Daddy B. Nice's - Guide to Today's Top Chitlin' Circuit Rhythm and Blues Artists


Daddy B. Nice's New CD Reviews

June 1, 2023:

BIGG ROBB: Vintage (BiggRobb) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.

Twenty-some years ago singer/humorist Unckle Eddie had a novelty hit with a song named "Black Magic Woman". Probably not many people remember that these days, but the B-I-G-G man does. Only Bigg Robb reverses the wording for his "Black Woman Magic," a much more sophisticated and self-reflective production. And as the song from Bigg Robb's new Vintage album evolves Robb adds instrumental depth and vocal enhancements---not to mention a mid-song, talking voice-over---that will remind longtime fans of his early masterpiece "Good Lovin' Will Make You Cry".

Songs like the title tune and "Too Old For The Bullshit" place this generous, 19-track set squarely in the mode of Bigg Robb's latter-day, mid-career form: less pretentious subjects, effortless lead singing. I can remember when lead-singing was Robb's only handicap, an acquired skill rife with potential hazard. Now it's second nature, Robb having so thoroughly grafted his southern soul persona to his funk and hiphop roots the song-making formula is one of the most unmistakeable brands in southern soul.

"Smiling And Crying," with its sweet and welcoming guitar hook, and "Sipping And Thinking," with its appropriation of the chords from the Jay Morris Group's "Knee Deep," typify Bigg Robb's mature approach: contemplative, self-aware, family and home-oriented. Bigg Robb proselytizes for positivity---a wide-ranging, eyes-wide-open level of experience leavened with understanding, kindness and patience---in practically every tune: for example, "Backyard (Southern Soul Mix)," which is also given a "funky remix".

And he does it pretty much all by himself. Charles Wilson and Charles "Gator" Moore do appear in guest vocal spots ("Get My Groove On" and "Bring Back The Love"), and an uncredited vocalist (at least it doesn't sound like Robb) joins Bigg Robb on the chorus vocal of the locomoting "25 Again New Jack Swing," mimicking the way Mr. Woo used to guest on Robb's early records. But other than that it's all Bigg Robb and his personal studio wizardry.

"Belly On Ya / Poppa (Medley)" recycles some Biggie (Notorious B.I.G.) But later in the set, Robb serves up the real "Belly On Ya," the southern soul mix of "Belly On Ya" if you will. It's one of the most provocative yet good-natured come-ons to a woman you're ever going to hear, and one that will undoubtedly make the men who hear it jealous (it certainly did me), not because they necessarily want to be b-i-g-g like Bigg Robb but because they can't summon, when the occasion arises, similarly ingenious arguments on their own behalf. And there's history. This hilarity goes back to Robb's early days holding forth on the virtues of big men vs. skinny men. ("A big man will even take care of that kid the skinny man gave you...") And as in "Black Woman Magic," Robb lets the song grow, giving it the instrumental equivalent of "some air" until it blossoms into a triumphant summation of not only this easy-going album but Robb's entire career.

--Daddy B. Nice

Go to Bigg Robb's Artist Guide to purchase or listen on Spotify or YouTube.

************ - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide
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Hard copies given preference for CD reviews.

May 1, 2023:

JAYE HAMMER: Be Happy (Ecko) Two Stars ** Dubious. Not much here.

The best cuts on Jaye Hammer's BE HAPPY album are "That Power Grip" (lifted by its instrumental groove, detail and enthusiastic vocal), "I Got To Get Your Number" (ditto) and the previously-released single "Background Check" (redeemed by its simplicity).

What's distinctive about this trio of tracks (coincidentally the best-written numbers) is the energy and enthusiasm of both the vocals and production. Assertive bass lines, additional percussive elements, treble-scale synth fillips, programmed but well-done horn lines, choruses buttressed with strong background vocals. For the most part, these songs do what good southern soul songs are supposed to do---make immediate impact---burnishing Hammer's reputation as one of southern soul's most gifted vocalists.

That's not to say, however, these tunes are surprising, head-turning efforts or "top ten singles" candidates. I anticipate they'll be welcomed by fans as contributions to Hammer's catalog, worthy to stand in the shadows of classics like "Party Mood" and "I Ain't Leaving Mississippi".

Here's a snapshot of the BE HAPPY tracks:

1 That Power Grip
2 Be Happy
3 I'm Trying To Bury My Bone
4. I Made A Good Woman Turn Bad
5. Background Check
6. He's Got To Be A Fool To Leave A Woman Like You
7. You're Cheatin' On Me
8. That Kind Of Look
9. I Got To Get Your Number
10. It's Friday
11. The Same Thing That Brought You Here Can Take You Out

The balance of Be Happy is unfortunately suspect. The title track is getting some initial response, and it may be intended as a "Party Mood"-like project, but it falls far short. Let's face it. "Be happy" is kinda sappy. You have to be pretty good, pretty hip (you have to have a lot of chits built up with your audience) to get away with a sentiment like that.

"I Made A Good Woman Turn Bad" is compromised not only by a similarly perfunctory Hammer vocal but the minimalist clucking of a computer keyboard punctuating the irritatingly vanilla instrumental track. Where is the live John Ward lead guitar to spice up this otherwise flat-lining instrumental track? Where are the little musical surprises and details that give a song an identity? And without much background to enliven the proceedings, Hammer's vocal just goes through the motions, displaying no contrasts, no moments of giddy exhilaration or genuine regret.

