SOUL CORNER #2, by DJ Pari

Posted by: Necci – Feb 01, 2012


Richmond based DJ Pari is the host of the monthly Soulpower dance party at Balliceaux and co-host of Midnight Soulstice on WRIR 97.3 fm (every Friday from 11pm until 1am.) Pari spins at clubs and festivals worldwide, and he has worked with Soul legends like James Brown, The Impressions, Marva Whitney, Bobby Byrd, Mandrill, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, and many more. For this monthly column, he reviews five records from his collection - rare vinyl, common finds, new and old jams.

The Impressions - The Fabulous Impressions (ABC)
As one of the most important vocal groups in the history of Soul music, The Impressions were the vehicle that boosted Curtis Mayfield to stardom. But after hits like "People Get Ready" and "Keep On Pushing," The Impressions entered a dry period, with a lack of chart success that lasted a couple of years. This might explain why this album, released in 1967, went unnoticed by most of the Soul audience - a true shame, because it may be the group's finest work during their tenure on ABC Records. The strong opener, "You Always Hurt Me," packs every dancefloor to this day, and incredible ballads like "It's All Over" and "I Can't Stay Away From You," beautifully arranged by Johnny Pate, have Mayfield's genius written all over them, and are amongst his most wonderfully crafted songs. Maybe that's how he found the confidence to write a follow-up that would become one of the greatest hits for The Impressions: "We're A Winner."
Where to get it: Vinyl and/or CD - eBay.
Listen here:

Ann Peebles - Part Time Love (Hi Records)
Ann Peebles is one of those Soul singers who should have been much, much more famous and commercially successful. On her second album, released in 1971 on Memphis-based Hi Records (also the home label of Al Green), and produced by Willie Mitchell, the St. Louis native proves that she wasn't just a great Soul singer, but that her usually so subtle and economical vocal style allowed her to comfortably venture into the Funk genre. Her version of the Isley's "It's My Thing" is a longtime favorite among Funk DJs, which might explain why this album has been in high demand for years (it fetched almost $500 on eBay not too long ago). But my personal highlight on this LP, which also includes a version of the '60s Soul classic "Steal Away," is her own interpretation of the Betty Swann hit "Make Me Yours." Memphis Soul doesn't get any sweeter than that.
Where to get it: The CD is available on Amazon. The vinyl album ... well, good luck with that.
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Hank Ballard - Blackenized (King)
When James Brown was a nobody, he wanted to be like Hank Ballard, whose group The Midnighters brought us hits like "The Twist" and "Work With Me, Annie." In the late 1960s, when JB was Soulbrother Number One and Ballard had become irrelevant, Brown took him under his wing and produced a few sides with him, which lacked commercial success but are now considered among his best work. "Blackenized," the b-side of "Come On Wit' It", is a subtly driven Funk tune with an afro-centric message. Released before the natural do' was considered hip, Ballard calls out posers, fakers and those who straighten their hair to fit in. His message to the black youth: Be proud of what you are, and "don't be like an Oreo cookie, brother - black on the outside, and white on the inside." A message that many still consider to be true today.
Where to get it: The vinyl 45 pops up on eBay every now and then. The song has been reissued on the James Brown's Funky People compilation, which is available in every good record store or by mailorder.
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Jade - Music Slave (Pesante)
Little is known about this group from Norfolk, VA, other than that they released two 45s on Pesante Records in the mid-1970s, and one full album on the same label. A rarity on top of the list of many record collectors is the group's second 45 "Lately 'I'," which is a nice little Funk tune produced by Mark IV. But it's the flip side, "Music Slave," that makes most of us drool once the needle hits the groove - it's a killer modern Soul groover with just the right dose of Funk in it. Happy faces on the dancefloor guaranteed.
Where to get it: The 45 is hard to find; your best bet is eBay. You can also find it on the Ghetto Funk compilation. Drew from Steady Sounds, one of a few people to own a copy of the super rare Jade album In Pursuit, uploaded it to his blog a few years ago.
Listen here:

Louis Armstrong - Louis Armstrong and his Friends (Flying Dutchman)
Louis Armstrong is where it all began. And thousands of records later, at the end of his life, Satchmo had not disconnected with what was going on musically. Recorded shortly after his 70th birthday in what possibly was the last session in his life, Pops invited all his friends to hang out in the studio, seeking their inspiration and creative input. Among those who followed that call were Miles Davis, Tony Bennett, Ornette Coleman, Bobby Hackett, and many others. The result is a very unconventional, if not obscure, record featuring a funky "Give Peace A Chance" (yes, Satchmo doing the John Lennon classic) and "The Creator Has A Master Plan," a duet between Armstrong and a yodeling Leon Thomas. Pure awesomeness.
Where to get it: The vinyl on eBay, the CD on Amazon.
Listen here: