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


 

Daddy B. Nice's New CD Reviews

YEAR-END CD WRAP-UP: DADDY B. NICE RATES THE BACKLOGGED CD's OF 2014

RE: NEW CD REVIEWS....Many CD's were set aside due to the blockbuster releases of the summer--Sir Charles Jones, T.K. Soul, O.B. Buchana and J-Wonn. (Scroll down.) I'll keep adding to this list of capsule reviews until Christmas, with each new album receiving top billing and pushing its predecessor down the page.

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Southern Soul Smashes 4 (CDS) Three Stars *** Solid. The artist's fans will enjoy.

Jonathon Burton

(12-13-14) SOUTHERN SOUL SMASHES 4, the latest sampler from CDS Records, opens with a hard-edged offering from the musically mercenary Ricky White, a "Planet Rock"-influenced mutation of his dance jam, "Sexy." The late Floyd Taylor lends his wonderfully supple tenor to another southern soul-hiphop hybrid, Simeo's "I Like The Way (Remix)" (about the effusions of men watching strippers and/or club-dancers), the pay-off coming when Floyd delivers his first rapping verse ever in an unexpectedly husky voice. Dallas's Gregg A. Smith (he of the classic "Stacked In The Back") checks in with the old-style ballad, "Still Pretty." Chicago's Stan Mosley (he of the classic "Rock Me") performs "Lockdown." The Mid-Atlantic's Jim Bennett is represented by "Slap It Slap It Tap It Tap It..." Talented songwriter/snakebit entertainer Luther Lackey appears with his swan song to performing, the navel-gazing but dramatic "When I'm Gone," and Charles Wilson, a musical chameleon long before Ricky White, puts on his Mel Waiters hat for "I Dance Better." The compilation has the merit of collecting diverse, little-known artists into one venue. Thus, also included are Jerry L's Ricky White-influenced "She's Got That Ooo Wee," Patrick Henry's Carl Marshall-influenced "After Your Man Is Gone," Blind Ricky McCants "Old School Girl," Uvee Hayes' "Get Yo Dance On," Earl Duke's "A Woman's Needs" and Sir Jonathan Burton's "Meat On Them Bones." DBN.

Sample/Buy SOUTHERN SOUL SMASHES 4 at iTunes.

Listen to Floyd Taylor and Simeo singing "I Like The Way (Remix)" on YouTube.

SouthernSoulRnB.com - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

RAW SHAW: Feeling Soulful (Malindy) Three Stars *** Solid Southern Soul Debut by a New Male Vocalist.

12-13-14. California-based Malindy Music is one of the few non-Deep-South record labels to break into the hard-to-crack Southern Soul market. The breakthrough came with Lina's stunning "I Won't Let My Baby Down," which came from out of nowhere (California) in 2010. Malindy artist Raw Shaw's (aka Lewis Shaw's) cover of "I Won't Let My Baby Down" is the centerpiece of this 7-song debut CD, Feeling Soulful. Lina sings background on "I Won't Let My Baby Down" as well as pairing with Raw Shaw on the hiphoppish "Ghetto Tactics," arguably the next-best track. Shaw's rendering of the melodramatic McKinley Mitchell classic, "End Of The Rainbow," is also outstanding. Shaw also recycles Johnnie Taylor ("Just Because"), Wilson Pickett ("In The Midnight Hour") and Etta James ("I'd Rather Go Blind") with less success. But with a larger-than-life voice that resounds through coliseum-sized spaces, Feeling Soulful marks Raw Shaw as one of southern soul's finest current interpreters. DBN.

Sample/Buy Raw's Shaw's FEELING SOULFUL at CD Baby.

Listen to Raw Shaw singing "I Won't Let My Baby Down" on YouTube.

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DONNELL SULLIVAN: Sugar Daddy EP (Donnell Sullivan) Three Stars *** Solid. The artist's fans will enjoy.

(12-7-14) Even southern soul insiders could be forgiven for mistaking this five-song EP for a debut. Donnell Sullivan's first album, Back It Up, appeared in 2011 and was actually a more distinguished collection, with twice the number of tracks, including a potential hit song, "Back Door Lover," but the song failed to make a strong enough impression with deejays and the CD fell off the radar. Two of the songs on the new EP, SUGAR DADDY, made Daddy B. Nice's Top Ten Southern Soul Singles Review, "Whistle (While You Twerk)" (#9 November 14) and "Sugar Daddy" (#5 December 14). Donnell Sullivan has what entertainers call a "facility" and he looks like a "keeper," and a guy who'll stick with it until he makes it. Without the soul, his music would register on the bubblegum side of pop, but like his influences (Tyrone Davis, Willie Clayton, T.K. Soul) before him, he's working hard on his technique. One doesn't become a southern soul singer overnight. DBN.

Sample/Buy Donnell Sullivan's SUGAR DADDY EP at CD Baby.

Listen to Donnell Sullivan singing "Sugar Daddy" on YouTube.

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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.

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BIG RO WILLIAMS: Good Love Muscle EP (Roosevelt M. Williams) Three Stars *** Solid Southern Soul Debut by a New Male Vocalist.

(12-1-14) Big Ro touts a refreshing, "bad-boy" perspective in short supply as southern soul's stars have increasingly gained celebrity and a newfound decorum. "Good Love Muscle" looks straight back to Clarence Carter's "Strokin’" and other southern soul anthems too libidinous for mainstream radio, with a hugely entertaining rhythm section, wild lyrics and a big husky voice befitting the message. Williams was a hiphop artist when he ran into Sir Charles Jones, his old high school classmate, who advised him to try southern soul. The first song on the EP is the worst, extremely derivative boogie/swing, but each cut, starting with the second track ("She Got That Jelly") and its funky, percolating rhythm track and verses, gets better. "Jelly," however, is sabotaged by its chorus, which fits with its verses about as well as the top half of a dog would fit with the bottom half of a cat. Track 3, "She Put That Thang On Me," is the first thoroughly southern soul song, with a wonderful chorus that recalls the soft, country-gospel choruses favored by Senator Jones' Hep'Me releases in the early 00's. Track 4, "Sweet Sexy Southern Girl," features the bragging of a thuggish womanizer, so vivid and creative it's inspiring, over an instrumental palette as powerful and ambient as some of Bobby "Blue" Bland's best, while "Good Love Muscle" simply "blows the roof off" the "mofo"--one of Daddy B. Nice's "best songs of 2013"--a surefire classic. DBN.

Sample/Buy Big Ro Williams' GOOD LOVE MUSCLE EP at CD BABY.

Listen to Big Ro Williams singing "Good Love Muscle" on YouTube.

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SouthernSoulRnB.com - 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.

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November 26, 2014:

JIM BENNETT: Southern Soul Highway: The Essential Jim Bennett (CDS) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.

