Thursday, March 31, 2005
Someday I’m going to find the missing links in the puzzle and put together a long form article on Philadelphia’s Harthon label. A cooperative effort between Weldon McDougal, Luther Randolph and Johnny Styles, Harthon (as a label and production house) created some of the most memorable soul singles out of Philly (or anywhere for that matter) in the 1960’s. Efforts by Eddie Holman, The Volcanos, Lee Garrett, Larry Clinton, Bernard Williams and the Blue Notes, The Philly Four, and the Cooperettes made Harthon a force to be reckoned with (and a major force on Northern Soul playlists). One of the best remembered groups from the Harthon stable was The Four Larks (aka the Larks, Irma and the Larks), featuring the lead vocals of Irma McDougal (Weldon's wife). The Four Larks release a series of 45’s on the Tower and Uptown labels, the best known (and rarest) is the classic ‘Groovin’ at the Go Go’ on Tower recently changing hands for upwards of $200 USD*. Irma McDougal is also the lead voice on the legendary, unreleased track ‘You Need Love’ by Irma and the Fascinations (based on the same instrumental bed as the Cooperettes ‘Shingaling’). With McDougal’s memorable voice and the ace songwriting/arranging of Tom Bell the Four Larks 45s are some of the finest Harthon-related sides. The record we feature today - 'Rain' - predates ‘Groovin’ At The Go Go’. ‘Rain’ is a great example of the kind of sophisticated, melodically complicated soul music coming out of Philly in the mid-60’s, and a direct precursor of the late 60’s/early 70’s Philly Soul hits of groups like the Stylistics, Intruders, Ethics and Ambassadors. The tune starts out with a tempo, that while subdued is still conducive to dancing. However the introduction of strings lets the listener know that they’re in for something a little more sophisticated than the dance of the week. The lyrics (and the overall feel of the arrangement) bring a melancholy tone, but never so down that the beauty of the melody and the power of the backbeat are diminished. If I were looking for a record to compare ‘Rain’ to I’d have to go right to the Formations ‘At The Top of The Stairs’, another Philly classic (and one of my favorite soul records ever). There’s a very particular sound at work here, in which the customary building blocks of 60’s soul are complemented by flavors of progressive pop and rock (which considering how much the Motown sound contributed to the sound of 60’s pop sees things coming full circle). The cool thing is that this “fusion” stops short of the sometimes overly sweet group soul that was to follow, creating a unique mixture that sadly did not catch on with the listening public. Sadly the Four Larks 45s and unreleased tracks have never been gathered together in a compilation devoted solely to the group which is a shame since McDougal was such a distinctive vocalist. A number of their tracks (not including ‘Rain’) were included on the Goldmine Soul Supply compilation (highly recommended) ‘Groovin’ At The Go Go’, a very nice survey of Harthon productions. Also recommended are the Soul Jazz ‘Philadelphia Roots’ volumes which also include some great Harthon productions. * Those interested should keep an eye out for the 1970’s Harthon reissue of ‘Groovin’ at the Go Go’ which was pressed for the Northern Soul market with an instrumental dub of the song (called ‘Discotheque Groove’) on the b-side. It can be had for considerably less than the Tower original. There are a number of similar reissues (on a plain orange and black Harthon label, not using the distinctive 60’s era logo), including the Volcanos, Lee Garrett, Preludes and Body Motions (instrumental dubs of Volcanos and Preludes sides).
