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"My Sidepiece (Pokey Bear & The La. Blues Bros.)"
Beat Flippa (New Album Alert!)
Composed by Heavy (Charles Lewis)
May 19, 2018:
NEW ALBUM ALERT!
Sample/Buy Ross Music's new VARIOUS ARTISTS: PREMEDITATED LOVE compilation at Amazon.
Premeditated Love Track List
You Deserve Better
by Jeter Jones
Testify (feat. Pokeybear)
by Tyree Neal
I Want You
by Vick Allen
I Got That Good Stuff
by Crystal Thomas
In the Morning
Your All That I Need (feat. Ra'shad the Blues Kid)
by Miss Portia
One in a Million (feat. Pokeybear)
by Lady Soul
You Don't Love Me (feat. Crystal Thomas)
by Isaac J
Is It True
by LJ Echols
Lipstick on My Zipper
by Big Yayo
Cupid Shot the Wrong Person Again
by Deacon Dukes
Shirley Got a Gun
by Omar Cunningham
Come Back to Me
by P2K Dadiddy
Daddy B. Nice notes: The newest sampler from Beat Flippa features pretty much all-new material (2017-2018) from a strong roster of artists. There's new music by Pokey Bear, Omar Cunningham, Jeter Jones, Vick Allen, L.J. Echols and Big Yayo. Essentially, Beat Flippa has branched out from his early practice of introducing unknown artists. Now he's collaborating with all of the stars on the chitlin' circuit. I had some fun with one of the tracks from the new sampler in the May 2018 Top Ten Singles:
...8. "In The Morning"----Cupid
This phrase hereby goes down as a southern soul first: "You're going to be sore in the morning." And it's a refrain: Cupid sings it over and over. I can only imagine being a woman, just thinking about the chafing. "Baby, I apologize in advance," Cupid croons, but...
"It will be so sorrrrrre in the morning."
Produced by Beat Flippa.
Listen to Cupid singing "In The Morning" on YouTube.
Listen to Vick Allen singing "I Want You" on YouTube.
Listen to Big Yayo singing "Lipstick On My Zipper" on YouTube.
Buy Ross Music's PREMEDITATED LOVE album at Wal-Mart.
February 28, 2018:
Daddy B. Nice Announces THE WINNERS of the 2017 (11th Annual) SOUTHERN SOUL MUSIC AWARDS.
Best Arranger/Producer (Co-Winners!)Top Contenders:
John Ward: Ms. Jody --- "I Had To Lie"; David Brinston -- "I Drinks My Whiskey"; Mr. Sam -- "She Don't Want Me No More"; Joe "Blues" Butler -- "I've Got A Mule To Ride"
Jeter Jones: Jeter Jones -- "Single Footin'," "My Country Girl"
Christopher Mabry: Big Yayo w/ Omar Cunningham & Gentry Jones -- "Bedroom Rodeo"
Beat Flippa: Pokey Bear & Crystal Thomas -- "All I Want Is You"; Sharnette Hyter & Big Cynthia -- "I'm Ready"; Pokey Bear & Bishop Bullwinkle -- "I Can't Be Faithful"; Miss Portia -- "It's Go Cost You"
Mike Lockett: Sharnette Hyter -- "Stilettos & Jeans"
Floyd Hamberlin: Nellie "Tiger" Travis -- "Textual Harassment," "Spacey Love"
El' Willie: El' Willie -- "Feel Real Good (Remix)," "Caller I.D."
Heavy (Highway Heavy) aka Charles Lewis: Adrian Bagher -- "Don't Blame It On Jody," "Dirty"; Sharnette Hyter -- "You Ain't Getting It Here"
Best Arranger/Producer (Co-Winners for work done independently of one another): John Ward / Beat Flippa
Listen to the Beat Flippa production of Miss Portia singing "It's Go' Cost You" on YouTube.
Listen to the John Ward production of Joe Blues Butler singing "I Got A Mule To Ride" on YouTube.
See Daddy B. Nice's Best of 2017.
To read the latest updates on Beat Flippa, including CD reviews of Beat Flippa I Got The Blues Vols. 1 & 2, Trailride Music Vol. 1, Bear Season by Pokey Bear and All In My Feelings by Miss Portia, scroll down this page to the "Tidbits" section.
To automatically link to Beat Flippa's charted radio singles, awards, CD's and other citations on the website, go to "Beat Flippa" in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.
--Daddy B. Nice
About Beat Flippa (New Album Alert!)