But no cut illustrates the lack of excitement contained in Be Happy than "I'm Trying To Bury My Bone". The song title promises something salacious, gritty and unabashedly promiscuous, something "rowdy rowdy" as O.B. Buchana used to say. But Jaye Hammer could just as well be singing, "I'm trying to fold my napkin."

I don't believe for a minute Hammer's really trying to "bury his bone". He's just singing the words. And that's unforgivable. The whole point of southern soul is to be impactful, to be hyper-realistic, to be relevant and accessible, not to be prim and proper.

For contrast (and to understand what I'm talking about) listen to the far less well-known and less- talented Mr. Nelson singing "She wants my good ole lovin' / She say she want my meat in her oven" from his new song, "Good Ole Loving". The "meat in her oven" leaps out of the stereo speakers and screams "real life". You can almost see the "boner" and the come-hither "pussy". You have no doubt Mr. Nelson wants to "get it in there," to "stand up in it" like Theodis Ealey.

And as "I'm Trying To Bury My Bone" goes so goes the bulk of BE HAPPY. One is left with the impression that southern soul for Hammer is homework, recitation, reiteration in the mode of soul-blues, neo-soul, or white blues regurgitating mid-twentieth century blues---that is, an academic exercise, or a satire, or an homage---in sum a musical treatment distanced from real life.

For a more sophisticated, albeit roundabout exposition of what I mean by southern soul's immediacy, relevance and real-life impact vs. other current soul genres, read my recently re-posted, decade-old "Village Voice" article by Chuck Eddy on Mel Waiters, Sweet Angel and Luther Lackey (all sadly absent from today's scene) in the Luther Lackey Artist Guide.

---Daddy B. Nice

Buy Jaye Hammer's BE HAPPY album at Soul Blues Music.

Buy Jaye Hammer's BE HAPPY album at Apple.

Read Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Jaye Hammer.

Listen to all the tracks from Jaye Hammer's new BE HAPPY album on YouTube.

************ - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide
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April 1, 2023:

STAN MOSLEY: No Soul, No Blues (Dialtone / P-Vine) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.

Where is southern soul music going in this era of smart-phones and rampant media? The twin influences of blues and gospel appear to be eroding. The influx of aging hiphoppers is increasing and slowly and not so subtly changing the sound, although former rapper King George turned that idea on its head last year by inventing a southern soul sound so traditional it became more popular than anything else out there.

Now, into this Tower of Babel of southern soul
styles, Chicagoan Stan Mosley re-emerges with a "live-instrument" album---No Soul, No Blues---brought to you by the same Austin folks who released Crystal Thomas's straight-blues album two years ago. Which, of course, brings up the age-old argument that a significant portion of the music-loving public (read especially blues purists) will not listen to southern soul music because of its programming, and that (at the other extreme) certain southern soul deejays won't play live-instrument records because (they say) it doesn't sound like southern soul.

First, for those who may not know, or may not remember....Stan Mosley was one of the stars of early contemporary southern soul (90's-00's). His tender and heart-warming ballad "Rock Me" is as admired and beloved by the hardcore audience today as the ballads of Johnnie Taylor (JT just had more), and his groove-friendly jam "Anybody Seen My Boo?" played like an anthem through many a party and car trip. Stan sang the music of the finest composers: Floyd Hamberlin...Frederick Knight...Stan recorded for Malaco when Malaco was in full flower (and used live instruments)...

Still, Mosley's largely forgotten. He was never the promotional type in the first place, and although he's produced fairly regularly over the years, the albums have come in average intervals of three years, making it hard to keep a fan base. But Stan can still sing with the best of them. He hasn't lost a step.

Which brings us to the music. I'm blown away by the title track "Bluesman (No Soul, No Blues)," and I'm not one of those fellas who won't play "live-instrument" music. I don't believe it violates the southern soul sound. Just the opposite. It reminds me of the best of traditional southern soul---big-boy stuff like Clarence Carter, Al Green, Brook Benton, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Picket, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke. I grew up on soul music played live. The problem in those days was the static. But we didn't notice the ambient noise, whether from the turntable or the radio, so it really wasn't a problem.

That's precisely the way current southern soul fans regard programming, or mixing programming with live instruments. Who doesn't program? It's more or less ubiquitous. But when I do hear a great song like "No Soul, No Blues," played with all-live instruments, I have to admit I'm ecstatic. The verses gallop along. The chorus chords are unforgettable. The sound is incredible, especially the horns, which always stand out when live. Stan's vocal is more than up to the task. Hell, he sounds like he's twenty years old.

I like all the accessible stuff on this set. "The Temps' "Can't Get Next To You" is a wondrous duet with the aforementioned Crystal Thomas, who collaborates throughout. Ditto for "Stomp" (obscure Wilson Pickett), "I Smell A Rat" and "Change of Heart". There are three, four, maybe five songs on "No Soul, No Blues" that will thrill anyone who loves soul music. But I can't give out YouTube links.

