Regrettable as it is that the late 60s Paragon-label recordings of Toronto funk legends Frank Motley & the Bridge Crossings and King Herbert & the Knights need to be compiled and sold back to us by UK-based record dealer Gerald "Jazzman" Short, we can be thankful that at least a small sampling of their choice chicken-strutting jams are available again on the Canada's Message To The Meters (Jazzman) disc. Hopefully, some enterprising Spanish or Japanese dealer will put out a Billy Martin and the Soul Jets collection next.
Stranger than fiction
After discussing Willie Nelson 's oeuvre with Carla Bozulich and finding out how little she knew of his work before tackling the songs from his Red Headed Stranger concept album, I had my doubts about her ability to pull off a song-by-song re-recording of it. But with guitar slinger Nels Cline and Shotgun Willie himself helping out on vocals and nylon string guitar parts, Bozulich's Red Headed Stranger (DiCristina Stair Builders) disc is a stunning overachievement. You really need to hear it.
If you thought that folks stopped making great deep Southern soul records in the 70s with the advent of the disco era, well, you're right - most of them did. "Little" Charles Walker is one of the few 60s shouters who kept the fire burning. Recently returning to a Nashville studio alongside producer Fred James, who understands the Muscle Shoals vibe, Walker got down and testified for Number By Heart (Zane), which is going to have the true soul faithful double-checking the recording dates. Fans of soul survivors Mighty Sam McClain and Otis Clay will be thrilled.
What in Tarnation?
Paula Frazer was blessed with one of those creepy beautiful voices that you hear once and it's burned in your brain forever. Her best recordings with Tarnation were the least cluttered, the stark ones that allowed her to soar. Apparently, while she was in the group Frazer would document her songs at home on a four-track - just creaky guitar and that eerie yelp - which is exactly how she should be heard. Thankfully, someone had the sense to release those demos as A Place Where I Know (Birdman) along with three video tracks. Be careful, though. This is scary stuff.