1. Soul music is often defined as the moment when gospel and blues met and formed a new sound. Ray Charles is often given credit for this, but there were others, most notably the “5” Royales, who had immense success as a live act, but never sold as many records as such a pioneering group should have. With the release of the 131-track collection Soul & Swagger, the Complete “5” Royales, the group has finally gotten the recognition they’ve deserved, and long-time fan Ed Ward has the story today. View in High-Res

    Soul music is often defined as the moment when gospel and blues met and formed a new sound. Ray Charles is often given credit for this, but there were others, most notably the “5” Royales, who had immense success as a live act, but never sold as many records as such a pioneering group should have. With the release of the 131-track collection Soul & Swagger, the Complete “5” Royales, the group has finally gotten the recognition they’ve deserved, and long-time fan Ed Ward has the story today.

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    ed ward

    soul music

    music history

  1. There’s nothing a certain type of record collector likes better than finding a stack of 78s on the Paramount label. Between 1917 and 1932, the label, which was one of several run by a furniture company in Grafton, Wisconsin, released thousands of records, but its real accomplishment was recording some of the greatest early blues and jazz performers. Jack White’s Third Man Records has joined with the reissue label Revenant to release the first of two packages documenting the label, with 800 songs from the label’s first ten years on a USB drive packed, with several books and packages of graphics, in a hand-made, velvet-upholstered oak box.  Ed Ward has the story today.

Photo by Dana (distortion) Yavin via Brooklyn Vegan

    There’s nothing a certain type of record collector likes better than finding a stack of 78s on the Paramount label. Between 1917 and 1932, the label, which was one of several run by a furniture company in Grafton, Wisconsin, released thousands of records, but its real accomplishment was recording some of the greatest early blues and jazz performers. Jack White’s Third Man Records has joined with the reissue label Revenant to release the first of two packages documenting the label, with 800 songs from the label’s first ten years on a USB drive packed, with several books and packages of graphics, in a hand-made, velvet-upholstered oak box.  Ed Ward has the story today.

    Photo by Dana (distortion) Yavin via Brooklyn Vegan

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    record label

    ed ward

    rock history

    fresh air

  1. 
James Govan isn’t a household name — and until recently, when Kent Records issued some of his unreleased recordings under the title Wanted, there wasn’t much to hear from him. But there was a time when people in the know in Memphis said he was Otis Redding’s natural successor.


Ed Ward, our rock historian, explores the work of this little-known soul singer.

    James Govan isn’t a household name — and until recently, when Kent Records issued some of his unreleased recordings under the title Wanted, there wasn’t much to hear from him. But there was a time when people in the know in Memphis said he was Otis Redding’s natural successor.

    Ed Ward, our rock historian, explores the work of this little-known soul singer.

  2. fresh air

    ed ward

    james govan

    otis redding

  1. Fresh Air music historian Ed Ward takes a trip to Memphis by listening to a 9 hour compilation of the Sun Records country legacy:

Memphis has always believed that it, too, should be a center for country music, and that Nashville, despite a history reaching back to the 1920s, shouldn’t have a monopoly on it. When Sam Phillips started Sun Records in 1953, he encouraged country artists because he knew that if he was going to find the performer with “the colored sound and feel” that he was looking for, that’s where he’d be. Bear Family has released a nine-hour compilation of Sun’s country output called Sun Country Box: 1950-1959.



photo by Lance Vaughn View in High-Res

    Fresh Air music historian Ed Ward takes a trip to Memphis by listening to a 9 hour compilation of the Sun Records country legacy:

    Memphis has always believed that it, too, should be a center for country music, and that Nashville, despite a history reaching back to the 1920s, shouldn’t have a monopoly on it. When Sam Phillips started Sun Records in 1953, he encouraged country artists because he knew that if he was going to find the performer with “the colored sound and feel” that he was looking for, that’s where he’d be. Bear Family has released a nine-hour compilation of Sun’s country output called Sun Country Box: 1950-1959.

    photo by Lance Vaughn

  2. fresh air

    country music

    ed ward

    bear records

    sun studio

  1. Ed Ward, Fresh Air’s rock historian talks about the history of the Beach Boys and how they became a “nostalgia act.”

The Beach Boys took everyone by surprise. They didn’t fade away with the surf craze: Brian [Wilson] had his finger on the teenage pulse, and they also celebrated motorcycles, girls, cars, girls, school, and dancing. With girls. It was hard to go wrong, especially with the group’s vocals and Brian’s writing and arranging skills. Between 1962 and 1965, they charted 22 singles, nine of which hit the top ten and two of which topped the charts.

But then what happened?

via rocksucker View in High-Res

    Ed Ward, Fresh Air’s rock historian talks about the history of the Beach Boys and how they became a “nostalgia act.”

