Best Of 2014: The Year In Review

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Best Of 2014: The Year In Review

Overflow From Daddy B. Nice's BEST OF 2014 page...



The year did not begin auspiciously. Floyd Taylor, son of the late great Johnnie Taylor and a contemporary southern soul headliner in his own right, passed away on February 21st, causing his stepbrother TJ to remark, "He died pretty much the way my dad died: a heart attack (at too young an age)." A masterful and discerning vocal interpreter, Taylor's career was notable for spanning southern soul's two generations of songwriters, from the best of Charles Richard Cason and Lawrence Harper (of his father's generation) to Simeo Overall of the new.

A few days later Eddie Holloway, a lesser-known but seminal figure renowned for contemporary southern soul classics like "I Had A Good Time," "Poor Boy" and "My Mind's Too Strong," passed away in obscurity, without fanfare.

A young recording artist (Jeter Jones) trying to break into the southern soul market released an album whose instrumental tracks Daddy B. Nice--in a CD review--recognized as identical to certain Bobby Jones and Chuck Roberson songs of the recent past, setting off a firestorm of litigation between Desert Sounds CEO Charles Peterson and his former producer, Eric "Smidi" Smith.

Daddy B. Nice himself underwent a lung cancer scare and finally had surgery in May, returning successfully after two bouts in the hospital to discover that "Funky" Larry Jones, owner of the Soul & Blues Report, a monthly compendium and summary of southern soul deejay playlists and a vital niche in the southern soul internet community, had died. Other websites (Boogie, Blues Critic) made attempts to provide the same function, but at year's end the loss was still felt and seemed irrevocable.

That, along with the June death of Don Davis (the producing genius behind Johnnie Taylor) and the early-September passing of Joe Poonanny, the Weird Al Yankovich of the chitlin' circuit and the last of a dying breed of blues parodists, was the bad news.

The good news was that, stimulated by an invitation to Kim Cole's Celebrity Birthday Bash in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in July, your Daddy B. Nice rebounded to attend (and chronicle) three multi-act southern soul concerts in thirty hours, including getting out on the dance floor.

There was cause. Southern Soul stars were appearing everywhere across the Deep South, from Texas to the Carolinas. A month later, Southern Soul Labor Day concerts and associated sales would surpass a million, and the concerts continued to proliferate, populating weekends throughout the calendar that would have been few and far between ten years ago.

But what really uncorked the euphoria in 2014 was the return to recording of southern soul's younger-generation leading lights, Sir Charles Jones and T.K. Soul. After long absences (especially in Sir Charles' case), both performers produced sets of significant material with fresh yet authentic sounds, in T.K.'s case stripped-down, acoustic-dominated arrangements.

The two CD's, combined with the much-anticipated debut by J'Wonn (I GOT THIS RECORD) and the latest drop from O.B. Buchana, made it a banner year for male vocalists.

Women, not so much. For the second year in a row Denise LaSalle and Shirley Brown were sorely missed. Both appeared only rarely, and neither released new product. Ms. Jody and Nellie "Tiger" Travis were relatively quiet after big years in 2013. Sweet Angel reposed and, as expected, Peggy Scott-Adams (whose early partner, JoJo Benson, died just before Christmas) failed to follow up on her 2012 return to southern soul. Candi Staton and Uvee Hayes returned with new CD's, however.

Some of the major male stars--known for productivity--were also MIA in 2014. Mel Waiters, Theodis Ealey, Latimore and Bobby Rush produced little new studio work, and in pursuit of an elusive Grammy that even the late Johnnie Taylor and Tyrone Davis never won, Willie Clayton's new album disconcerted some longtime fans with its slide into atmospheric, Isley-style soul.

Young Grady Champion was the year's sensation (following fellow Jacksonian J'Wonn in 2013). Champion drew a cover story in "Living Blues" magazine after signing with Malaco Records for his new album BOOTLEG WHISKEY. Rare for a Delta artist, Champion drew national interest and crossover appeal.

Waiting in the wings, and getting no respect, was Chicago phenomenon Theo Huff, whose "It's A Good Thing I Met You" drew high praise (#5 for the year) from Daddy B. Nice for its approximation of--you guessed it--vintage Willie Clayton.

Lil' Jimmie's dance jam "She Was Twerkin'" was the underground sensation of the year, the subject of constant fan queries on where to buy--the answer was always, "Nowhere." Which reminded your Daddy B. Nice of an old Lil' Jimmie song called "I'm Not Going Nowhere," a song so full of double-negatives you're not sure what he means.

A young artist named Wood redid Nellie "Tiger" Travis's "Mr. Sexy Man" with a lounge-band sound ("Foxy Lady"), drawing copyright ire.

