Eye please? Thanks, Graham.