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Luv N' Haight's Michigan Soul Comp To Be Released October 11
Ubiquity's sister label Luv N' Haight revives rare and classic 60's - 70's soul, funk and jazz. Searching For Soul is volume one in a series that will be as comprehensive and musically inclusive as is humanly possible, bearing in mind that the truly definitive guide to two decades of locally bred Michigan soul and funk would require the mining of a bottomless pit. Included are absolute rarities from The Black Aces of Soul and the Eyes of Ebony next to funk classics by The Detroit Sex Machines. Most of these records are fully remastered and available on CD for the first time (legal or otherwise), and you’d have to mortgage your house to buy all the originals.
About Searching For Soul: Rare and Classic Soul, Funk and Jazz From Michigan, 1968-1980:
Detroit was the epicenter for the soulful revolution the world knows as Motown. However, the city and the surrounding cities making up Michigan were also home to an unparalleled underground music scene that supported, propelled and fed off the Motown machine. While some artists brushed shoulders with the greats and others longed for a big break, most of the artists featured here were operating on a D.I.Y. basis. They made their own careers, their own successes and mistakes instead of trying to fit the Motown mold. Amidst these grooves lies their honesty, passion, accidents and triumphs.
Searching For Soul is volume one in a series that will be as comprehensive and musically inclusive as is humanly possible, bearing in mind that the truly definitive guide to two decades of locally bred Michigan soul and funk would require the mining of a bottomless pit. Included are absolute rarities from The Black Aces of Soul and the Eyes of Ebony next to now funk classics by The Detroit Sex Machines. Most of these records have never been on CD, and you’d have to mortgage your house to buy all the originals.
The focus is funk and soul, but don’t be surprised to hear jazz and disco in the mix as the Michigan music scene saw no boundaries. On this first volume raw breaks and beats from Jake Wade and the Soul Searchers sit next to the melancholic charm of Dee Edwards, inter galactic big band funk from Wendell Harrison drops down next to freaky synth-driven soul of Aged In Harmony.
The empty factories, abandoned houses, and burnt-out buildings that dominate Detroit and surrounding inner cities today do nothing to reflect the regions rich musical history. With little left of what was once the famed motor city, preservation of its music is paramount. It is the regions musical legacy against the backdrop of broken infrastructure that continues to influence a generation of artists producing some of the best sounds around.
The compilation track list was provided by Scott Craig, Michigan music aficionado, and proprietor of recently opened Detroit Soul record store, Hawaii. This is his compilation statement “When it comes to 60s and 70s soul music Michigan cannot be overlooked. With a music industry that was churning out hit after hit it was difficult to notice the thousands of singers and bands trying to make it on their own. This compilation will take a look at the brilliance and sincerity of some of the music that has gone overlooked by the masses. This is soul music from the streets, music from the heart, and the music of the people. Most of these tunes were recorded in basements and back rooms. Many of the artists hurried to the recording sessions from their day jobs playing on borrowed instruments. Listen closely and you will hear the drive and passion. Originally pressed on vinyl in very small quantities these songs have almost been lost to obscurity, we regard them as national treasures. Enjoy this taste of Michigan in your search for soul.”
Dee Edwards “I Can Deal With That”
This fantastic piece of Detroit soul was written and produced by label owner Dr. William Kyle and features the vocals of Dee Edwards who, if this track was her benchmark, should have had a career as successful as any of her Motown peers. Heavy local radio play attracted the attention of Atlantic Records who subsequently signed Edwards to an album deal. Kyle didn’t want to let her go but he was squeezed out of the arrangement when Edwards’s husband stepped-in to produce and arrange the album for Atlantic. Unfortunately for the Edwards husband and wife team the full-length album flopped upon release. Kyle led a successful dual career as a Doctor and producer working with artists like Ronnie McNeir, The Attractions, and Maxine.
Robert Jay “Alcohol”
Re-issued not too long ago on the Vox Pop 45 label in the UK “Alcohol” is such a classic piece of driving blues-tinged funk that we felt it could not be left off the compilation. Robert Jay (real name changed from Robert Brown because “it sounded more swingin’”) was introduced by a mutual friend to Dave Hamilton and it was agreed that the song would be recorded at Hamiltons studio (possibly a studio on Philadelphia Street used before he opened up his legendary TCB studios on Highland.) Jay wrote the song but used session musicians on the track. “There were 2 white guys and 2 black guys including one on drums who said “this is the future beat”, ” says Jay. “And I’ve never heard a beat or drummer like that again, he was right. But it’s too bad I can’t remember his name!” The studio musicians played exactly as he wanted which was a pleasant surprise to Jay who didn’t think the white guys had it in them. Jay played horn and sang the lyrics which he admits he had no problem writing because he is an alcoholic. “This is a true song, I’m an alcoholic. I’d wake up with hang-overs and thought I’d write a song about it because alcohol had been so mean to me, ” says Jay. “I’m alright though because I know it’s a problem, I’m in recovery now.”