Tyree Neal, Pokey and Adrian Bagher formed a group called The Louisiana Blues Brothers.

Memphis-based Anita Love (Humphrey), former back-up singer for Sweet Angel, had an out-of-left-field smash with "Keep Knockin'", while Memphis-based songwriter John Cummings continued his transformation into a first-rate recording artist.

Vick Allen was in a stage play in Jackson, Mississippi, while singles ("Crazy Over You," "True To Me") continued to spit out of his going-on-three-year-old SOUL MUSIC album like candy from a child's Christmas wind-up toy.

Steve Perry of "Booty Roll" fame thought better of his name change to Prince Mekl and became good old Steve Perry again.

WAGR in Lexington, Mississippi and its colorful deejay, Big Money, became the exciting new southern soul station to stream on the Internet.

And last but not least, storied DJ Ragman returned in December to WMPR in Jackson, Mississippi--also on the Web--doling out southern soul music in the afternoons with his trademark, champagne-fizz optimism.

By the end of the year, life in Southern Soul was good.

--Daddy B. Nice

*********** - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide


Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Review For. . .

----------FEBRUARY 2014------------

1. "Cupid Go Ahead"----Cupid w/ Mr. Collipark

It's Bryson's Bernard's namesake's month, the month of love, and with a tuba section for lead guitar and Mr. Collipark from "The Wobble" for that line-dancing, cowbell-shaking rhythm, Cupid delivers--big-time.

Listen to Cupid & Mr. Collipark singing (while watching the NHS Viking Band line-dance to) "Cupid Go Ahead" on YouTube.

Listen to Cupid singing "Cupid Go Ahead" on SoundCloud.

Buy Cupid's "Cupid Go Ahead" Single on iTunes.

UPDATE: Here's the new official video, with Cupid. Cupid "Go Head Baby" Studio Performance Video

2. "Country Woman"------LGB

"Country Woman" is the centerpiece of LGB's new album, I Am Who I Am, not counting, of course, the popular and already-well-known "Jealous Wo-Man, Yes I Am." I like both the regular and Zydeco remixes--off-putting at first, they soon reward with originality.

Sample/Buy both "Country Woman" singles at CD Baby.

3. "My Queen"------Willie Beachman aka Willie B.

This lovely, melodic, pearl of a song (which begins with a tribute to mothers and only gets better) has been kicking around for awhile, appearing first on Hot Spot, Vol. 2 (Southern Soul Blues), the refreshing, Montgomery, Alabama-based collection that introduced RB & Company's "You Can't Watch Your Wife (And Your Woman Too)" to the world. Hot Spot wisely released Willie's "My Queen" again on its Hot Spot, Vol. 3 Compilation, and I'm doing my best to kick it down the road a little further.

I love the line, delivered with a trace of anger:

"So my stupid brother and I
Went to live with family..."

Listen to Willie Beachman singing "My Queen" on MySpace.

Buy Willie Beachman's "My Queen" Single at CD Baby.

4. "Two Is Company"------Vivacious Val McKnight

Even with a king-sized bed, Val McKnight is in no mood for "3-N-A-Bed" with her husband and best friend. The longtime, dues-paying, Jackson-area diva shines on her new CD, Red Hot Lover. The chorus has an accurate and street-wise, southern-soul feel.

Buy Val McKnight's "Two Is Company" Single at CD Baby.

5. "Didn't I"-----Lenny Williams

In which Lenny sounds like the last soul man standing. Move over, Curtis Mayfield. Move over, Al Green. Old school made new.

6. "I'm A Helova Woman" ----Angel Faye Russell

Another keeper from the Hot Spot Vol. 3 Compilation. Angel Faye Russell aka Williams is a member of the group FunkNation, whose keyboardist/back-up vocalist is none other than HepMe Records artist Little Kim Stewart ("Bootleg Baby") from back in the day. They can be heard (and seen) on the video to "I'm Going Back To Cheatin'".

Listen to Angel Faye Russell singing "I'm A Helova Woman" on MySpace.

Buy Angel Faye Russell's "I'm A Helova Woman" single on Hot Spot Vol. 3 Compilation.

7. "You Need Two"-------King Fred

A new single from Fredrick Hicks (King Fred), whose "When I Think Of You" was a multi-award nominee and the #9-ranking song of the year in Daddy B. Nice's 2013 Southern Soul Awards. References to O.B. Buchana, Willie Clayton, Carl Sims and Denise LaSalle are imbedded in the lyrics.

8. "I'm A Southern Girl"----------Jureesa McBride

The Muddy Waters' "I'm A Man" riff reinterpreted through a Southern Soul diva's lens with power and professionalism.

