You Are Still My Brother (Soul November 26th 1972)

In December 1988 our crew hurried to the Town & Country Club in Kentish Town to catch Little Feat’s return to London after 11 years away. Of course the late Lowell George was missed but the other five Feat were present, the T&C was the perfect place to boogie your sneakers away. & it was a blast to hear Feat favourites played live again. Halfway through their set the band were joined onstage by Bonnie Raitt. It would be some time before Ms Raitt was anyone’s support act again. Three months later she released “Nick Of Time”, her 10th record & boy did a lot of people like it, #1 on the US chart, the 1990 Grammy Album of the Year, five million copies sold. Bonnie was just as much value as a singer/slide guitarist before all this success & that night in North London she opened her set with a cover version of a song that stood at #10 in the Cash Box R&B Top 60 of 50 years ago this week.

Denise LaSalle had got it going on in 1972. Moving from Mississippi to Chicago when she was 13, Denise was 30 before she was recorded by Billy “the Kid” Emerson (“Every Woman I Know Is Crazy ‘Bout An Automobile”/”My Gal is Red Hot”) & just one regional hit was released on his short-lived Tarpon label. She had learned enough about the music business to, in 1969, form Crajon Enterprises with her new husband Bill Jones to manage her affairs. The decision they made to record in Memphis was absolutely the right place at the right time, Willie Mitchell, with his Royal Studio band based around the three Hodges brothers had the new hit Soul sound of the city. “Trapped By A Thing Called Love”, swinging, finger-popping, plaintive but sweet Southern Soul caught the ears of many to become a #1 R&B record for Denise, crossing over to the US Pop Top 20. “Now Run & Tell That” followed into the higher reaches of the R&B chart & now “A Man Sized Job” was her third Top 10 hit on the bounce.

Denise had written 8 of the 11 tracks collected on the “Trapped…” album. In her mid-30s her mature lyrics were fortified by a sturdy, confident backing band. “A Man Sized Job” is the lead 45 from “On The Loose”, one of just three of her compositions on a selection that was perhaps quickly recorded to cash-in on her popularity. Her Country Soul covers of “Harper Valley P.T.A.” & Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me” are good but her songs, with something to say & said well, are the best of the record. The hits got smaller, though he still made the R&B chart, & it was three years before another album. In 1983 she moved to the Blues-based Malaco Records as a songwriter, stayed for 15 years, became “The Queen of the Blues” & even had a UK top 10 hit with the cover of the zydeco standard “My Toot Toot”. Later there were Gospel records, back to R&B & an album called “Still the Queen”. Catch a collection of her Memphis recordings, because you are worth it.

The Four Tops, Levi Stubbs, Obie Benson, Sugar Pie & Honey Bunch (sorry couldn’t resist an old joke) no, Duke Fakir & Lawrence Payton, were high school friends in Detroit when they formed their quartet. A decade later, in 1963, they signed with Berry Gordy’s growing Tamla Motown roster, had their first Pop Top 20 hit the following year with “Baby, I Need Your Loving”, their first #1 “I Can’t Help Myself” in 1965. Both were written & produced by Motown’s young tyro team Holland-Dozier-Holland & the hits kept right on coming with songs tailored to Levi’s strong, instantly recognisable baritone voice. The Tops became a cornerstone in the Motown edifice, the hit factory that dominated Soul music in the 1960s. The album “Reach Out” included six US Pop Top 20 hits, a title track that was the most obvious #1 record since that last Beatles 45, “Walk Away Renee” & “If I Were A Carpenter”, two well chosen songs by contemporary songwriters that expanded the group’s range. Then H-D-H left the company, there was just one of their songs on the follow up to “Reach Out” & the Four Tops were not as dominant. In the fast moving world of popular music that was then, this is 1972.