Monday, March 28, 2005
The Vontastics - Never Let Your Love Grow Cold (aka The Best Record I Ever Got for Free)
The subject of great Chicago soul 45’s has been addressed in this space before (see the Shells and Maurice & The Radiants). To really do the subject justice it would really have to have it’s own blog (or encyclopedic website). Despite that fact that one of my fave artists has Chitown connections (i.e. the great JerryO) I wouldn’t claim to be an expert on the subject. I do however know a fantastic soul 45 when I hear it, so I’ll step off the curb into speeding traffic to bring you this gem. The Vontastics recorded eight 45s for a series of Chicago-based labels between 1965 and 1969. None of them are duds, and a couple are downright amazing. I first heard them when my buddy Haim pulled a copy of their version of ‘Day Tripper’ out of a crate and suggested I give it a spin. The record quickly became a fave. Here we are, several years down the road and I’m still digging Chicago soul 45s, and not coincidentally still buying 45s from my buddy Haim. A recent purchase from him was accompanied by a couple of freebies, one of which was the Vontastics ‘Never Let Your Love Grow Cold’ (a gift for which I have expressed profound thanks). Half of the Vontastics 45s were recorded for the St. Lawrence label (the rest for Satellite – not the Memphis label – Chess, Moonshot and Toddlin’ Town), under the guidance of the mighty Monk Higgins (who also released a couple of nice sides on the label himself). ‘Never Let Your Love Grow Cold’ was penned (like many of their best tunes) by group member Bobby Newsome, and is an anthemic, storming soul dancer. Opening with an almost “rock”-ish guitar riff, the tune soon kicks off into a brisk dance tempo (the snare drum doubled with a tambourine) with some great horns behind the vocals. Things really take off when the chorus arrives. If you’re not singing along by the second go around you need to check your pulse. The tune has proven popular with the Northern soulies (it’s been comped a few times) and it’s not hard to imagine a room filled with hundreds of dancers jumping, spinning and singing along at the top of their lungs. The flip side, ‘You Can Work It Out’ is also very cool. As far as I can tell the Vontastics have never had all of their 45s collected on a single disc. That time is long overdue…
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Mary Jane Hooper - Harper Valley PTA
Mary Jane Hooper
The history of New Orleans soul and funk is a mysterious gumbo. It’s indescribably delicious, but getting a handle on all the ingredients is likely to be a chore. Aside from the fact that clear and detailed records of recording sessions no longer exist (if they ever did in the first place) , memories have been clouded by the passage of time, and in many cases conflicting egos. Asking who played guitar on a particular session is likely to draw replies of: "I did. No, I did. Nuh-uh, it was ME!" And on, and on…. There are also the issues of contractual obligations, songwriting credits and publishing rights. These issues, passed through the looking-glass of 1960’s New Orleans display an infinite complexity. Authors listed under numerous pseudonyms to escape/circumvent existing agreements (Allen Toussaint and Chris Kenner are especially notable in this respect), songs that include names on the credit line that had little or nothing to do with the composing of the song and similar replacements/additions in production/arranging credits added by unscrupulous label owners, publishers, managers and disc jockeys on the take. In addition to all of this confusion, you must include artists performing under assumed names. Among New Orleans greatest mystery names are Little Buck (there’s apparently more than one Little Buck) , Roy Ward, Little Bo, Candy Phillips, and the artist we discuss today, Mary Jane Hooper. The conventional wisdom (as conventional as wisdom can be when shared by only a few hundred interested parties worldwide) is that performed under the name Mary Jane Hooper (and Inez Cheatham) was a woman named Sena Fletcher. That Hooper and Fletcher were one in the same is indisputable. The Hooper/Cheatham attribution is not as ironclad, though listening to the records under both names, the voice is just about identical. In the mid to late 60’s she made a few outstanding 45’s under the guidance of the mighty Eddie Bo (and often in duet with him). Their best known collaboration is the Seven B/Capitol single ‘Lover & a Friend’ which gained notoriety as one of the samples in DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist's Brainfreeze mix (which also drove the price of the 45 into the stratosphere). One of their lesser known (but high quality) duets was released on World Pacific in 1968. ‘That’s How Strong My Love Is’ b/w ‘I Need A Hurt’ is a great uptempo soul tune with excellent vocal interplay between Bo and Hooper (the flip is a ballad). Back in New Orleans, ‘ That’s How Strong My Love Is’ was released on the Power label (also seen as Power-Pac, and home to two other outstanding 45s by Hooper, ‘I’ve Got Reasons’ and ‘I’ve Got What You Need’) with a different, much funkier flip-side, a cover of Jeannie C. Reilly’s ‘Harper Valley PTA’. Taken at a faster tempo than the original, with the addition of some funky drums and guitar, ‘Harper Valley PTA’ is a great showcase for Hooper’s voice. Despite that fact that Al Scramuzza is listed as producer on the label, this is clearly an Eddie Bo production (and it sounds like Bo backing Hooper up in chorus).
