25 July 2008

The Flaming Ember - Westbound No.9 mp3

Hot Wax (USA)

The Flaming Ember - Westbound #9 single

Holland-Dozier-Holland were the powerhouse songwriting team at Motown. Dozens and dozens of the finest soul and pop songs you'll ever hear. Reach Out I'll Be There, Where Did Our Love Go, This Old Heart Of Mine, You Can't Hurry Love, and one I've had on repeat play recently, Baby I Need Your Loving.

By 1967 they felt they weren't getting a chunky enough cut of the Motown financial pie. Failing to get redress, they left the label. Motown pointed out that they were under contract until the early 70s and couldn't write anywhere else.

Holland-Dozier-Holland started their own labels, Invictus and Hot Wax. They were just producing, you understand. Not writing, no, because that wouldn't be legal. Instead, song after wonderful song was being written by a mysterious team called Ronald Dunbar and Edith Wayne.

You know that gradual yet total way that Elton John went from supposedly straight and married to out and proud? Well over the years denial has morphed into complete acceptance that Dunbar-Wayne is Holland-Dozier-Holland.

Oddly, their performers overlapped with Motown a fair bit. Their first signing, 100 Proof Aged in Soul, featured Joe Stubbs, ex-Contour and brother of the mighty Levi.

Soon they got an established Detroit band, the Flaming Ember. They'd released half a dozen singles on the great soul label Ric-Tic but when Motown bought up the label the band got dropped, and Motown's former employees stepped forward to catch them.

This single's got that fabulous sharp twangy distorted guitar like on Behind A Painted Smile (the thing Edwyn Collins appropriated for A Girl Like You), it's got a dose of that late 60s/early 70s soul thing for gritty social description and a sticky catchy chorus, all belted out by a great gutsy voice.

I've done it again; misheard a white record for a black one. And, again, I'm not alone. Flaming Ember bassist Jim Bugnel says

Eddie Holland held off releasing our Westbound No. 9 Album in L.A. because there were two black stations in L.A. that would not play songs by white artists, so he waited until Westbound No. 9 hit No.1 on those stations and then he released the album in Los Angeles and booked us on Bandstand.

There's a lot more of this post-Motown Holland-Dozier-Holland that's worth checking out. I'm presuming you know already Freda Payne's belter Band Of Gold (but maybe didn't know it was Holland-Dozier-Holland).

Chairmen of The Board did some wonderful singles (check out Give Me Just A Little More Time, Everything's Tuesday) and then they, like so many of their contemporaries, got the funk (go get their version of Sly Stone's Life & Death). Now it was time to step into the funk-light, and no less a funkadeity than Parliament released their first album on Invictus.

This MP3, though, is from a very specific point in soul history as the gloss of the 60s has peeled away and yet the dirt of funk is yet to be revealed.

[MP3 deleted to make way for new ones, sorry!. See 'Deleted Tracks' in the sidebar if you want this MP3 emailed to you]

17 July 2008

Teardrop Explodes - Traison (C'est Juste Une Histoire) mp3


Teardrop Explodes - Treason 12 inch cover

And those foreign language versions just keep on coming.

Today I discovered what is already one of my favourite MP3 blogs Crying All the Way To The Chip Shop - superb writing and equally good choice of eclectic tunes - and because its recently posted a Teardrop Explodes track, I feel moved to post one too.

By 1981 Julian Cope had already made one or two weird corners in his back catalogue, and on the B-side of the 12 inch of Treason he made another, re-recording the vocal in French for no apparent reason. At least with the Motown ones they presumably were made for a purpose, to sell better in places that spoke the language.

This track, though, registers low on the Cope scale of weirdness, compared to stuff like the LAMF 'ambient metal' album, or forming a band called Queen Elizabeth and calling the second album Queen Elizabeth 2 - Elizabeth Vagina, or his 1999 CD Odin; one track, 73 minutes and 42 seconds of him going aaaaaawwwwwwwhhhhmmmmm.

I'm guessing you wouldn't want to listen to that one very much, so I'm sticking with Traison (C'est Juste Une Histoire).

[MP3 deleted to make way for new ones, sorry!. See 'Deleted Tracks' in the sidebar if you want this MP3 emailed to you]

If you don't already know it, check out Cope's website. It's a lot more than the usual biog and merchandise. The man himself has a lot of personal input - there's a monthly Address Drudion piece as well as his album of the month review. But there's a lot more beyond too, with the Unsung section of album reviews posted by anyone, the Modern Antiquarian featuring a gazeteer of over 3,000 stone circles and ancient sites, and the political bit that I helm, U-Know.

09 July 2008

Four Tops - Gira Gira & Piangono Gli Uomini mp3

Tamla Motown (Italy)

The Four Tops - Gira Gira cover

Time for another foreign language version. Two, actually.

Motown did quite a lot of these. The Supremes' Where Did Our Love go becoming Wo Ist Unsere Liebe for the German market, the Velvelettes francophonically turning As Long As I Know He's Mine into Puisque Je Sais Qu'il Est Moi, and Martha and the Vandellas blueprint for Town Called Malice, I'm Ready For Love, became the Spanish single Yo Necesito De Tu Amor.

The Temptations did My Girl both in German (although calling it Mein Girl was kind of cheating) and in Motown's second language, Italian. The lightness and delicacy of that song somehow makes it one of the funniest to hear in a different language.

But my favourites are these, a great Italian 45 with Gira Gira (Reach Out I'll Be There) and Piangono Gli Uomini (I Can't Help Myself).

Levi Stubbs' great aching yawp is one of the most affecting things ever recorded. Such power and pleading, such a cry, such soul.

So hearing him apply that to what you're sure must be a phonetic lyric sheet that he doesn't understand is just brilliant.

[MP3s deleted to make way for new ones, sorry!. See 'Deleted Tracks' in the sidebar if you want these MP3s emailed to you]