Archive for the ‘Music’ Category


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Joey Jefferson is a well known producer and label owner that released many excellent 60s soul sides. Breakthrough & Mutt & Jeff are two of Joey’s labels that are of the most interest to Rare & Northern Soul collectors. The most highly sought after 45 on Breakthrough is of course by “No One Else Can Take Your Place” by the Inspirations.  Over the years myths and misinformation has surrounded the recording.  Johnny Hendley who recorded solo on Mutt & Jeff and later on TIE as John & The Weirdest is just one. He was reputedly the lead singer with the Inspirations.  However, during a recent trip Stateside by Kev Roberts who met once more with Joey this myth was dispelled once and for all.

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The line up of the Inspirations, an LA vocal group, consisted of John Gibson who sang lead. Other members include brothers Huey and Lou Bell plus Charles Perry who was on MGM/Magnum, Charles Diamond (real name Charles Pennywell) was also in the studio doing backing and as we will find out he was soon to cut his own take. This line up was confirmed to Kev by Joey in a recent conversation.  The group went into the studio and recorded the track sometime in 1966.  The group however were courted by Motown’s West Coast office and they refused to sign a contract with Joey. With just a few 45s escaping and the group in dispute with Joey over a contact the recording was pulled and consigned to the vaults.

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The Fairlanes

Charles “Diamond” Pennywell was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, the third largest city in Louisiana after New Orleans and Baton Rouge.  The city has a rich musical heritage from soul to gospel, R&B to country and much more and was the home for many of music’s major acts.  Charles was also a childhood friend of Joey Jefferson who would have a part to play in the future musical career of Charles. Charles began singing at the age of ten.  It would be high school where he began to take it seriously.  Along with fellow school friends, Eddie Lejay, Thomas Odom, Steve Ross they formed the The Fairlanes, named after the Ford Fairlane and keeping with the doo-wop tradition of naming the group after cars, The Cadilacs etc.  The group’s first release in 1959 was to be Seventeen Steps” b/w “Johnny Rhythm” which came out on Dee Marais’ Lucky Seven label and in the same year for Pappy Dailey’s Dart label out of Houston, TX the group released “Just For Me”.  They would also record for Eddie Shuler’s Tic-Toc label releasing “You’re Lonesome Now” in 1961.  Charles would record solo for Smash with “Web Of Love” b/w “It’s So Funny I Could Cry”.

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Charles as mentioned was doing backing vocals in the studio whilst the Inspirations cut their take or takes of “No One Else Can Take Your Place”.  It is highly likely Charles Diamond cut his take during the same session, if not the same session it would be very soon after.

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Alas, Joey Jefferson would lose interest in the recording and it would be shelved. Charles Diamond, soon after laying down his vocals to “No One Else Can Take Your Place”  would become a member and sing lead vocals for the vocal group The Sunlovers and whose members would be Eddie LaJay who was a member of the Failanes alongside Charles and childhood friend and Robert Tisby. I have read a conflicting biography that the groups members were also those that recorded as The Inspirations.  If this is true then I guess Joey didn’t bear a grudge, not when money was to be made through music.  I find this unlikely though due to the dispute over a recording contract the Inspirations had with Joey.  The line up of Charles, Eddie and Robert came from an interview conducted with Charles a few years ago.

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The Sunlovers

It would be the Sunlovers and his other label interests that would be the focus of Joey’s productions and “The Inspirations and “No One Else Can Take Your Place” was for the foreseeable future history.  The Sunlovers would record for amongst others Joey’s Breakthrough & Mutt & Jeff label. “My Poor Heart”. was the first release in June 1967 released on both Breakthrough and Mutt & Jeff.  “You’ll Never Make The Grade” came next and “I’ll Treat You Right” being the third and final release on Mutt & Jeff.  None did anything nationally despite selling regionally.  The first two would however become popular on the UK Northern Soul scene in later years alongside the Breakthrough release by the Inspirations and other releases by Joey Jefferson.