(11/26/14) By any objective standard, Jim Bennett possesses limited tools as a solo recording artist. I doubt whether his vocal range goes much over an octave, and his monotonous, husky baritone is drafted into the service of compositions that invariably feature simple, repetitive, "baby steps"-like chords customized with a bit of R.L. Burnside/Otis Taylor-like trance blues. He hails from the blues "backwaters" of suburban Maryland, and his account of learning how to sing from the legendary Lee Fields is fascinating (see Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Jim Bennett). But he's a smart, wily arranger with a drum-tight live band, including horns and seasoned female background singers, and from the first, pulsing beats of the bass guitar on "Mr. Right On Time Dr. Feel Good," the previously unreleased opening track of this greatest-hits collection, Bennett's single-minded and fearless front-man personality inspires his band-mates and his songs with a Pied-Piper-like magnetism. "Slap It, Slap It, Tap It Tap It...", "Jody Got It All," "My Dear," "Southern Soul Highway" and "Mr. Right On Time Dr. Feelgood" provide a rousing start to the set, and after a mid-disc lapse ("You Can Use Me Up," "If He Won't I Will," "It's You I Need" and "If I Can't Have You"), the tasty, abbreviated guitar of "She Laid A Freak On Me" signals a return to mesmerizing high form. "Just Keep Backing It Up" dollops more of the same guitar plus attractive faux-string, keyboard washes, building to a grand finale trifecta of the ubiquitous "The Body Roll," the righteous "Sleep-Walking Jim" and the amusing "Goldylocks," in which Jim pays tribute to his Hardway Connection roots with "That thing was too short/too big/just right!" DBN.

Sample/Buy Southern Soul Highway: The Essential Jim Bennett at CD Universe.

Sample/Buy Southern Soul Highway: The Essential Jim Bennett at iTunes.

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CHUCK ROBERSON: The Other Side Of Me (Desert Sounds) Three Stars *** Solid. The artist's fans will enjoy.

(11-24-14) Chuck Roberson's new album on Pete Peterson's Desert Sounds Records will hearten his fans with its seamless blend of vintage covers and contemporary originals. Three adeptly-executed covers--Teddy Pendergrass's "I Can't Leave You Alone" (written by Gamble & Huff), Sam & Dave's "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby" (written by Hayes & Porter) and James Carr's "A Man Needs A Woman" (written by Quinton Claunch) establish a dauntingly high standard of quality that Roberson successfully matches on at least two of his original singles: the durable ballad "She Was Your Wife, But Now I'm Her Man" and the likeable, easy-going dance jam, "We're Gonna Party, We're Gonna Have Some Fun." After a couple of years of copyright disputes with Pete Peterson (See Daddy B. Nice's Mailbag), Producer/Arranger Eric "Smidi" Smith from Roberson's well-received 2012 Desert Sounds album THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT is out. Writer/producer Juvy Peterson (not to be confused with gospel singer Judy Peterson) is in, along with producer LaQuinton Williams. Juvy Peterson was the executive producer of Bobby Jonz AIN'T GOT NO PROOF CD, also released on Desert Sounds. Watch for an updated link when the disc is released commercially. DBN.

Listen to Chuck Roberson singing "She Was Your Wife But Now I'm Her Man" on YouTube.

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SouthernSoulRnB.com - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

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JAYE HAMMER: Jaye Hammer's Still Got It (Ecko) Three Stars *** Solid. The artist's fans will enjoy.

(11-22-14) Hammer's third Ecko collection features the usual assortment of chitlin' circuit themes ranging from Ollie Nightingale's "I'll Drink Your Bathwater, Baby" to Buchana-"Back Up Lover"-inspired "Let Me Help You Get Even With Him"--with an Hawaiian chaser. The gem of the set may be the deep and resonant ballad, "Make Up Sex." Most of the better material ("I'm A Booty Freak," "Hammer's Juke Joint Shack," "I'm Not Going To Cheat On My Wife Any More," "The Longer You Love Me") will satisfy core fans but fail to bring in "newbies," and it's doubtful there's a break-out "hit" of the originality of Theodis Ealey's "Stand Up In It" or Klass Band Brotherhood's "Sugaa Shack." In that respect, the very thing that elevates Jaye Hammer's level of musicianship, namely his musical association with O.B. Buchana and John Ward (Ecko CEO/producer), also puts a ceiling on his identity. The constant comparisons with Buchana are obvious, but Ward's no-nonsense rhythm tracks and guitar instrumentals, which seem on first impression solid but faceless, also convey an identity. (Ward actually has a more inventive approach to the organ; there's a small keyboard fill in "Any Kind Of Party" that's an absolute delight.) The point is, any potential hit of Hammer's is competing for attention with nine of his tunes plus ten more of O.B.'s (at the least, in any given year) with somewhat the same instrumental sound. Diverging musically in incremental ways--even with the vocals--might be called for. In the end, this is good southern soul music, and slow but sure (bereft of the big hit) still works. Latoya Malone provides great (i.e. modest and authentic) female background vocals, especially on "Hammer's Juke Joint Shack". DBN.

Listen to Jaye Hammer singing "Make Up Sex" on YouTube.

Sample/Buy Jaye Hammer's STILL GOT IT CD at Amazon.

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UVEE HAYES: In The Mood (Mission Park) Two Stars ** Dubious. Not much here.

(11-20-14) Notwithstanding her fine duets with the gritty Otis Clay, and unlike her raunchy St. Louis "soul sister" Barbara Carr (See SOUTHERN SOUL BLUES SISTERS), Uvee Hayes has always skated along the fringes of southern soul music, studiously avoiding anything carnal or lowbrow. Uvee picked one of Johnnie Taylor’s most delicate and sentimental tunes a few years ago for her hit single “Play Something Pretty.” Similarly, the title tune of her new set (“In The Mood”) is a smooth-as-silk cover of one of Tyrone Davis' most atypically jazzy outings. Although "A Woman's Gotta Do" (a remake of Uvee’s "A Man's Gotta Do") and "Handy Man" (a redo of her "Maintenance Man") qualify marginally as southern soul, the overwhelming bulk of her new album plies a meditative, jazzy style of singing more suited to the "Americana" or “Urban Smooth Jazz” market. There's nothing wrong with that; just be warned. This is music you'll hear in a cabaret with fine linen and waiters in starched uniforms, not in your favorite "hole in the wall” between Ms. Jody and Nellie "Tiger" Travis. DBN.

Sample/Buy Uvee Hayes' IN THE MOOD CD at CD Universe.

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JR BLU: Tru Blu (William Fonville/Capital A) Three Stars *** Solid Southern Soul Debut by a New Male Vocalist.

(11-18-14) Cleveland-born JR Blue scored the #6 single on Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Review for June 2014 with the song “She’s Been Good." The song gained your Daddy B. Nice's praise for its "David Ruffin-like vocal and sweet Van Morrison-style saxophone fills." (See Vanthology, a tribute to Van Morrison by Little Milton, William Bell, Syl Johnson and other soul singers.) "She's Been Good" went on to pick up some Delta-area radio air play for the young performer, whose writing and production skills are even more accomplished than his vocals. Blu (born William Fonville) grew up playing sax, and live horns--both trumpets and saxophones--along with live guitars, keyboards and background singers reinforce the quality of many of the tunes. The CD was recorded at the (Willie) Mitchell Family Royal Studios in Memphis. DBN.

Sample/Buy JR Blu's TRU BLU CD at CD Baby.

Listen to JR Blu singing "She's Been Good" on YouTube.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS: BLUES MIX 14: Total Soul Blues (Ecko) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.

