Daddy B. Nice's - Guide to Today's Top Chitlin' Circuit Rhythm and Blues Artists


Daddy B. Nice's New CD Reviews

November 17, 2015:

O.B. BUCHANA: Mississippi Folks (Ecko) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.

Listen to O.B. Buchana singing "Swing On" while you read.

You know what they say. Be careful what you wish for. They'll be puzzling over this O.B. Buchana album years from now--an old-fashioned, all-you-can-eat buffet of styles, a departure from most everything he's ever done. It's as if O.B. (one of the premier stylists in southern soul music) said, "To hell with it! Let's do a bunch of weird and innovative stuff and see what sticks." Your Daddy B. Nice has been nagging O.B. for years to do just that, but now that he has, I'm taken aback.

"Ghetto Funk" is a hoot. The first time I heard this on the radio and the deejay said "O.B. Buchana" I just about spilled my coffee. And then I thought, "It must be something he did before the Suzie Q days." And then, when I got my promotional copy, I couldn't listen to it until forced to do so by this review.

People ask me, "Why are you so hard on funk?" I like funk. Here's the thing about funk. It permeates all R&B, from rap to mainstream. It's the sea we've been swimming in for thirty, forty, is-it-fifty?-some years. If you want to hear funk, you can turn on any music station anywhere in America, other than country. If the Eskimos have 327 words for "snow," the black musical community and audience must have 327 meanings and sub-genres for the word "funk." Funk is the "retro" music, as far as your Daddy B. Nice is concerned. Southern soul music is the "new." So why do southern soul artists want to pollute the pure southern soul "air" we oxygen-deprived fans crave with the funk that we're already swimming in, up to our necks?

The response on the chitlin' circuit seems to bear this out. A quick flirtation with playing "Ghetto Funk" (perhaps because it's the first cut on the disc) dissolved quickly at most radio stations, and Ecko has wisely packaged a new single, "Swing On," for promotion. The well-produced, mid-tempo "Swing On" boasts compelling verses in the vein of Bigg Robb's recent "Good Good," but a vanilla ( almost nerdy) chorus sabotages its potential. It may be the least "swinging" use of the phrase "swing on" in memory, with the background vocalists singing the long notes of "Swing on..." while O.B. embroiders vocally in the spaces.

And maybe your Daddy B. Nice is just in a bad mood from "Mississippi Boy" Charles Wilson taking down "Mississippi Boy" Will T.'s/Floyd Hamberlin's original classic (first published on Wilson's IF IT AIN'T BROKE DON'T FIX IT CD as a "bonus track") from YouTube recently, but O.B.'s "Mississippi Folks"--based on the same "Mississippi Boy"--can also run but not hide from criticism.

O.B.'s is the hardest-edged version yet of the oft-recorded anthem, which let me remind everyone was the lightest, loveliest, loosest, humblest tune imaginable. O.B. ratchets up the percussive emphasis on the chords, out-banging even Denise LaSalle's version, consigning the scruffy charm and soulfulness of the original to a distant memory.

So why the four-star, "distinguished effort" rating for "Mississippi Folks?" It's because the variety of this collection ultimately pays off. Buchana albums, although always professional, often suffer from a track-to-track sameness. For example, in a conversation about programming in southern soul music recently, a fan told your Daddy B. Nice that he didn't "get bothered about programming" unless he "tried to listen to an O.B. Buchana or Ms. Jody album all the way through."

This CD successfully breaks that mold and opens up the boundaries of Buchana's sound. You may not realize it until you've heard the entire set a couple of times. The production by John Ward is like a fresh breeze blowing through a still, sultry day, and I found myself going back to the liner credits to see if, in fact, the same Ecko house writers (John Ward, Raymond Moore, Henderson Thigpen, William Norris, Rick Lawson, etc.) who usually provide Buchana with his material had been replaced with a new batch of tune-smiths, but it's the same old gang, only with a new, not-afraid-to-be-experimental approach.

Henderson Thigpen's contributions are especially eye-opening, encompassing every conceivable variety, from the buoyant steel drums and calypso accents of "Tip It Up" to the lyrical poignancy of "Tasty Girl."

A slow-version remix of "Tasty Girl," although not as impressive technically, is even better, O.B.'s lead vocal shot through with an underlying genuineness that recalls T.K. Soul's "Try Me."

"Rooster Rooster Guinea Guinea," a Lawson tune and seeming "B-side," resounds with the same, humble authenticity, and this time the "white"-sounding background singers sound passionate and apropos.

"Getting You Ready For Me," "If We Steal Away," "Body Drain" and the quasi-country "You Don't Want A Good Man" are seemingly typical O.B. Buchana fare, but they also benefit from the album's expanded scope.

With choices in material and execution so interesting and different, O.B.'s vocals themselves achieve an unexpected element of suspense, and O.B. rolls with it. He sounds like he's having fun--Admittedly, even on "Ghetto Funk. The annual Buchana blockbuster may be absent, but as an album and a musical experience you can listen to "all the way through," MISSISSIPPI FOLKS begs to be inserted into your latest musical device.

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy O.B. Buchana's MISSISSIPPI FOLKS CD at iTunes.

See Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to O.B. Buchana.

************ - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

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November 7, 2015:

VAL MCKNIGHT: Independent Woman (Ecko) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.

Listen to Val McKnight singing "It's Party Time" while you read.

Val McKnight comes from tough stock: Oprah Winfrey-in-"Beloved" tough. She personifies a distinct kind of woman--the gal who has to play "second fiddle" to the pretty girl, the gal who has to be "brash" to get attention, the gal who when she gets lucky enough to score a relationship soon has to endure the humiliation of break-up--and the tunes that impress and resonate the most from her new CD Independent Woman are the ones that plumb that human condition, Vivacious-Val style.

Thus, "Head Bitch In Charge" represents the "brash," the destroyer of all female rivals.

"Make Me Shout Ooh, Ooh, Ooh!" signifies the peak of love, the elusive "good-loving" relationship. But the wheel of love soon turns...

"I'll Be Seeing You Around" is all about dealing with rejection.

"You say want to break up with me?
Well, if you gotta do it, go ahead."

...And "Move Your Body" explores the regret and pleading for a reunion with the special poignancy of a humbled lover.

"I was in the club the other night,
And I saw my ex-lover,
And then he came over
And asked me for a dance,
And as I took him by the hand,
He whispered in my ear,
'Val, I really missed you,'
And as we began to dance
To the slow jam,
I began to get that
Same, old, good feeling again."

Three of those songs were written by Val McKnight (the fourth, "Head Bitch In Charge," was composed by Raymond Moore and John Ward), but lest you think Vivacious Val the performer sprang fully-formed from real life, don't underestimate the difficulty of forging a southern soul singing style. Many are the women who have tried it; many are the women who have failed.

A southern soul singer has to forego the histrionic, the melismatic, the slick, the delicate, the smooth. If mainstream urban r&b is 500-count silky cotton, southern soul is old gunny sack burlap, and few female singers (Ms. Jody, Karen Wolfe, Nellie "Tiger" Travis, Lacee) have developed the perfect sound to capture fans. Red Hot Lover, McKnight's first album, was a first stab at joining the "ranks."

Her (Val's) long notes slide flat, and her tone has all the subtlety of a screeching alley cat cornered by a pack of she drops one authentically memorable track after another.

...your Daddy B. Nice wrote in his review. Three of the "keepers" from that album are repeated here: "Juke Joint Party," "Move Your Body" and Val's signature club jam, "Who Doo Woman."

INDEPENDENT WOMAN, however, takes the somewhat one-dimensional, bluesy sound of RED HOT LOVER epitomized by "Who Doo Woman" to a richer, fuller, more well-rounded, southern soul sound. Two songs in particular (both composed--by the way--by the prolific Ms. McKnight) take the music to another level.

"Independent Woman" (the single) is an impressive summation of all of the themes touched upon here and an admirably forthright statement of identity.

And "It's Party Time" is simply the best song of McKnight's career--comfortable, swinging, authentic and memorable. Doze off and you might re-awake thinking you're listening to Billy Ray Charles singing "I've Been Partying All Night," and baby, that's authentic.

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy Val McKnight's INDEPENDENT WOMAN CD at Soul Blues Music.

See Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Val McKnight. - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

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October 18, 2015:

JAYE HAMMER: I'm The Right Man (Ecko) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.

Listen to "Let's Hear It For The DJ" while you read.