“Keeper of the Castle”, rising a healthy 14 places to #23 on this week’s R&B chart is the Four Tops’ first single on the ABC/Dunhill label – not on Motown, almost unthinkable. It was on its way to the US Pop Top 10, their first 45 to do so since “Bernadette” in 1967. Under the supervision of label head Steve Barri, Brit Steve Potter & his partner Dennis Lambert contributed the songs & production for this next phase of the Tops career. The “Keeper” album is an attempt to update their sound, more restrained, the group were in their mid-30s now, not always successful but Levi’s voice abides & Obie Benson, confident from his co-writing credit on Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”, has five of his tunes included, something that never happened at the previous label. Perhaps the Tops’ stylist for this “Soul Train” appearance was not quite onboard with the overhaul – check dungarees were never a good look, even in 1972 but the group was still popular. Another track from the album, “Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I’ve Got)” reached a higher chart position than “Keeper” & R&B hits followed. The Four Tops were welcome everywhere they performed, audiences wanted to hear & dance to their favourites from the 60s & they obliged because oldies were never more Golden than the Four Tops Greatest Hits.

New to the chart at #58 is from a new label, a new artist with, certainly, a new sound. Timmy Thomas had moved from Indiana to Jackson, Tennessee to study Music Education. There he entered the orbit of Goldwax Records in Memphis becoming the keyboard player of a studio session crew making essential Soul records with James Carr, Spencer Wiggins, the Ovations & others. With the label’s demise he took a position at a Florida college, moved to Miami, opened the first Black-owned lounge in Miami Beach while pursuing his own music.”Why Can’t We Live Together” was recorded as a demo tape, with necessity being the mother of invention Timmy used a simple, contagious drum machine rhythm under his simple, sometimes shrill Lowrey organ before, after an almost two minute instrumental introduction he sings a passionate plea for peace inspired by the Vietnam War. Timmy took it to the newly-founded TK Productions where further orchestration was considered. TK founder Henry Stone had, as was proved in the following years, an eye for innovation & an ear for a hit record the demo was released & Timmy had a two million selling song.

Homemade hypnotic minimalism wasn’t a thing on the R&B charts of 1972. The subsequent album was criticised for a lack of variety though in later years, when we knew about drum machines, chill out & trip hop, it has come to be better regarded. Timmy did have three more records on the R&B Top 30, one as late as 1984.but never returned to the Top 3 of the Pop listing. He became part of the TK crew who were so influential in the new-fangled Disco music, he will be best remembered as a one hit wonder & what a hit it was.

“Why Can’t We Live Together” is a song that has endured. In the 80s Sade covered it on her debut album, in the 90s Santana included it in their live sets & in the 21st century Steve Winwood, who, knows his way around a Blues riff on an Hammond organ recorded his version with a Brazilian-Cuban percussion team accentuating the Latin rhythms & adding to Steve’s particular feeling & taste. So, while we are here…


Pass The Peace (Soul February 12th 1972)

There was not much movement in the Top 10 Cash Box R&B Top 60 this week 50 years ago. Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” remained at #1 followed by Bobby Womack & Wilson Pickett who had both moved up one place. One of the two new entries was “Talking Loud & Saying Nothing”, the latest in a long run of non-stop success for James Brown. “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business”, “The Minister of the New New Super Heavy Funk”, had a new big label deal with Polydor & his own People imprint for releases by the singers & musicians in his circle. This week his backing band stood at #24 on the chart.

Funk Classic 1: Soul Power – James Brown, Jabo Starks, drums — Jim Payne
James & Jabo

Mr Brown was a tough boss, people got along with him as long as they let him be right. In 1970 his band, tired of the fines & low pay, left him & James hired a bunch of young guns from Cincinnati. This new group, including guitarist Phelps “Catfish” Collins, his teenage brother, bassist William “Bootsy” Collins & holdover drummer Jabo Starks – the J.B.’s – brought new energy, new new Super Heavy Funk, to the music & it was this unit who is heard on “Talking Loud…”. The arrangement was short-lived, by the end of 1971 the Collins Brothers headed off to Funkadelic & trombonist Fred Wesley, who had already returned, became musical director of the new J.B.’s. “Gimme Some More”, featuring this new line-up, was their latest 45 rising nine places this week.