Jay can’t remember exactly but thinks the song was recorded in the early 1970s. He knows that only 300 or so were pressed and it was probably the only 45 he ever cut. He did release three albums and had a satisfying music career playing Detroit blues. “I could play a variety of styles but I loved the blues. Detroit blues was an upbeat style, not like the Motown sound, for me it’s just the way I felt it. My sound is original; it’s not a copy of anything. I just did my own thing, ” says Jay. “I didn’t hang out with other musicians and was taught to stay out of the bars, but somehow I still became an alcoholic, ” he jokes. “But I got what I wanted out of music. I was asked to play bass for the Contours, one of the first acts signed to Motown, but I wasn’t interested. I did it all my own way.”
Manuel Holcolm “I Stayed Away Too Long”
While the record label says the song was written and produced by Diamond Jim & G. Current, Manuel Holcolm says that he had a little more creative input than the credited for. Diamond Jim ran the studio and was apparently a gentleman of questionable reputation. Infact he ended up getting himself shot in a Detroit nightclub (Watt’s Club Mozambique) in the early 1970s. Holcolm says the song, released in 1969, is about returning home from Vietnam and finding your lady couldn’t wait for you! It’s a rough tune for rough times, although Holcolm admits he has never been to Vietnam and the wayward woman was only in his imagination. In fact Holcolm began his music career in 1961 in the Motown Studios recording “Please Wear My Ring”, a song written for his future wife, whom he has been married to for over 40 years. All of his releases were on 7” and all recorded in MI. He is currently Minister of Music at local Church playing and singing weekly.
Lloyd Williams “Be Mine Tonight”
“Be Mine Tonight” was recorded at Ernstrat studios (which later became Tera Shirma) on Livernois in Detroit, Fred Saxon was a producer working for Ernie Stratton. “Lloyd Williams, and talented people like him were coming into our studio often, ” says Saxon. “Generally they sold us on doing a record and if they were good enough we did it.” Saxon thinks he may have recorded some more Williams demos, but nothing else was ever released beyond this one 7”. When Stratton passed away Saxon tried to find the old unreleased masters but nothing turned up. All the tapes were disposed of over the years. The Soul Beat label was created by Saxon primarily for Williams as this was a time when if you had one record on a radio play list, you probably wouldn’t get another – so new labels were constantly created to forge new opportunities. Saxon had hoped that Williams would live up to his promise and self-visualization as a young James Brown, but alas this was this only record released.
Saxon started working in TV with long-time Detroit Radio DJ Robin Seymour (host) in 1968. Originally the show “Swingin Time” aired on CKLW but it moved to WXON channel 50 where Saxon joined Seymour 5 days a week and featured many of the acts on the Motown roster through to people like Ted Nugent and Bob Seger. Saxon is now an Emmy winning TV entertainment reporter and producer/host in San Diego.
Jake Wade and the Soul Searchers “Searching For Soul” and El Riot “Do It Right”
Jake Wade and the Soul Searchers was made up of Jake Wade aka Wade Washington, Brock James on drums, Ju Ju aka Cornelius Johnson on horns, a musician who wishes to remain anonymous on horns, reeds and vocals, and Miles Joseph and Chuck Middleton on guitar. This same band went on to form El Riot adding Roz Ryan as vocalist.
Joseph remembers that was not in the original line-up but was spotted by the band at the first Ann Arbor Blues Festival (possibly in 1969). It was a big festival as it was the first time many of the major blues artists played together for a predominantly white audience. Guitarists for both the Luther Allison and Albert King bands failed to show up, and Joseph found himself playing in two new bands alongside his idols. Jake Wade and crew were in the audience, and approached Joseph after the show about playing with them. A one-off house gig in Detroit at Ben's High Chaparral turned into a 3 to 4 year run with the band playing Thursday through Sunday, 2 shows a night with a matinee on Sunday) behind virtually everyone from Motown and Stax Records. “Searching for Soul” was written by guitarist Chuck Middleton, while “Do It Right” is credited as collectively written by El Riot. The band was at one point called Riot but changed the name under the influence of a manager who thought it would prevent them from being signed by Motown who already had a band by the same name. Interestingly Cornelius Johnson is an active Detroit musician, while Ryan has had a career on Broadway since 1979 and has starred in movies and TV shows, and Joseph is a busy guitarist who has performed with Aretha Franklin.