Let's be clear. To even be compared to O.B. Buchana, arguably the pre-eminent vocal stylist in southern soul music, is a huge compliment. Hammer's vocal identity, his production and even his material have more often than not overlapped with Buchana's, not that Hammer's previous CD's--especially HAMMER and I CAN LAY THE HAMMER DOWN...(both previously reviewed here)--haven't been bonafide. But the casual listener could be forgiven for confusing Hammer and Buchana on a song like "I'm In A Party Mood," which coincidentally is reprised on this new set.

Be that as it may, Jaye Hammer breaks away from mentor O.B. Buchana's shadow into his own little patch of sunlight on I'M THE RIGHT MAN, his new CD from Ecko Records. I'M THE RIGHT MAN isn't a radical departure for Hammer--there is much that is familiar--but a significant portion is novel and surprising, and the marvel is that the blending of the new and traditional cuts is as seamless and successful as it is.

Among the more commonplace and derivative tracks are the Henderson Thigpen/John Ward-written "Here We Go" and the Gerod Rayburn/John Ward-composed "I'm Gonna Hit That Thang (Remix)" and "I Need It," which sound like Buchana retreads--to which could be added "Is She Waiting On You?", an otherwise exceptionally well-executed duet with Donnie Ray which became the first, and fairly successful, radio single from the album. (Hammer's name is mentioned prominently throughout.)

But then Hammer hits you with something completely new, the James Jackson-composed "Let's Hear It For The DJ," one of the most remarkable instrumental tracks to ever come out of Ecko. Described in Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 Singles Preview for September 2015 (#4-ranked)....

Imagine Hammer vamping in Prince's pinched clothes and delivery. (Difficult, huh?) The vocal is radically different--clipped, distanced. It's not Ecko’s style at all. It’s very percussive, and yet the song rocks in a catchy, cumulative way Hammer has never achieved before.

...The terrific energy and charisma in "DJ" is matched, if not duplicated, in the more old-school, John Cummings-written "I Ain't Leaving Mississippi." Cummings, you might remember, recorded the ode to deep-south culture, "Here In The South"--Daddy B. Nice's Best 'Out-Of-Left-Field Song of 2014--and "Mississippi," with its great hook and chorus, boasts the same, heart-tugging loyalty to the rural amenities of the Delta. Together--back to back--this pair of tunes provides a template for the most high-powered CD of Hammer's career.

"Just Because," a cover of Johnnie Taylor's classic that Hammer has been performing for live audiences, is the kind of song O.B. would record, but it's not Buchana, it's Hammer, and its insertion in the set is more welcome tonic. You may remember the sensitive, un-macho lyrics:

"And just because
Sometimes you want to make love,
Girl, I tell you, 'Not tonight,'
Try to understand I worked hard all day
Darling, I'm doing the very best I can."

"The Sweeter The Peach," a collaboration among Ward, Raymond Moore and Henderson Thigpen, combines a modest yet sweet melody with a perfect rhythm track in the quintessential Ecko style. As in "Let's Her It For The DJ," Hammer doesn't seek to overwhelm or impress. His vocal's as comfortable as your favorite old shoes. We're used to the spectacular brashness of style on his seminal CD's (above), but in a perverse way Hammer's vocals are even more seductive when he's just cruising.

Which brings up the title tune, "I'm The Right Man," in which Hammer brings his more panoramic vocal approach to bear on an original ballad by James Jackson. "I'm The Right Man" is aided by a winsome guitar lick--refreshingly powerful and upfront for southern soul. Ironically, the title tune was the only song your Daddy B. Nice couldn't link to YouTube, but I did find one for the similarly evocative "That's The Kind Of Man."

John Ward's production is first-rate. Till Palmer (as always) and James Jackson do a great job on the mixing and engineering. Other than Donnie Ray, there are no featured artists, and none are needed. Now, more than ever, Hammer's just being Hammer.

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy Jaye Hammer's I'M THE RIGHT MAN at Soul Blues Music.

See Daddy B. Nice's Jaye Hammer (Chart-Climber, New Album Alert). - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

Send CD's to Daddy B. Nice, P. O. Box 19574, Boulder, Colorado, 80308 to be eligible for review on this page.



October 8, 2015:

JETER JONES: Da GQ Country Boy (Jones Boys Ent.) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.

Jeter Jones' southern soul debut, Sweet Jones Live @ Leroy's Chicken Shack, received prominent mention in Daddy B. Nice's 2014: THE YEAR IN SOUTHERN SOUL, albeit for reasons more dubious than dazzling:

A young recording artist (Jeter Jones) trying to break into the southern soul market released an album whose instrumental tracks Daddy B. Nice--in a CD review--recognized as identical to certain Bobby Jones and Chuck Roberson songs of the recent past, setting off a firestorm of litigation between Desert Sounds CEO Charles Peterson and his former producer, Eric "Smidi" Smith.

Jones, who hails from Shreveport, Louisiana, returns apparently unscathed and just as ambitious with Da GQ Country Boy, assisted once again by Eric "Smidi" Smith on instrumental tracks. The GQ Country Boy offers no apologies in reprising both "Cowboy Up" and the "Chuck Strut"-like "Boot-Up" from LEROY'S CHICKEN SHACK in three of the new CD's thirteen tracks, as if to say, "Hey, this is my music, and I'm proud of it."

Watch the official video of Jeter Jones' "Cowboy Up" on YouTube.

But what really impresses on Da GQ Country Boy is the new work, specifically a handful of new singles tied together with voice-over interludes by a gritty-voiced "master of ceremonies"-type named Da Big Dawg, who goads Jones into doing short and effective (apparently impromptu) acapella stints. Such distractions often sabotage a long-playing record, but the interplay avoids excess and seems to energize and loosen up Jeter Jones.

Jones is a fantastic vocalist. He has a nasal tone that doesn't sound like anyone you've ever heard, and as if to prove his vocal acumen he brings in talented singers like L.J. Echols ("Lovin' Me On Borrowed Time") and J'Wonn ("Cold Bed Blues"), with whom he more than carries his own.

"Lovin' Me On Borrowed Time" has a catchy brass-section riff that I couldn't place even though I've heard it before. (The bass line comes from Marvin Sease's "Do You Qualify," and maybe that is the antecedent.)

"Cold Bed Blues" featuring J'Wonn has a Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody" ambience. It's also reminiscent of the slow and stately "True Love" on J'Wonn's CD from last year, I GOT THIS RECORD.

"Cold Pepsi And A Hot Man," the first single from the album, is an impressive, mid-tempo cut with a novel story line that has already made a significant impact on southern soul radio.

And just when you think the CD couldn't contain much more charisma, Jones teams up with zydeco musician Lil' Jabb on the toast-to-life, Pied-Piper-like "Zydeco With Me."

Easily overlooked in the company of the rich material above are "Roommate"--a significant song in its own right--and "Looking For Lovin'," a well-constructed duet with Crystal. I haven't figured out the lyrics to "Roommate," but it doesn't really matter. The song is musical enough to stand on its own--as, to its credit, is the entire CD.

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy Jeter Jones' Da GQ County Boy CD at CD Baby.

Jeter Jones on iTunes

********* - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

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September 26, 2015:

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Blues Mix 17--Dirty Soul Blues (Ecko Records) Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.

With quiet and unassuming consistency, Ecko Records "Blues Mix" sequence has become the most successful series of southern soul compilations in the current era. When music shoppers face the alternative of buying a single-artist CD or a various-artists CD, they tend to opt for the compilation, which guarantees artist and song variety, and when you've done seventeen various-artist CD's in a row, you must be doing something right.

Sheba Potts-Wright

However, compilations--or samplers, as they're often called--can be a mixed bag (no pun intended). The worst collections can be little more than trash receptacles for "B"-sides and fringe oddities that the record label could never market on their own merits.

Ecko's Blues Mix 17: Dirty Soul Blues doesn't contain any masterpieces, but its risque theme weaves a musical tapestry that far exceeds the sum of its parts, beckoning both sexes to luxuriate in the lewd behavior and double-entendres of good-natured licentiousness.

Take my Costa Rican-born, half-African-American, half-Caucasian friend Sandra, who knows nothing about southern soul music. A flamboyant yet sensitive woman, Sandra just bailed out of a seven-year relationship with an older, richer, married-in-the-process-of-divorcing man (an old friend of mine, actually), and she delights in making outrageous fun of the foibles of sugar-daddy relationships.