Beat Flippa is the recording name of Daniel Ross, producer and principal of Ross Music Group of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Ross was born August 28, 1977 in Zachary, Louisiana. He founded his first label (in the hiphop genre), “Danked Out Records,” in 1999 and got his first professional opportunity with the hiphop label Blood Tight Entertainment as a producer/engineer in 2003. In 2005 Ross went back to producing hiphop artists as an independent producer, recording 2 Gutta (who charted on Billboard's Urban Top 100), Jim Jones, Lil Boosie, Kevin Gates, Nussie, C-Loc, Max Manelli and others.
Then, in 2012, Beat Flippa transitioned to the southern soul genre and started his label Ross Music Group. The unknown Pokey Bear's Josephine Son Pokey, Pokey Bear's debut, came out on CD Baby in 2013. The quaintly-titled album featured Pokey's calling card, "They Call Me Pokey" and a duet with the more famous (at the time) Stephanie McDee: "Do Tha Hokey Pokey."
In 2014, the album The Louisiana Blues Brothers: Love On The Bayou appeared, featuring Big Pokey Bear, Tyree Neal and Adrian Bagher. The song "My Sidepiece," written by Charles Lewis and featuring Pokey Bear, became a huge and long-lasting hit single, permeating markets far beyond the usual southern soul/chitlin' circuit.
The song's upfront male naughtiness and witty cultural references mesmerized men, charmed the women who took it humorously, and infuriated many who took it seriously. But the song was quintessential southern soul, and the litany of places he "might be with his sidepiece" made Pokey Bear an overnight headliner throughout the South. Like the supposedly one-time-unique Bishop Bullwinkle's "Hell To The Naw Naw" the year before, The Ross Music Group's "My Sidepiece" gained YouTube views in the many millions, a staggering feat for a southern soul recording.
Beat Flippa raised his profile even more with the compilations Beat Flippa I Got the Blues, Vol.1 (2015) and Beat Flippa: I Got the Blues, Vol. 2 (2016), featuring various aspiring artists from Louisiana and east Texas.
In less than half a decade Ross Music Group became one of the top labels in the southern soul market and one of contemporary southern soul's greatest success stories. Beat Flippa's artists (Pokey Bear, Tyree Neal, Adrian Bagher, Vernonica Ra'elle, Rosalyn Candy, Ms. Portia, Jeter Jones, Crystal Thomas, Vince Hutchison and more) are now featured acts on the chitlin' circuit touring scene.
Producers are by profession usually invisible participants in the songs they produce, but if viewers watch closely, they will see Ross in the background of many of the YouTube videos of his artists' hits.
To read more about the development and maturation of Beat Flippa (Daniel Ross), go to Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Big Pokey Bear.
June 14, 2015:
VARIOUS ARTISTS: BEAT FLIPPA, I Got the Blues, Vol.1 (Music Access/Ross Music)
Coming out of nowhere, unheralded and unpublicized, yet making an immediate impact on the admittedly anemic CD sales charts, Ross Music's Beat Flippa, I Got the Blues, Vol.1 is an exhilarating collection of southern soul songs, proving once again that the reservoir of underground talent in the Delta and Louisiana in particular is as deep as ever.
Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.
In recent years, inspired by popular southern soul compilations put out by indie labels like Malaco, Ecko and CDS and one-of-a-kind samplers by individual artists and producers like Sir Charles Jones (Sir Charles & Friends) and Bruce Billups (Bruce Billups Southern Soul Mix Re-Loaded), artists as diverse as Bigg Robb and Ricky White have pleased fans with semi-autobiographical sets featuring material by otherwise deserving but unknown artists.
Bigg Robb's Blues Soul And Old School introduced Pat Cooley, Napoleon and Special in 2007. Ricky White Presents: Combination 2 went even further last year, featuring Gwen White, William Calhoun, Henry Rhodes, Tonya Youngblood and Larry Milton, in addition to the more well-known The Love Doctor, Betty Padgett, Jerry L. and Stephanie Pickett, not to mention undisputed star T.K. Soul.
Beat Flippa, I Got the Blues, Vol.1 appears to be the brainchild of Pokey. I say "appears to be" because your Daddy B. Nice has never received a hint of publicity or product from Pokey or Ross Music Group, although I have received material pretty regularly from Tyree Neal and also, of late, Adrian Bagher (Pokey's fellow Lousianna blues brothers). What I do know is that Pokey, along with Tyree Neal and Adrian Bagher, put out what amounted to a three-person sampler, the under-reviewed but terrific Louisiana Blues Brothers: Love On The Bayou late last year. If anything that album is even more musically powerful than this collection, showcasing two singles that have become the blockbuster hits of southern soul radio in 2015: Pokey's "My Sidepiece" and "Call Me Pokey."