John Cummings

(11-16-14) The latest sampler from Ecko Records features strong material from O.B. Buchana and his hard-singing clone and label-mate, Jaye Hammer. Any Buchana fan would be excused for mistaking the album's first track, "Any Kind Of Party," for O.B., but it's Hammer, who also notches a scorching dance jam with "I'm A Booty Freak." O.B. checks in with two well-done songs, "Private Party" and "O.B. Shuffle." Sonny Mack, who wrote "Private Party" (under his given name William Norris) for O.B., serves up two tracks, "Dig A Little Deeper" (which he wrote for Hammer) and "It Ain't What's In Your Pocket." But the two biggest surprises are the pair of outstanding new songs by John Cummings, "Good Love," an affecting and sweetly-sung ballad, and "Southern Soul Blues Fest," a fan's appreciation of Deep South concerts complete with a roll call of the genre's current performers. Sub-par contributions from fellow Ecko recording artists Ms. Jody ("My Jody's Booty Slide") and Donnie Ray ("She's A Real Hot Lady"), not to mention erstwhile label-mate Rick Lawson ("I'm Your Man In The Streets"), are redeemed by a show-stopping Barbara Carr version of Ollie Nightingale's "If The Lord Keeps The Thought Of You Out Of My Head," which will have listeners licking their chops in anticipation of her upcoming new album. DBN.

Sample/Buy BLUES MIX 14: Total Soul Blues at iTunes.

Sample/Buy BLUES MIX 14: Total Soul Blues at Amazon.

Listen to Barbara Carr singing "If The Lord Keeps The Thought Of You Out Of My Head" on YouTube.

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SouthernSoulRnB.com - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

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VARIOUS ARTISTS: RICKY WHITE PRESENTS COMBINATION 2: Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.

(11/14/14) Ricky White's second sampler for CDS Records is more eclectic and musical than his first--Combination--and one of the most popular collections of the year. T.K. Soul's "Looking For A Lady" is the jewel in the necklace, but Nathaniel Kimble's "Bad Mama Jama," The Love Doctor's "Pop That Coochie" and Stephanie Pickett's "What Man Won't Do" sustain the momentum. Gwen White's "Ladies Got To Get That Money," with inbred references to Miz. B's "My Name Is $$$'s," is a delight, as is William Calhoun's enthusiastic run-up of the old "meeting-at-the-motel" subject, "Room 229" (DBN's #4 Single, June '14). And happily, there is very little drop-off to the second tier of artists like Betty Padgett, Tonya Youngblood, Henry Rhodes and Jerry L. Ricky White's only contribution this time around is a take-off on J. Blackfoot's "Just One Lifetime" ("Live My Life Again"). A special bonus is the first national release of the underground classic by Larry Milton, "Knockin' The Boots," a mutation of the old Sir Charles Jones/Love Doctor classic, "Slow Roll It." The only flaw in COMBINATION 2 is the low-budget, keyboard synthesizer fills on the Ricky White-produced tracks (most of them). The "tinny" sound was tolerable in early 00's southern soul music, when everything was new and hanging by a string financially, but not any more, and not with quite this frequency. Substituting a trio of background singers would add immeasurably to COMBINATION 3. DBN.

Sample/Buy the tracks from RICKY WHITE PRESENTS COMBINATION 2 at iTunes.

Sample/Buy the tracks from RICKY WHITE PRESENTS COMBINATION 2 at Amazon.

Listen to Gwen White singing "Ladies Got To Get That Money" on YouTube.

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October 12, 2014:

SIR CHARLES JONES: Portrait Of A Balladeer (Endzone Ent.) Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.



Five years since his last album dropped--six if you're counting the years since his last collection of original material--Sir Charles Jones finally overcomes his mid-career recording malaise with Portrait Of A Balladeer, a collection that begins awkwardly but picks up energy, confidence and even a modicum of transcendence as it abides.

Sir Charles' professional life has been a case study in bewaring what you wish for. In the early years of the new century, only three people were talking about the illegitimate bastard form called "southern soul": Charles' first producer, Senator Jones (no relation to Charles and not a politician); Sir Charles, who had the chutzpah to call himself the "King of Southern Soul"; and media writer Daddy B. Nice, who was hunkering down in Mississippi towns like Jackson, Greenville-Leland, Indianola, Hattiesburg and Vicksburg, memorializing this unique sound that heralded a new era of rhythm and blues or--conversely--a little-known genre doomed to be lost forever.

A few "industry" people used the term "southern soul" begrudgingly (while constantly searching for other euphemisms), but Senator Jones, Sir Charles and Daddy B. Nice were the only ones who wouldn't shut up about it. And that was due primarily to the breakthrough represented by Sir Charles Jones's music, which brought a new sound to the table, one legitimate enough to compete with the older stars.

Then, as first Johnnie Taylor passed, then Tyrone Davis, then Little Milton and (later) Marvin Sease, Southern Soul flagship label Malaco Record's Tommy Couch, Jr. pronounced "southern soul" dead.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the cemetery. A new generation of young stars embraced the sound ushered in by Sir Charles Jones and southern soul rebounded with a vengeance, becoming more popular than the naysayers ever imagined.

One could have reasonably assumed that creatively speaking, as a songwriter and producer, Sir Charles Jones would ride this wave of interest in southern soul music like the "king of southern soul," Superman cape rippling in the wind. And yet, the mantle of "king" hung heavily on Sir Charles, a blessing onstage but a curse in the lonely room at home or in the studio, a creative burden, a hard-to-achieve perfection he had to live up to or be seen as a failure.

As his original "discoverer" and guiding light, Senator Jones aka WMPR Jackson, Mississipi's late-night DJ Uncle BoBo passed away, then his good friend, the late recording genius Reggie P., and finally his musical mentor, Marvin Sease, Sir Charles lost confidence in his songwriting abilities.

To make things worse, Charles's early recording hassles with labels, including rejection by Malaco and betrayal by Mardi Gras, made him wary of all commercial avenues to producing and distributing his music. So Sir Charles became a commercial loner, rejecting (with exceptions) any and all labels and shrugging off the sale and distribution of what little music he made in the fallow years, a paranoia about marketing which lasts to this very day: witness the current unavailability of Portrait Of A Balladeer so soon after its release.

In effect, Charles has relied on his sporadic singles to bolster his concert revenue, which has steadily grown. And in this Charles reflects the changing times in the music industry, with CD sales plummeting even as concert income grows--especially in southern soul, with its devoted fans. New stars like Cupid and J-Wonn are following the same formula: free music/pay me at my next concert.

But Charles' long bout of "writer's block" has been as worrisome to his fans as it has been a hardship to him. Thus, Portrait Of A Balladeer begins apologetically ("I've been away a long time"), with a tentative piece of TV-familiar sentimentality called "Glow," in which, rather than just getting into the good stuff, Charles makes unnecessary demurrals in an effort to re-connect with his audience. It may be the most un-soulful song he's ever recorded, and you get the sinking feeling the album may be a disaster.

In the second track, "Tear Our Love Down," Charles is still not himself. He is easing himself into "his old self" by way of digression, but you can hear something primal in him beginning to stir.

From...

Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Review For. . .

-------OCTOBER 2014---------

4. "Tear Our Love Down"------Sir Charles Jones

Your Daddy B. Nice once confided to all the southern soul singers who developed via singing gospel and staying true to the unique southern soul sound that they need never fear "branching out"--that it might even be stimulating creatively--never thinking I'd be having second thoughts, especially on Sir Charles Jones' account, but going all the way back to "Country Boy," his lounge-lizard cover of lovably loosey-goosey "Mississippi Boy," Charles has been experimenting with slick, jazzy forms that are antithetical to the anthems like "Slow Roll It" and "Friday" that made him famous. This slow blues walks that creative tightrope, mixing brilliant vocal and production with an almost show-tune approach to the blues.