With an augmented brass section, from three to five, this band were a little less gutbucket than its’ predecessor. Jabo & bassist Frank Thomas, who would stay for 30 years, hold down an awesome groove & I don’t know if it’s Frank’s friend “Cheese” Martin or Robert Coleman on rhythm guitar but it’s a great, state of the art job. The six 45s released by the J.B.’s, both groups, were assembled on “Food For Thought” later in 1972. The album shows that with only a shout & the skeleton of a riff from producer/keyboard player James (enough to get a composing credit) this powerhouse band could conjure up the most joyous, unrelenting Funk. Mr Brown demanded that you had to be the best to share the stage with “Soul Brother #1” & the J.B.’s were up to the job.

Curtis Mayfield – We Got To Have Peace (1971, Vinyl) - Discogs

Curtis Mayfield’s solo career was going well – very well. After a decade with his group the Impressions, moving from his Gospel roots, creating the sweetest, most harmonious Chicago Soul which matured into commentary on & affirmations for the Civil Rights Movement. Curtis had laid the ground carefully for his big move & “(Don’t Worry) If There’s Hell Below, We’re All Going To Go”, the opening track on his 1970 debut was a manifesto for a new lyrical militancy & a wider musical ambition. The new breed of harder Funk, even psychedelia, was embraced but Chicago Soul was about melody, enhanced & energised by brass & strings, Curtis & his veteran arranger Riley Hampton took these flourishes to a new level of ingenuity. An artistic & commercial success it remains a 50 year old mystery that “Move On Up”, a classic song & a Top 20 UK hit, failed to make the US chart.

Curtis - Curtis Mayfield - T-Shirt | TeePublic UK

In 1971 “Curtis/Live!” stretched new songs, ones from his debut & from the Impressions songbook across a double album before “Roots”, another collection of original material was released. The record perhaps lacks the shock of the new of his debut but all seven songs are confidently & beautifully realised whether songs of affirmation (Keep On Keeping On”) or the gliding Soul of sweet romance (Love To Keep You In My Mind”). “We Got To Have Peace”, a new entry at #49 this week, an idealistic, pacifist plea from a time when the number of casualties on both sides of the Vietnam War was becoming more unacceptable to the US public is a perfect example of just how Curtis did things. Simple, direct lyrics (And the soldiers who are dead and gone, if only we could bring back one” – ah man!), a complex arrangement propelled by the percussion of “Master” Henry Gibson. In July 1972 Curtis’ soundtrack for “Superfly” came around, the perfect enhancement to the Blaxploitation hit. the record hit #1 in the Pop & R&B charts, “Freddie’s Dead” & the title track were hit 45s. Curtis was already a legend for his work with the Impressions & others, his solo work only consolidated his reputation as a great American artist. You need a more considered view? Don’t ask me, I have the T shirt!.

mp3] Denise LaSalle all the albums and all the songs listen free online,  download an album or song in mp3

When Denise Lasalle (Ora Denise Allen) was just 13 years old she left Mississippi to live with her older brother in Chicago, “All them folks killing all the black folks, I wanted to get out of there, and I made up my mind that I’m leaving Mississippi if it’s the last thing I do…I can’t live in this place, because I would be dead next summer. I’m not taking this stuff. I got out.” From this comfortable British white man’s life it’s sad & shocking that a young girl should have felt so threatened because of her race. Denise’s independence & determination were apparent in her long career as a singer of Gospel, R&B & Blues. In Chicago she was mentored by the great Billy “the Kid” Emerson (“Red Hot”, “Crazy ‘Bout An Automobile”) but felt that local session men, insistent on playing the charts in front of them, were not finding the best in her songs. After hearing an Al Perkins disc on the Hi label she approached producer Willie Mitchell, his guys in Memphis said “you hum it, we’ll play it” & that suited Denise just fine.