The credits for Beat Flippa I Got the Blues, Vol.1 read as follows:
Produced by Beat Flippa, Brent and Cee Rock for Tha Super Friendz Productions. All Tracks recorded mixed and mastered by Beat Flippa at RMG Studios (DBN notes: That's Ross Music Group, Pokey's label.) ...With features from Tucka, Tyree Neal, Stephanie McDee, Dellanor, and Bruce Dillon.
Here's a rundown of the delights on this album:
"If It Ain't The Blues" by Pokey & Cupid
...A slow-percolating, infectious dance jam in which Pokey sings: God bless Muddy Waters/ And B.B. King/ If it wasn't for the legends/ There wouldn't be no me.
And...If it ain't that Willie Clayton/ If it ain't that Marvin Sease/ If it ain't Sir Charles Jones/ I don't even wanna hear the song.
And Cupid admits, without the blues...There would be no "Swing Around The Roses"/ Or no "Barbeque"....
"Thank God It's Friday" by Pokey, Vince Hutchinson & Adrian Bagher
First rate, all-out club anthem with great vocals and harmonies (the Crosby, Stills & Nash of Southern Soul?), a disco-ey rhythm track and a unique keyboard/organ back-fill that takes it over the top.
"Please Be My Love Jones" by Pokey and Lysa
Ballads. Pokey ain't afraid of no stinkin' ballads, nor afraid of being melodramatic. The unusual roughness of his vocal tone makes it interesting, like hearing Teddy Pendergrass the first time. And, as usual, it's the addition of the female co-singer (Lysa) that seals the deal.
"I Still Do Her Wrong" by Pokey
Another ballad by Pokey. Here he takes a contrite position on infidelity (reversing the entitled swagger of "My Sidepiece"), although he doesn't hold out much hope of hewing to the straight and narrow, either. Musically, it's strong.
"If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It" by Pokey
Mid-tempo is southern soul's prime tempo, and mid-tempo is Pokey's specialty. Another strong bass line, another typically rowdy vocal, with a great chorus and female background.
"The Best You Ever Had" by Rosalyn Candy & Veronica Ra'elle
This album is a coming-out party for new female singers. Rosalyn Candy is a find. Veronica Ra'elle is already receiving kudos for her debut on the entertaining "My Sidepiece Reply" with fellow songstresses Ms. Portia and southern soul star Lacee, from the LOUSIANA BLUES BROTHERS album.
"I'll Be The Other Man" by Tyree Neal.
In a nice contrast to Pokey's charismatic bullying, Tyree Neal provides the winsome, guy-next-door element, and his guitar work (which brought Stephanie McDee back to the brink of stardom with "When I Step In The Club") runs like a rich, exotic thread through many of these songs.
"I'm Here For You, Baby" by Big Cynthia
Along with Stephanie McDee, Big Cynthia (Junior Walker's daughter) serves as godmother to the explosive musical scene surrounding Pokey.
"Let's Do it" by Adrian Bagher, Veronica Ra'elle & Big Cynthia
Distinctively-produced, hard-core, dance-floor jam from Adrian Bagher, who rose from obscurity a couple of years ago with "Around The Corner."
"You Chose The Wrong Chick" by Ms. Portia
Another amazing discovery, Ms. Portia arrives without a trace of tentativeness.
"I Want Your Body" by Mz. Pat
Ditto for Mz. Pat.
If space permitted, your Daddy B. Nice could go on . A deejay could put together a two-hour program with the contents of this album and still be praised for showcasing variety. Ross Music Group's Beat Flippa contains an astounding seventeen tracks (a steal at $8.99 mp3, $13.99 CD).
Whoever's writing and producing all of this material (so far a well-kept secret) will ultimately get their share of benign karma, blessings and fans' love. With JOSEPHINE SON POKEY, LOUISIANA BLUES BROTHERS and BEAT FLIPPA, Southern Soul's creative center of gravity has been kidnapped from Big Yayo in Jackson and ferried across the Mississippi to the "Left Bank."
--Daddy B. Nice
Sample/Buy Beat Flippa, I Got the Blues, Vol.1 at Amazon.
Sample/Buy Beat Flippa, I Got the Blues, Vol.1 at iTunes.
See Daddy B. Nice's new Artist Guide to Pokey.
November 17, 2016:
VARIOUS ARTISTS: Beat Flippa: I Got The Blues Vol. 2 (Music Access/Ross Music) Four Stars **** Distinguished Effort. Should please old fans and gain new.