Robert Lowe “Back To Funk”
“Back To Funk” is a jazz dance classic that was originally released in 1974 as a 7” single on Eastbound Records. It was recorded as part of an album session that unfortunately never saw light of day. However, Lowe has had a successful career that has spanned across a wide musical spectrum. A Detroit stalwart he has performed with many of the greats and was a regular at Watt’s Club Mozambique and Bakers keyboard lounge where he often hung with the Fabulous Counts. At a gig at Sonny Wilsons club in Detroit Miles Davis once spoke to him between sets. Checking his guitar Davis said “Man you have got some fast fingers!” Lowe caught the jazz bug and played with numerous organ groups. His date with Houston Person was the first release on Eastbound, Armen Boladian’s home to jazz releases that were to balance out the sounds of Funkadelic, the P Funk Allstars and the Ohio Players on sister label Westbound. Lowe played on Dr. Lonnie Smith's “Mama Wailer” and on Charles Earlands Odyssey album and is still an extremely active musician today.
Tommy McGhee “Give And Take”
McGhee was the main force behind the legendary Grand Rapids group the TMGs, starting the group and label of the same name at 13 years old in 1963. At such a tender age McGhee released records sparingly at first, but his aim was always to establish a Western Michigan scene, “I wanted to develop the “Rap town” sound which was more self contained sound and unlike the Motown/vocal heavy sound. Grand Rapids acts were more influenced by Ohio Players, James Brown, Funkadelic, ” explains McGhee. “I admired Berry Gordy and those guys but I thought that I could do it on my own.”
Responding to an ad in a local paper McGhee sent in a cassette recording of two tracks (“Kool Congo” and “Courier”) recorded on a player bought with money earned by doing tasks for his mom. The cassette was returned with the along with a 7” single of the tracks, and this was the first TMGs wax to be pressed. In 1965, McGee produced and released another TMGs instrumental titled “The Hatch” with their first lyrical song called “What Can I Do?” on the flip. The local radio station played the record and the TMG’s eventually garnered enough popularity to open up for artists like James Brown, George Clinton, Cameo, Roger & Zapp, Ohio Players, Curtis Mayfield and the Impression, The Temptations and Candi Staton and many more. In fact the TMG’s brand of funk allowed them to perform throughout the US for the next 12 years before they grew apart. McGee went on recording and producing. In 1973 he released “To Make You Happy” with a solo remake of the TMG’s “Give & Take” (featured here) on the flip. He has released numerous local and regional hits. He still runs TMG Music Consortium acting as a distributor and helping young entrepreneurs with promotions and marketing on releases ranging from hip hop to soul, house to gospel.
The Detroit Sex Machines “Rap It Together”
This is one of the quintessential funk tracks that we could not leave off of a compilation documenting Michigan soul and funk. “Rap It Together” was re-issued on 7” on the now-defunct Soul Fire records, which itself now hard to find. And more recently it was re-edited and released by Stones Throw. It’s a funk cut that has all the right elements, so much so that people often questioned Soul Fire records head Philippe Lehman as to whether he actually recorded it when it first surfaced as a re-issue. The band was made up of kids who practiced on their fathers instruments until he cottoned-on and was so blown-away by their performance he became their manager. Read the whole story at www.stonesthrow.com.
Wendell Harrison “Farewell To The Welfare” and “Take Time Out”
The personnel on “Farewell To The Welfare” includes Charles Moore, Marcus Belgrave, Phil Ranelin, Harold McKinney etc on a date that featured not only some of the best musicians on the artist-ran Tribe records roster but some of the best to ever jazz players to come out of Detroit. Harrisons time working with Sun Ra (between 1961 and 1963 replacing John Gilmore or Pharoah Sanders) didn’t just provide musical influence. “His music opened me up to alternatives, but the way he conducted his business really was impressive. Sun Ra had two or three record labels, publishing companies and a production company that he owned and recorded for, ” said Harrison. “This was very logical for one to control what they created and I adopted the same concept. Sun Ra was also a great writer/arranger, composer and entertainer.”
Over the years Harrison has also played with Hank Crawford, Grant Green, Marvin Gaye Lou Rawls, Joe Henderson/Kenny Dorham's big band, Betty Carter, Chuck Jackson, Big Maybelle and Esther Phillips just to name a few.
