Hey everybody. So, I go by Connie Price when I get behind the drum kit or spin records but my given name is Dan Ubick. Call me Dan, call me Connie (short for Constantine, my middle name). I love all kinds of music regardless of genre or era but, full disclosure, I do have an ongoing love affair with the late 60’s and early 70’s.
I am here today because my mission, on behalf of my brother Scott “Sourdough” Power and Not Real Art, is to share songs with you once a month that have been catching my ear. Flavorful dishes from the kitchens of the my favorite musical chefs if you will.
I am lucky to have so many amazingly talented people in my life that are as obsessed with music as I am, constantly getting turned onto things that make me go; “how have I never heard this??” These monthly playlists will be me trying to return the favor. I hope you find your new favorite song here and it makes you smile, felt understood or keeps you positive.
Pop on some headphones, wire yourself into a good amplifier and speakers or go hunt down the original copies on vinyl at your local record store to get the full effect. These tracks all deserve it:
Roger & The Gypsies
First up is one of many fiery soul productions that New Orleans master pianist and composer Eddie Bo had his hand in. Here he hollers along with Earl Stanley & The Stereos, calling themselves Roger & The Gypsies, for what would be record label Seven B’s first single. And what a relaxed and funky single it is! Building our confidence with every pulse and reminding us “the bigger they come, the harder they fall.”
Levon & The Hawks
Next up is an early and rare single by Levon & The Hawks (that band that eventually became “The Band”) called “He Don’t Love You (And He’ll Break Your Heart)”. This single is a foot stomping, rhythm and blues cut written by Robbie Robertson and sung with all kinds of soul by pianist Richard Manuel. I love to spin this single right after “Pass The Hatchet” cause the drums are in a similar groove.
Karen Dalton came up with fellow Greenwich Village alum Fred Neil and Bob Dylan but was a reluctant performer and fell into relative obscurity. That isn’t to say she doesn’t have an ardent following...apparently Nick Cave and Devendra Banhart are fans. Billed as “the folks singers answer to Billie Holiday” Karen countered that Bessie Smith was more of an influence on her. Either way, man…what a voice.; heartbreaking and intimate with such originality. Take for instance this stunner, “Something On Your Mind” from her sophomore LP In My Own Time. The Band’s “Katie’s Been Gone” from the Basement Tapes was apparently written about her.
Taking things back to New Orleans is this funky cut from singer/guitar man Earl King’s legendary “Street Parade” sessions with the Meters of which only two singles that I know of actually got released as singles. Gratefully, UK label Charly put the complete sessions out on an LP back in 1981. Track down a copy…it’s solid from top to bottom. Earl is singing his behind off and the Meters are in top form.
Speaking of the Meters, Little Feat’s Lowell George played slide on their Rejuvenation LP, uncredited until recently and Lowell and the guys in Feat were without a doubt inspired by New Orleans music in general. Here they are covering the late great Allen Toussaint’s “Brickyard Blues” with piano master Bill Payne wearing his love of Professor Longhair on his sleeve. Three Dog Night covered this song it and Toussaint himself recorded it as well but I dare to say this outtake from Little Feat’s Feats Don’t Fail Me Now LP takes the cake as the ultimate version thus far.
Stevie Wonder & David Ruffin
We all know Stevie Wonder is one of the geniuses of our time which is why it’s such a tip of the hat to Temptations front man David Ruffin that Stevie sang back up to him on this incredible unreleased (until a recent comp and DJ Spinna mix) solo gem. My old friend Big Daddy Kane turned me onto this years back and I was floored. Written, played on and produced by Stevie Wonder but David Ruffin is the crown jewel here, living up to fellow Motown star Marvin Gaye’s words; “David is a monster singer.” True that.
The Chambers Brothers
The Chambers Brothers are probably best known for their psychedelic anthem “Time Has Come Today” or by hip-hop heads for A Tribe Called Quest’s sample of their tune “Funky” but these guys have soooooo much to offer like the b-side of “Time has Come Today” in fact...a romper called ”All Strung Out”. I got to do a small DJ set on Dash Radio of all my favorite Chambers Brothers tracks right before they interviewed singer/guitar player Lester Chambers and it was such a thrill to see the look on his face while hearing some of his bands deeper cuts. “All Strung Out” is hands down one of my favorites and it’s hot fire.