I was about to write that, despite a bounteous, Thanksgiving-sized helping of new music (a generous fifteen tracks vs. sixteen on the first Beat Flippa sampler), nothing jumps off the liner credits of Volume Two like Volume One's "My Sidepiece" by Big Pokey Bear. The trouble with that comparison is Pokey's new southern soul classic didn't appear on I Got The Blues Vol. 1. It graced The Louisiana Blues Brothers Love On The Bayou a year earlier.
Regardless of whether "My Sidepiece" debuted on Beat Flippa Volume 1, the album was a powerhouse in the Deep South, a cultural earth-shaker and a creative game-changer for contemporary southern soul music and the way the genre is produced, dropping a slew of new artists (headlined by Pokey) on a southern soul audience hungry for new sounds.
The single that woulda/coulda/shoulda been this album's "Sidepiece" was Cold Drank's "Three." In a September 2016 interview featured on Daddy B. Nice's Corner, "Three" producer Heavy, the original composer of "My Sidepiece," told your Daddy B. Nice:
"I don't do business with Beat Flippa (any more). I'm not discrediting him, but I wasn't happy with him doing the "My Sidepiece Reply" on YouTube, the one with the women (Veronica Ra'elle, Lacee, Ms. Portia), without talking to me."
But the end result, I fear, was a loss for all parties, on the one hand Beat Flippa, whose Vol. 2 CD otherwise lacks a showcase single on the order of "My Sidepiece," and on the other hand Heavy and Cold Drank, whose "Three" may never benefit from the much wider exposure and retail sales the single would have garnered on I Got The Blues: Volume Two.
Listen to Cold Drank singing "Three" on YouTube.
Any follow-up to Beat Flippa's Vol. 1, with exceptional anthems like "T.G.I.F.," (Pokey, Vince Hutchinson & Adrian Bagher), "The Best You Ever Had" (Rosalyn Candy, Veronica Ra'elle), "If It Ain't The Blues" (Pokey Bear, Cupid) and "Let's Do It" (Adrian Bagher, Big Cynthia, Veronica Ra'elle), was bound to be something of a disappointment by comparison.
And songs like Laylla Fox's "I Taste Like Candy," Rosalyn Candy's Let's Get The Business Clear" and Miss Portia's "Use What I Got" from the new CD lack not only the surprise factor but some of the outstanding musicality of the first collection, relying on simplistic and repetitive hooks.
Meanwhile, in spite of their obvious merits, tracks one would anticipate to be sure-fire successes, such as L.J. Echols'"Is It True" or the Louisiana Blues Brotha's "Naked," are under-stated to an almost off-putting extent, lacking some of the indefinable energy and enthusiasm of Volume 1.
Which is not to say Volume 2 doesn't deliver an ample share of great music. Stand-out tracks, executed with the freshness and originality we've come to expect from Beat Flippa, include:
Napoleon Demps' "Ol' School Love"
Big Cynthia’s ”Come Saddle Up”
Sharnette Hyter's "I'm Classy"
Lady Soul's "Tighten Up"
Jeter Jones' and Crystal Thomas' "Them Country Girls"
Nicole Jackson's "What You Gone Do For Me."
These and other tunes from the new sampler sparkle with all the special, atmospheric production touches evident in Vol. 1: the signature organ fills that run like "deep waters" through the entire set, the spacious but appropriately spare use of the zydeco accordion and the crystal-clear mixing. And not to be forgotten: the yoga-supple guitar work of Tyree Neal, whose picking is evolving and maturing into a sophistication we haven't seen in southern blues and soul since Theodis Ealey and, of course, B.B. King.
Listen to Tyree Neal's guitar on Napoleon Demps "Ol' School Love."
While I Got The Blues: Volume Two may lack some of the impact and overall consistency of Volume 1, it's still music to fill any righteous southern soul fan's day with pleasure, energy and intimacy.
--Daddy B. Nice
Sample/Buy Beat Flippa's I GOT THE BLUES VOL. 2 at Amazon.
Sample/Buy Beat Flippa's I GOT THE BLUES VOL. 2 at iTunes.
Listen to samples from "Beat Flippa I Got The Blues Vol 2 Promo pt 1".
Listen to samples from "Beat Flippa I Got The Blues Vol 2 Promo pt 2".
Listen to samples from "Beat Flippa I Got The Blues Vol 2 Promo pt 3".
November 1, 2017:
NEW ALBUM ALERT!
Sample/Buy Beat Flippa's new Trailride Music Vol. 1 compilation at Amazon.
Sample/Buy Beat Flippa's new Trailride Music Vol. 1 compilation at iTunes.