"Tear Our Love Down" negates the classic Sir Charles Jones style, but it's much closer than "Glow" to that style. It's almost as if, in these two opening songs, Charles is throwing off his outer garments, the paraphernalia of the outer world, because he needs to go through this Tony Bennett-like stuff to get to his naked southern soul self.

Fans will know he's in his element instantly during the talking introduction--vintage Charles--to the third track from the set, "Independent Ladies."

"I want to dedicate this song to all the independent ladies all around the world," he says in his best, gutteral, sexy voice of old.

"Lord knows I take my hat off to every woman that's being a woman and being a woman about hers. All the independent ladies in the world, keep your head up. This song is dedicated to you from Sir Charles Jones."


You can sense the women melting "all around" the world--at least the ones who've heard that voice before. The song has already amassed almost 13,000 hits on YouTube as of this writing, more than doubling the number of listens of most of the other tracks off the album.

What follows is a delight by any measure for anyone who's been waiting since MY STORY'S "Happy Anniversary" for the kind of Sir Charles Jones music that transports you to an emotional space you'd almost forgotten existed.

Although there may not be a single masterpiece on the order of "Anniversary," there are eight great tracks, not counting the admirable "Independent Ladies" and the two opening tracks already discussed.

Sir Charles utilizes a lot of new songwriting talent, including Kortez Harris III, co-writer of "Sweet Sweet" and "So Beautiful," and Jermaine Rayford, co-writer of "Nasty" and "Expire," and John Phillips, another co-writer on "So Beautiful."

Willie Clayton, whose imprint Endzone is the publisher of PORTRAIT, is all over the album, including co-writing credits on "So Beautiful," "Sweet Sweet" and "Do You Feel," on which the ubiquitous soul singer shares vocals with Charles.

Willie Clayton

Both "Do You Feel," and"So Beautiful" have been featured on Daddy B. Nice's Southern Soul Singles Review as follows:

Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Review For. . .

----------MAY 2014------------

2. "Do You Feel (Like Partying Tonight)"--------Sir Charles Jones & Willie Clayton

With expectations high, duets are almost always a little disappointing, but this collaboration defies the odds: it's the two right superstars at the right time, ready and willing to give one other unconditional respect. Both are in awesome vocal form, performing vocal acrobatics (like kids on a trampoline) over the robust and resonant rhythm track.


and....

Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Review For. . .

----------JULY 2014------------

3. "So Beautiful"----Sir Charles Jones

And while we're giving into summer madness, are you ready to slow jam? How about yours truly, Sir Charles, with HIS new and magical song with a hint of the Far East? After the long hiatus from recording CD's, Sir Charles' vocal sounds oh-so-fresh, simultaneously relaxed and full of "want-to," and the lush instrumentation is served up with a technical flair that surpasses even his vintage work. Sir Charles' "So Beautiful" reminded your Daddy B. Nice of Malcom McClaren's 1984 electronica version of Madame Butterfly.


Musically, the songs are distinct and of a piece--not one even vaguely qualifies as "filler." "I Can't Breathe" opens and sustains with a Carole King-like piano riff.

"(Do Me The) Honor (Of Marrying Me)'s" doodling synth lines revisit the pungent, dreamy atmosphere of "Take Care of Mama."

"Expire," with the great line, "I've been hustling on the streets since 1991," plumbs the breathtaking emotional depth and male-female give-and-take in the fan-revered "The Letter (Guilty)," but with positive results.

Elements of Bill Withers' "Use Me" and Bobby Gentry's "Ode To Billy Joe" mingle and echo in the back hallways of the marvelous, churning stanzas of "Sweet Sweet."

And "Nasty's" voice-enhanced solo towards the end cries out for Sir Charles' natural voice, but the flaw ultimately disappears in the overwhelming wash of synthesized background.

By the time the album queues to the ballad "Sunshine,"
Sir Charles has returned to the mainstream balladeering with which he so awkwardly began the set ("Glow"), but now he's in full form, his southern soul genes handily co-opting the sentimental aspects of the majestic central riff and transforming it into deep, deep soul as only he can.

The album, astonishingly, is already out of print, but fans can watch for a re-issue and in the meantime stream the songs directly from the YouTube links provided in this review.

In the credits the songs are frequently and unfortunately constricted to one-word titles, so that "Honor" (which sounds military) stands for "Do Me The Honor" (actually a wedding proposal), and "Expire" (which sounds terminal) for "My Love Don't Expire." (Sic on the grammar.) In the case of "I Can't Breathe," the abbreviated title means something almost diametrically opposite to the fuller lyrics, "I Can't Breathe Without You."

But the songs themselves constitute the best assortment of new Sir Charles material in a decade, a soulful fabric far richer than MY STORY, a set sophisticated enough to hark back to the definitive LOVE MACHINE. The songs all vary, but they all have that Sir Charles sound: a modern-day Johnny Mathis forged in a cauldron of the blues.

--Daddy B. Nice

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September 6, 2014:

J-WONN: I Got This Record (Savior Music) Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.

A year later, leading off J-Wonn's debut CD of the same name, "I Got This Record" sounds even better than it did when it arrived--in fact, sounds good enough to drag the entire southern soul genre into the R&B mainstream. The fact that it has not done so yet only makes the steam in the pressure cooker that is southern soul all the more intense. Music this good will not pass without its eventual triumph.

Ten years ago, with masters like Johnnie Taylor, Tyrone Davis and Little Milton moving on to Soul Heaven, there was genuine consternation in the southern soul community that the golden age of southern soul music (never even heard outside of the Deep South anyway) was over. "Grown folks," the audience, were aging, along with the performers.

In 2014, with the tremendous influx of new young performers preceding J-Wonn over the last decade, those concerns seem wildly alarmist. Southern soul music has never been more popular. The number and dimension of live concerts dwarfs anything seen in the "old days."

Yes, the sound is different--in some ways, especially from a production standpoint, better--but it is still southern soul music. No one knows this better than the young artists like Jawonn Smith and Chris (Big Yayo) Mabry, the executive producers of this album, who are migrating from hiphop (the dominant form of the day) into southern soul, the genre that is all about music, not about using music as a conduit to get into the movies.

This album is so full of quality music--fifteen tracks of it--it's almost impossible to compare to most soul music albums. One has to go back to classic collections like Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," Jimi Hendrix's "Electric Ladyland" or The Beatles' "Rubber Soul" or "Revolver" CD's to convey its mind-blowing mix of panoramic musical vision and technical breakthrough.

Big Yayo, who has nurtured and shaped this freakishly-talented young singer/songwriter Jawonn Smith into the phenomenon we know as J-Wonn, is fresh from ground-breaking singles stints with Stevie J. ("Because Of Me"), Dave Mack ("Booty Talking") and, most gloriously, LaMorris Williams ("Impala"--written, incidentally, by an even younger Jawonn), in each case delivering the strongest songs of their careers.

Your Daddy B. Nice has written extensively about "I Got This Record" over the last year, including awarding it the #1-ranked song of 2013, somewhat ahead of its major exposure across the chitlin' circuit and indeed the whole country and world in 2014.

