Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Other brothers

Brother to Brother: "You're Bout to Lose the One Who Really Loves You" (Win or Lose, 1972)

I don't know anything about Brother to Brother, although I assume that they were a sibling act signed in the wake of the Jackson 5's success. If I had remembered this song existed, I definitely would have included it in the Twee Funk mix I did a number of years ago. There's just so much frustration and yearning in the vocal and guitar.

The record was produced by the Poindexter Brothers, who wrote the song with their frequent writing partner Jackie Members (who was also Robert Poindexter's wife). The trio were responsible for a lot of classic East Coast soul, like Linda Jones's "Hypnotized", the O'Jays' "I'll Be Sweeter Tomorrow" and the Persuaders' "Thin Line Between Love and Hate", the last of which was also on their Win or Lose imprint. They also made this and this, which are two of my favorite soul records.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Not Hey Ya, Hey La Ya La

Sam Campbell & the Bystanders: "Hey La Ya La" (Galaxy, 1969)

This record is by a New Jersey singer recorded in the Bay Area for a Berkeley label but to me it's one of the most New Orleans-ish records I've ever heard. It sounds like it was just made for Lee Dorsey.

Sammy Campbell is better known under the name Tyrone Ashley, the alias he used to record his one and only sort-of hit, 1971's "Let Me Be Your Man". From 1954 to the end of the 1960s, Campbell led a Plainfield, NJ vocal group called the Del-Larks. Although they never had any mainstream success, they had a friendly crosstown rivalry with George Clinton's Parliaments and left behind a famously collectible Northern single.

After the Del-Larks petered out, Fantasy Records' Galaxy imprint picked up Campbell on the strength of his demo for "Hey Ya La Ya". He relocated to the Bay Area, cut one 45 and then split when he realized Galaxy wanted to push him towards blues material. He then moved back East, had a minor hit with "Let Me Be Your Man" on Phil-L.A. of Soul and then mostly fell back from recording. A few years ago, Truth and Soul released a cool album of unreleased songs from that era.

There's a great history of Campbell and the Del-Larks here.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mizell not Mizell

Following up on the Mizell Brothers post, here are two records I always associate with the Mizell Brothers even though they had nothing to do with either:

Leo's Sunshipp: "Back for More" (Lyon's, 1978)

Donald Byrd and 125th Street, N.Y.C.: "Love Has Come Around" (Elektra, 1981)

Both of these records really nail their style, from the chords to the vocals and arrangements. Given his many recordings with them, it's not so surprising Donald Byrd could pull off the imitation but I think it's cool that the song was produced by Isaac Hayes.

For what it's worth, there's a pretty good re-edit of "Back for More" by the Linkwood Family.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fonce Mizell, R.I.P.

Fonce Mizell passed away over the weekend at the age of 68. The cause of death hasn't been announced, but there has been a sprinkling of obits. Billboard's is the best of the ones I've seen.

Last year I did a mix of music produced by Fonce and his brother Larry. I got motivated to do it when I realized how many people I know who are serious music heads had no idea who the Mizell Brothers are, even though the Mizells inspired or informed a lot of artists they loved. That mix is available free as a download or stream.

I don't really know enough about the Mizell Brothers to separate Fonce's contributions from Larry's, but it was Fonce who launched their careers. While Larry was still working as an aerospace engineer, Fonce was co-writing and co-producing the songs that made the Jackson 5 famous. Here are a few of those:

Red Bull Music Academy has an excellent video of the Mizell Brothers talking about their career and their better-known productions in 2006. Fonce hardly speaks, but there's some cool video of him and Larry jamming with their brother Rod and the bond between them is clear.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

The greatest music video of all time

The Fat Boys are mostly remembered as a novelty act, three fat guys who remade a Jerry Lewis movie and collaborated with the Beach Boys in their "Kokomo" era.

It's a shame because when they came out, the Fat Boys were making some of the roughest, purest rap music of their era. They borrowed extensively from Run-DMC (with whom they shared a producer, Larry Smith) but they usually added their own flavor. Songs like "Can You Feel It?", "Jailhouse Rap" and "Reality" still hold up.

And then there's "Stick 'Em":

I'd never seen this video until a few days ago but I'm kind of obsessed with it. I love the performance, the production design (Buffy's glasses! the effects! the goofy patriotism!) and everything else about it.

In case you want to follow along at home, here's the lyric sheet from the "Stick 'Em" 12".