I have been promising to give Sandra a CD of southern soul music for some time, and when I heard Blues Mix 17: Dirty Soul Blues, I knew I'd found the perfect gift. Right now Sandra's not in need of--nor ready for--romance. Sandra needs release. And the unapologetic lusting and caustic put-downs coursing through the music on Dirty Soul Blues is just what the doctor ordered.

Ladies--Queen Denise LaSalle, Barbara Carr, Sheba Potts-Wright, Ms. Jody and Val McKnight--dominate this collection, in the process making DIRTY SOUL BLUES much more powerful than it otherwise would be. And so much so that the guys--O.B. Buchana, Rick Lawson, Jaye Hammer, Dr. Feelgood Potts--appear like guests wandering through a woman's gathering.

Ms. Jody is represented by "You've Got To Play With It Before You Lay With It" and the set-opening "Big Daddy Don't You Come."

Val McKnight, just signed by John Ward to the Ecko label this summer, also notches two cuts: "Head Bitch In Charge" and "I'm A Horny Woman.

Sheba Potts-Wright is represented by one of her finest mid-tempo odes to sensual arousal, "Big Hand Man," while her daddy, Memphis bluesman Dr. "Feelgood" Potts, checks in with "Let's Get A Quckie."

O.B. Buchana is the only fella to score two tracks on the CD: "Let Me Knock The Dust Off," with the great (but horrifying) line, "I ain't had no lovin'/Since two-thousand-three," and "Put Your Mouth In The South".

Two of southern soul's most renowned divas make appearances, Denise LaSalle with one of her anthems, "Snap, Crackle & Pop," and tough-as-nails, St. Louis mistress of the blues Barbara Carr with "If You Can't Cut The Mustard."

Currently "hot" Jaye Hammer is represented by "I'm A Booty Freak" and currently-inactive Rick Lawson by "Freak Cowboy."

Many of the songs on BLUES MIX 17 were written by the ubiquitous but largely unheralded composer Raymond Moore, who has furnished Ecko artists with hits for years.

The disc is one-of-a-piece musically, carrying on a tradition that reflects Memphis's legendary Hi Records and classics like Ann Peebles' "I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home". "Dirty soul blues" lives.

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy Ecko's Blues Mix 17: Dirty Soul Blues CD at Soul Blues Music.

********** - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

Send CD's to Daddy B. Nice, P. O. Box 19574, Boulder, Colorado, 80308 to be eligible for review on this page.


September 12, 2015:

RICKY WHITE: Love Zone (CDS/Music Access) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.

Ricky White has made big strides since his first southern soul album, MR. JUKE JOINT, in 2006. The Greenville, Mississippi native has become one of the most prolific singer/songwriter/producers in the genre. Borrowing a little from Lenny Williams, a little from T.K. Soul and a little from Floyd Taylor and Robert "The Duke" Tillman (not to mention a lot from the master himself, the late Michael Jackson), White has fashioned a romantic yet sexy musical style, a unique and identifiable brand instantly recognizable to lovers of chitlin' circuit R&B.

Love Zone, the refreshing new installment in the Ricky White saga, contains all the incidentals-—the little squeals and “oohs” and “ahhs” and "hey babes," the brassy but tinny, synthesizer arrangements, the old-school and gospel inflections--that define the Ricky White sound. The songs tend toward the contemplative, with ballads predominating, and at their best moments they weave perfect background music for lovers and loving.

"Freaky Lover" encapsulates all of what Ricky White does best, the husky yet upper-register-laced, conversational intimacy, while the steamy cerebral sex in "Taste Your Love" evokes a romantic aura so strong the carnality of the lyrics hardly registers. "Taste Your Love" has the edge to be a significant single.

There are plenty of celebrated guests and contributors. "We Cried Together" presents a duet with Jerry L. (Jerry L. Minnis out of Memphis, who really cuts loose).

The Frank-O Johnson-written "Redbone," the featured single from the album, showcases a duet with T.K. Soul, albeit T.K. tweaked into synthesized anonymity.

"Ride Your Body," another piece of aural seduction, has already been covered by southern soul icon Charles Wilson. (Listen on YouTube.) Note, however, that both "Freaky Lover" and "Ride Your Body" previously appeared on 2013's MAJIC, still arguably White's best overall.

I noted the single-worthiness of the sultry ballad "Taste Your Love" from the set (above), but any of the LOVE ZONE ballads would qualify. "Angel" (a B-side version of "I'll Still Love You"), "Making Love," "I'll Always Love You Forever," "Super Woman" and "Strong Woman" are all strong, verse-and-chorus ballads.

There is one drawback: the canned sound, the sameness. Even allowing for the tolerance the southern soul audience has for programmed instrumental tracks, LOVE ZONE pushes the limits. Today's southern soul stars--new and old--are dazzling fans with live instruments and lush productions, compared to which White's arrangements--most specifically the faux brass sections--come off as neolithic, sometimes annoying and on the whole less than generous.

But with that caveat, and as it is, Love Zone bolts out of the gates as the most compositionally-rich collection of ballads of Ricky White's career.

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy Ricky White's new LOVE ZONE CD at Blues Critic.

Sample/Buy Ricky White's new LOVE ZONE CD at iTunes.

Read Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Ricky White.

Ricky White is the #54-ranked artist on Daddy B. Nice's Top 100 Southern Soul Songs: 21st Century Countdown (00's – 10's). See the chart.

********** - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide


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August 30, 2015:

BOBBY CONERLY: Soul Singer: The Best Of Bobby Conerly (Aviara) Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.

Listen to Bobby Conerly singing "So Beautiful" on YouTube while you read.

Songwriter Bobby Conerly worked behind the scenes for Jackson, Mississippi's Malaco and Waldoxy Records much of his adult life, penning tunes for the likes of Marvin Sease ("Sit Down On It"), Denise LaSalle ("I'm A 24 Hour Woman") and Mel Waiters ("Girls Nite Out," "Meet Me Tonight," "Friday Night Fish Fry," "Whiskey And Blues"), often uncredited. He also penned hits for Chuck Strong ("Let Me Spend Some Cash For You," "Faithful To A Married Woman") and David Brinston ("Good Woman With Some Bad Habits," "Junk In The Trunk," "Should Have Been Me").

As a performer/recording artist in his own right, Conerly has all the basic tools of southern soul vocalists without any of the freaky talents, including aggressiveness, that take the geniuses (Waiters, Sease, LaSalle) to another level, but Conerly has worked hard and persistently at his vocal craft. Little-noticed CD's on the Rob K label from 2006 to 2008 contained good material, including some of Conerly's best: "7 Come 11" (2006) and "Never Had It This Good" (2008).

But it wasn't until The New Old School album appeared on the Aviara label in 2010 (along with marketing assistance from CDS Records) that Conerly's career achieved some genuine traction. The singer/songwriter's new compilation, SOUL SINGER: THE BEST OF BOBBY CONERLY, culls songs from the early releases on Rob K, THE NEW OLD SCHOOL and 2011's TAKE WHAT'S LEFT OF ME.

The album is a revelation, traditional southern soul in a tapestry that boasts a cumulative soulful effect, one not unlike the powerful vintage singers the album's new single "Soul Singer (The Tribute)" eulogizes.

I was surprised to hear in Conerly's very first track, "So Beautiful," the precursor of Charles "Big Daddy" Stallings' one and only southern soul hit "In Love By Yourself," (#1 on your Daddy B. Nice's "Top 25 Singles of 2011!) No copyright infringement, you understand, because Stallings' ballad takes the song down a different path and could very well have PRECEDED Conerly's (in which case Conerly wold be infringing). Still, there it is, the same musical skeleton and instrumentation (chords, tempo, ambience) right down to the special atmospheric tinkling of the guitar at the end of phrases.

My fave on this album is "Never Had It So Good." It was the second Conerly song to chart here at SouthernSoulRnB, ("Don't Do It" was the first.) See links to "Conerly, Bobby" in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.)

"Never Had It So Good" is such an overlooked classic your Daddy B. Nice is going to use the bully pulpit of September's Top Ten "Breaking" Southern Soul Singles to give it another, well-deserved nudge into the public's awareness.

Listen to Bobby Conerly singing "Never Had It So Good" on YouTube.

Blues purists will turn up their noses at the faux horns and the whole, low-budget, programmed instrumentation (adding to their argument that the chitlin' circuit has long been nothing more than a breeding ground for "demos"), and it's hard to fault them. This stuff would blow the roof off with a real band. So be it. But I still stand behind what I wrote in January of 2011:

This anthem is almost too soulful and funky to be believed. The verses in particular are Southern Soul heaven.