Trailride Music Vol. 1 Track List
Pokeybear, Crystal Thomas, Jeter Jones, Miss Portia, Blu3 Black & Gangsta
Tennesse Walking (Remix) [feat. Big Mixx & Louis Badazz]
Swing out (feat. Pokeybear)
It's Gon' Cost You
I'll Pay for It
I Taste Like Candy (Remix) [feat. Tucka]
He's Got That Body
Baby Don't Go (feat. The Deaconaires)
She's Ratchet (feat. Pokeybear)
Prove My Love
Watch My Boots, Pt. 2
Deacon Dukes, Jeter Jones, Big Lee, Pokeybear & Miss Portia
I'm Ready (feat. Big Cynthia)
Sharnette L. Hyter
Pokey at the Trailride (Bonus) [feat. The Deaconaires]
Daddy B. Nice notes:
This generous and highly-anticipated sampler looks to be as good as 2015's Beat Flippa I Got the Blues, Vol.1. Two tracks--Katrenia Jefferson's "He's Got That Body" and Deacon Duke's "Prove My Love"--currently grace Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 Singles (November '17). "Swing Out," with Pokey Bear and the late Big Cynthia, charted in December '16). "She's Ratchet" was part of Jeter Jones" 5-star- ("southern soul heaven") -ranked CD TRAILRIDE CERTIFIED. Hugely popular Pokey Bear is represented liberally throughout.
Listen to Big Pokey Bear & the Ross Music Group singing "The ZBT Anthem" ("zydeco, blues & trailride") on YouTube.
Listen to Pokey Bear & The Deaconaires singing "Pokey At The Trailride" on YouTube.
April 8, 2018: Reprinted from Daddy B. Nice's New CD Reviews:
December 12, 2017: TRIPLE REVIEW!
POKEY BEAR: Bear Season (Ross Music Group) Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.
VARIOUS ARTISTS: Trailride Music Vol. 1 (Music Access) Four Stars **** Distinguished Effort. Should please old fans and gain new.
MISS PORTIA: All In My Feelings (Ross Music Group) Three Stars *** Solid Debut By A New Southern Soul Artist.
A few years ago... ...the viability of recording CD's in the southern soul genre was seriously in doubt. A slew of the old masters, with surnames like Taylor, Sease, Campbell, Williams, Davis, Nightingale, Blackfoot, Holloway, Mendenhall, Lovejoy, Waiters, Willis and White, had passed away. The remaining veterans, with names like Carter, Brown, Rush, LaSalle, Clayton, Latimore and Scott-Adams, were no longer recording southern soul albums in the fashion or quantity they had in their heydays. (See Daddy B. Nice's Top 100 Southern Soul chart.) But something happened as the death knell for southern soul music sounded.
An influx of new artists and potent talent arrived, willing and eager to move into the spaces the masters had vacated. (See Daddy B. Nice's New Top 100 Southern Soul chart.) And rather than decline, the number of CD's published in the southern soul arena climbed. The year just ending marks a high point in recording activity, with the albums submitted to this page for review reaching an all-time high. And yet with more reviews posted than any previous year, I still find myself in arrears, with at least three albums too important not to review waiting in queue as January 1--the little baby in the diaper--approaches.
The first and biggest is Pokey Bear's BEAR SEASON, perhaps the most significant release of the year.
The second is the latest compilation, TRAILRIDE MUSIC VOL. 1, from the resurgent southern soul hotbed of Louisiana.
And, third, is the well-sung, well-produced debut by new southern soul artist Miss Portia with ALL IN MY FEELINGS.
Apologies to Miss Portia for reviewing her with two such high-profile albums. As a new artist, her three-star debut is the equivalent of a 4 or 5-star rating for headliners like Big Pokey Bear or a sampler like Trailride Music Volume 1. But more than year-end expediency binds these three albums together. Pokey Bear and Miss Portia appear frequently in all three discs, as does wunderkind Louisiana producer Beat Flippa, who produced the majority of the tracks from all three.
Miss Portia broke into southern soul music in 2014 on the Louisiana Blues Brotha's breakthrough album... Love On The Bayou, accompanying Tyree Neal on "I'm Still Wearing Your Name." A year later, Portia's visibility took a big step forward with fellow newcomer Veronica Ra'elle (accompanied by veteran diva Lacee) on the popular "answer" song to Pokey Bear's southern-soul-earth-shifting "My Sidepiece". The song: "My Sidepiece Reply".