When asked most collectors and dancers remember first hearing the Inspirations record via Colin Curtis at the legendary Blackpool Mecca.  This copy however belonged to Neil Rushton.  Neil purchased it for £32, two weeks wages, blind from Bob Cattaneo of San Francisco.  This was the first copy to arrive in the UK and Neil as well as playing it himself at venues such as The Ritz in Manchester would take it to the Mecca for Colin to play, this would be late 1973 or 1974 according to various memories. Some years later, whilst the disc was still a one known copy 45, Neil would sell the record to Ritchie Andrew of Wales for £120, something Neil regretted.

Meanwhile, Bob Cattaneo had been in contact with Joey and during the conversations it transpired Joey still had the masters for “No One Else Can Take Your Place”.  Bob relayed this to Neil and a deal was struck through Bob to get 1000 pressed up, this was 1977. However, when the records arrived in the UK Neil was bemused that it was not the same as the record he had bought from Bob and played around the UK but a totally different take.  It transpired that Joey had used the wrong take and the vocal recorded by Charles Diamond and not the original Inspirations was used for the release.  It was though an excellent recording in its own right and all copies have now disappeared into collections and when one does come up for sale it is now commanding a three figure sum.  The Inspirations though has never turned up with just a few known copies and commanding a figure of several thousand pounds.
As for Johnny Hendley, his whereabouts are unknown although Joey is actively attempting to locate him.

Charles Pennywell would continue to record into the 70s and is still touring to this day with his band.

Special thanks to Kev Roberts, Charles Pennywell and Joey Jefferson.

Photos courtesy of Charles Pennywell.

Thanks also to Classic Urban Harmony.

Charles “Diamond” Pennywell has his own website…

http://www.charlesdiamond.indiegroup.com/index.html

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SJ 1000A

It has been a few months since the last Soul Junction release but they are back with the first release of 2015 with more quality unissued 70’s. A new label design is also introduced giving the label a 60’s or 70’s look and feel.

Back to the music, the group in question for the latest release is the Dynamic Sounds Orchestra giving us two great unreleased mid 70’s soul sides. Both very different, the top side “Take Me Back” a great dancer with a lot going on as you would expect from a nine-piece group. Flip it over and we are treated to a nice ballad entitled “All I Wanna Do Is Love You”.

Two excellent mid 70’s Chicago Soul already receiving extensive radio play and a 45 expected to sell out like so many other Soul Junction releases, get in there quick.

The group do though have some history that should be of interest to Rare Soul avids as you will see from the press release.

Press Release: Dynamic Sounds Orchestra   “Take Me Back/All I Wanna Do Is Love You” SJ1000

Release Date: Monday April 27th 2015

The Dynamic Sounds Orchestra was a nine-piece ensemble who would later become the backing and touring band for one of the windy city’s most famous soul groups, The Chi-Lites.

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The Jerma release of Lil Gray, mother to The Dynamic Sounds Norwood Gray.

The original origins of the DSO had begun earlier in the mid 60’s when teenage bass player Norwood Gray Jr along with fellow guitarist Anthony Barnes held performances using several different drummers as a three-piece combo under the name of The Dynamic Sounds. Norwood was the eldest son of female vocalist, Lil Gray who during the mid 60’s recorded three 45 releases “Are You Fooling” (101), “Out Of Nowhere” (102) and “One Day Your Gonna Get Burned (103) for Ulysses Samuel Warren’s Jerma records label. Norwood himself would also later play bass on U.S. Warren’s collectable funk album “For A Few Funky Dues More” which appeared on Warrens other label logo Chytowns (2001).

During 1970 Norwood was invited to play on a session that also featured a brass section that included Charles ‘Butch’ Cater (Trombone), Milton Thomas (Soprano and Tenor Saxophone), Louis Minter (Alto Saxophone) and the late Kevin Thompson (Trumpet). It was from this chance meeting that the concept of the Dynamic Sounds Orchestra was born. Further musicians were added to the line-up, Clifford Conley (Guitar), Ronald Scott (Keyboards), Dennis Howell (Drums) and finally Otis Gould (Conga Drums and Percussion). With the now retired (from her own performing career) Lil Gray assuming the role of the group’s manager.