Among the other authentic songs on this set are:

Listen to Bobby Conerly singing "7 Come 11" on YouTube.

Listen to Bobby Conerly singing "Now I Know What" on YouTube.

Listen to Bobby Conerly singing "Let Me Spend Some Time With You" on YouTube.

Listen to Bobby Conerly singing "I'm In Love Again" on YouTube.

I could go on. There are no "turkeys," and with the exception of the Carl Marshall-produced "Can I Come Back" the selections all adhere to a soulful, old-school ambience that fans may find refreshing in an era increasingly dominated by "cutting-edge" southern soul.

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy SOUL SINGER: THE BEST OF at Blues Critic.

Listen to Bobby Conerly singing "Soul Singer (The Tribute).

******** - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

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Send CD's to Daddy B. Nice, P. O. Box 19574, Boulder, Colorado, 80308 to be eligible for review on this page.


August 16, 2015:

CHUCK ROBERSON: Over In The Woods (Cruise On) Three Stars *** Solid. The artist's fans will enjoy.

I was listening to an old southern soul mix tape of mine the other day--a cassette--the result of a major house renovation in which a huge quantity of old music of various outmoded technologies was upended. And sure enough, after sliding the tape into the popped-out-at-an-angle, boombox cassette drawer (remember those?) I found myself nodding along to "Love Freak" by Chuck Roberson circa 1999. (I'd play it for you if it was on YouTube.) The quintessential southern soul journeyman was truckin' along even then.

Over In The Woods, Roberson's latest CD, takes off on Bobby Stringer's excellent single of 2009 or thereabouts, "Over In The Woods," which for your Daddy B. Nice always triggered memories of Thanksgiving. "Through the woods / To Grandma's house..." or something like that. The chorus is a chunka-chunka rhythm fest. Yet, the Stringer original is so obscure it's only received a dozen views since April 2014 when it was posted on YouTube. Chuck Roberson's version is destined for even greater obscurity, in all likelihood. Still, it's a good song, and like pancakes for breakfast sticks to your innards long after consuming.

An even better selection from the new album, "She Was Your Wife But Now I'm Her Man," makes a definitive statement and could be the set's premier southern soul single. Chuck's tenor has lost none of its expressiveness or mahogany-rich resonance.

One of the untold blessings of Chuck Roberson CD's is that they're miniatures of their time eras, featuring imitations of the popular songs and themes of the day. Thus, "You Been Cheating On Me," "We're Gonna Have A Party," "It's Not Over Till You Say We're Through" and "Tired Of Waiting On You" all sound like covers or B-sides of contemporary fare.

Nor is the old school forgotten. Sam and Dave's "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby," written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter, is given a respectful outing, and Johnnie Taylor's "Disco Lady," written by Harvey Scales, is taken from the strobe lights of the ballroom to the casual candlelight of an intimate bedroom in Chuck's rendering.

Listen to Chuck Roberson singing "Disco Lady" on YouTube.

LaQuentin Williams co-produced and engineered the disc, Pete Peterson promoted, and Miss Bernice Stringer is included in the dedications.

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy Chuck Roberson's OVER IN THE WOODS by writing CRUISE ON RECORDS, P.O. BOX 993, MADISON, FLORIDA 32341.

Browse through all of Chuck Roberson's CD's in Daddy B. Nice's CD Store.

See Daddy B. Nice's Guide to #71-ranked Southern Soul Artist Chuck Roberson.

To link to all of Chuck Roberson's awards, citations and other references on the website, go to Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.

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July 25, 2015:

BIGG ROBB: Showtime (Music Access/Robb Music/Over 25 Sound)

Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.

You have to hand it to Bigg Robb. While the Klass Band Brotherhood has been experimenting--some might say dithering--with uncharacteristic, hard-edged, funk material since the sweet, mid-tempo "Sugaa Shack" bomb that made their brand, Bigg Robb has recognized the cradle-rocking euphoria of "Shack" and appropriated their signature song, reverentially recording and re-recording it (with Nelson Curry's blessing) in the same fashion he co-opted Carl Marshall's "Good Lovin' Will Make You Cry (Remix)" (also reverentially, with Carl's blessing), giving both songs greater radio and internet exposure and ever more widespread popularity.

Showtime, Bigg Robb's terrific new album, features Robb's, Mz. Jackson's, et. al.'s techno-enhanced "Sugar Shack (Extra Long Remix)," displaying once again (as if we needed proof) that Robb is the most cunning and intuitive producer in the business today, but it by no means stands alone. Within the confines of Showtime's typically generous, B-I-G-G sixteen-track set, "Sugar Shack (Extra-Long Remix)" is merely the precursor to Robb's own bid for the "sweet spot" of southern soul music: the mid-tempo, lullaby-like "Good, Good."

Robb understands that a really good song is a "full house," and "Good Good's" basement is a bass line to die for, with all the other instrumental and vocal pieces lovingly layered like a ground floor, upstairs, attic and roof. Over the years Robb's auto-tuned lead vocals have progressed with such finesse (and his lyrics have stockpiled so much audience trust) that his singing now sounds perfectly sincere and authentic--natural, if you will--to anyone who listens to southern soul music with regularity.

"Good, Good" is the culmination of all of Robb's diligence, an easy-going anthem that perfectly sums up not only his charisma but the very popularity of southern soul itself.

Here's a birds'-eye view of the other musical riches contained in this new collection:

"Hotter Than Fish Grease" is the most sophisticated treatment yet of a Bigg Robb riff that first appeared on the SOUL PRESCRIPTION and JUKE JOINT CD's: "Fish In Some Grease."

An unabashed ode to making love, "Getting It In" is a dance jam propelled by a simple, repetitive guitar riff and a healthy dose of Bigg Robb-style story-telling. Humorous and vivid.

"Fill It Up" is another, sparely-produced fast jam, humble and infectious, its subject the joys of drinking. ("Now I'm feeling like a superstar.") Both these songs have had extensive runs on southern soul radio over the last year.

Watch the official Bigg Robb video of "Fill It Up" on YouTube, at the end of which you can see the fat man drunkenly staggering off.

"Please Don't Judge Me" is a soulful ballad with gospel overtones and plenty of Bigg Robb-style, voice-over storytelling, in the mode of Bigg Robb's "Everybody Makes Mistakes."

The musical backbone of "Blues and BBQ (feat. Denise Lasalle)" harks back to the days when your Daddy B. Nice still suspected Robb's southern soul "bonafides". (See Daddy B. Nice's Original Artist Guide to Bigg Robb.) Thus, the friendly jab in Daddy B. Nice's Top Ten "Breaking" Southern Soul Singles for July 2015:

The attraction here is the Queen Of The Blues and the friendly banter. Minimal hooks from Robb lately ("Getting It In," "Fill It Up"). This one sounds circa 2005, a real throwback. What if, after all the trust and acceptance given him by the chitlin' circuit, Bigg Robb should turn out to be the Trojan horse for Ohio-based funk that we thought he was in the beginning?

That's nonsense, of course.

Bigg Robb has as much claim to being the heart and soul of chitlin' circuit music as anyone. He is Latimore's true heir: the current king of the southern soul voice-over.

Bigg Robb's generation--Robb, Sir Charles, T.K. Soul--has taken over. The old stars are nearly all gone, and SHOWTIME is yet another testament that we're in good hands.

Contributors to this CD, many of them longtime family members and Bigg Robb collaborators dating back to the Problem Solvas days, include Sure 2 Be (Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals), R-3 (drums and vocals), Eddie Cotton (guitar), Timothy Barnes (keyboards), Goldie Mack (guitar), Bart Thomas (vocals), Omar Cunningham (vocals), Toia Jones, Alice & Odessa Bledsoe, Tiffanie Troutman, Constance Tatum, Antoinette Jones & Alexandria McFadden (vocals), Curtis Foster (vocals), Randy Villars (saxophone), Danny Smith (guitar), Tony Williams (guitar) and Kurt Clayton (keyboards, organ).

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy Bigg Robb's SHOWTIME at Amazon.

See Bigg Robb (21st Century)
Daddy B. Nice's #10 ranked Southern Soul Artist

See the chart, which encompasses a fifteen-year period in southern soul music.

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July 16, 2015:

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Blues Mix 16: Grown Up Soul (Ecko) Three Stars *** Solid. The artists' fans will enjoy.