Since then Miss Portia, the performing name of Portia Palmer, has been busy recording singles, making videos and touring. With the backing of producer Beat Flippa, her debut album ALL IN MY FEELINGS has a clarity and depth unusual for a first effort. Flippa's instrumental tracks--hiphop-crisp rhythm sections, deep-soul organ at times, sparkling acoustic-guitar runs at others-- flesh out bare-bones melodies in tunes powerfully sung by Portia:
Listen to Miss Portia singing "Use What I Got" on YouTube.
Listen to Miss Portia and Pokey Bear singing "It's Gon' Cost You" on YouTube.
In both these no-nonsense declarations Miss Portia transforms little more than chants into bonafide musical vehicles through the sheer passion in her singing. Portia--in English literature the romantic heroine of Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice"--makes no bones about being the street-wise woman who can deal with the "playa" types. Nevertheless, a duet with Ra'Shad (The Blues Kid), "You're All That I Need," revels in unlikely romance (and also delights in a full-fledged melody). But that track is the exception. More characteristic is the duet with Pokey Bear, "It Ain't Go Work"--also featured on Pokey's Bear Season--in which Miss Portia answers two wailing verses of Pokey Bear's marital discontent with an even more impressive verse of her own to close out the tune. Her vocal radiates authenticity and grit, and in this particular instance she "steals the show"
Miss Portia harks back to the great girl groups of the sixties, singers like Darlene Love on hits like "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "He's A Rebel". And you could look no further than Love's "Today I Met The Boy I'm Going To Marry" for a precursor to the marvelously-sung, gospel-drenched title cut, "All In My Feelings".
Mmmm... Phil Spector, producer of Darlene Love in rock and roll, to Beat Flippa, producer of Miss Portia in southern soul?... There are some parallels, the most obvious being the demonstrativeness of their respective styles and the resulting "freshness" in their respective eras and genres. Which brings us to Beat Flippa's newest compilation, in spite of not being advertised as such. And although TRAILRIDE MUSIC VOL. 1. is seemingly not published by the Ross Music Group (Beat Flippa is Daniel Ross), Ross's fingerprints are all over the collection, and fans can correctly assume the new sampler is on a par with the excellent Beat Flippa: I Got The Blues series.
Joining Miss Portia, Pokey, Tyree and all on TRAILRIDE MUSIC VOL. 1. are Jeter Jones, whose TRAILRIDE CERTIFIED album won a glowing 5-star rating on this page earlier this year; Crystal Thomas, whose singing your Daddy B. Nice recently (Dec. 17 Singles) described as "a tour de force--black as a steer's 'tookus on a moonless night"; Sharnette Hyter, another artist whose latest album was featured and praised here in 2017; Katrenia Jefferson, whom your Daddy. B. Nice has been touting since her obscure days in Jackson, Mississippi; and, finally, Big Cynthia, whose "Swing Out" charted here at #1 in December 2016, not long before her death. First-timers Deacon Dukes, Laylla Fox, G-Sky and Sweet Nay fill out the main roster.
Here is what I wrote--without benefit of any foresight, of course--about Big Cynthia before her untimely January 3rd death.
Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Preview For. . .
1."Come Saddle Up" / "Swing Out"-------Big Cynthia / Big Cynthia featuring Pokey Bear
Cynthia never met a note she wanted to bend, which has arguably limited her appeal over the years. One of the longest-tenured artists in southern soul, this daughter of Junior Walker and current godmother to the Louisiana southern soul scene was recording for Avanti and Ace in the 90's. I succumbed to "Swing Out" after a couple of plays. The energy is too electric to do without. And man-of-the-moment Big Pokey submits an especially grainy, vintage-sounding vocal.
Listen to Big Cynthia and Pokey Bear singing "Swing Out" on YouTube.
The pertinent phrase from the "bullet" review is "current godmother to the Louisiana southern soul scene". After Jackie Neal, and to a lesser extent Stephanie McDee, Ms. Walker IS the house mother for contemporary southern soul-Louisiana style. Big Cynthia also contributes the catchy, zydeco-flavored "I'm Ready," a sultry duet with rising star Sharnette Hyter.
If TRAILRIDE MUSIC plays as a fitting memorial to Big Cynthia, it serves equally as a showcase for Jeter Jones, the uber-talented Louisiana artist who came out of nowhere to graft zydeco to southern soul in ways never before imagined. Jones' music is very much the heart and soul of the sampler--its thematic center--as represented by one of the most popular tunes from his Trailride Certified album, "She's Ratchet," as well as being the inspiration for one of the sampler's catchiest dance jams, "Watch My Boots, Pt. 2," a cloning of Jones' "Watch My Boots".