NOTE: Two different readers have e-mailed to say that Inez Cheatham and Mary Jane Hooper/Sena Fletcher were in fact two distinct people. I still think they sound like the same singer, but if Eddie Bo says they're different people (as Martin Lawrie of the great Soulgeneration site says he did), then I'll take his word for it.
Monday, March 21, 2005
Richard Berry & The Pharaohs - Louie Louie
‘Louie Louie’?!?!? You say, eyes rolling in disbelief…. Well, this ain’t the Kingsmen my friend. This is the OG, that shockingly enough most people have never heard (due in large part to it being almost completely unavailable as a reissue, not to mention the fact that the cancerous scourge of the airwaves “oldies radio” operates as if Richard Berry never existed…). I’ve preferred Berry’s original since I heard it years ago, and even then it took me a few years to track it down on CD (via a Swedish reissue). Richard Berry was part of the Los Angeles R&B scene in the 50’s. In addition to his own recordings (with the Pharaohs), which are thoroughly rocking and well worth tracking down, he appeared (uncredited) as the lead voice on the Robins original version of ‘Riot In Cell Block #9’ (who would later become the Coasters) and as the male voice in Etta James ‘Roll With Me Henry’. His 1956 recording of “Louie Louie” was a minor West Coast hit, but fell into obscurity until it was unearthed (and gassed up) by a number of Northwest rock bands, including Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Wailers, the Sonics, and of course the Kingsmen who would ride the tune into the ground, remaking it numerous times in their “career”. It’s also important to note (on the Northwest rock tip) that Berry also wrote and recorded the original version of ‘Have Love Will Travel”, which the Sonics re-did, and is now being featured in – of all places – a Land Rover commercial. Nothing like the spirit of rock and roll being pimped out to sell $50,000 luxury shitheaps…. Anyway…the Kingsmen had a huge hit with the tune, starting all manner of insane controversy (not unlike the kind of crap we deal with all the time here in the Bush era) and for all intents and purposes relegated Mr. Berry to the dustbin of history. The first time I had any inkling whatsoever that ‘Louie Louie’ wasn’t the sole purvey of screaming frat rockers, was strangely enough in a movie theater in 1973, when I first saw American Graffiti. The band in the movie ‘Herbie & The Heartbeats’ (actually Flash Cadillac & The Continental Kids, a post-Sha Na Na 50’s retro act) played ‘Louie Louie’ in a strange, slower tempo than I had ever heard (and believe me, even at the age of 11 ‘Louie Louie’ was already imprinted on my brain…). I was intrigued, but alas, I was but a penniless child, living in a pre-internet informational void….. Many years later (probably on a college station) I finally heard Richard Berry & the Pharaoh’s rocking ‘Louie Louie’ and the light went off over my head, the dots were connected and the world was once again at peace (at least it was from where I was sitting). My quest began from there, and as I said, it took me years to track it down. The version on the Rhino ‘Louie Louie’ comp was a rerecording (I suspect this was due to the fact that Berry no longer owned the rights to the original recording, or the song for that matter...), and it wasn’t showing up anywhere else. In the interim I did manage to pick up a Japanese* import of 50’s LA R&B from the Modern label, which included some other Berry/Pharaohs tracks as well as a few other tracks indicative of the high quality stuff being cranked out in those environs at the time, i.e. Young Jessie’s “Mary Lou” (later covered by Ronnie Hawkins) and the Cadets ‘Stranded In The Jungle’ (later covered by the NY Dolls), providing a cool snapshot of the LA scene. When I finally did find a comp of Berry’s early stuff it was a gas. Aside from ‘Louie Louie’ and ‘Have Love Will Travel’ there were a bunch of other rocking R&B cuts that while not earth shattering (or likely to rocket Berry to the first string of early rockers) were of high quality. Berry’s original ‘Louie Louie’, with the bass singer laying down the famous “duh-duh-duh duh-duh” riff breaks out into an almost swinging tempo. Berry’s lead is shadowed by the Pharaohs harmonies, all laid out on a bed of piano, drums and sax. The beat is much more conducive to dancing than the various garage-punk versions and a tune known to most as an unintelligible, head-banger is revealed to possess heretofore unknown levels of sophistication and cool. While it seems unlikely that Berry’s version will ever undergo a serious enough “rediscovery” to supplant the Kingsmen in the public consciousness (and maybe it shouldn’t), hearing the original (forcibly divorced from it’s R&B roots by time and circumstance more than 40 years ago) restores to the tune much of it’s “blackness”.