Jaye Hammer pulls the most weight on Ecko's newest addition to its Blues Mix series: #16: Grown Up Soul. Still sporting a delivery as sharp and stinging as an inch-thick bullwhip, Hammer stands out on three tracks, including the strongest new single from the album, a duet with Donnie Ray, "Is She Waiting On You?"

The sampler features no less than six previously unreleased songs. O.B. Buchana contributes a new but typical ballad, "You Might Have To Hurt"; Sheba Potts-Wright showcases a new single, "Happy Tears"; the one-dimensional but sassy blues woman Val McKnight is represented by "Watch That Booty Do"; and both Hammer ("I Need It") and John Cummings ("What Cha Want To Do With Me Tonight?") check in with new material.

Ms. Jody unfurls one of the more satisfying tracks from her most recent CD, TALKIN' 'BOUT MY GOOD THANG, "A Piece On The Side." David Brinston's original "Something I Want" is included, although not the version with Ms. Jody, and Denise LaSalle's classic, "The Love You Threw Away," shines like a diamond in a new setting.

In addition, the late Earl Gaines wraps up the compilation with the bluesy classic, "Meat And Potatoes Man."

John Ward, Henderson Thigpen, Gerod Rayburn and Raymond Moore fulfill the composing duties, in addition to the contributions of the singer/songwriters.

Nothing surprises on this sampler, but neither does anything disappoint.

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy Ecko Record's Various Artists: Blues Mix 16: Grown Up Soul at Amazon.

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July 5, 2015:

AVAIL HOLLYWOOD: Wasted Confessions (Nlightn) Two Stars ** Dubious. Not much here.

Like the opening chords of the truly great songs (LaMorris Williams' "Impala," J'Wonn's "I Got This Record"), you know within the first few bars that "Wasted" is something very special and very deep. This is Hollywood's best single yet, even more remarkable than the durable "Drinking Again." --Daddy B. Nice

Arguably the hardest-working man on the chitlin' circuit, Avail Hollywood has released his second CD of the year. (REHAB appeared in January.) "Wasted" was Daddy B. Nice's #1 "Breaking" Southern Soul Single for March 2015, a five-star accomplishment if ever there was one.

Anyone who has questioned Hollywood's abilities as a southern soul vocalist due to his idiosyncratic tone or hiphop tendencies will be converted and enthralled by this masterful vocal rendering of a new song fated to be a classic.

Uncharacteristically, Hollywood has put neither "Wasted" nor "Sugga Hole," a dance jam from the collection released this summer, on YouTube.

This CD gets five stars for its incredibly deep and satisfying title cut, "Wasted," but it gets one star for its unprofessional padding and its inexcusable pandering to an inner circle of sycophants who may or may not want to hear Hollywood's navel-gazing verbalizing between tracks. There's so much talk you think he'll never get to the music. And then, after some music, there's more talk. Has Avail's opening for R. Kelly (a recent tour-date high) disoriented the onetime serviceman who formerly always had his musical boots firmly planted on the ground?

Hollywood has always been full of himself, a trait your Daddy B. Nice previously held up as a seasoned "toughness" many other, less-bold, young performers would be encouraged to emulate. Here, however, Avail crosses the line into self-absorption. He commits the cardinal sin of disrespecting his musical audience.

If you're up for a serious dose of artistic hubris, by all means buy the CD, but if you're not into chest-thumping outside of Tarzan in the treetops in the old movies, your Daddy B. Nice recommends just buying the ninety-nine-cent mp3 of Avail's new classic, "Wasted," one of the most pure southern soul experiences of the new year.

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy Avail Hollywood's WASTED CONFESSIONS CD at CD BABY.

Sample/Buy Avail Hollywood's WASTED CONFESSIONS CD at iTunes.

See Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Avail Hollywood.

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O.B. Buchana, Mississippi Folks, 11 17 15

Val McKnight, Independent Woman, 11-7-15

Jaye Hammer, I'm The Right Man, 10-18-15

Jeter Jones, Da GQ Country Boy, 10-8-15

Various Artists (Ecko): Blues Mix 17: Dirty Soul Blues, 9-26-15

Ricky White, Love Zone, 9-12-15

Bobby Conerly, Soul Singer: The Best Of Bobby Conerly, 8-30-15

Chuck Roberson, Over In The Woods, 8-16-15

Bigg Robb, Showtime, 7-25-15

Various Artists, Blues Mix 16: Grown Up Soul 7-16-15

Avail Hollywood, Wasted Confessions, 7-5-15


Send CD's to Daddy B. Nice, P. O. Box 19574, Boulder, Colorado, 80308 to be eligible for review on this page.


Recently reviewed:

Various Artists (Beat Flippa), I Got The Blues Vol. 1, 6-14-15 (Scroll down this column.)

David Brinston, Back Seat Rider, 6-7-15 (Scroll down this column.)

Ms. Jody, Talkin' Bout My Good Thang, 5-13-15 (Scroll down this column.)

Big Poppa G, I Believe, 4-26-15 (Scroll down this column.)

Sir Jonathan Burton, New Swing Soul, 4-18-15 (Contained in the Sir Jonathan Burton Artist Guide. Click link.)

Carl Marshall, Love Brings Me Back To You, 4-8-15 (Contained in the Carl Marshall Artist Guide. Click link.)

Donnie Ray, She's My Honey Bee, 3-7-15 (Scroll down this column.)

Sheba Potts-Wright, I Came To Get Down, 2-21-15 (Scroll down this column.)

Avail Hollywood, Rehab, 1-24-15 (Contained in the Avail Hollywood Artist Guide. Click link.)

Various Artists, Blues Mix 15: Down Home Soul, 2-14-15 (Scroll down this column.)


Rating Guide:

Five Stars ***** Can't miss. Pure Southern Soul heaven.

Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.

Three Stars *** Solid. The artist's fans will enjoy.

Two Stars ** Dubious. Not much here.

One Star * A disappointment. Avoid.


June 14, 2015:

VARIOUS ARTISTS: BEAT FLIPPA, I Got the Blues, Vol.1 (Music Access/Ross Music)

Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.

Coming out of nowhere, unheralded and unpublicized, yet making an immediate impact on the admittedly anemic CD sales charts, Ross Music's Beat Flippa, I Got the Blues, Vol.1 is an exhilarating collection of southern soul songs, proving once again that the reservoir of underground talent in the Delta and Louisiana in particular is as deep as ever.

In recent years, inspired by popular southern soul compilations put out by indie labels like Malaco, Ecko and CDS and one-of-a-kind samplers by individual artists and producers like Sir Charles Jones (Sir Charles & Friends) and Bruce Billups (Bruce Billups Southern Soul Mix Re-Loaded), artists as diverse as Bigg Robb and Ricky White have pleased fans with semi-autobiographical sets featuring material by otherwise deserving but unknown artists.

Bigg Robb's Blues Soul And Old School introduced Pat Cooley, Napoleon and Special in 2007. Ricky White Presents: Combination 2 went even further last year, featuring Gwen White, William Calhoun, Henry Rhodes, Tonya Youngblood and Larry Milton, in addition to the more well-known The Love Doctor, Betty Padgett, Jerry L. and Stephanie Pickett, not to mention undisputed star T.K. Soul.

Beat Flippa, I Got the Blues, Vol.1 appears to be the brainchild of Pokey. I say "appears to be" because your Daddy B. Nice has never received a hint of publicity or product from Pokey or Ross Music Group, although I have received material pretty regularly from Tyree Neal and also, of late, Adrian Bagher (Pokey's fellow Lousianna blues brothers). What I do know is that Pokey, along with Tyree Neal and Adrian Bagher, put out what amounted to a three-person sampler, the under-reviewed but terrific Louisiana Blues Brothers: Love On The Bayou late last year. If anything that album is even more musically powerful than this collection, showcasing two singles that have become the blockbuster hits of southern soul radio in 2015: Pokey's "My Sidepiece" and "Call Me Pokey."

The credits for Beat Flippa I Got the Blues, Vol.1 read as follows:

Produced by Beat Flippa, Brent and Cee Rock for Tha Super Friendz Productions. All Tracks recorded mixed and mastered by Beat Flippa at RMG Studios (DBN notes: That's Ross Music Group, Pokey's label.) ...With features from Tucka, Tyree Neal, Stephanie McDee, Dellanor, and Bruce Dillon.

Here's a rundown of the delights on this album:

"If It Ain't The Blues" by Pokey & Cupid

...A slow-percolating, infectious dance jam in which Pokey sings: God bless Muddy Waters/ And B.B. King/ If it wasn't for the legends/ There wouldn't be no me.