The new "Watch My Boots, Pt. 2," is the brainchild of yet another Ross Music Group discovery, Deacon Dukes. (Dukes also contributes the compelling "Prove My Love".) "Watch My Boots Pt. 2" features a lazy susan of singers: Jeter Jones, Pokey Bear, Miss Portia, Big Lee and Dukes.
And it might be said that what Ross Music Group does better than any current label, including Memphis' redoubtable Ecko Records, is to absorb and roll out exciting new artists with astounding regularity....But the biggest Jeter Jones gift to TRAILRIDE MUSIC is the anthology's keynote track. The "Z-B-T" in "ZBT Anthem" stands for "zydeco, blues and trail ride," and the "blues" stands for "southern soul". Most all the new RMG stars, with the exception of Cold Drank and a few others, participate in singing the verses: Pokey, Tyree, Jeter, Portia, Crystal, even rappers Blu3 Black & Gangsta.
I've described some of the best the album has to offer, but there are valleys amidst the peaks. Tyree Neal's "I'll Pay For It" irritates because it hews so closely to the Staple's classic, "Do It Again," note-to-note on the iconic bass line. And Tucka can't do anything with the remix of shrill-voiced Laylla Fox's repetitive "I Taste Like Candy." The words seem to get caught in his throat and dissolve, swallowed up in the instrumental track. And there is plenty of music in between the peaks and valleys, some better, some worse, most of it interesting, and most of it dominated--or in the lengthy shadow of--the Big Pokey Bear.
TRAILRIDE MUSIC VOL. 1 ends with a typical, musically-controversial Pokey Bear track: propulsive, repetitively-refrained, a "house"-style jam that might generate snickers if sung by anyone but this powerhouse at emoting conviction. "Pokey at the Trailride" features the Deaconaires, an offshoot, presumably, of this fascinating new character, Deacon Dukes. The hallmark of the song is a "Go Pokey!" chorus reminiscent of a Texas high-school football game. Beat Flippa spices it up with a little naked piano run, adds a little background horse-whinnying, and Pokey does what he does. Whether you succumb to its energy or shrug it off with a polite "no thanks," it's typical of the album's overall creativity.
...At times I regret giving this fine sampler only 4 stars. I blame it on Pokey Bear, whose BEAR SEASON is even more distinguished, and deserving of putting the Big Pokey on a pedestal all by his lonesome. Pokey's the kind of guy who can sing, over a wild, dancing-tempo-ed tune, the words--
"Take a look at Miss Cathy
With her high heels on..."
...and make you care about it--make you want to SEE it, make you want to get up and swing your hips. (From "Swing Out," the duet with Big Cynthia duplicated on both BEAR SEASON and TRAILRIDE MUSIC VOL. 1.)
I was openly skeptical of Pokey Bear's last album, the one with all the covers. Always liked that title, though: (Mr. It Ain't Fair.) I thought, "Now come on, big guy, you can show me more than this."
Well, your Daddy B. Nice is here to tell you Pokey Bear has delivered. BEAR SEASON is all you can ask of a major new southern soul star--one of a piece, daring, panoramic, above all "charged".
Pokey can sing louder and longer than anyone in the business. Every vocal is at fevered pitch. He flays his vocal cords relentlessly, the same way he whips his churning pelvis. ...You can't help but wonder if or when he'll "burn out". On "Lick That Nookie," a duet with O.B. Buchana (no "softie"), you can hardly make out O.B., and you wonder why Beat Flippa doesn't turn down the instrumentation (to over-simplify). That is, you do until Pokey Bear comes in. Suddenly the sound is just right.
I warmed to BEAR SEASON on the very first track, even though scoffing in the first few bars at the disco beat. It was "Meeting In The Ladies Room" (!), by the girl-group Klymaxx, one of those songs that makes me all warm and fuzzy remembering those great eighties' disco dance floors. Pokey's version, dominated by a blazing guitar and rhythm-guitar riff and a rare Beat Flippa vocal, is simply called Ladies Room," and I applaud Pokey for doing an upfront cover, unlike the "disguised" covers--recycled instrumental tracks dressed up in new clothes--of MR. IT AIN'T FAIR.
By the way, later in the album Pokey reprises one of those MR. IT AIN'T FAIR covers I've been criticizing--"Shake That Money Maker," a duet with Mystikal--but it's really a sample of "Genius Of Love," another great eighties jam. However, "Ladies Room" segues into another, more serious subject.
"I just got back from the doctor," says Pokey. "I got a disease. I'm addicted to women."
Here's how your Daddy B. Nice described "I Can't Be Faithful" earlier this year.