Sample/Buy Jureesa McBride's "I'm A Southern Girl" at CD Baby.

9. "Can We Ever Go Home Again" ----------Big Jay Cummings

Not to be confused with Big John Cummings, longtime Southern Soul artist and Ecko Records house writer, Big JAY Cummings debuts with a folkish tune, complete with country-rock harmonica, in the latter-day Mavis Staples vein.

Sample/Buy Big Jay Cummings' "Can We Ever Go Home Again" at CD Baby.

10. "I Am Taking Out The Trash"-----------Pat Brown.

Southern Soul legend Pat Brown still can sing it with the best. Listen for references to The Love Doctor's "Slow Roll It" and Jesse James "I Can Do Bad By Myself."

Listen to Pat Brown singing "I Am Taking Out The Trash" on MySpace.

Buy Pat Brown's "Taking Out The Trash" Single on Hot Spot Vol.3 compilation at CD Baby.

********************* - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

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Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Review For. . .

------------JANUARY 2014--------------

1. "Two Step"----Sir Charles Jones

I can get into this (I'm thinking). Sir Charles hasn't lost it, no reaching for brilliance, just real basics, raw simplicity, perfection. And true to form, it's not for sale. Charles parses songs like "Two Step" to the public the way the Easter Bunny buries painted eggs in the tall grass for the children. The man has more than enough material for a worthy album.

Listen to Sir Charles Jones singing “Two Steps” on GrooveShark

2. "That Right Kind Of Loving"----------Captain Jack Watson

Yes, this is the same Captain Jack Watson who recorded "Brand New Man" (Daddy B. Nice called it "the best Carl Marshall-produced dance groove ever") and the ballad "I'm In Love With A Woman Other Women Talk About" back in 2010. Watson's vocal on "Right Kind Of Loving" is larger-than-life on the stanzas and a bit wasted on the chorus, which (like "Brand New Man") doesn't have a hook quite worthy of Watson's prodigious pipes.

Listen to Captain Jack Watson singing “That Right Kind Of Loving” on SoundCloud.

Sample/Buy Captain Jack Watson's "Right Kind Of Loving."

3. "Did I Lay It On You Right"-------Jureesa McBride

Should be called "Moaning & Groaning"--the dominant line. Ms. McBride is a mature singer with all the tools, and the production, courtesy of Donovan E. Scott, is first rate. This is NOT the same "Duchess" who recorded "Doin' My Job" in 2007. Jureesa McBride's first single "Cookies N Milk" debuted in 2012 and her first album, I'M A WOMAN FIRST: TALES OF THE DUCHESS, appeared in 2013.

Listen to Jureesa McBride singing “Did I Lay It On You Right” on YouTube.

Sample/Buy Jureesa McBride's "Did I Lay It On You Right"

4. "Don't Miss Your Water"---LGB

No one does old-timey harmonies better than LGB ("Jealous Wo-Man, Yes I Am"). From LGB's new CD, I AM WHO I AM.

Listen to LGB feat. Drink Small sing “Don’t Miss Your Water” on YouTube.

Sample/Buy LGB's "Don't Miss Your Water."

5. "Roll Out"------Xavie Shorts

South Louisiana's newest Southern Soul prospect needs to get some evidence to the public via YouTube, CD Baby, etc. of this potential hit's existence. While it could be better produced, particularly the mixing of the lead vocal itself, the rudimentary hook of a classic hit is intact.

6. "Anniversary (The Request Song)"----------Avail Hollywood

From one of Daddy B. Nice's Best CD's of 2013: Avail Hollywood's COUNTRY ROAD.

Sample/Buy Avail Hollywood's "Anniversary."

7. "My Angel"----Klass Band Brotherhood

From one of Daddy B. Nice's Best CD's of 2013: Klass Band Brotherhood's WE CALL THE SHOTS IN SOUL.

Sample/Buy Klass Band Brotherhood's "My Angel."

8. "I Know That I Love Her"--------Stevie J

From Stevie J's new CD, UNSTOPPABLE.

Sample/Buy Stevie J's "I Know That I Love Her."

9. "By My Damn Self"-----Mr. David

Mr. David's follow-up to 2013's "My Right Now."

10. TIE:

"The Other Shoe"----Lola

From Lola's new CD CLEANING HOUSE.

Sample/Buy Lola's "The Other Shoe."

"Juke Box Party"-------------------Sir Jonathan Burton

From Sir Jonathan's new CD, JUKE BOX PARTY.

Sample/Buy Sir Jonathan Burton's "Juke Box Party."


--Daddy B. Nice

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