And...If it ain't that Willie Clayton/ If it ain't that Marvin Sease/ If it ain't Sir Charles Jones/ I don't even wanna hear the song.

And Cupid admits, without the blues...There would be no "Swing Around The Roses"/ Or no "Barbeque"....

"Thank God It's Friday" by Pokey, Vince Hutchinson & Adrian Bagher

First rate, all-out club anthem with great vocals and harmonies (the Crosby, Stills & Nash of Southern Soul?), a disco-ey rhythm track and a unique keyboard/organ back-fill that takes it over the top.

"Please Be My Love Jones" by Pokey and Lysa

Ballads. Pokey ain't afraid of no stinkin' ballads, nor afraid of being melodramatic. The unusual roughness of his vocal tone makes it interesting, like hearing Teddy Pendergrass the first time. And, as usual, it's the addition of the female co-singer (Lysa) that seals the deal.

"I Still Do Her Wrong" by Pokey

Another ballad by Pokey. Here he takes a contrite position on infidelity (reversing the entitled swagger of "My Sidepiece"), although he doesn't hold out much hope of hewing to the straight and narrow, either. Musically, it's strong.

"If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It" by Pokey

Mid-tempo is southern soul's prime tempo, and mid-tempo is Pokey's specialty. Another strong bass line, another typically rowdy vocal, with a great chorus and female background.

"The Best You Ever Had" by Rosalyn Candy & Veronica Ra'elle

This album is a coming-out party for new female singers. Rosalyn Candy is a find. Veronica Ra'elle is already receiving kudos for her debut on the entertaining "My Sidepiece Reply" with fellow songstresses Ms. Portia and southern soul star Lacee, from the LOUSIANA BLUES BROTHERS album.

"I'll Be The Other Man" by Tyree Neal.

In a nice contrast to Pokey's charismatic bullying, Tyree Neal provides the winsome, guy-next-door element, and his guitar work (which brought Stephanie McDee back to the brink of stardom with "When I Step In The Club") runs like a rich, exotic thread through many of these songs.

"I'm Here For You, Baby" by Big Cynthia

Along with Stephanie McDee, Big Cynthia (Junior Walker's daughter) serves as godmother to the explosive musical scene surrounding Pokey.

"Let's Do it" by Adrian Bagher, Veronica Ra'elle & Big Cynthia

Distinctively-produced, hard-core, dance-floor jam from Adrian Bagher, who rose from obscurity a couple of years ago with "Around The Corner."

"You Chose The Wrong Chick" by Ms. Portia

Another amazing discovery, Ms. Portia arrives without a trace of tentativeness.

"I Want Your Body" by Mz. Pat

Ditto for Mz. Pat.

If space permitted, your Daddy B. Nice could go on . A deejay could put together a two-hour program with the contents of this album and still be praised for showcasing variety. Ross Music Group's Beat Flippa contains an astounding seventeen tracks (a steal at $8.99 mp3, $13.99 CD).

Whoever's writing and producing all of this material (so far a well-kept secret) will ultimately get their share of benign karma, blessings and fans' love. With JOSEPHINE SON POKEY, LOUISIANA BLUES BROTHERS and BEAT FLIPPA, Southern Soul's creative center of gravity has been kidnapped from Big Yayo in Jackson and ferried across the Mississippi to the "Left Bank."

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy Beat Flippa, I Got the Blues, Vol.1 at Amazon.

Sample/Buy Beat Flippa, I Got the Blues, Vol.1 at iTunes.

See Daddy B. Nice's new Artist Guide to Pokey.

********* - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

June 7, 2015:

DAVID BRINSTON: Back Seat Rider (David Brinston) Two Stars ** Dubious. Not much here.

David Brinston was one of the reasons your Daddy B. Nice left all the "other" music behind, and it's been uncomfortable watching the southern soul star slip a little, CD by CD, like a photograph fading to sepia in the sun.

I remember searching for the unknown artist who did a song called "Nothing But A Party." Back in those days, there was no one and no website to turn to for assistance. You searched through Napster and every other music avenue available, looking for these unknown artists and in many cases untitled songs you'd heard at random, often hampered by the wrong keywords, a process that took months and in some cases years. The David Brinston song was called simply "Party," or as it quickly became known, "Party 'Til The Lights Go Out," the fifteenth-ranked song on the Top 100
Southern Soul Songs: Daddy B. Nice's 21st Century Countdown

The song is magical. From the opening bars of the rhythm track, the music transports you to a beautiful place, a nirvana of love and dancing. Brinston's vocal is relaxed and confident, one of a kind. Brinston's longtime songwriter, Linda Stokes, who's always been humble about her singing abilities, can be heard in the background, just as she still can be heard today.

Ironically, there's a song on Brinston's new CD BACK SEAT RIDER that recapitulates "Party," and yet "Just Like Your Mama" is such a weak rendering by comparison that I didn't realize it was the "Party" background instrumental track until I heard the first few bars on the radio one afternoon.

That's the key to this album. If you don't have those fond memories of Brinston, there isn't much here. Brinston's unique high tenor was always fragile--at its best, vulnerable. Now it's downright weak. The voice literally disappears in the middle of notes. I was reminded of watching Bill Withers' acceptance into the 2015 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on TV the other night, when Bill had to let Stevie Wonder and John Legend sing his signature songs ("Lean On Me," "Use Me," etc.), and then, even Stevie Wonder, advancing in age, faltered. It was painfully obvious he was missing notes. The only singer left and able to carry the day was the youthful Legend.

I'm aware that I've been hard on Brinston CD's over the last decade, basically for the same reasons described above--nothing comes close to "Party" and the FLY RIGHT ("Party," "Kick It," etc.) album. And it's true there have been many great if idiosyncratic songs on those latter-year CD's, "Mississippi's Where It's At" for example--last year's excellent "Diamond In The Middle," for another, although the latter does sound like the voice of an old man. "911 (It's An Emergency"), from the same album Back On Track," has become another personal favorite.

Still, on this new set, with its nondescript material and production, I find nothing especially worthy of radio play: possibly, "Low Down, Dirty," "Just Like Your Mama," or "Back Seat Rider." Will your Daddy B. Nice be looking back a year later, wondering if I under-rated these songs, too? In my own defense, I was very complimentary of those songs in my review and gave the BACK ON TRACK album as a whole a much more positive three-star ranking.

I'd be interested in hearing from David's true fans. Is he meeting your expectations? Is he even relevant? In a new southern soul world of Bigg Robb, Tucka, J'Wonn and Pokey, does Brinston's tattered vocal sound still have appeal?

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy David Brinston's BACK SEAT RIDER CD at CD BABY.

Read more Daddy B. Nice reviews of David Brinston CD's, including 2014's BACK ON TRACK album, in Daddy B. Nice's Guide to Brinston. Click here, scroll down to TIDBITS section.

************* - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

May 13, 2015: MS. JODY: Talkin' Bout My Good Thang (Ecko) Three Stars *** Solid. The artist's fans will enjoy.

In the finale of her new album, a duet with John Cummings called "When The Show Is Over," Ms. Jody interjects at one point with some passion: "Have you forgotten? My name's Ms. Jody." By coincidence, I was listening to some old music the other day and happened upon "I'm Ms. Jody," the song that started it all for Ms. Jody, although few people were listening at the time. In it the singer introduces herself as "I'm Ms. Jody /I'm the new freak in town," which sounds delightfully retro in light of the nine redoubtable CD's Ms. Jody has served up since 2006.

Overall, the new CD, Talkin' Bout My Good Thang,
has a country influence, as if Ms. Jody has been listening to a lot of country music, which is a good thing--Ms. Jody has always drawn inspiration from county and done some of her best southern soul in the country vein--but also a bad thing, because the better-financed, contemporary country one hears on the radio across the broad swathe of the nation has a sophisticated, robust production that makes the Ecko house band (80% John Ward on rhythm tracks, guitar and organ with Leo Johnston on bass and Gerod Rayburn on guitar) sound thin by direct comparison.

But as one delves into the album in detail, the variety and range of the material becomes evident. There's a "sidepiece" song (i.e. Pokey, etc.), "A Piece On The Side," done from Ms. Jody's fresh perspective, which is to say the point of view of all intelligent and sensitive women.

"Talkin' Bout My Good Thang," the title tune, has a jazz feel that couldn't be more different from the country and blues that run through the rest of the set. The catchy "Talkin'" works, too. Subtle and low-key, it may be a surprise hit for Ms. Jody.