1. “I Can’t Be Faithful”----Big Pokey Bear featuring Bishop Bullwinkle
The two biggest new stars in southern soul music team up for the first time on a Beat Flippa-produced track that continues Pokey’s theme of being “addicted to the women.” Hewing to his theme of preaching about worldly evils, in this case Pokey’s, Bishop Bullwinkle stuns with his crystal-clear clarity and tone, proving he’s not just a novelty act but a unique vocalist.
Watch the official video starring Pokey Bear and Bishop Bullwinkle.
"Ladies Room" and "Faithful" commence an incredible opening run for BEAR SEASON. "I Can't Be Faithful" segues into "Naked," which is credited to The Louisiana Blues Brothas. Writer Tyree Neal's composing style is as languid as ice cream on a hot southern afternoon--I don't know if he's ever written an uptempo tune--but "Naked," with Beat Flippa's church-service-like organ swirling around the subtle, swinging melody, is perfect. Even Pokey Bear settles into something akin to sensitivity and finesse.
"I've got a woman on the other side of town," Pokey sings, "says she needing me," and the syllables of the lyric fit like jigsaw pieces perfectly into the tempo. "She said she wanna get naked."
Then, with three boffo numbers under his belt, Pokey Bear keeps the pedal to the floor with "In The Mood," a mid-tempo duet with Cupid.
"I'm so excited," Pokey croons. "To be dancing with you."
Cupid has done so many duets you can find them at your local flea market "a dime a dozen," few of them memorable, but "In The Mood" is an exception, with a likable melody, a groovy beat and a steady producing hand by the ever-present Beat Flippa. And, as in "Naked," Pokey shows his tender side to great effect. When Cupid's refreshingly romantic voice joins in, the contrast is just right. The song swells into something akin to an anthem.
Next up is yet another duet with a headliner, Lacee. Everybody wants to sing with Pokey, and southern soul's every-woman diva shines on "We Belong Together," a ballad of regret in which Pokey Bear once again defies expectations--and refutes what your Daddy B. Nice said above about always "flaying" his vocal cords--with yet another contemplative vocal. This evocative string of duet-ballads--with Tyree, Cupid and Lacee--lends the album a depth and coloration surprising for a Pokey Bear project.
Never mind. Pokey soon returns to a party-hardy frame of mind with the gravelly rapping of Mystikal ("Shake That Money Maker"), the torrid duet with O.B. ("Lick Dat Nookie"), the chiding rant "Don't Call Me," the domestic dysfunction with Miss Portia ("It Ain't Go Work"), the alley-cat wailing with Deacon Dukes ("House Ain't A Home"), and the wild, flailing dance rhythm of his duet with Big Cynthia ("Swing Out").
But as good as these tracks are, (not to mention a couple of others that follow, especially "Floating Without A Paddle"), they still don't prepare you for the mesmerizing pull of the Pokey Bear/Crystal Thomas duet "All I Want Is You".
Listen to Big Pokey Bear and Crystal Thomas singing "All I Want Is You" on YouTube.
Crystal Thomas broke into southern soul a couple years ago accompanying Jeter Jones on record and tour, and she published an uneven debut album, Lyrical Gumbo, reviewed here in 2016. The finest single from the album was "Country Girl," but nothing on the album or even the single quite hints at the breathtaking confidence and authority and fluid easiness of Crystal Thomas's vocal on "All I Want Is You".
Crystal sings like Ella Fitzgerald might have sounded had she been born after rap. And the two of them--Pokey Bear and Crystal Thomas--together? Imagine a darker, bayou version of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Beat Flippa's organ steams up the glass with bayou atmosphere while Pokey and Crystal volley back and forth like the bluesiest singers on the planet.
"Do you want money?"
"Do you want cologne?"
"Do you want a pair of patent leather shoes?
And Pokey says,
"Do you need diamonds?
"Do you need a car?"
"Do you need fancy things that make you feel like a star?"
All they need is each other, folks. And all you need is ears to take in the extraordinary groove and vocal back-and-forth. Pokey Bear's true forte'? Collaborative singing. "All I Want Is You" epitomizes everything that lifts this album into "southern soul heaven": energy, life, musicianship and blacker-than-midnight soul.
--Daddy B. Nice
My Sidepiece (Pokey Bear & The La. Blues Bros.)
CD: Love On The Bayou (Beat Flippa)
Label: Ross Music Group
T.G.I.F. (Pokey, Vince Hutchison, Adrian Bagher
CD: Beat Flippa: I Got The Blues, Vol. 2
Label: Ross Music Group
Them Country Girls (Jeter Jones & Crystal Thomas)
CD: Beat Flippa: I Got The Blues, Vol. 2
Label: Ross Music Group