Daddy B. Nice's

TOP 25 SOUTHERN SOUL SONGS OF 2013

1. I Got This Record--J-Wonn

A stunning debut, and a home-run arrangement from the young producer of the moment, Big Yayo (LaMorris Williams' "Impala," Dave Mack's "Booty Talking"), who told your Daddy B. Nice he also manages this breathtakingly golden-toned vocalist. "I Got This Record” is J-Wonn's coming-out party, dramatic enough to recall Sir Charles Jones' "Friday" and LaMorris Williams' "We Can Do It (Impala)".


Listen to the new video of J-Wonn singing "I Got This Record" on YouTube.

J-Wonn and his record swept 2013's top honors for Best Ballad, Best Male Vocalist, & Best Debut, with collaborator Big Yayo nabbing Best Arranger/Producer. A summary of J-Wonn's meteoric rise is contained in Daddy B. Nice's new J-Wonn Artist Guide.

Conceptually, J-Wonn's songs extol the virtues of romantic love and the perils of cynicism, the perfect thematic foil for his claim to fame: a vocal timbre and tone that captures the ineffable innocence of young love.

I Got This Record (The CD) contains any number of potential hit singles, although none quite so deserving of the term "classic" as "I Got This Record." Many of the songs will appeal to listeners with that vaguely-familiar, heard-once-before quality that makes a song instantly memorable. That's because deejays have already been dipping into the set with the happy abandon of treasure-hunters.

"Sleep In It" is a light, lilting tune about falling asleep in the aftermath of sex.

"True Love," a Carl Sims-like, deep-soul ballad has charted even higher than "Sleep In It" on Daddy B. Nice's recent Top 10 singles reviews.

"One Day Left" is a mid-tempo track with a rousing acapella-like conclusion featuring layer-cake like harmonies.

"Let's Get Out Of This Club"--for some reason titled "All Right"--has a haunting phrase at the end of its hook, accentuated in the opening verses by JWonn's last note, which drops down unexpectedly. The song builds an atmosphere so dense it lingers long after.

The ballad "Deeper" is the song viewers hear in the background to the introduction of the official J-Wonn YouTube video for "I Got This Record," and with noticeable expertise "Lied To You" ventures into the love-seat domain of songs like Mtume's "Juicy Fruit."

"Night Time Lover," an uptempo cut, raises tantalizing possibilities for J-Wonn's future forays into dance-floor jams, perhaps the only aspect of southern soul music not thoroughly digested and revived in this collection. The faster tempo brings out another charismatic strain in J-Wonn's vocal stylings. The rousing "One For The Road" with its chugging-train-like rhythm track, is another uptempo anthem waiting in the wings for its day on radio.

And yet, this sketchy overview doesn't do justice to the sheer breadth of riches on the album, including "You," "So Long," "Superstar," "VFW," and "I Look Good On You."

Too good to be true? The roll call of impressive new performers in Southern Soul since the turn of the century is replete with head-turning talent, but the seldom-used word "genius" may be the only encomium worthy of J-Wonn, who with this exceptionally accomplished debut CD takes his place in the top rank of contemporary southern soul singers.

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy J-Wonn's I GOT THIS RECORD CD at Amazon.

Sample/Buy J-Wonn's I GOT THIS RECORD CD at iTunes.

Read Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to J-Wonn.

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August 7, 2014:

T.K. SOUL: Life After Love (T.K. Soul/CD Baby) Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.

T.K. Soul's ground-breaking new album, LIFE AFTER LOVE, defers to the audience's wishes and needs as perhaps no other Southern Soul album has in years. It features T.K. at the peak of his creative and technical powers, with his love for his listeners at such a high level the album fairly pulses with emotional solace and buoyant optimism.

"T.K. Soul,
That's who I am,
Meet me on the floor,
This is your jam."

So begins the first song of the set, "Now This Is The Party (For The Grown Folks)," an updating of the fan-friendly "#1 Fan." But as good as "#1 Fan" was at the time, "Now This Is A Party" represents a giant leap forward in both vocal styling and production expertise.

The scintillating textures T.K. captures with his acoustic guitar (abetted by Stevie J's guitar overlays) would lapse into folk if not for the subtle but unmistakable funk the artist infuses into the song's cradle-rocking rhythmic line, a kind of ebb-and-flow tempo that would do Nile Rogers (David Bowie's "Let's Dance") proud.

But more about "Now This Is The Party" later.

The first single from the album, "I'm Looking For A Lady," now a radio favorite across the chitlin' circuit, first charted here in March at #1, ahead of the album's release, with the following tongue-in-cheek commentary:

Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Review For. . .

----------MARCH 2014------------

"I'm Looking For A Lady"-------------------T.K. Soul

Dare we say....the Return of T.K. Soul?

In a case similar to the late Michael Jackson’s, the real T.K. Soul, while recording a “stepping” song in 2012, was abducted and replaced by aliens. The aliens co-opted the song, the album (Ghetto Superstar) and Soul’s body until—in 2014—unable to withstand a ten-minute trance during which TK played “Where I’m From” over and over, the invaders’ heads exploded just like the Martians in “Mars Attacks” when they heard yodeling country music.

Happily for Southern Soul fans, the survivors returned to their own galaxy and a rejuvenated T.K. Soul penned the instant classic “Looking For A Lady”--not to mention the superb new album surrounding it--in one dazzling swoop of pent-up inspiration.


Although the album was wildly experimental and uneven, "Ghetto Superstar" (the single) was actually an exuberant and more charismatic track than hinted above--the commentary more of a sneaky critical jab at the monotony of "Where I'm From," one of two fast songs from the new album (the other is "Get It") that might be labeled generic.

However, watching T.K. Soul perform fast jams in clubs recently, it didn't escape your Daddy B. Nice's notice that un-southern-soul-like fast songs ("Zydeco Bounce," anyone?) do lend themselves to dance-floor participation in a way that classic mid-tempo southern soul does not.

In stark contrast to the repetitive, minimalist hooks of "Where I'm From" and "Get It," "I'm Looking For A Lady" is conspicuously sumptuous and melodic, just a notch short of the sentimental effulgence of urban R&B balladeers (Vandross, Houston, Carey, Wilson, Beyonce), a characteristic no doubt attributable to up-and-coming performer/producer Ricky White, who co-wrote and co-produced the tune, although not with the dreary, tinny, horn-programming sameness that marred his recent Ricky White Presents Combination 2 sampler. At this point, T.K. is far too sophisticated for that. He embraces the structure of Ricky White's composition and makes it totally and triumphantly his.

The late, great Michael Jackson has been a long-running motif in Daddy B. Nice's commentaries of T.K. Soul. Like Michael, T.K. was less immersed in gospel music than many of his compatriots in contemporary Southern Soul, giving his songs (beginning with "Meet Me At The Spot") a different, more pop/commercial sound. The biography section of my Artist Guide to T.K. Soul begins:

T. K. Soul is a reedy tenor in the Michael Jackson mode....

...And four months after charting "I'm Looking For A Lady" at #1 and two months after charting the affecting, contemplative ballad "Caught Up In Doing Wrong" at #4 (May 2014), your Daddy B. Nice returned to the Michael Jackson comparisons to describe the pristine focus and quality of T.K. Soul's music.

Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Review For. . .

----------JULY 2014------------


2. "Now This Is A Party For The Grown Folks"-------T.K. Soul

It's the summer of 2014 and it's great to be alive, with T.K. Soul grooving on the radio, sporting impeccable vocals and feathery-light acoustic guitar, the culmination of everything we could have hoped for from this "phenom" a dozen years ago.