    The Beach Boys took everyone by surprise. They didn’t fade away with the surf craze: Brian [Wilson] had his finger on the teenage pulse, and they also celebrated motorcycles, girls, cars, girls, school, and dancing. With girls. It was hard to go wrong, especially with the group’s vocals and Brian’s writing and arranging skills. Between 1962 and 1965, they charted 22 singles, nine of which hit the top ten and two of which topped the charts.

    But then what happened?

    via rocksucker

  2. fresh air

    ed ward

    beach boys

    surfing

    rock history

  1. When record producer and songwriter George “Shadow” Morton died on Valentine’s Day, 2013, he left behind a legacy as murky as his nickname, which he got from disappearing on long benders. He was the producer and writer of Leader of the Pack for the Shangri-Las as well as producing recordings by Vanilla Fudge, Iron Butterfly and the New York Dolls. At the time of his death,  Ace Records in London was busy compiling a collection of his productions, and today rock historian Ed Ward uses it to disentangle the man and his work from the legend. View in High-Res

    When record producer and songwriter George “Shadow” Morton died on Valentine’s Day, 2013, he left behind a legacy as murky as his nickname, which he got from disappearing on long benders. He was the producer and writer of Leader of the Pack for the Shangri-Las as well as producing recordings by Vanilla Fudge, Iron Butterfly and the New York Dolls. At the time of his death,  Ace Records in London was busy compiling a collection of his productions, and today rock historian Ed Ward uses it to disentangle the man and his work from the legend.

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    shadow morton

    shangri-las

    ace records

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    music history

  1. Ed Ward reviews the Sun Blues Box from Bear Family Records. Hear the music and what Ed has to say by following the link.


In January, 1950, Sam Phillips, a red-haired Alabama boy who’d learned about radio and electronics in the Army, opened the Memphis Recording Service at 706 Union in Memphis. Three years later, overwhelmed by the success of his efforts for other people, he started the Sun Records label there. Much history would be made at 706 Union, and to celebrate the 60th anniversary of that event, Bear Family Records has asked the top Sun researchers, Colin Escott, Hank Evans and Martin Hawkins, to assemble three massive multi-disc boxes featuring blues, country, and rock recorded at Sun. Today, Ed Ward tackles the 15-hour blues box. View in High-Res

    Ed Ward reviews the Sun Blues Box from Bear Family Records. Hear the music and what Ed has to say by following the link.

    In January, 1950, Sam Phillips, a red-haired Alabama boy who’d learned about radio and electronics in the Army, opened the Memphis Recording Service at 706 Union in Memphis. Three years later, overwhelmed by the success of his efforts for other people, he started the Sun Records label there. Much history would be made at 706 Union, and to celebrate the 60th anniversary of that event, Bear Family Records has asked the top Sun researchers, Colin Escott, Hank Evans and Martin Hawkins, to assemble three massive multi-disc boxes featuring blues, country, and rock recorded at Sun. Today, Ed Ward tackles the 15-hour blues box.

  2. fresh air

    review

    ed ward

    sun blues box

    sun records

    memphis

    bear family records

  1. From our rock historian Ed Ward:

My piece on Huey P. Meaux left off just as he was discovering Doug Sahm, with whom he made a series of wonderful Sir Douglas Quintet albums. I’d give anything to hear what Huey (L) is telling Doug in this picture, taken at the Austin Music Awards some years back by my pal Martha Grenon. I actually did a piece on the later Sir Doug stuff, recorded in California and produced by members of the Quintet and Huey under the name Amigos de Musica, back in 2006. 
 


 Photo Copyright (c) Martha Grenon, used by permission

    From our rock historian Ed Ward:

    My piece on Huey P. Meaux left off just as he was discovering Doug Sahm, with whom he made a series of wonderful Sir Douglas Quintet albums. I’d give anything to hear what Huey (L) is telling Doug in this picture, taken at the Austin Music Awards some years back by my pal Martha Grenon. I actually did a piece on the later Sir Doug stuff, recorded in California and produced by members of the Quintet and Huey under the name Amigos de Musica, back in 2006.

     

     Photo Copyright (c) Martha Grenon, used by permission

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    rock history

    huey meaux

    doug sahm

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  1. "I always look for a voice," Meaux told me when I interviewed him in the 1970s, and he really didn’t care if that voice came from a black, white, or brown person, a man or a woman.

    — Fresh Air reviewer Ed Ward discusses the life and work of record producer Huey Meaux.