That's another difference between the "live" folks and the "programming" folks. Because they pay for all those sidemen---the Moeller Brothers (guitar, drums), Mike Archer (bass), Anthony Farrell (organ) and Kaz Kazanoff, John Mills and Al Gomez (The Texas Horns)---and studio time, there is no YouTube presence. And by the way, this record has been out for over a year without anything but a "teaser" on YouTube, first with P-Vine through a Japanese release and now from Dialtone in Austin where the CD was created. I guess you could call it old-school marketing for an old-school sound.

Other tracks that stand out are "What You Need," and by "accessible" I mean exactly what this tune has in spades---melody, pacing, soulfulness. "Right Next Door (Because Of Me)" is interesting. Not only does the historical antecedent totally escape me, but I can't help hearing echoes of Stevie Johnson's (aka Stevie J. Blues') southern soul classic, "Because Of Me," and wondering where Stevie picked up that riff.

The balance of the album is "da blues," and as readers know, traditional blues is not my expertise nor passion. I have no doubt blues fans will be as impressed with the execution as I was by the songs of interest to the southern soul audience, however. "No Soul, No Blues" is old-school bluesy, maybe too much so for today's market, but it would be unfortunate to say the least if this kind of incandescent southern soul music ever becomes "out of bounds".

---Daddy B. Nice

Buy Stan Mosley's new NO SOUL, NO BLUES album at Antone's Record Shop.

Sample/Buy Stan Mosley's new NO SOUL, NO BLUES album at Apple.

************ - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide
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March 1, 2023:

JETER JONES: Sugar Hill Highway 84 (Jones Boyz Entertainment Worldwide) Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.

The only song I don't like on this album is the song everyone else likes (according to social media), the first one, "Put It On Me". It's funny, because Tucka also just released a song called, "Put It On Me," and I don't like it either. In Tucka's case, he goes to extraordinary lengths to dress up the pig, which makes it even worse. The "pig" is the melody. So many of the Ecko Records albums of the last decade started out with pigs for melodies. I call them "trying-to-please-everyone" songs. Middle-of-the-road stuff, more irritating to a fanatic like your Daddy B. Nice than out-and-out failures.

But I digress...The rest of the album is all one could ask for from the Kang of Trailride Blues, a sprawling cornucopia of musical delights, whether you're listening to it "like a hawk" or merely in the background. I wrote about many of the songs already in my "New Album Alert" December 17th (see the Jeter Jones Artist Guide, or if there already scroll down), so enthused was I by the seamless execution, the daring variety, the sun-and-shadows contemplativeness brought to a vast range of experience.

Jeter gets into divorce, for example, with the wistful but underlyingly-romantic "Gone" and the wonderfully nightmarish "Free," and as a close Jeter Jones watcher I can say that's a first. But those songs are contrasted with the anthem-like "I Ain't Leaving My Lady" and obliterated (at least for its three-minute duration) by the charming and witty "Church Candy".

All have solid musical structures, as does the marvelously-produced and affectingly-sung "Come To The Trailride," the #10-ranked single of 2022. Speaking of trailrides, "Trailride Certified 3" may surprise at first with its rapping verse but grows exponentially in allure as one listens again and again. One can say the same for the remix of "Old School," more of a chant-and-rap with the melody assigned to the background, meeting current, increasingly melody-driven hiphop in the happy center of popular music.

"I Found Love," exquisitely sung by Jeter, captured the #1 single spot in Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 Singles for February '23. "Ooh Wee Baby," with the head-turning vocalist Volton Wright, is a bedroom ballad for the ages, and "We Be Acting Up" is a rousing, simultaneously minimalistic and futuristic blues hybrid unlike anything you've ever heard.

The abundance and bounty in this album is off the charts, and of the recent Jeter Jones collections (since the "Trailride Certifieds" era), I'd put Sugar Hill Highway 84 near the top, way above the "Jones Boyz: 2 Kings" and "Da Legend Of Sweet Jeter Jones" and right up there if not above "Mufassa," "Fish Grease Friday" and "Dhis Him". Enjoy!

---Daddy B. Nice

Read more commentary on SUGAR HILL HIGHWAY 84 in Daddy B. Nice's New Album Alert!

Listen to all the tracks from SUGAR HILL HIGHWAY 84 on YouTube.

Buy Jeter Jones new SUGAR HILL HIGHWAY 84 at Blues Critic.

************ - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide
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P.O. Box 19574
Boulder, Colorado 80308
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December 24, 2022:


Wilson Meadows, Willie Clayton, Arthur Young, Avail Hollywood, Volton Wright, Big G, LaMorris Williams, Jay Morris Group

JAY MORRIS GROUP: Tell My Story (William J. Morris)

With the phenomanal "Knee Deep" (now running at 32 million YouTube views) the Jay Morris Group was the hottest thing in southern soul music as 2022 began. Then the hurricane known as King George made landfall and they were blown away like the sand and the dunes, out into the ocean, out of sight, out of mind. Now, on Thanksgiving 2022, they return with their third studio album, Tell My Story. The dominant first impression of the set is more of the same. Every track is a ballad. The three-part harmonies (Jay, Zee & K-Monique) follow the formula of the group's second album, Long Story Short: contemplative lyrics on personal relationships---melodies and tempos with scarcely any variation. Listening to the album is like listening to one huge, prolonged song.