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Top row – Left to right

Milton Thomas (Saxophones), Kevin Thompson (Trumpet), Clifford Conley (Guitar

Middle row – left to right

Norwood Gray Jr. (Bass), Louis Minter (Saxophone), Otis Gould (Percussion)

Bottom row – left to right

Ronald Scott (Keyboards), Charles Carter (Trombone), Dennis Howell  (Drums)(lower right hand corner)

From early 1972 till 1978 several different permutations of the DSO (at one point containing 13 members) supported the vocal talents of Chi-Lites, Marshall Thompson, Robert ‘Squirrel’ Lester, Creadel ‘Red’ Jones and Eugene Record, as well as later additional members along the Chi-Lites meteoric rise to world stardom. When Eugene Record left to pursue a solo career in 1976, some of the members of the DSO also followed him to Warner Brothers and are featured on the three albums that he recorded there. Eugene also produced an album for former ‘Lost Generation member Lorrell Simon entitled “Mellow, Mellow, Right On” again with musical accompaniment provided by some members of the DSO.

When Eugene Record later returned to the Chi-Lites line up he again called on some of the former members of the DSO to provide the orchestration on the 1982 Chi-Sound album project “Me And You” which featured the popular 12”/7”single release “Hot On A Thing (Called Love)”, a US R&B number 15 chart entry.

Back in 1976 the DSO using some of their earnings from their time with the Chi-Lites embarked upon an album project of their own although they never quite finished the project, also due in part to a later house fire, which destroyed their master tapes. The band later disbanded in 1978, but still remained in contact while following their, own careers and lives. Fortunately for us, a later discovery of a cassette tape of the unfinished DSO sessions by Otis Gould would lead to the groups lost masters eventually being heard by a wider audience. Otis painstakingly set about re- mastering the tracks, which he eventually released via several internet based outlets.

Through one of Soul Junction’s Chicago A&R contacts, this project was brought to our attention and two subsequent DSO tracks have been licensed, so before you, you have the uplifting dance track “Take Me Back” backed with the excellent sweet soul ballad “All I Wanna Do Is Love You” both finally gaining a vinyl release (SJ1000), its intended format at the time of its conception.

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To this day all the members of the DSO have remained in contact with the exception of their trumpet player Kevin Thompson. Kevin lost his life during a house fire at his Chicago home, initially safely exiting the building he was then severely injured when he re-entered the building to save his beloved instruments, later dying from his injuries. His spirit is sorely missed. Kevin was also the lead vocalist on “Take Me Back”.

Both Clifford Conley and Dennis Howell relocated to the West Coast. Dennis did eventually return to his native Chicago where he still occasionally plays with The Chi-Lites. Clifford currently resides in Altadena. CA. where he still plays within a band at his local church.

Percussionist Otis Gould following the breakup of the DSO moved south to Atlanta, GA, to pursue a career in Education. Now a retired school administer he has just recently completed a two year tour with the Broadway show ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’. Otis is also the driving force behind the reclamation of the DSO’s previously unissued material.

Trombonist Charles Carter still resides in Chicago where he still plays with an Earth, Wind and Fire tribute act by the name of ‘Shinning Star’.

Alto-Saxophonist Louis Minter too still lives and works in the Windy City as a car salesman, he too continues to perform, some of his performances at the ‘Apostolic Church Of God’ can be found on You Tube.

The final member of DSO’s brass section Tenor and Soprano Saxophonist, Milton Thomas now resides in Ypsilanti, MI. Although now suffering from a deterioration in his hearing. He still continues to play in between his day job in the construction industry.

Keyboardist Ronald Scott later became an ordained minister at The Beyond The Veil Ministries. He is also an undertaker for Scott Funeral Services and continues to write and play around Chicago.

The final surviving group member, bass player Norwood Gray Jr still lives with his family in Chicago. In 1980 Norwood graduated with a degree in electrical engineering that allowed him to enjoy a long and successful career with HP Computers, from whom he is now retired. Sadly his mother Lil Gray passed away in 2000 due to heart failure.

Words By: David Welding.

With acknowledgements to: Norwood Gray Jr, Otis Gould, Clifford Conley, Ronald Scott, Dennis Howell, Charles Carter, Milton Thomas and Louis Minter.

Photograph courtesy of: Otis Gould.

Buy this and previous Soul Junction releases direct from Soul Junction or the usual stockists: http://www.souljunct…/buydirect.html