Denise LaSalle – Now Run And Tell That / The Deeper I Go (The Better It  Gets) (Vinyl) - Discogs

Ms Lasalle wrote the majority of the songs on the subsequent “Trapped By A Thing Called Love” album (1972) & the title track was an R&B #1 & a crossover hit. The follow up 45, “Now Run & Tell That” is at #24 this week, on its way to the Top 5 & Denise’s performance on “Soul Train” certainly has the afroed audience moving. She & her husband had their own production company & label, Crajon, & signed a deal with Detroit’s Westbound Records. The record is a great example of Mitchell’s smoother,still punchy, take on Memphis Southern Soul, Denise’s personality apparent in her voice & maintaining an input into the work that she continued on have on the later albums that put her in the Blues Hall of Fame. In 1972 Willie Mitchell & his band at Royal Studios were having hits with Al Green, Ann Peebles & Syl Johnson, they were making the In sound. There’s a record coming up soon by Otis Clay that will feature in one of my posts whether it makes the R&B chart or not. We will always have time to come back to Willie Mitchell.

Stays On My Mind (Soul July 31st 1971)

The Top 10 records on the Cash Box Top 60 in R&B Locations for 50 years ago this week were the same as the week before only in a slightly reshuffled order. Gladys Knight & her Pips had enjoyed just one week at #1 with “I Don’t Want To Do Wrong” & was now replaced by the impressively double bracketed “Hot Pants (Part 1) (She Got To Use What She Got To Get What She Wants), the 11th time that James Brown had hit the top spot. The most recent release of these 10 was a song that was initially slated to be a single for the Temptations but the departure of lead vocalist Eddie Kendricks for a solo career in March 1971 meant that a Plan B was required. Producer Norman Whitfield took his song “Smiling Faces Sometimes”, cut from over 12 minutes to under 4, re-recorded it with his Psychedelic Soul proteges, the Undisputed Truth & made the hit it was always going to be. Anyways, we looked at these big hits in the last post & there are other great artists & records, some of my favourites, further down the listing so let’s get to that.

Barbara Lynn | Letterpress poster, Vintage music art, Jazz poster

Way back when I first invited the World Wide Web into the house it brought along a Y-tube clip from 1966 of Barbara Lynn performing “You’ll Lose A Good Thing”, her hit from four years earlier. I was convinced that me & this new e-world would be getting along just fine. An R&B prime cut, filmed in colour an elegant young woman singing her own song, playing her guitar left-handed just like Jimi, the whole package just seemed so assured, so modern. Barbara was just 20 when she made the 265 mile journey to New Orleans to record with Huey P Meaux, “the Crazy Cajun”. “…Good Thing”, her debut, was such a success that she was able to record regularly in the next few years. One of her songs “Oh Baby (We’ve Got a Good Thing Goin’)” was covered by the Rolling Stones in 1965. It was Meaux’ connections in the music business that got Barbara signed to Atlantic in 1967 & in the following year “Here Is Barbara Lynn”, an album recorded in Mississippi with Meaux was released.

Barbara Lynn | Sheila B | Page 2

“(Until Then) I’ll Suffer”, rising from #52 to #46 on this week chart is a 1971 release lifted from that three year old album. It appears to have been the b-side of “Take Your Love and Run”, another cut from a record that seemed to point Barbara towards sub-Motown Soul stompers which were good enough but it was the five songs she wrote, where the Blues was added to her Gulf Coast Soul that stood out. It is no surprise that “(Until Then) I’ll Suffer” in the style of “…Good Thing”, recognisably a Barbara Lynn joint, was the side preferred by radio stations. Any plans for new material from her were stalled by the imprisonment of Huey Meaux after a conviction under the Mann Act for transporting an underage female across state line for immoral purposes (later things got worse for Huey). Barbara, a new wife & mother, stepped away & took 20 years off to raise her kids before returning to recording & touring, still looking, singing & playing just fine. There were plenty of people pleased to see her.