Gonna keep it funky for a bit longer here with Atlanta, Georgia’s Lee Moses and the title cut from his LP Time And Place. Lee could sing with the best of them and played a mean guitar too but it took the funk record diggers of my generation to appreciate it and to re-release it (thank you Light In The Attic). The main character here is in torment because he feels the object of his affection would be better off with him. Seems like she might feel that way too. ”We got to share our love in secrecy, nobody must know about you and me. We can’t take too much liberty until the time he sets you free.” Some raw soul to feed yours.
Winding over to New Orleans again with ex-boxer and soul shouter Lee Dorsey’s “Can You Hear Me” (another Allen Toussaint penned killer), one of many incredible singles released on the Amy label by the man formerly known as Kid Chocolate. I need regular doses of Lee’s music, can’t go too long without that voice and energy feeding my soul. “We’re gonna shake ‘em up ‘til early morn, I hear to tell you that we’re gonna have some fun now can you hear me?”
If you read my interview with Terry Reid in NYC’s Wax Poetics magazine you’d know Terry was the guy who was asked to join Led Zeppelin, turned it down and recommended his mate Robert Plant. Now, I am a huge Zeppelin fan but as amazing as that combo would have been to hear I am selfishly glad Terry went and did his own thing instead.
When my friend Steve gave me Terry’s Seed of Memory LP years back I too saw the feathered 70’s hair on the cover and judged it. I was a moron. Terry Reid is one of the most naturally gifted and soulful singers (alongside The Small Faces Steve Marriott and The Faces' Rod “The Mod” Stewart) to come out of England. Aretha Franklin thought so and so did Graham Nash who sang harmony to Terry on this LP.
This song I chose here, “Brave Awakening”, creeps up on you…it builds slowly, the tale of a father not wanting his son to have to work in the mines like many from his generation, and Terry sings with such emotion that I am brought to tears every time I listen to it. Terry Reid is as deep as it gets.
From one God given talent to the next…one that is meeting your lady when you’re not looking and singing his ass off while doing it. Enjoying it even it seems. Jimmy Hughes was born near Muscle Shoals, Alabama and eventually got to record this incredible single at Rick Hall’s legendary Fame Studios in ONE TAKE. Rick Hall said; "it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up" and the same goes over here. The Swampers (Rodger Hawkins, David Hood, Jimmy Johnson and Barry Beckett) are absolutely killing it here as the backing band like they would with Aretha and many others over the years.
After being emotionally rung out I thought this one by our man Sixto Rodriguez (maybe you saw the documentary “Searching For Sugarman”?) would be perfect to get our backbone’s straightened out. Famously produced by Motown session fuzz guitar guru Dennis Coffey and Sussex Records’ Mike Theodore, this masterpiece of a record found it’s first audience in Australia and South Africa. I first heard the track “Sugarman” on one of David Holmes’ (Ocean’s 11-13 composer and DJ) mixes and was blown away but the entire LP is just mind blowing good. Rodriguez is like a funkier Bob Dylan with the hippest Motown cats setting the backdrop. Here on “Forget It” the main character is done with “her" and ready to move on; "Don't say anymore, just walk out the door. I’ll get along fine, you'll see.” Do what you need to do, brother.
Little Willie John
All right dear people, I leave you until next month with one of my favorite songs of all time. I’ve offered up some amazing singers in this list above but for me no one touches Little Willie John. His output on King Records, including the frequently covered “Fever”, is a masterclass in soul singing. Stevie Wonder and James Brown held him on a pedestal….he just had it all; soul, depth, style and incredible sensitivity topped with beautifully written songs, clever arrangements and chord changes, production and musicians. The delicious desert at my little Soul Picnic. Dig it…
Listen to the playlist on Apple Music:
The Last Word: If you love these songs, please buy physical copies if you’re able. Spotify, Apple Music/iTunes, YouTube, and other streaming services are great tools, but streaming doesn’t pay artists a living wage. We want these amazing folks to keep making the music we cherish.
Love music as much as we do? Then check out Dan Ubick’s production company, DanUbe Productions, and drop him a line if you’re so inclined.