"4 Fa 4," the group's more lively-tempoed original hit, would sound radical placed amongst these tunes set in the long, strong shadow of "Knee Deep". Speaking of which, the group's blockbuster gets yet another update in "Knee Deep Part 3," where the lost loved one comes back only to be spurned by Zee, who has moved on. (Very lifelike.) The most promising potential single, "I Love It Here," breaks some refreshing new ground production-wise. (Watch for it in Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 Singles for December '22.) "Wanna Be The Woman," showcasing K-Monique, adds a little zest, and "Why," the opening cut, appears to be the group's bid for a new "Knee Deep".

Listen to the Jay Morris Group singing "I Love It Here" on YouTube.

Listen to all the tracks from the Jay Morris Group's new TELL MY STORY album on YouTube.

Listen to all the tracks from The Jay Morris Group's new TELL MY STORY album at Spotify.

Buy The Jay Morris Group's new TELL MY STORY album at Apple. - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

LAMORRIS WILLIAMS: Mutant: Stolen Dreams (Leonard M. Williams II)

Once again, LaMorris Williams has put out two albums in a year (2020)(scroll down). Not only has LaMorris released MUTANT: STOLEN DREAMS---strange title---but another album, Elephant In The Room appeared earlier. The only promotional heads-up I can remember was for the single "From The Country".

LaMorris has opted for a "path less taken" approach to fame. His bookings are minimal, his promotional apparatus...well, there is none, and he may even be disillusioned with the southern soul scene. He may not be turning his back on southern soul, but he refuses to cater to it, and his creative stance carries over into his material. This is not a singer/songwriter searching desperately for a trendy, hit single. (With the possible exception of "For The Country".) It's an artist staying simple and true to himself, recording songs that pique his interest. "If My Girl Can't Come" is a good example. "Best Friend For Life" is another.

"Piece Of Your Love" is the nastiest "grown-folks" song I've heard in awhile. The protagonist is cheating on a wife who "gets off at eleven". "Bad Bitch" has this head-turner: "Wait a minute, baby, I didn't call you nothing. You called yourself a bad bitch. I'm just agreeing with you." LaMorris Williams is into his own world for sure, and more often than not it's musically gorgeous.

Listen to all the tracks from LaMorris Williams' new MUTANT: STOLEN DREAMS on YouTube.

Buy LaMorris Williams' new MUTANT: STOLEN DREAMS album at Apple. - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

BIG G: My Lucky Day (Cynthia Vaughan)

This is something like Big G's twenty-second or twenty-third album (not counting retrospective collections) spanning nearly a quarter-century. The most prominent track and also the first single is "My Lucky Day," a part-bittersweet and part-vindictive lament addressed to a departing partner with lyrics like "Someone else has been getting your love/ It might be the next door neighbor" and "So you're leaving me/ Go on and make my day". The latter is from the chorus, a memorable and sweetly melodic phrase in which Big G is joined by his fine female back-up singer. (#9, Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 Singles, October 2022.)

G dips into his extensive catalog to remix 2008's Heart & Soul album's "Mr. Do Right" without the rap sections and 2009's Coming At You album's "Love On The Beach" with a West Indies musical flair. The best lyric line is "Smell the fresh air/ No one cares what color your skin may be."

Of the new songs, "Honey Love," with voice-overs featuring arguing mates, stands out, as does the dance-tempoed "Everything And More". Also worth checking out is "What About You," a vivid account of lust and temptation, specifically a man after "the woman of my best friend".

Listen to all the tracks from Big G's MY LUCKY DAY album on YouTube.

Buy Big G's MY LUCKY DAY album at Blues Critic.

Buy Big G's new MY LUCKY DAY album at Apple. - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

VOLTON WRIGHT: Love Me Right (Jones Boyz Ent.)

Volton Wright's pandemic-era album LOVE ON YOU was an impressive southern soul debut, all the more so because it kicked off with three hit-single-caliber tunes: "Southern Soul Girl" (feat. T.K. Soul), "Super Woman" (feat. J.D. & Jeter Jones) and "Circles". "Super Woman's" instrumental track, for example, harked back to Michael Jackson's
"Human Nature," with similar romantic ambience.

Wright's new album LOVE ME RIGHT falls short of those auspicious beginnings but does not disappoint, offering even more songs (13 total) with its finest tracks buried within the body of the set. A superb ballad with a delicate melody, a self-contained instrumental track and convincing vocal, "Lost & Found" proves once again that the best southern soul insinuates rather than overwhelms. With the couplet "I was looking for a woman/ She was right there," "She Was Right There" recounts the plaintive regrets of a would-be lover who overlooked the friend who might have been the answer. As they did with Volton's first album, Jeter Jones and R&B Pooh contribute verses and harmonies, making a resounding vocal impression. And finally, "Don't Go," with a simple, climbing chord progression, plies that modest middle ground of southern soul, alternating a soft, caressing vocal style with aggressive, harder-hitting interludes, lifting this simple but memorable melody to the status of an anthem.