Anyway...I recently scored a copy of the 45, and decided to share the wealth.
Fortunately, Ace Records in the UK has just reissued a bunch of Berry’s recordings for the Flip label (and some rarities) and you can grab it at Amazon. Do so now. You will not regret it. *And how sad is it that we have to go through Sweden and Japan to get our rock'n'roll roots????
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Goldie & The Gingerbreads - The Skip
Goldie & the Gingerbreads
I found this record on Ebay (where else) a few years ago, enticed by the Hammond groove sound sample that accompanied the auction. Only vaguely familiar with Goldie & The Gingerbreads (assuming they were filed with the Shangri-Las and groups of that ilk), I assumed that the organ groove in question ‘The Skip’ had to be the work of anonymous studio musicians. So, a week goes by and the 45 (on UK Decca) drops through yon mail slot into my greedy little hands. I slap the disc on the ole GP3, and the tune turns out to be much better than the short sound clip led me to believe. So, after I finished playing it three or four times in a row, I take it off the player and start perusing the label. I already knew (via the item description) that the disc had been produced by Shel Talmy (producer of the Who among others…), and ‘The Skip’ (which only appeared as a b-side in the UK) was written by someone with the last name ‘Crocitto’. I had assumed that ‘The Skip’, because it was an instro on the flip side of a girl group record was probably another group entirely (as has been the case in the past) or even a completely unrelated track pulled from the files to fill the dead side of a 45 (which has also happened). I soon found out (happily) that I was wrong on all counts. ‘Goldie and the Gingerbreads were formed in the early 60’s in NYC by Polish-born Genya “Goldie” Zelkowitz. Zelkowitz had recorded a number of 45s for the Coral label before forming the Gingerbreads. The Gingerbreads, who unlike many “girl groups” were an actual band (with an R&B/rock sound) had been signed to Atlantic records (their 45s were issued on the ATCO subsidiary). They were playing at the Peppermint Lounge when they were spotted by the Animals. So impressed was Animals’ organist Alan Price with Gingerbread’s organist Margo Crocitto (there’s that name again!) that the Animals brought the band to the UK. There (with Talmy at the boards) they would release three 45s for Decca, one for Fontana, and one (just billed as ‘Goldie’) on Immediate. The flip side of the second Decca 45 (‘That’s Why I Love You’) was the driving Hammond instrumental ‘The Skip’, with Margo Crocitto on organ. This discovery was especially satisfying because there just aren’t that many women that made the Hammond organ their instrument. Notable exceptions to that rule included the mighty Shirley Scott, Rhoda Scott, and Trudy Pitts (all jazz musicians) , but exceptions they were. To find a treasure like ‘The Skip’ hiding on a UK-only b-side by a group like Goldie & The Gingerbreads was surprising indeed. The Gingerbreads never got to record a full length lp. By the end of the 60’s they had broken up, Goldie going on to become Genya Ravan (of Ten Wheel Drive fame) and the rest of the Gingerbreads (including Margo Crocitto, then Margo Lewis) went on to form the all female band Isis who recorded a number of lps in the 70’s.