This tune brings out the "Michael Jackson" in T.K. At times, aided by T.K.'s extraordinary confidence, technique and maturity, the resemblance is eerie.


Having listened to the full CD of LIFE AFTER LOVE many times since, your Daddy B. Nice would go even further and posit what may sound sacrilegious to Michael Jackson fans. T.K. Soul's vocals are even better than MJ's early and late-period work, avoiding the thinness of MJ's vocals up to "Human Nature" and steering clear of the attenuated pomp of MJ's vocals after "Billy Jean."

T.K.'s tenor, while sacrificing none of the radiance of Michael's best work (an outstanding accomplishment in itself), has a wholesome, healthy, masculine edge that had leached away from Michael's vocals in the last years, as he became ever more agoraphobic and drug-dependent.

Comparing anyone to the biggest R&B star of the last quarter-century is high--and from a hater's perspective, possibly damning--praise, but I defy anyone to listen to LIFE AFTER LOVE and find another artistic source more worthy of correlation. Other than the two dance jams already mentioned, there is not a song in the set that doesn't illuminate a musical journey of jaw-dropping emotional empathy and technical sophistication.

From the Django Reinhardt/Charlie Byrd-like jazz stylings of "Somebody Loves You" and "Everything" to the stately, classic, "You Ring My Bell" soulfulness of "I Stay Ready," what's most amazing about this album is the "newness" of a sound which yet comes across as pure Southern Soul.

With the assistance of the aforementioned Ricky White and Stevie J., in addition to Tonya Youngblood (background vocals), Wolf Jones (co-singing "That Kind Of Man"), Forest Gordon (recording/mixing) and the artist's trusty Apple iPad AKAI IMPC on production, T.K. Soul's LIFE AFTER LOVE is a CD no true Southern Soul fan can do without.

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy T.K. Soul's LIFE AFTER LOVE CD.

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UNDER CONSTRUCTION! UNDER CONSTANT REVISION!




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Sample/Buy Donnell Sullivan's SUGAR DADDY EP

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Various Artists, Southern Soul Smashes 4, 12-13-14

Raw Shaw, Feeling Soulful, 12-13-14

Donnell Sullivan, Sugar Daddy EP, 12-7-14

Big Ro Williams, Good Love Muscle EP 12-1-14

Jim Bennett: Southern Soul Highway: The Essential Jim Bennett 11-26-14

Chuck Roberson: The Other Side Of Me: 11-24-14

Jaye Hammer: Still Got It 11-22-14

Uvee Hayes: In The Mood 11-20-14

JR Blu: Tru Blu 11-18-14

Various Artists: Blues Mix 14: Total Soul Blues, 11-15-14

Various Artists: Ricky White Presents Combination 2, 11-14-14

Sir Charles Jones, Portrait Of A Balladeer 10-12-14

J-Wonn, I Got This Record, 9-6-14

T.K. Soul, Life After Love, 8-7-14

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Recently reviewed:

O.B. Buchana, Pop Yo' Bottle, 7-7-14 (Scroll down this column.)

Candi Staton, Life Happens, 6-14-14 (Contained in the Candi Staton Artist Guide. Click link.)

Ricky White, Majic, 5-18-14 (Scroll down this column.)

David Brinston, Back On Track, 4-19-14 (Scroll down this column.)

John Cummings,
Back On The Grind, 3-23-14 (Scroll down this column.)

Jeter Jones,
Sweet Jones Live @ Leroy's Chicken Shack 3-23-14 (Scroll down this column.)

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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.


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July 7, 2014:

O.B. BUCHANA: Pop Yo' Bottle (Ecko) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.

Resplendent on the record cover of his new CD, Pop Yo' Bottle, with a Lucifer goatee, matching earrings and a wry "got-a-buzz-on" smile, O.B. for the first time looks truly sophisticated.

O.B. has become more sophisticated when it comes to song selection, too. Having utilized composer William Norris (aka performer Sonny Mack) for his last two, well-received CD's--six songs from Knock The Dust Off and three songs, including the title tune, from Starting All Over--Buchana again goes to the well, so to speak, drawing up no less than four typically-steamy Norris tracks, some co-written with O.B.:

Listen to O.B. Buchana singing "Party On The Weekend" on YouTube.

Listen to O.B. Buchana singing "Private Party" on YouTube.

Listen to O.B. Buchana singing "Pop Yo' Bottle" on YouTube.

....and
Listen to O.B. Buchana singing "What's The Deal" on YouTube.

Gerod Rayburn, another "frequent contributor" to the Buchana catalog, tallies two tracks: the Brook Benton-ish ballad "We Can't Just Leave Each Other Alone" and the peppy, vaguely O'Jays-like "Turn It Up," the first single from the album.

Listen to O.B. Buchana singing "We Can't Just Leave Each Other Alone" on YouTube.

Listen to O.B. Buchana singing "Turn It Up" on YouTube.

O.B. has a hand in quite a few of the composing credits, and John Ward shows up as co-writer on many of the songs, most prominently the catchy, "Ms. Jody's Thang"-like "O.B. Shuffle."

See Daddy B. Nice's #5 "Breaking" Southern Soul Singles Review for July 2014 ("O.B. Shuffle" by O.B. Buchana).

Listen to O.B. Buchana singing "O.B. Shuffle" on YouTube.

Two of the most defining tunes on the set, however, are by intriguing newcomers, Henderson Thigpen with the very groovy and hooky "You're Welcome To The Party" (John Ward also contributes) and Lee Gibbs with the meditative and winsome "It Should Have Been Me."

Listen to O.B. Buchana singing "You're Welcome To The Party" on YouTube.

Listen to O.B. Buchana singing "It Should Have Been Me" on YouTube.

And while we're at it, let's celebrate O.B.'s astounding consistency. Yes, some predictability accrues with the big man's unflagging productivity over the last dozen years, but no younger-generation southern soul artist has put out more music. That's deserving of a ton of respect.

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy O.B. Buchana's Pop Yo' Bottle CD.

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May 18, 2014:
RICKY WHITE: Majic (CDS) Four Stars **** Distinguished Effort. Should Please Old Fans And Gain New.

Shot into orbit around Planet Southern Soul by his 2013 signature smash single "Sexy"...

See Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Review For DECEMBER 2013: #3-ranked;

...Ricky White's new Majic CD consolidates the distinctive tenor's claim to wider recognition on the ever-expanding chitlin' circuit. With lyrics like...

"Turn that thing around.
Drop it to the ground."

And...

"Make it nasty.
Work that sexy."

...White leaves little doubt that he's delving into an unabashed celebration of sexual love. And in the unlikely event there remains a sliver of uncertainty on that point, White's video with T.K. Soul and two twerking dancers practically pasting the two stars to the studio walls with their posteriors effectively eliminates any confusion.

See the Ricky White video of "Sexy" with T.K. Soul on YouTube.

Mixing his natural (and--in the past--occasionally superficial) flamboyance with a hard-earned and well-calculated musicality, Majic finds Ricky White returning with his most finely-honed, mid-tempo Southern Soul sound to date.

While there is nothing on the collection to match the emotive romanticism of White's 2009 masterpiece, "I'll Still Love You," sometimes referred to as "The Wedding Song"...

Listen to Ricky White singing "I'll Still Love You" on YouTube.