Listen to Volton Wright's new LOVE ME RIGHT CD on YouTube.

Listen to Volton Wright's new LOVE ME RIGHT CD on Spotify.

Buy Volton Wright's new LOVE ME RIGHT CD at Apple. - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

AVAIL HOLLYWOOD: Love, Lies & Loyalty (Avail Hollywood)

"I Had To Lie" charted at #6 in Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 Singles for September 2022.


6. "I Had To Lie"------Avail Hollywood

Ms. Jody did a song called "I Had To Lie" and this song by Avail Hollywood is almost as charming, with additional elements to recommend it: Avail's vocal, a superb arrangement, scintillating production, and that super-tasty lead guitar used on 2021's Best Mid-Tempo Song "Dukes & Boots".

Listen to Avail Hollywood singing "I Had To Lie" on YouTube


"Be Careful" is the other major song of the set. Released as a single this past summer, I could find no oharting or commentary on it in my Top 10 Singles or Top 40 Singles, meaning I either didn't think it had hit potential or simply missed it. "Be Careful" has a slow, languid tempo---possibly a reason for overlooking it---but in every other respect the ballad is first-rate, with a pristine instrumental track and typical, make-the-women-swoon, Hollywood vocal. Christopher Estell (aka Avail) has a style as powerful as the tides.

Of course, no Avail Hollywood album would be complete without his trademark theme, a "drinking-slash-wasted" song, and on LOVES, LIES & LOYALTY it's "I Gotta Stop Drinking," complete with the signature horn phrase from the chorus that's been the backbone of "Drinking Again" and "Wasted" and their previously-recorded iterations. "Beautiful Sex" with Methrone is in the same vein, slow and bedroom-ready. All in all, this is a prototypical Avail Hollywood album, perhaps not as cutting-edge as BLACK LOCOMOTIVE but just as swinging, and executed with sophistication, attention to detail and lots of heart.

Listen to all the tracks from Avail Hollywood's new LOVES, LIES & LOYALTY on YouTube.

Listen to all the tracks from Avail Hollywood's LOVES, LIES & LOYALTY album at Spotify.

Sample/Buy Avail Hollywood's new Loves, Lies & Loyalty album at Blues Critic.

Sample/Buy Avail Hollywood's new Love, Lies & Loyalty album at Apple. - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

ARTHUR YOUNG: Back To The Blues (Summit Boy Ent.)

Wow. On first impression, there's more substance in Back To The Blues than in the preceding Vols. 1 & 2 of "Trucker's Blues" put together. At the very least, it's an extremely interesting set, although it does start unassumingly. "It's Friday" and "Bag It Up" are not remakes of Sir Charles Jones' or Nathaniel Kimble's classic singles. I scolded another singer/songwriter---J-Wonn, for using B.B. King's "The Thrill Is Gone"---just last month, but Arthur evidently skipped that lecture. Speaking of classics, the record from "Back ToThe Blues" that turned my head was "This Time It Was Me," #1 on Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 Southern Soul Singles (October 2022).


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

-------OCTOBER 2022-------

1. "This Time It Was Me"-----Arthur Young

This insider's delight muscled its way up the playlist by hook and by crook. Instrumentally, of course, it's a downgrade from Ronnie Lovejoy's magnificent "Sho' Wasn't Me," and at first you'll be fascinated by the relative drop-offs in production as Young faithfully renders the song right down to the legendary female back-up singers. But then, as you continue to hear it with other new music, it grows on you. Not only does Young throw his complete body and spirit into his most tremendous vocal ever. He gets so far into the lyrics he genuinely updates the classic "case of mistaken identity" for the new generation.

Listen to Arthur Young singing "This Time It Was Me" on YouTube.


Re-recording "Sho' Wasn't Me" was the equivalent of walking on sacrilegious ground, yet Arthur Young comes out smelling like a rose. "Back To The Blues" also features the return of "Catfishing," recorded and released the way it should have been in the first place. (Scroll down for prior write-ups on that, and thank you, Arthur.) Two tracks have been solid radio singles this year: the memorable "Country Man" and "Mr. Bartender," featuring Big Yayo, the lone guest artist on the CD.

Also watch for the catchy and libidinous "Chocolate Swirl" and "Can't Be No Fool," the latter with a jooking, "Good Booty Judy"-like rhythm track. There's also a stepping song called "Just Another Friday" that is sure to gain fans. Don't want to be premature, but Back To The Blues sure seems to fulfill the promise the "Trucker's Blues" albums never quite delivered.

Listen to Arthur Young singing all the tracks from BACK TO THE BLUES on YouTube.

Listen to all the tracks from Arthur Young's new BACK TO THE BLUES album at Spotify.

Buy Arthur Young's new BACK TO THE BLUES album at Blues Critic.

Buy Arthur Young's new BACK TO THE BLUES album at Apple. - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

WILLIE CLAYTON: Caesar Soul & Blues (Endzone Ent.)

"Don't Make Me Beg" is the overriding reason to get this CD---or at least the MP3. What a song! While it may not be on the heavenly level of Percy Sledge's "When A Man Loves A Woman," it is close---a kind of lower-key version. Love, integrity, wisdom and heartache mingle with astonishing force. The vocal rendering never slips. Written by Christopher Forrest and Clayton and performed by an all live band, "Don't Make Me Beg," is exquisitely produced in tandem with Daryl Cooper.