Denise LaSalle Lyrics, Song Meanings, Videos, Full Albums & Bios | SonicHits

I hope that you are able to spare three minutes to listen to a new entry at #58 to the Cash Box chart because “Trapped By A Thing Called Love” by Denise LaSalle is a wonderful thing. Denise had relocated from Mississippi to Chicago when she was a teenager. She was into her thirties before she began to record. It was perhaps this maturity showing when she & her husband Bill Jones set up their independent Crajon Enterprises company & negotiated a deal with Detroit’s Westbound label. It was certainly an astute move to go to Royal Studios in Memphis where producer Willie Mitchell was finessing a signature sound combining the melodic groove of his rhythm section with bright punchy interjections by the Memphis Horns. In 1971 Mitchell was establishing Al Green as a new force on the Soul scene & his arrangements for “Trapped By A Thing…” & Denise’s subsequent LP provided the same freshness. Eight of the eleven songs were written by Denise herself, she & her husband produced an album that is a fine, individual example of the way Southern Soul was heading. Incidentally the track “If You Should Loose Me” (sic) is a cover of Barbara Lynn’s “You’ll Lose A Good Thing”. Denise continued to write & record into the 21st century, her reputation as a “Blues Queen” fully justified.

In Jim Jarmusch’s fine Rock & Roll vampire movie “Only Lovers Left Alive” (2013) Eve (Tilda Swinton, that’s the great…) is listening to Adam (Loki Hiddleston), her husband over many centuries, whinge on about the drawbacks of immortality, of waiting round to never die. She walks across the room to the turntable, selects “Trapped By This Thing Called Love” & says “How can you have lived for so long and still not get it? This self obsession is a waste of living, It could be spent surviving things, appreciating nature, nurturing kindness and friendship, and dancing”. Life affirming words & music indeed.

The Dells - The Love We Had (Stays On My Mind) / Freedom Means - Cadet -  USA - CA 5683 - 45cat

Ah, the mighty, mighty Dells, at #53 with their latest 45 “The Love We Had Stays On My Mind”. The quintet came together in 1953 as high school friends in Harvey, Illinois, just south of Chicago. “Oh What A Nite”, hit big in 1956, Johnny Carter (the new guy!) joined in 1962 & he, Marvin Junior, Chuck Barksdale, Michael McGill & Verne Allison were still together 50 years later. When, in 1966, their record company Vee-Jay declared bankruptcy a move across town to Chess Records led to a string of R&B hits with standards or material provided by producer Bobby Miller, finely tuned by ace arranger Charles Stepney. With the departure of Miller to Motown in 1969 Stepney took over production duties, continuing the ambitious, imaginative, urbane Soul vision he had pursued with the group Rotary Connection. In 1971, with the release of the “Freedom Means” album the Dells, already regarded as the most senior of the vocal groups, around since the days of Doo-Wop, were pushing the boundaries of melodic, harmonious Soul.

“Freedom Means” had its covers of well known songs along with six of the ten, including the title track & “The Love We Had…” written by Terry Callier, a Chicagoan friend of Curtis Mayfield & Jerry Butler. His mid-60s album “The New Folk of…” was embellished with Jazzy idiosyncrasy & now, as a Stepney protege, he was bringing a distinctiveness to the Dells. “The Dells Sing Dionne Warwicke’s Greatest Hits” (1972) sounds a little more mainstream but blimey Bacharach & David’s modern classics are only enhanced by the vocals & arrangements. “Sweet As Funk Can Be” (also 1972), seven Callier/Wade compositions & one cover, is an almost-concept album, tracks linked by spoken segues & as far out as the Dells ever got. It is perhaps a taste to be acquired but the album does exactly what it says on the cover &, for what it’s worth, my one-word review is “Magnificent”.