...the set more than makes up for it in its seamless quality and sound.

In addition to the slinky, mid-tempo charisma of "Sexy," the Greenville, Mississippi-born native turned successful Arkansas restaurateur and southern soul singer/songwriter shines on the mid-tempo "Jook Joint" (complete with artist shout-outs) and the engrossing ballad "Let Me Ride," with the very able female background of Tanya Youngblood.

Listen to Ricky White singing "Shake" on YouTube.

The dance jams "Shake" and the "Ricky White Shuffle" segue from the slower tracks with a consistency of sound (chirpy synthetic horns, Otis-like vocal tics and well-fleshed-out rhythm sections) that encourages multiple plays.

Among the slow to mid-tempo stand-outs are the Tyrone Davis-influenced "If You Don't Want Me" (although White's vocal timbre couldn't be more different) and "Casino Blues,"....

"Sometimes you win,
Sometimes you lose."

...which has a romantic beauty far greater than its mundane, playing-the-slots theme.

"Freaky Lover" begins with an Isleys-style guitar solo but quickly resolves into the synthetic wash of keyboards and brass that permeates the album as a whole, while the percolating "Blues Is All Good" (once again with terrific back-up by Ms. Youngblood) gradually reveals itself as a reiteration of Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean."

In his 21st-century artist guide to White, your Daddy B. Nice wrote:

Ricky White has a unique vocal timbre, an unvarnished, guy-next-door quality similar to Theodis Ealey and--at this point in time--maybe even a little stronger vocal power. As direct as the best country-western music, many of his phrases finish with a swirling, whiplash-sharp upturn that locks them into the memory banks of his listeners.

MAJIC fulfills those specifications and more. With all the music on the collection self-written and self-produced, the collection is highly-recommended.

--Daddy B. Nice

Read Daddy B. Nice's 21st-Century Southern Soul Artist Guide to Ricky White.

Sample/Buy Ricky White's MAJIC CD.

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April 19, 2014:


DAVID BRINSTON: Back On Track (Delta Down) Three Stars *** Solid. The artist's fans will enjoy. Three songs from David Brinston's new album BACK ON TRACK have already wormed their way into my head so far I may never get them out. Normally, that would be cause for recommendation and celebration, but the collection as a whole--praiseworthy though it assuredly is--does have flaws that throw up a "yellow" flag for fans not already under Brinston's thrall.

As with all of David's latter-day albums, your Daddy B. Nice stacks BACK ON TRACK against his first two CD's (now long out of print), the ones that had Stan & Lenny Lewis and Marshall Love at the helm.

Notwithstanding the many great Brinston songs recorded since ("I Just Love Women," for example), it's hard to describe to today's fans how much the early-century David Brinston charmed fans, attracting them to the new southern soul music coming out of the Deep South. The songs, arrangements and vocals were close to full-blown masterpieces. The songs from that era generally regarded as most representative of David's since-somewhat-eroded "southern soul stardom" are:

Listen to David Brinston singing "Two Way Love Affair" on YouTube.

Listen to David Brinston singing "Party 'Til The Lights Go Out" on YouTube.

Listen to David Brinston singing "Kick It" on YouTube.

Listen to David Brinston singing "Hit & Run" on YouTube.

Like their illustrious forbears, the attention-getting songs on the new Brinston LP have the same strong songwriting base and the same ability to take over a corner of your mind usually reserved for commercial jingles.

I first encountered "Tragic Love" via the radio: Nikki DeMarks in Mobile, Alabama. From...

Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Review For. . .

----------MARCH 2014------------

10. “Tragic Love”----------David Brinston

This is brand new David Brinston getting back to his roots, vocally-speaking. Like an old Fredrick Brinson. (That’s a joke.) But there’s truth in the fact that at their best, both the young artist and the old artist convey weathered wisdom and strafed vulnerability. Thumbs up for the (some-might-say-amateurish) female background: it fits in with the overall strangeness.


Then I received the hard copy of the album and instantly began humming the first track, "Diamond In The Middle," with its right-on, naughty couplet:

"My baby's got a diamond in the middle.
She knows how to make that thing wiggle."

Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Review For. . .

----------APRIL 2014------------

4. ”Diamond In The Middle” ------------David Brinston

Just when you think the genre has exhausted all the possibilities for sexual double entendres (i.e. "stand up in it," "rock that man in the boat," "beat it up,"), we’re surprised with yet another: "diamond in the middle," which certainly strikes your Daddy B. Nice as both apt and vivid. If David Brinston’s one-of-a-kind vocal were any more tattered, it'd blow away in the wind.


Finally, I've succumbed to "911," a contagious, "Kick It"-style dance track with an ambience reminiscent of Donnie Ray's "Who's Rocking You?"

Other tunes with underlying strength and promise are "One Way" (with a hint of "Hit & Run") and "Your Love," with That Stokes Girl filling in on female background, as she does on "Tragic Love."

What separates the early classics from the new tracks? It's easy to name the culprit--production, lack of budget--but it's harder to put a finger on the specifics. The participants on this close-knit CD are people your Daddy B. Nice cherishes: laborers in the musical vineyard who have given their lives to contemporary southern soul.

Morris Williams, longtime Ecko Records associate, has become the defacto producer on jobs Ecko CEO John Ward can't make "work" on his higher overhead. Williams, for instance, produced the latest John Cummings CD, BACK TO THE GRIND, also reviewed on this page. But muscular rhythm tracks (ala Bigg Robb or Big Yayo) are not Williams' talent.

Linda Stokes is Brinston's longtime songwriter ("Nothing But A Party," etc.) and in a very real sense his muse. She contributes background vocals, songwriting and general support to the CD, but sophisticated vocals are not her bailiwick.

David's brother Terry Brinston is executive producer and sound engineer. In sum, this is a "family" effort, straight from the source (meaning authentic southern soul), but lacking in the polish and panache that powered the early hits.

For veteran southern soul fans, the best songs on this set are too good to miss, yet even a Brinston-watcher can easily imagine better versions. Ultimately the difference may lie in Brinston himself.

The vocals which in David's earlier years seemed to pour out as effortlessly as syrup in August have grown less generous, even a bit pinched and grating. At times, even on the superb "Diamond In The Middle," David calls attention to his delivery (whether consciously or unconsciously), which shouldn't happen, and didn't happen in the old days when David mesmerized us with:

"You might be with someone else's woman
Or someone else's man.
We're not here to knock it,
We're just here to dance."

(from "Party 'Til the Lights Go out/Nothing But A Party").

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy David Brinston's BACK ON TRACK CD at CD Baby.

Read Daddy B. Nice's Original Artist Guide to David Brinston.

Read Daddy B. Nice's 21st Century Artist Guide to David Brinston.

To automatically link to all the awards, citations, chart-listings and other references to David Brinston on the website, go to Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.

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JOHN CUMMINGS: Back On The Grind (Q.T.) Four Stars **** Distinguished Effort

Longtime Southern Soul songwriter John Cummings continues to hone his singing voice, a country-inflected tenor high on sensitivity and humility, in this--his second major southern soul collection---Back On The Grind.