Listen to Willie Clayton singing "Don't Make Me Beg" on YouTube.

The remaining seven tracks (a large EP or small CD) aren't as distinguished across-the-board as its predecessor, the 12-track Soul Caesar, but neither do they detract, buoyed as they are by Willie's all-live band, including the aforementioned producer Cooper and composer Forrest. The mid-tempo "You Can't Beat A Woman" is a potential single. Compositionally speaking, "Find My Way" is nothing to write home about, but Willie gives it one of his best and widest-ranging vocals. Also no great shakes from a writing perspective, "Part Time Lover" and "Oh What A Night" are nevertheless good enough to fill a dance floor.

--Daddy B. Nice

Listen to all the tracks from CAESAR SOUL & BLUES on YouTube.

Buy Willie Clayton's new CAESAR SOUL & BLUES CD at Blues Critic. - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

WILSON MEADOWS: Wilson, Last Name Meadows (Music Access)

In May of this year Meadows published a five-song EP titled Wilson, Last Name Meadows. This new and expanded CD of the same name, Wilson, Last Name Meadows, bolsters the former EP with five additional tunes: two recent radio singles---"Just Hang Tonight" with Sir Charles Jones and "We Doin' Alright" with Beat Flippa---and three formerly-recorded singles, "At-Ti-Tude", "Lady Luck" and "Jump On It".

"Just Hang Tonight" is a splendid Sir Charles production, and Meadows is both made to fit (by Charles) and does fit (all Wilson) seamlessly into the graceful fabric of the song. "We Doin' Alright" is a dance jam with a funk edge, a perfect vehicle for the groove-master Meadows, and Beat Flippa wraps it all in a comforting blanket of horn fills that contrasts the song's gritty rhythm track with a melodic hook that lingers long after listening.

These two singles highlight this new and expanded set. The only other track that comes close to their perfection is the Wilson Meadows classic, "Still My Love," which Wilson has reprised on his last three long-play recordings and whose official video has drawn a jaw-dropping fourteen milllion views on YouTube in less than three years, an unheard-of number for a two-decade-old southern soul standard. (Note that the YouTube link above is not the re-tooled and skillfully-burnished version presented on Wilson, Last Name Meadows.)

Of the last three songs in the set, all taken from 2018's The Facts Of Life, "Lady Luck" arguably best captures Wilson Meadows' unique blend of vulnerability/sensitivity and penchant for smoking hooks.

Listen to Wilson Meadows singing the first five songs (beginning with "I'm Curious") of his new WILSON LAST NAME MEADOWS CD on YouTube.

Buy Wilson Meadows' new WILSON LAST NAME MEADOWS CD at Blues Critic. - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

************ - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide
Send product to:
P.O. Box 19574
Boulder, Colorado 80308
Or e-Mail:
Hard copies given preference for CD reviews.

************ - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide
Send product to:
P.O. Box 19574
Boulder, Colorado 80308
Or e-Mail:



Bigg Robb, Vintage, 6-1-23

Jaye Hammer, Be Happy, 5-1-23

Stan Mosley, No Soul, No Blues, 4-1-23

Jeter Jones, Sugar Hill Highway 84, 3-1-23


Jay Morris Group,
LaMorris Williams,
Big G,
Volton Wright,
Avail Hollywood,
Arthur Young,
Willie Clayton,
Wilson Meadows 12-24-22



J-Wonn, Mr. Right Now, 9-26-22 (Contained in the J-Wonn Artist Guide. Click link. Scroll down the page past THE FOUNDATION album alert.)

King George, Juke Joint Music, 8-22-22 (Scroll down this column.)

Various Artists (Ecko), Blues Mix 33: Party Mood Music, 7-10-22 (Scroll down this column.)

Arthur Young, Drank My Liquor & Talk To Me, 6-1-22 (Contained in the Arthur Young Artist Guide. Click link. Scroll down the page to Tidbits #3.)

Highway Heavy, Pinky Ring Music Vol. 2, 4-18-22 (Contained in the Highway Heavy Artist Guide. Click link.)

Nelson Curry, Evolution Of Soul, 4-1-22 (Contained in the Nelson Curry Artist Guide. Click link.)

Sweet Nay, Good Vibes, 3-1-22 (Contained in the Sweet Nay Artist Guide. Click link.)

Various Artists (Ecko), Blues Mix 32: Southern Soul Gold, 2-13-22 (Scroll down this column.)

The Jay Morris Group, Long Story Short, 12-20-21 (Contained in the Jay Morris Group Artist Guide. Click link.)


Rating Guide:

Five Stars ***** Can't miss. Pure Southern Soul heaven.

Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.

Three Stars *** Solid. The artist's fans will enjoy.

Two Stars ** Dubious. Not much here.

One Star * A disappointment. Avoid.

Send CD's to Daddy B. Nice, P. O. Box 19574, Boulder, Colorado, 80308 to be eligible for review on this page. Or... E-mail


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

August 22, 2022: KING GEORGE: Juke Joint Music (Ace Visionz) Five Stars ***** Can't Miss. Pure Southern Soul Heaven.