The Dells – Sweet As Funk Can Be (1972, Vinyl) - Discogs

The Dells were by no means Stepney’s surrogates. Chuck’s bass added texture while Michael & Verne had been doing their harmony thing for so long now that they absolutely had it down. The powerful baritone voice of Marvin Junior really is a special thing. You hear that, it’s the Dells. While Marvin came with the thunder he was set up & perfectly, uniquely complemented by the lightning of Johnny Carter’s range from tenor to falsetto. There’s much more to the group than sheer durability. As tastes in music changed the Dells made slight adjustments, always classy, elegant & relevant, ensuring their longevity. My good e-friend Jennifer Hannah Cocozza, a woman of immaculate taste, will tell anyone who cares to listen that Marvin Junior is the outstanding voice in a talented, crowded Soul field. I’m the guy stood behind her saying “Yeah, that’s right!”

This week’s live clip is from the same 1972 performance by the Dells on the landmark but short-lived “Soul” TV series. “Stay In My Corner” was a hit in 1965 the re-recorded three year later, becoming the group’s biggest R&B and Pop hit of the 1960s. Developed into an expanded onstage showstopper it showcases the amalgamated talents of the five while featuring the quite extraordinary alignment & blessing that Marvin & Johnny had refined. It does not get better than this.

Kindness And Friendship, And Dancing (Denise LaSalle)

Image result for cyrille regisStill a week to go in the first month of the year & Death has been felling too many tall trees. In the late 1970’s, when my football team had an away game, I would take the #11 bus around Birmingham’s Outer Circle to see Cyrille Regis play for West Bromwich Albion. A combination of strength & grace allied to a knack for scoring show-stopping goals transcended the parochial tribalism of English football fans & his talent merited greater international recognition than he received. On & off the field his quiet dignity in the face of hateful, ignorant racism inspired the next generation of Black footballers to believe that they too could make their mark. Hearing some of that generation, now retired, overcome by emotion in their tributes was testament to Cyrille’s legacy as a player & as a man.


Image result for hugh masekela 1969Hugh Masekela’s trumpet featured on the Byrds 1967 classic “So You Want to be a Rock & Roll Star”. The following year he had a #1 hit of his own with “Grazing in the Grass”. Masekela, already an eminent musician, left South Africa in 1960 when, after the Sharpeville massacre the manners of the White government became even more oppressive. Throughout a 30 year exile his music, for the head, the heart & the hips, never left Africa. His talent, his struggle, informed me about the insane apartheid policies of his home country as much as the travails of Nelson Mandela. (A shout here to the late Bill Clayton, a family friend who left Capetown when he was racially “reclassified” by the government. Even my 12 year old self knew that this was not only wrong but batshit crazy!).


Image result for mark e smithThe Fall have been part of the musical landscape of the UK for 40 years. There’s been a lot of wind talked about Mark E Smith who died yesterday. A contrary outsider, a trenchant motormouth &, later, an irascible drunk. “Hey dude! Give the info a rest and use your mind”. The Fall were popular enough to release 36 albums. If you want to hear their best songs well I’ve got 50 of them & a pile more in my pocket if you don’t like those. His voice & lyrics may seem individual but  his accurate, acerbic, archly humorous take on the world is one I recognise & has always been worth listening to. His band, despite a revolving-door personnel, was always on point. Mark’s autobiography reminded me of the year I spent in Manchester & the old boys I met in the pub (drinking at lunchtime…I miss that !). I liked them & I liked Mark E Smith. Over the years, when I have listened more closely, his band, his songs, his book, have been the best thing to have around.


As if this wasn’t quite enough loss there are others less celebrated on their departure who nonetheless made their mark. On the 8th of January the singer Denise LaSalle died aged 78 & it’s certainly worth spending some time with her music & to remember her.