“Motown Records was producing soul music, and R & B hits, with Detroit artists like Stevie Wonder, Martha Reeves, Marvin Gaye, Four Tops, Temptations. But production of these great artists often required appearances from cream of the crop Detroit jazz musicians, ” explains Harrison.” Working for Barry Gordy was a good way to make some money.”
The vocalist on “Take Time Out” is Miche Braden. Miche Braden’s uncle is James Hankins, a bass player who taught Harrison during his high school years. Hankins had a group of five musicians, including Harrison and Harry Whitaker (later piano player and arranger to Roy Ayers and Roberta Flack – see Luv N’Haight release Black Renaissance) and they performed local gigs around the Detroit area and rehearsed at Hankins sister’s house. At the time Braden was just a baby and the band would need to make frequent stops to change her diapers and give her a bottle. In the early 1970s when Braden had finished college Harrison would hire her for recording projects and shows. “Miche grew up listening to us rehearse and perform R & B and Jazz music. She really had her piano, vocals, writing/arranging skills together, ” said Harrison.
Harrison is still a very active musician and recently even recorded with John Arnold on a track to be released on our Ubiquity label.
Burning Desire “Why She Had to Go”
“Why She Had To Go” was recorded in Dearborn, MI. Bass player and band leader Ovanus Guy says that the sound of Dearborn and the sound of Detroit were pretty much the same thing. Released in 1978, the music scene was moving closer to the disco era. Guy lists the Isley Brothers, Earth Wind and Fire, Ohio Players as their main influences but notes that George Clinton, Funkadelic, and Parliamant etc were getting more play, and that funk had taken over the Motor City.
Jon Jarvis ran Charisma studios at the time and recorded an albums worth of material with Burning Desire. Unfortunately he disappeared with the album masters and has not been since. As such the “Why She Had To Go” was the only release for Burning Desire. Just a couple of hundred 7”s were pressed mostly for family and friends. The band played on around Michigan. They changed their name in the 1980s to Key 2 Kholorz after finding a rock group called Burning Desire. 3 of the band are still together – guitar player Ray Wise, cousin Tyrone Taylor drummer, with Ovanus on bass. They have a new album recorded and ready to drop before end of 2005, coincidentally titled Burning Desire.
Aged In Harmony “Trust Me”
This was the very first recording and release for Arnold Moore and Aged In Harmony, it was released in 1977. Cut at Holland-Dozier-Holland studios with noted Motown engineer Bob Dennis Moore regrets using local people on the session. He wished he had forked out for better musicians, but says he was still learning. “I got a combo of people who could and couldn’t play – the rhythm section could have been better, ” he says. “The lead singer was great, I still see him often - Cecil Norman is his name and he went on to record and perform in a gospel group.”
He attributes the futuristic sounding keyboards to the fact that back in 1977 there was no sequencing so some instruments sound looser than they would now – a happy accident perhaps? “I may have had too many ideas for the one song but I was just trying to make it sound interesting, ” says Moore. Mercury Records heard the tune and came sniffing but no deal surfaced.
Barry White was a huge influence on Moore, particularly his huge hit “I’m Gonna Love You A Little Bit More”. Moore went so far as to drive from Flint to Barry White's studio in Los Angeles. “I went uninvited, so after all that driving I only met his musicians, ” says Moore. “I went to hang with friends from Flint who had a studio across the street, they said they’d see his car pull in and out but I never got to meet him.” Aged In Harmony later released a disco track called “You’re A Melody” again on Mor-Tones. These days Moore dabbles in real estate, and is shopping a couple of TV pilots. Has a home studio and occasionally records local talent.
The Black Aces of Soul and the Eyes of Ebony “Lets Get On Down”
This song was developed in 1967 and released about a year later. The band were from Michigan but recorded it in Chicago due to a lack of studios in Grand Rapids. On a mini-tour of Chicago, including a performance and seminar at Philips High School, the band set up a recording session. They recorded a lot of other tracks, but this was the only one released. The recordings have mostly been lost over the years in transit but a recent move has revealed some unreleased tunes previously kept in storage.
Rodney Trotter recalls the band came together through Mike Asque a director for the YMCA who would eventually help fund the band rehearsals and equipment etc. Asque hung out with drummer Charles Barnett who was forming a band called the The Black Aces of Soul and featured Jose Guidon on keys, Alonzo Thomas bass, Chester on guitar. Trotter, Kenny Evans, Walter Oliver, and Panthea Barrells were forming a vocal group called The Eyes of Ebony and joined forces with the Black Aces. To round out the band with a horn section Danny Alan and Marty Oliver played trumpet, Claude played sax and The Black Aces of Soul and the Eyes of Ebony were born.
source :: jazz press service
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