The first single from the album debuted on Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Review in March 2014:

3. "Arkansas Caramel"-----------------John Cummings

Now this is southern soul. It’s so hard to describe, yet so instantly recognizable. Reminds me of Karen Wolfe’s “Man Enough.” This is that mid-tempo, sweet-spot heart of southern r&b courtesy of James L. Cain's rhythm track and guitar sound. And kudos on the vocal by longtime songwriter Cummings (Jaye Hammer's "Soul Train Dancer," O.B. Buchana's "I'm Goin' Back Home," Rick Lawson's "This Is The Party," Sheba Potts-Wright's "Lipstick On His Pants," Joy's "Cuttin' Up Sideways," Ms. Jody's "I Never Take A Day Off" and his own "Outside Man" (2010).


Not a few of those compositions were co-written, and BACK ON THE GRIND features a contemporary "Who's Who" of Memphis-area soul musicians who have worked with Big John in the past. They include Morris J. Williams, who provides the same trademark-wispy, background singing that he's contributed to so many Ecko Records tracks, and Percy T. Friends, who provides the lone non-Cummings-written track, "Serious Love." Cummings and Friends go all the way back to Joy's "Cuttin' Up Sideways" album in 2006, on which they collaborated.

The key new benefactors on the CD are producers/arrangers James L. Cain and Eddie "Q.T." Taylor, who along with Cummings give the set an authentic-sounding, traditional Southern Soul character in short supply these days. Especially appealing is the lead-guitar picking on "Mr. Do Right" and "Arkansas Caramel," which blends perfectly with Cummings' much-improved vocals. Both songs represent major advances over Cummings' previous top single, "Outside Man," which charted in May of 2010.

Listen to John Cummings singing "Mr. Do Right" on YouTube.

For a songwriter with so many previous hits by other artists in circulation, I recognized only one previously-recorded tune on the set: "Crazy About You, Baby," recorded by David Brinston on his 2008 PARTY TIME CD (the disc with "I Just Love Women").

Cummings' collection does have its share of conventional tracks, perhaps evidence that Cummings raided his unwanted demos to fill out the CD, but even the "ordinary" tunes avoid the pejorative "filler." Bluesy title track "Back On The Grind" is the paradigm--not striving for too much, but giving it to you with consummate style.

That's why, in a happy departure from tried-and-true singer/songwriter tradition, the Percy Friends-written song "Serious Love"--the last on the disc--comes as such a pleasant shock, taking the album to a whole new level before its conclusion. When--for the first time on the album--a woman's voice appears, you're blown away by the extra dimension it gives the song, and you also realize that much of the album is somewhat bare by comparison from a producing-and-arranging standpoint.

"Serious Love" showcases the silky-voiced but seldom-heard southern soul singer Keri, whose single "Borrowed Time" charted on Daddy B. Nice's Top 10: April 2007.

The true worth of BACK ON THE GRIND is a quartet of stand-out tracks: "Serious Love" feat. Keri, "Arkansas Caramel," "Mr. Do Right" and, last but not least, the odd-but-impression-making, slow-tempo, Mtume's "Juicy Fruit"-like "Black Beauty," on which Big John makes a legitimate effort to stretch the emotive power of his vocals.

Mission accomplished.

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy John Cummings' BACK ON THE GRIND (hard copy).

Go to (Big) John Cummings in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.

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SouthernSoulRnB.com - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

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JETER JONES: Sweet Jones Live @ Leroy's Chicken Shack (Billionaire) Four Stars **** Distinguished Effort

Warning: This CD review will forever be altered by the first impression given this reviewer by its obvious similarity to Chuck Roberson's The Devil Made Me Do It CD, the disc many of us called Roberson's best, the CD that contained the inimitable (we thought) "Chuck Strut."

So maybe I don't see so well any more, but given the microscopic credits on the jacket of Jeter Jones's new Southern Soul debut, Sweet Jones Live @ Leroy's Chicken Shack, and given the recent prevalence for rip-offs (see Daddy B. Nice's Corner: "Mr. Sexy Man's Clone"), the CD had your Daddy B. Nice digging through old Chuck Roberson discs and researching the principals.

Listen to Chuck Roberson singing "Chuck Strut" on YouTube.

Listen to a sample of Jeter Jones singing "Thicker Than Gravy."

Through executive producer Pete Peterson of Desert Sounds Records, who's currently embroiled in a falling-out with Peggy Scott-Adams over her BACK TO THE ROOTS CD, your Daddy B. Nice discovered that it was in fact Eric "Smidi" Smith, the talented producer behind those records--Peggy's as well as Chuck's--who has since left Desert Sounds to produce the Jeter Jones CD as well.

This isn't the first time a southern soul producer has "beamed over" material from one artist's CD to another, entirely different artist's CD. However it does call into question the definition of infringement. Is "Smidi"--even though it's essentially his work--nevertheless infringing on Chuck Roberson by taking the exact rhythm track, melodic riff, tempo and tone right down to the very key from Chuck Roberson's "Chuck Strut" and transferring it to Jeter Jones' "Thicker Than Gravy"?

Who knows? Only the lawyers.

(Jeter Jones, by the way, said "Thicker Than Gravy" was his favorite song on the album, which brought a smile.)

From a larger perspective, the incident demonstrates the power of the producer, the invisible man behind the records you love. The creamy peanut-butter grooves and horn charts of Jones' "Da Boot Scoot" and "Thicker Than Gravy" come from Chuck's (or should we say "Smidi's") "Chuck Strut" and Bobby Jones' "Ain't Got No Proof." Similarly, Jeter Jones' "Crazy Love" is a perfect redo of Chuck Roberson's (or should we say "Smidi's") "It's Not Over."

Listen to Jeter Jones singing "Da Boot Scoot" on YouTube.

Jeter Jones--from Mansfield, Louisiana--actually has a substantial list of independent CD's to his credit (see Jeter Jones at CD Baby), all in the many-nuanced R&B genre. He has much in common with (or has learned much from) fellow Louisianans Cupid (who did a remix of "Da Boot Scoot" with Jones) and Tucka, with both of whom he shares exceptionally sonorous vocal chops and an intuitive grasp of what's charismatic.

Anyway, once you get past the first time you hear the record and scream, "Yeowww! That's Chuck Strut!", the Jeter Jones songs work their way into your system on their own terms and are very close to being addictive. Among the best: "Body's Beat Up," "Da Boot Scoot," "Cowboy Up," "Thicker Than Gravy" and "Somebody Wanna Party."

This may be one of those albums and singers (think of Lebrado) whose work only gets better in retrospect, after day-to-day distractions have dissolved. This "chicken shack" music is hard to sit down on. And Sweet Jones Live@ Leroy's Chicken Shack, with Eric "Smidi" Smith showing the way, gives Jeter Jones instant entry into the Southern Soul world.

--Daddy B. Nice

Sample/Buy "Da Boot Scoot Remix" (featuring Cupid) mp3.

Sample/Buy Jeter Jones' SWEET JONES LIVE @ LEROY'S CHICKEN SHACK CD.

ERIC "SMIDI" SMITH RESPONDS TO DADDY B NICE'S JETER JONES CD REVIEW: SEE DADDY B. NICE'S MAILBAG

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SouthernSoulRnB.com - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

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SouthernSoulRnB
P.O. Box 19574
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SouthernSoulRnB.com - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

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SouthernSoulRnB
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SouthernSoulRnB.com - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

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SouthernSoulRnB.com - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

Send product to:
SouthernSoulRnB
P.O. Box 19574
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SouthernSoulRnB.com - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

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SouthernSoulRnB
P.O. Box 19574
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