Related imageIf Denise LaSalle had only made one record then “Trapped By a Thing Called Love” would be enough. From 1971 it was a #1 R&B hit when you had to be better than good to get that sort of attention. (It was preceded by the Persuaders’ “Thin Line Between Love & Hate”, displaced by Marvin’s “Inner City Blues”). “Trapped…” is a perfect realisation of the new Memphis Soul sound coming out of Willie Mitchell’s Royal Studios. The vocal is sad, sweet & soulful & so is the band. It’s a song that’s built to last & in 2013 was central to a key scene in Jim Jarmusch’s film “Only Lovers Left Alive”. You know it, Eve (the White Witch off of Narnia) tells Adam (Loki) that eternal Life as a vampire really isn’t all that bad & they dance to this wonderful tune.


Denise was born in Mississippi & moved to Chicago when she was a teenager. It wa there, with Chess Records that she made her first recordings. “A Love Reputation”, co-written by the fantastic Billy “the Kid” Emerson, is R&B mixed with that driving Motown beat. Northern Soul 4 years before the term was coined, it was a small regional hit in the US & an enduring floor-filler in the clubs of the North of England. In the words of Disco-Tex & his Sex-O-Lettes “Get Dancin'” !



Denise wasn’t a kid when she made that first record & when it didn’t work out at Chess she had it together for the second time around. “Trapped…”may have had the inimitable Hi stamp & Mitchell is credited with the arrangement but the production is by Crajon Enterprises, LaSalle & her husband Bill Jones, who had a deal with Detroit’s Westbound Records for our star & for other artists. The LP recorded on the back of the hit is a classic of Southern Soul, a couple of well-chosen covers & the rest written by Denise herself.


Image result for denise lasalle lick itWillie Mitchell was busy with Al Green & Ann Peebles & in the mid-70’s Disco was the thing so Denise followed the trend. She continued to record regularly, gaining the title “Queen of the Blues”. Her strong voice matched her adult tales of relationships gone wrong. “Lick It Before You Stick It” is not the only song that is not suitable for work. In 1984 she found herself on Top of the Pops when her  synth-pop Disco cover of Rockin’ Sidney’s zydeco “Don’t Mess With) My Toot Toot” was a Top 10 hit in the UK. There are a lot of records & all of them are classy & well made.



Image result for denise lasalleIt’s the 3 records Denise made for Westbound in the early 70’s that, for me, are the real gold. “Here I Am” (1975) employed the arranging talents of David Van De Pitte whose credits at Motown included “What’s Goin’ On”, “Let’s Get It On”, “Psychedelic Shack” & plenty of others you know so you can be sure that this will be listening time spent well. “Married, But Not To Each Other”, another of her own songs, was picked up by Barbara Mandrell & became a Top 3 Country hit. Denise LaSalle left a legacy of fine music, she deserves to be & will be remembered fondly.



Music And Movies (2014)

In 2014 I made good use of my evenings to catch up with a lot of the films that I had intended to see but had missed out on. OK, there are a couple of hours of my life spent in the company of a Hobbit that I will never get back but I did the right thing. 2014 seems to have been a good year for cinema & here are 3 films which caught the attention of my ears as well as my eyes.



“Frank” was near the top of a long “to-see” list. I am a devoted fan of Frank Sidebottom, “the Bard of Timperley”, an eccentric, papier mache headed character created by Chris Sievey who always raised my spirits & made me laugh. I had missed Lenny Abrahamson’s last film “What Richard Did” (2012) but enjoyed both “Adam & Paul” (2004) & “Garage” (2007), sparse, atmospheric & affecting snapshots of modern Ireland, he’d do it right. Of course the film has nothing to do with & is not about our Frank. I wasted the first 30 minutes of the film attempting to get a handle on just what I was watching. Sure, this Frank has the same (but not the same) head worn by Magneto, currently the best actor around & that’s it. I was charmed by this story of a rock & roll band, hooked by their travails & the great performances by Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhaal (oh my !) & Brendan Gleeson’s boy Domhnall.