The dust has finally settled since King George hit us like a ton of bricks. This is a guy who's a shoo-in for Best Debut of the year. What a laugh! That doesn't begin to convey the impact he's had on the southern soul audience. King George is way beyond best debut---he's catapulted to southern soul stardom. And what he's accomplished in the space of a few months isn't easy. If it was, hundreds if not thousands of aspiring southern soul artists would have already done it.

I say "a few months," but the work that went into this year of meteoric success and this greatly-anticipated collection surely took many years. It's evident in the weight and heft of the songs, their melodic richness, their traditional-sounding yet original guitar riffs, and of course the lyrics and the ability of King George's vocals to make the messages instantly believable.

Juke Joint Music brings together the four great songs that made King George a legend: "Keep On Rolling," "Too Long," "Leave And Party" and "Friday Night," supplementing them with three more songs that King George already had recorded---"Love Song," "Be With You" and "Don't Let Me Be Blind"---and adding three more fantastic tracks: the radio-edit of "Keep On Rolling," the duet with Tucka on "Jukebox Lover" and George's new single "Girl You Got It".

In other words, this is exactly what the fans have been clamoring for---with one caveat. Distribution is still dicey. The big sellers---Apple, Amazon, etc.---don't have it (yet). This link takes you to King George's own website, where I just pushed the BUY button (hard copy CD only) and came up with $12.99. Very reasonable for such a once-in-a-lifetime collection, especially compared to E-Bay (below), where a constantly revolving set of buyers and sellers has been maintaining an average sales price between $25 to $30 in a modern-day version of bootlegging out of car trunks in days of old. George could increase the supply by distributing through the major retailers.

Once in a lifetime? Yes, that's how I view this album. A unique, early-career triumph that will probably never again be matched. A fleeting moment---a magical moment---when youth and inspiration fuse into a genuine artistic voice and an artist's identity is sealed forever in a pocketful of seminal songs. Fans never forget that. Ask Sir Charles Jones.

I chronicled my own introduction to King George step by step earlier this year, and most of it concentrated on "Keep On Rollin'" and the crowds of women pumping their fists to "one monkey don't stop no show" at his concerts, although many of the other songs made the Top 10 Singles in the first half of '22. Meanwhile letters poured in. Where can I buy King George? Sales were lost. There was unprecedented demand. Gradually, the King George hoopla subsided somewhat. Music turned to other things...Tucka with "Jukebox Lover," Pokey Bear with "Here Comes Pokey"...

The pause was good for me, and I've come back to King George's music with fresh ears and a renewed appreciation for "Too Long," or "Can't Stay Too Long," which depicts a man who isn't about to get distracted from getting back to the woman waiting for him at home. My own trajectory with "Too Long" went from a kind of apathy---at first I couldn't understand why it had a million views---to a growing fascination with the lyrics---the angelic side of King George as portrayed in "Too Long" as opposed to the devilish side portrayed in "Keep On Rollin'".

Once I got hooked on the lyrics, it brought me back to the music. The chords materialized. I was swept up in the song's current, and I reveled in its instrumental track and vocal. So now, after a half-dozen months of King George, it's "Can't stay too long..." I keep hearing in my head, not "Gon' keep on rollin'..." These two spectacular songs have each garnered around twenty million views on YouTube---about seventeen million more than they had just a few months ago, when three million seemed astounding.

King George is just the latest in a line of hip-hoppers who've crossed over into southern soul music bringing an enhanced mastery of production techniques. Even in an easily-overlooked song like "Friday Night," the production and arrangements, both instrumental and vocal, make you gasp with the care lavished upon them. "Leave And Party," with its marvelous gospel background choruses, aptly captures the muted frustration and impatience of an otherwise hard-working man intent on "getting his party on". Add the sparkling fizz of "Girl You Got It" and you have a set of songs for the ages.

---Daddy B. Nice

Buy hard-copy CD only of King George's new Juke Joint Music at

Buy King George's new Juke Joint Music album at E-Bay.

July 10, 2022:

Various Artists, Blues Mix 33: Party Mood Music
Three Stars *** Solid. The artist's fans will enjoy.

I had the pleasure of talking with Lee Parker the other day. One of the chitlin' circuit's treasures, Lee goes back to the glory days of Malaco and the early years of Sir Charles Jones and the Love Doctor---in other words, the dawn of contemporary southern soul. At one point Lee mentioned that he talks with Larry Chambers from Ecko Records on a weekly basis. "I'm reviewing their latest Blues Mix sampler," I replied. "Hey," I went on, "When you talk to Larry next week, ask him if he and John (Ward, CEO of Ecko) get together and throw darts at their catalog to come up with these samplers." That got a laugh, but it's not far-fetched. How many song titles with "party" has Ecko published over the years? If not thousands, easily hundreds. Darts just might be the most efficient way to go.

My first impression of Blues Mix 33: Party Mood Music comes in the form of a caution alert. Dancers beware. This is not Pokey singing "Here Come Pokey" or Lil' CJ singing "Step Into My Room" (my last two #1 singles). There's no need to push the furniture against the walls and roll up the carpet. Ecko is not rolling out a sequence of dance jams. The key is "party mood," with the emphasis on "mood," not "party".