And yet, the biggest buzz your Daddy B. Nice got from the album was the first few bars of the first song on the CD, "I Ain't Gonna Lie This Time," so familiar....It turned out to be Omar Cunningham's much-admired bass line and percussion track from "Man Enough," and for a minute I was actually hoping Ms. Jody would do a straight-on version of the Karen Wolfe classic. However, the tune quickly veers down a new path and direction.

There are a couple of strong blues numbers. "If He Knew What I Was Thinking" charted on Daddy B. Nice's "Breaking" Southern Soul Singles at #8 in April 2015. Here's what your Daddy B. Nice wrote:

8. "If He Knew What I Was Thinking"------Ms. Jody

And more great blues, this time from Ms. Jody, in the tradition of "Every Woman For Herself," from her upcoming album, TALKIN' BOUT MY GOOD THANG. One reservation: Ms. Jody dilutes the immediacy of the lyrics by attributing the story to a "young lady who gave me a phone call the other day...and this is what she said." Although this third-person technique worked to perfection with "When Your Give A Damn (Just Don't Give A Damn)," here the lyrics would be more intense--more powerful--coming straight from Ms. Jody. Can you imagine Etta James attributing "I'd Rather Go Blind" to someone who called her?

Less spectacular but more satisfyingly authentic, the bluesy "I"m Gathering Up The Trash" is a fine number with antecedents in Ann Peebles' "I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home" and Pat Brown's "I'm Taking Out The Trash."

"Shake Your Tail Feather" is a "Bop"-like ditty that should easily score on the beach music circuit.

However, "Just Let Me Ride Again," the title that jumps out from the album credits (based on Ms. Jody's popular dance jam "Just Let Me Ride," from her last CD), doesn't follow the enticing hook of the original and ultimately disappoints.

"I'm Gonna Take It Lying Down" returns Ms. Jody to top form, though, with the important refrain to the song title.... "In another man's bed," repeated often enough to make any man not only crazy but sorry.

Neither her best nor worst collection, Talkin' Bout My Good Thang is a smorgasbord of Ms. Jody's interests and styles.

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy Ms. Jody's Talkin' Bout My Good Thang CD at Amazon.

See Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Ms. Jody.

************ - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

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April 26, 2015: BIG POPPA G: I Believe (Pyramid City) Two Stars ** Dubious Debut by a New Male Vocalist.

Solo act Big Poppa G arrived in 2014 via his duet with the late Floyd Taylor, "Be There." The song was also given the prestigious opening track on Ecko Records' latest southern soul sampler, Blues Mix Vol. 15: Down Home Soul, giving the first-time solo artist instant credibility. Despite Floyd Taylor's star power, however, "Be There" never caught on in a big way with southern soul deejays, and your Daddy B. Nice found the ballad a little too cloying and pop-oriented to chart on Southern Soul's Top 10 Singles Review.

The debut CD, Big Poppa G's I BELIEVE, is just as puzzling, and your Daddy B. Nice has spent a couple of months sitting on the fence, trying to make out an opinion. There are some tremendous songs on this CD, for example the ballad "It Should Have Been Me," written by Lee Gibbs and previously recorded by O.B. Buchana on his Pop Yo Bottle album.

"If I Didn't Have You," another Lee Gibbs mid-tempo gem and potential classic, and Big Poppa G's showcase dance jam and bid for a signature song, "Call My Name," are so inherently infectious you wonder why they don't reverberate with more passion and power.

In Southern Soul music we're so used to gospel-forged vocalists with lungs of steel that we're almost blase' about it. In southern soul it's the material, or the arrangements, that are often lacking. So when we're confronted with a vocalist of limited means and pristine material, a reversal of the usual case, it's disorienting--like standing on one's head--but that, I believe, is the case here.

The liner credits extol "BPG" as reminiscent of the likes of Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendergrass, Lenny Williams, David Ruffin, Al Green and Freddy Jackson. No way. Any of those legends would immediately peg Big Poppa G as a background singer.

It's true that Lee Gibbs, the dominant creative force behind this album, bears some of the blame. The arrangements--keyboard horns, the usual southern-soul financial limitations--could be better. But the fault with the album lies with the singer, not the writer/producer.

Big Poppa G sings in tune. There's a nice, novel tone to his ascending notes (probably the quality that brought him the recording opportunity). But he seems to be singing through an invisible scrim of phlegm, once commonly called smoker's throat. He can neither hone in on a note with surgical intensity nor amplify beyond a pallid, mid-range volume. Only think of what someone like Jaye Hammer would have done with this album's bounty of music.

Instead, perfectly wonderful songs, compositions most recording artists would die for, result in a panorama of wasted opportunities, lacking emotional depth and climax. In the end, I BELIEVE is more of a coming-out party for its estimable writer, Lee Gibbs, than it is for the performer on the jacket, Big Poppa G.

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy Big Poppa G's I BELIEVE CD at CD BABY.

************ - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

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March 7, 2015: DONNIE RAY: She's My Honey Bee (Ecko) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.

There's no blockbuster song on the order of "Who's Rockin' You?" Nor is there anything comparable to Donnie Ray's vintage classic, "A Letter To My Baby." But there is much to savor on Donnie Ray's new CD, SHE'S MY HONEY BEE.

Aldredge (Donnie Ray is his first and middle name) is at the least a competent songwriter, and once in awhile a fantastic one, as his credits for "Letter To My Baby" and "Who's Rockin' You" attest. On this new set he brings four superior songs (Tracks 3-6) to the table ("Hold It And Roll It," "She's My Honey Bee," "I"m Still Waiting On You" and "Stone Cold Party"), surrounding them with nine decent though not outstanding tracks by himself and various Ecko house composers: Henderson Thigpen, Raymond Moore, Gerod Rayburn and John Ward. The four outstanding cuts are all written by Donnie Ray Aldredge.

Listen to Donnie Ray singing"Hold It And Roll It" on YouTube.

All these songs have a distinct, fresh feel to them. "I'm Still Waiting On You" has an exceptional melody, atmosphere and message, while "Stone Cold Party" is an uptempo dance jam in the serviceable mold of T.K. Soul's "Party Like Back In the Day." With John Ward doodling naughtily on a Hammond B3 organ, "Hold It And Roll It" features Donnie Ray doing a plausible and laudable, Steve Perry "Booty Roll"-ish line dance. (In his own smooth Donnie Ray style, naturally.) See Daddy B. Nice's #6-ranked Southern Soul Single for March 2015. And in the quasi-title tune, "She's My Honey Bee," Donnie Ray gives a nod to under-rated fellow performer and singer/songwriter Rue Davis and one of his signature songs, "Honey Poo."

Rue Davis

Of the more second-tier or average tunes, at least another four or five are noteworthy. "Can We Start Our Love All Over" and "I Knew It Was You" will please fans of "Smooth Operator" and "A Letter To My Baby" respectively, sharing some of the bloodlines of their predecessors, and the "O.B." references in "I Can't Take Your Wife Back" will tickle O.B. Buchana fans.

Donnie Ray acknowledges the current trend in harder-edged southern soul in "Shake It Baby, which makes it interesting. And Donnie Ray won the Carolina Beach Music Awards recently for "Who's Rocking You?," making the mellow "Carolina Swing" a natural. All--or nearly all--of these and more ("Mr. Deejay Don't Slow The Party Down") are also written by Aldredge.

Nevertheless, if I were grading the album's components on the old-school scale of A to F, I'd give the songwriting--solid as it is--only a "C-plus" while giving Donnie Ray's masterful vocals and the John Ward arrangements and production an "A."

I'm constantly amazed at how full and natural Ward has made the Ecko studio sound with far less resources than Malaco (with all "live" musicians) in its heyday, and Donnie Ray sings so well and effortlessly we take him for granted. The set also gets an "A" for its generous thirteen tracks.

--Daddy B. Nice

Listen to Donnie Ray singing "I'm Still Waiting On You" on YouTube.

Sample/Buy Donnie Ray's new SHE'S MY HONEY BEE CD.

See Daddy B. Nice's 21st Century Artist Guide to Donnie Ray.

See Daddy B. Nice's Original Artist Guide to Donnie Ray.

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February 21, 2015:
SHEBA POTTS-WRIGHT: I Came To Get Down (Ecko) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.

