Yesterday 11:27 PM

James Jamerson meets Mike McLean's pre-amp

Hello Forum
Real name: Paul McGrath. I have been writing about music in Toronto since 1976, for The Globe and Mail newspaper and for CBC Radio and Television.
There are extraordinarily knowledgeable people gathered here, and I have learned a lot over the last decade or so. I am pleased to be allowed in.

I have always been fascinated by how new bits of machinery can alter the course of music in an instant - the Gibson fuzz pedal on the Stones' Satisfaction, Hendrix's wah, the Echo-Sonic amp, the list could go on.

So it is with Mike McLean's pre-amp. The most precise estimate I have seen of its arrival in the studio is "mid-1966", which is not precise enough for the historian in me. At the same moment, [[if "mid" can mean July) we have to somehow explain James Jamerson's sudden - really sudden - ascent into the realm of the gods, his bass work starting from "Reach Out" [[July 6) and going on for roughly the next 2 1\2 years, that elevated the instrument beyond any previous status, influenced every bassist since and propelled Motown into its third great season of glory: Temps, Tops, Marvin, Stevie. Pardon any simplification there.

Beans Bowles, in Standing In The Shadows Of Love, made the connection, saying James could hear himself for the first time and that prompted him to get busier.
So, I ask the forum if anyone has any thoughts about this, any more connection like the one Beans made.
In particular, someone somewhere talked about Jamerson being able to "hear the holes, hear the spaces." I would love to be able to use that in what I'm working on, but the insight does not belong to me and when I came across it I was lazy and did not attribute it. After long hours trying, I cannot retrieve it. I am wondering if anyone else remembers that or if someone else had said something similar.

In 2008, before I was making mental leaps like that, I had a long series of communications with McLean without asking him specifically about that. Huge missed opportunity. Let me post a bit from his communication about the overall Motown sound which, as a classical fan, he hated.
"Motown was desperate to make their productions as appealing to the mass audience as possible. Above all, they wanted to "get a HIT" [[a million seller) so that they could make a lot of money and continue to grow. There were problems of compromise which caused maintenance of natural timbre to assume a low priority. For example: If the record was going to have mass appeal, the lyrics had to be intelligible. The tendency to cram ten pounds of music into a five pound bag [[to get more "appeal") often led to sounds of certain musical instruments having the same frequencies as the singer. This caused "masking" of the lyrics so that they could not be understood. The natural thing to do was to reduce the loudness of those masking frequencies by using an "equalizer" to unequalize those offending instruments to correct the problem. End result: total destruction of the naturalness of timbre of those instruments. I found this highly offensive, and I loathed the resulting "Motown sound." The traditional way to fix this problem was to arrange the music properly. All one need do is listen to a recording of Frank Sinatra made by Capitol Records during the late 1950's, to hear music that does not require this sort of "JACKING IT ALL OUT OF SHAPE" to make it commercial."

Mike was well-meaning but kinda prickly, all in all.

Many thanks for your patience if you read this all.
Today 01:11 AM

Hey, Love: Vinyl Me, Please Celebrates Cadet Records Legacy on New Anthology Box Set

Info from SecondDisc.com:

Following recent releases celebrating The Comedy Store, Ghetto Records, and the Philadelphia International label, the Vinyl Me, Please record club has announced the next title in its lavish Anthology series. The Story of Cadet Records, with eight albums spanning the halcyon era of 1968-1972, is available for pre-order now.
Cadet Records emerged in 1965 as the successor to Argo Records, the jazz imprint of Chicago-based rhythm-and-blues label Chess Records. When brothers and co-founders Leonard and Phil Chess discovered that another Argo label existed, they took the opportunity to rebrand Argo as Cadet. The new imprint continued Argo's numbering series for both jazz and blues artists such as Etta James, The Ahmad Jamal Trio, The Ramsey Lewis Trio, and Kenny Burrell. As the decade progressed, however, Cadet began to embrace the innovative sounds of psychedelic soul, soul-jazz, jazz-rock, and beyond. VMP's Anthology traces the label's musical progression across these eight seminal LPs, including five from the watershed year of 1968. All eight titles are pressed on 180-gram black vinyl:

  • Etta James, Tell Mama [1968], recorded at FAME Studios and featuring the title track which brought the blues legend her highest Hot 100 chart placement ever;
  • Dorothy Ashby, Afro-Harping [1968], the jazz harpist's genre-bending journey featuring songs from Freddie Hubbard, Neal Hefti, Bacharach and David, and Andre & Dory Previn;
  • Harold Land Quintet, The Peace-Maker [1968], on which the saxophonist is joined by Joe Sample, Bobby Hutcherson, Buster Williams, and Donald Bailey;
  • Muddy Waters, Electric Mud [1968], a radical, rock-oriented departure from the bluesman which found him backed by members of Rotary Connection;
  • Ramsey Lewis, Mother Nature's Son [1968], an album of Beatles covers produced and arranged by Charles Stepney and featuring Cleveland Eaton on bass and Earth, Wind & Fire's Maurice White on drums;
  • Shades of Brown, O.B. [1970], a lost gem that's the one and only album from this Chicago vocal group;
  • The New Rotary Connection, Hey, Love [1971], the final, jazz-oriented album from Rotary Connection, led by Minnie Riperton, Charles Stepney, and Phil Upchurch; and
  • Terry Callier, Occasional Rain [1972], the folk-soul-jazz guitarist's Stepney-produced sophomore album.

The Story of Cadet Records has been produced in association with Marshall Chess, the son of Leonard Chess who spearheaded Cadet's adventurous Concept line. Marshall writes the foreword in the set's 36-page booklet, and also appears on the accompanying podcast hosted by VMP's Stephen Anderson. The first edition of the box, adorned in Cadet's familiar blue and white colors and logo, is limited to just 1,000 units.
Six of the albums have been mastered in AAA fashion by Bernie Grundman; Side B of Ramsey Lewis' Mother Nature's Son was transferred from the master tapes and cut from digital to amend a passage of tape degradation. The eighth album, Electric Mud, was cut AAA by Barry Grint at Alchemy Mastering at AIR.
The Story of Cadet Records is expected to ship in mid-May, though titles are subject to delay. This ultimate tribute to the far-reaching sounds of the Chicago label is available for pre-order now, directly from Vinyl Me, Please. As always, the title is open to all but VMP members receive a discount.

Yesterday 11:22 PM

Pearly Gates....

Just got this CD/DVD. I was not familiar with Pearly Gates/Viola Billips
from The Flirtations. Bought mine from their website [[England), but you can find it on Amazon. I was more than pleasantly surprised how much I like it. I really like her alto voice. Some of the tracks were done by Ian Levine back in the day, but they were far superior to most of what I've heard. Many of the songs Pearly had a hand in writing. The CD also includes a song by the Flirtations called "Roulette" done in more recent
years which is quite good. A fun CD. I haven't had time to check out the video, yet. Now I'm going back and ordering another CD by Pearly. There's a nice booklet included with her/The Flirtations history and some nice pics in this fold out CD/DVD.
Yesterday 10:03 PM

LEE FIELDS' 23rd album


An old-school soul singer, LEE FIELDS, has released once again a worthy album, and here he tells more about it -


Best regards


Ralph Terrana

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