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    review

    ed ward

    huey meaux

  1. Here’s a funky soul cover of Dan Penn’s song for James & Bobby Purify in 1966 “I’m Your Puppet" by Otamendi Palace. It’s a cool continuation of the Muscle Shoals, AL sound that Ed Ward reviewed in this piece on Fresh Air:

    Penn didn’t much like making records himself, and Rick Hall, Fame’s owner and engineer, wasn’t letting him produce them. In the summer of 1966, another Fame alumnus, Chips Moman, lured Penn to his studio in Memphis, and the first part of Penn’s story was over. He would continue to write great songs, of course — and, now that he’s older and more comfortable with performing, he plays the occasional gig. But it was at Fame that the Dan Penn legend was cemented.

  2. Fresh Air

    Reviews

    Ed Ward

    Dan Penn

    Fame Studios

  1. Ed Ward on songwriter and producer Dan Penn's years at the Fame Studios, before he headed for Nashville:

    The band’s departure meant that new musicians arrived almost immediately, including a skinny keyboard player named Spooner Oldham. He and Penn sat down to see if they could write together. As it turned out, they could.

    Fame soon became known not only as a place that had a great studio band and a great engineer, but also a place where some of the best songwriters were working. A lot of people took advantage of it. In fact, there was so much good stuff on those Dan Penn demos that a lot of it never got covered.

    Above, Percy Sledge singing "Dark End of the Street," which was co-written by Penn and just happens to be one of my very favorite songs.

  2. Fresh Air

    Reviews

    Ed Ward

    Dan Penn

    Fame Studios

    Dark End of the Street

    Percy Sledge

  1. Ed Ward on some of the groups that helped shape the Philadelphia sound and then branched out:

The problem with the Temptones sure wasn’t talent: they’d beaten both the Ambassadors and the Delfonics in a contest at the Uptown Theater. It wasn’t their name being too close to the Temptations: the Temptations were fans and offered management advice. No, it was the fact that the Temptones, whose name had been modified from Templetones because the group all went to Temple University, were white. Lead singer Daryl Hohl had a great voice, and they could dance like crazy. Without anything but local success, though, they eventually fell apart, and Hohl changed his name to Hall, and, with their guitarist John Oates, moved to Atlantic Records, which knew a thing or two about white soul.
View in High-Res

    Ed Ward on some of the groups that helped shape the Philadelphia sound and then branched out:

    The problem with the Temptones sure wasn’t talent: they’d beaten both the Ambassadors and the Delfonics in a contest at the Uptown Theater. It wasn’t their name being too close to the Temptations: the Temptations were fans and offered management advice. No, it was the fact that the Temptones, whose name had been modified from Templetones because the group all went to Temple University, were white. Lead singer Daryl Hohl had a great voice, and they could dance like crazy. Without anything but local success, though, they eventually fell apart, and Hohl changed his name to Hall, and, with their guitarist John Oates, moved to Atlantic Records, which knew a thing or two about white soul.

  2. Fresh Air

    Reviews

    Ed Ward

    Arctic Records

  1. Ed Ward on Arctic Records’ breakout hit and star:

    Barbara Mason had had one mild hit on Arctic by the time “Yes I’m Ready” came out in March, 1965. Backed by the Tiffanys and three guys, Weldon McDougal, Kenny Gamble and Herb Johnson, Mason’s untutored, straightforward delivery sold the song, which she says she’d written in imitation of Curtis Mayfield. It went top ten on both the R&B and pop charts and established both Mason and Arctic as forces to be reckoned with.

    audio via soulmetmayonaise:

  2. Fresh Air

    Reviews

    Barbara Mason

    Yes I'm Ready

    Ed Ward

    Arctic Records

  1. Ed Ward on the live albums that revived Jerry Lee Lewis' career in the mid-late 1960s:

    The resulting album, Live at the Hamburg Star-Club, is 37 minutes long, and, because it features a man playing as if his life depended on it in front of a rioting crowd, is widely considered one of the greatest live rock and roll albums ever. Smash decided not to release it. Instead, until it got an official U.S. release in 1980, imported copies were eagerly sought out. What Smash did instead was to record another show, this time with Jerry Lee’s regular band, in July in Birmingham, Alabama. The set list is almost identical, but with a bit more country.

    Above, Jerry Lee Lewis performing on Shindig in 1965. If this doesn’t make you want to get up and dance on out of the office and into Friday night then we don’t know what will.

  2. Fresh Air

    Ed Ward

    Jerry Lee Lewis

    Reviews

  1. Ed Ward on Johnny Cash's liberal attitude:

    Cash’s liberal attitude extended to the TV series he started that year, and not only his friend Bob Dylan, but also people like Pete Seeger, Derek and the Dominos and, yes, Kris Kristofferson got television exposure they’d probably not have gotten otherwise. The show lasted two seasons, and is still fondly remembered.

    Pete Seeger and Johnny Cash perform “Cripple Creek” on The Johnny Cash Show in 1970.

  2. Fresh Air

    Reviews

    Ed Ward

    Johnny Cash

    Columbia Records

    Pete Seeger

    The Jonny Cash Show