The music for “Frank” is by Abrahamson’s regular collaborator Stephen Rennicks. When the band finally do play something “Secure the Galactic Perimeter”, with echoes of Joy Division, the Doors & Captain Beefheart, is convincing stuff & it has to be for the film to work. Other songs capture Frank’s outsider perspective & the finale, “I Love You All”, poignantly & appropriately places the music at the heart of the storytelling. This Frank’s odd, subtle humour has hung around more than any film I saw last year & the Soronprfbs are the best celluloid rock band since the Leningrad Cowboys went America. You know they are, they really are !



For 30 years now Jim Jarmusch has been making films that have always entertained & sometimes delighted me. “Ghost Dog”, “Down By Law” &…well, it’s a list. His more recent films  have had a contemplative tone, not overly troubled by storyline, not everyone’s cup of pekoe. “Only Lovers Left Alive” is Jim’s vampire movie. Adam, a reclusive rock star played by Loki, is depressed & holed up in desolate, deserted  Detroit. His wife, Eve, leaves Tangiers (where she hangs with Christopher Marlowe) to join him. Eve is the wonderful Tilda Swinton who, with this, “Snowpiercer”, “The Zero Theorem” & “The Grand Budapest Hotel” had an amazing year. I’ve been a fan since Derek Jarman’s “Caravaggio” (1986), saw her as Mozart at the Almeida in 89 & in a glass case at the Serpentine Gallery in 95. So, I’m just the guy to buy into Jarmusch’s louche, modern day sanguisuges holding back the ennui of eternal life by playing chess, dropping heavyweight cultural names from the ages & sipping the finest blood money can buy.


“Only Lovers…” soundtrack spans time & continents, from Paganini through Lebanese singer Yasmine Hamdan to Jim’s own band SQURL. When our heroes do get out of the house (at the urging of vampire imp Mia Wasikowska who also stars in David Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars”, #1 in my heart for 2014) they see White Hills at a club. Adam has a disdain for the digital taste of the “zombies”, keeping hold of treasured vinyl 7″ singles. This scene, when Eve shows him the beauty in the world by demanding he dances to Denise LaSalle’s “Trapped By A Thing Called Love” is just perfect. It (& Tilda) will bring me back to this reflection on everlasting love & enduring Art.



The funniest vampire movie of the year, “What We Do In the Shadows” & the equally amusing ghost/horror story “Housebound” both came from New Zealand while across the Tasman Sea in Australia writer-director David Michod released his follow up to “Animal Kingdom” (2010), a gripping, violent crime thriller about Melbourne gangsters. “The Rover” is set 10 years after the global economic collapse. We know that further down the line Max Rockatansky will be getting & going Mad but here the scavenging survivors are back in the Wild West & still wondering how the heck it had come to this. “The Rover” is a story stripped to its bare bones. Eric, the Man with One Name, has had his car nicked & he wants it back. The lad from “Twilight” knows where it is & they form an unlikely partnership along the way. Guy Pearce gives a ferocious performance which holds the film together while Robert Pattinson, in this & “Maps to the Stars” is proving that we were all wrong about him. “The Rover” is a harsh, violent film. One critic wrote that it is “bleak, brutal and unrelentingly nihilist”, that’s 5 stars then.


The score was written by Antony Partos, the soundtrack assembled by Sam Petty who both worked with Michod on “Animal Kingdom”. Eric is a man of few words & the script is as sparse as the film’s Outback setting. The soundscapes used in “The Rover” are evocative, even ominous but certainly not intrusive. I’ve chosen to include a piece by Partos but the soundtrack also put me on to jazz saxophonist Colin Stetson who makes some very interesting noises. David Michod is slated to write & direct “The Operators” next, an adaptation of Michael Hastings’ book about General McChrystal, Commander of US Forces in Afghanistan, starring Brad Pitt. I’ve had a good year’s viewing & will look forward to that.