Sheba Potts-Wright made a huge splash in 2001 and 2002 with her naughty novelty hits "Lipstick On His Pants" and "I Can Bagg It Up" and her sumptuous cover of the Love Doctor's "Slow Roll It," (written by Sir Charles Jones), a song that helped to define 21st-century southern soul.

On "Slow Roll It" Sheba had none of the chops of the seasoned R&B/Blues singer she was to become over the next dozen years. What she had was the flirty, half-innocent precociousness of the young, and it's interesting to note, if you listen closely to "Slow Roll It," that Sheba lets out a girlish giggle identical to the one young Krishunda Echols emits a decade later in her "Mad Dog 20-20" on the current charts. Young feminine sounds such as these are devastatingly mesmerizing to a man.

The J-Wonn of her day, Sheba not only earned but was virtually handed the tiara of upcoming young southern soul princess, successor to older-generation stars like Peggy Scott-Adams, Shirley Brown & Denise LaSalle. Long before Mel Waiters sang about a woman who "controls her own destiny" in "No Curfew," however, Sheba balked at throwing all her chips into the fickle music business, pragmatically maintaining an administrative career in private life and relegating her public musical career to a kind of arm's-length parallel track.

That has been southern soul's loss. While fellow Ecko label-mates Donnie Ray and O.B. Buchana published CD's annually, Sheba released on average only a CD every three years. Nor has Sheba toured much, although she has gigged (mostly in the Memphis area) occasionally. Throw in flirtations with other musical genres--primarily straight blues, in deference to her bluesman father, Dr. "Feelgood" Potts--and Potts-Wright's southern soul status has dimmed considerably since those early, heady years at the dawn of the century.

The appearance of the Best Of Sheba Potts-Wright CD in 2010 was a reminder of just how good Sheba had been, and also a wake-up call on her singles of note from the ensuing years, most notably the hard-core-bluesy, double-entendre delight, "Private Fishing Hole." Happily, Sheba's new CD I Came To Get Down rewards the expectations of fans whose appetites were whetted by that greatest hits album. Sheba strives for the "pop" sound that has eluded her in recent efforts--the sound that made "Slow Roll It" so memorable--and there is a fine stretch of three songs that is as enjoyable to listen to as anything Sheba has ever done:

The first, "We Got The Right Stuff," has lyrics right out of the O.B. Buchana canon--

"You call me dirty names,
And that I'm no good,
But before the fire goes out,
You're laying on more wood."

--but it's the mid-tempo melody and the textbook-authentic vocal that lingers.

"Big Boy Stuff," a put-down of an inadequate and immature suitor, is even better, and Potts-Wright fans can forgive themselves if, in the middle of the tune, they find themselves thinking they're listening to SHEBA (Potts-Wright's powerful debut).

"Stay With Your Wife" was released as the first single last year, and it too displays Potts-Wright's charismatic qualities: earthiness and sexual allure leavened with tenderness and wisdom.

"Baby, you got too much riding on this,
So I got to tell you the truth.
Sugar, you may be in love with me,
But I'm not in love with you.

...You need to stay with your wife.
That's where you should be.
Don't break up your home.
Don't do it for me."

Both "Stay With Your Wife" and "Big Boy Stuff" were composed by Henderson Thigpen and John Ward--two of the finest tunes yet by Ward's most recent acquisition (Thigpen) to Ecko's songwriting stable.

Only slightly less notable are the tracks "Where's The Party At," "I Want Yo' Man" and "Old School Lovin'."

A special treat is "I've Done All I Can Do (Remix)," a remake of Al Wilson's 70's heart-stopper, "Show And Tell." Sheba first did the number on LET YOUR MIND GO BACK (her last CD, in 2011), but this time she makes the source explicit, singing the lyrics to "Show And Tell" to introduce the track.

Other than the well-intentioned failure, "Happy Tears," the only thing on Sheba Potts-Wright's new album that left your Daddy B. Nice scratching his head was the obvious prominence given to the quasi-title tune, "I Didn't Come To Sit Down," a dubious hook at best done in two equally-baffling versions, one beginning and the other ending this otherwise admirable set.

--Daddy B. Nice

Listen to the official video of Sheba Potts-Wright singing "Stay With Your Wife" live onstage on YouTube.

Sample/Buy Sheba Potts-Wright's I CAME TO GET DOWN CD at Amazon.

See Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Sheba Potts-Wright.

************ - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

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February 14, 2015:

VARIOUS ARTISTS: BLUES MIX 15: Down Home Soul (Ecko) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new. Val McKnight

Previously recorded out-takes by the late Floyd Taylor continue to appear. One of the most pop-friendly specimens kicks off Ecko Records' latest sampler, Blues Mix Vol. 15: Down Home Soul. The song is "Be There" by new Memphis artist Big Poppa G. The track, on which Taylor co-sings, is taken from Big Poppa G's 2014 debut CD, I Believe.

The most refreshing feature of the new Ecko compilation, however, is its generous helping of female artists. A full 50% of the selections are by southern soul divas. Sheba Potts-Wright is represented by the fresh sounds of "We Got The Right Stuff," from her new album, I CAME TO GET DOWN, three years in waiting. Sheba delivers a theme out of the O.B. Buchana library in her classic vocal and instrumental style.

Miz. B, the seldom-recorded Memphis diva who thrilled southern soul fans a decade ago with the Senator Jones-produced exotica, "My Name Is $$$$$," contributes two selections to this Ecko set, the first a hard-hitting, vibrato-less jam in the Barbara Carr mode--overly derivative in your Daddy B. Nice's estimation; Miz. B literally sounds like Carr.

But the second track, "You Got To Be A Freaker"--a dancing groove written by herself and Morris Williams--is a keeper, coming in at #1 on Daddy B. Nice's Southern Soul Singles Review for February 2015. The instrumental track and Miz B.'s husky contralto guarantee this will be a club jam for years to come.

Listen to Miz B. singing "You Got To Be A Freaker" on YouTube.

(Note that Miz B is listed as Mz. B in the liner notes, perhaps a nod to married status rather than single status. However, there is another Mz. B currently recording, which may lead to confusion and less recognition for southern soul's Mz. B.)

The late Ollie Nightingale's "You Got A Booger Bear Under There" is dusted off for its first commercial release in a couple of decades. Nightingale was one of the very first--if not THE first--artists CEO John Ward recorded for his nascent Ecko label in the nineties.

Listen to Ollie Nightingale singing "You Got A Booger Bear Under There."

(Confession. Your Daddy B. Nice has never understood what "you've got a booger bear under there" means. As kids growing up in our household, "boogers" were associated with picking your nose. Incidentally, Miz. B. references that very line--"You've got a booger bear under there"--in "You Got To Be A Freaker." Enlighten me at

Ms. Jody is represented by "My Cat Smells A Rat," a less successful take-off on her iconic hit of a few years ago, "Your Dog's About To Kill My Cat." "My Cat Smells A Rat" is from Ms. Jody's latest CD, IT'S ALL ABOUT ME.

Listen to Ms. Jody singing "My Cat Smells A Rat" on Spreaker.

Under-rated and rising stars in the southern soul firmament Bertha Payne and Val McKnight flesh out this ample twelve-track set, although neither (to my knowledge) has been affiliated with Ecko in the past.

Payne's "Southern Soul Party" is a beguiling mid-tempo dance tune with a casual yet tough vocal, from her IT'S THE BLUES IN ME CD, one of many by the singer.

"Who Do Woman" is the most chitlin' circuit-recognizable tune by Jackson, Mississippi's Val McKnight, whose debut CD RED HOT LOVER, was positively reviewed by Daddy B Nice in 2014. See Artist Guide to Val McKnight.

Listen to Val McKnight singing "Who Doo Woman" Live Onstage on YouTube.

At times in the past, to gain career notice, Payne has gone by the title "Glamorous" and McKnight by the title "Vivacious." At this point, the modifiers are superfluous: these ladies are well on their way to being "known."

Fellas make up the rest of Ecko's Blues Mix Vol. 15: Down Home Soul. O.B. Buchana and Donnie Ray check in with related blues jams ("Take My Wife Back" and "I Can't Take Your Wife Back," respectively). A new artist, Art Benton, makes an appearance doing a good iteration of Muddy Waters in "You Doin' The Same Thing." And last but not least, the late Lee "Shot" Williams, a singer who was always looking for that cutting-edge sound, serves up a remix of a remix of the "Juke Joint Slide."

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy Ecko Records' Blues Mix Vol. 15: Down Home Soul at Amazon.

************ - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

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