Which brings up my second impression of Blues Mix 33. This is more of a "get-your-drink-on"-themed album than a sequence of dance tracks. The "party mood" music is bookended between two Jaye Hammer classics, the ever-popular, plaintively ballad-like "Party Mood" and its syncopated remix, "Party Mood Club Mix". One of those pages---the former---has eleven million views on YouTube, an extraordinary number for an Ecko artist,explaining why you see Hammer increasingly headlining on the lucrative concert circuit.

Sandwiched between are selections from Ecko's voluminous vaults---Quinn Golden, David Brinston, O.B. Buchana, Lee "Shot" Williams, Ms. Jody, Sheba Potts-Wright---sprinkled with tracks by newbies Ben Ether, Ju Evans and Brenda Yancy.

When Jaye Hammer sings that he's in a "party mood," for example, there's a rueful ring to it, like it's coming from the deep well of an introvert/loner---at the least, not a party animal. As you listen to Hammer, you're sensing as much about where he's coming from (a job, a life, a reality and its problems) than where he's going (the party), and seductive as that may be, it's not what everyone thinks of when they think "pahhh-ty".

With the exception of Ms. Jody's "Let's Have A Good Time Remix," for example, dancers may as well skip all the fun. And this appears to be born out as the strains of Ms. Jody's jam fade into Ben Ether's "I Wanna Get My Drink On," where Ben spells it out in no uncertain terms.

"I don't want to dance," he sings. "I want to get my drink on."

O.B. Buchana goes even further with the anti-social "I'm Gonna Party Alone". Pretty sober stuff for a festive party album.

Which brings me to my final and lasting impression of Blues Mix 33," as once again the material rotates like a rotisserie chicken. Just when you think you've got this compilation pegged, O.B. checks in again with the eminently dance-worthy, stepping song, "Swing On". David Brinston---always loose---is reassuringly upbeat in the fast-tempoed "I Wanna Have Some Fun," as is Sheba Potts-Wright in the peppy "Where's The Party At". Quinn Golden's "It's Saturday" has some bonafide party anticipation going for it, and Lee "Shot" Williams---sadly, seemingly forgotten since his demise---offers up the feverish "It's Your Party".

Although they may not have party-goers dancing on the kitchen counters ala Johnny James, these tracks definitely put the "party" back in "party mood". So in the end Blues Mix 33 mimics parties in the real world. There's a little bit of everything: joy, inebriation, camaraderie, longing and loneliness. The only thing lacking is craziness---not really an Ecko thing. Which brings me back to the only plausible explanation for this album's content:

Darts, anyone?

---Daddy B. Nice

Buy Various Artists, Blues Mix 33: Party Mood Music at Select O Hits. - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

February 13, 2022:

Various Artists (Ecko): Blues Mix 32: Southern Soul Gold
Three Stars *** Solid. The artist's fans will enjoy.
"I Wanna Chill," which opens up Blues Mix 32: Southern Soul Gold, Ecko's latest sampler, features Brenda Yancy, who reminds me of Stephanie Pickett in that she has the authentic roots, milieu and timing down but lacks first-rate vocal talent. That becomes obvious a few cuts later when you hear Ms. Jody singing "He's Coming In The Back Door" just a middle-of-the-road song for Ms Jody, but one that instantly conveys her singing charisma.

Brenda Yancy made an appearance on an earlier Ecko sampler (Blues Mix #9) a decade ago. Other than that, she's an unknown (Blues Critic calls her a "newcomer") with two new songs on Blues Mix 32. I'm not sure what producer John Ward sees in her to give her such a high-profile platform. Since I've seen her name listed as Brenda Yancy Williams, I've even wondered whether she might be the widow of Ward's late collaborator Morris J. Williams.

The real "southern soul gold" in Blues Mix 32 resides not in the new but the old. Look no further than David Brinston's "Two Way Love Affair" from David's golden (early) age, the era of "Party Til The Lights Go Out" and "Kick It". Or luxuriate in "Back Door Tipper" from O.B. Buchana when he was at the peak of his game. And it's not just the vocalists. The production will give old-timers (anyone listening before 2012) thrills. Deft. Swinging. Comfortable.

And although they're not blockbusters, Jaye Hammer's "Background Check" and "Strawberry Ice Cream Woman" carry on the hallowed tradition of vintage Brinston and Buchana with class and distinction. Stone River Record's prolific Big G appears to be filling the vacuum left by O.B. Buchana's apparent departure from the Ecko label. (O.B.'s latest single came out on Music Access.) G sounds as feisty and engaged as ever on his two featured tracks, one a remix of "I Can't Tell Nobody" with Ms. Jody.

Of the balance of new or nearly-new selections, Ju Evans "Tasty Girl," which charted here a couple of years ago, hasn't aged as well as I thought it would. Too slick and jingle-like for repeated listens, in my opinion. On the other hand, recent arrival Melvino's (Melvin Lee Smith) "Low Down Dirty Blues" has an interesting swagger and should burnish his growing reputation.

---Daddy B. Nice - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

Buy Blues Mix 32: Southern Soul Gold at Apple.



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