Monday, March 14, 2005
Skip Easterling - Keep The Fire Burning
The term “blue-eyed” soul – generally used to refer to white singers of black music – is often misused. The fact that it’s used at all is problematic. True, there are few white singers that sing soul music with any real power or feel, but the problem is the term “blue-eyed” soul is applied to any white singer trying to sing soul, whether they’re any good or not (I’m looking at you Michael Bolton…). Over the years, singers like Doug Sahm, Mitch Ryder, Felix Caveliere, and Michael McDonald (as well as countless other lesser-knowns) have demonstrated a real feel for the music by without the need to resort to minstrelsy. The bottom line is, “soul” (at least in the musical sense) is an intangible, you either have it or you don’t, and if you don’t and you try too hard, it’ll be obvious in the low quality of your output (I’m still looking at you Michael Bolton). One of the aforementioned “lesser-knowns” who sang with an authentic sense of soul was the great James ‘Skip’ Easterling (for the whole story on Skip check out the interview with him on the Soul Generation site). Easterling made a grip of records in New Orleans through the 60’s and the 70’s, recording for Ron, Alon, Instant and other NOLA labels, and working with both Eddie Bo and Huey Piano Smith. One of his best sides (and a 45 that’s commanding serious coin these days) is the Eddie Bo (written/arranged/produced) jam ‘Keep The Fire Burning' from 1967. The tune, which sounds like a lost b-side to Oliver Morgan’s “La La Man” (also a Bo project), is a hard charging soul dancer (which would explain it’s popularity with the notoriously deep pockets of the Northern Soulies) with one of Easterling’s best vocals. The arrangement is 100% classic Bo (bearing all of the instrumental and vocal hallmarks of his best 60’s productions – for himself and others), and Easterling does this solid foundation justice. Easterling’s other ALON sides (including more upbeat sides as well as some tasty ballad performances), and his later, funkier 45s for Instant (‘I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man’ and ‘Too Weak To Break The Chains”) deserve a high quality reissue (Sundazed? Hello???) that would bring to light the work of an excellent, albeit minor part of New Orleans musical history. The high quality of this record (above and beyond Easterling’s stellar performance) also goes a long way toward demonstrating Eddie Bo’s position as one of the great musical “auteurs” of the New Orleans scene. As demonstrated repeatedly in the Funky16Corners Eddie Bo Jam of the Month, Bo was equally adept as songwriter, arranger, producer, and talent scout which should place him firmly in the first rank of New Orleans soul along with Allen Toussaint and Wardell Quezerque.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Funky16Corners Web Zine Updated 3/9
Just a note to let you know that the Funky16Corners web zine (long form articles/features at www.funky16corners.net ) has just been updated with articles on blue-eyed soul legends Bob Brady & the Con Chords, Philly funkers the Panic Buttons, the Interpretations (of Jason Pew Mosso fame), Eddie Bo jams (Chris Kenner), Organ Grooves (Keith Mansfield Orchestra) as well as a bunch of funky and soulful 45's. Check it out....
Monday, March 07, 2005
Earl King - Come On Parts 1&2
I first heard this song when I was 16 or 17 as covered by Jimi Hendrix on the ‘Electric Ladyland’ LP. Of course I had no idea it was a cover at the time, and kind of resented this bluesy intrusion on the otherwise thoroughly drug-soaked landscape of that lp*. Flash forward 20 years, and I’m rooting around the dusty back alleys of America for old 45s, most ‘specially those that originated in the Crescent City, New Orleans, Louisiana. One of my fave Nawlins singers is the mighty Alvin Robinson (he of ‘Down Home Girl’ fame, amongst other stellar performances). Well, what should I happen upon but a 45 of Mr. Robinson laying down a tune called ‘Let The Good Times Roll’, which as soon as I put needle to wax realized was not the old chestnut originally done by Shirley and Lee but a retitled version of the tune I heard Hendrix do, i.e. ‘Come On Pt1’ (why Robinson, or Leiber and Stoller who ran the Blue Cat label decided to change the title is a mystery). Closer investigation revealed that the tune’s composer was none other than Earl King (listed there as Earl King Johnson), known mainly to me as a name from numerous blues bill’s, and the tune ‘Trick Bag’. So, the years go by, and I keep gathering New Orleans 45’s, and I start to realize that Earl King, like rodent crime lord Savoir Faire, was everywhere. In his almost 50 year career, King (born Earl Silas Johnson) recorded for many labels, and wrote tunes that were recorded by many of his contemporaries, in and out of New Orleans. With Wardell Quezerque he co-wrote Curly Moore’s “Soul Train” (released on King's own Hot Line label and later cut by Bobby and the Heavyweights on Mor-Soul and Atlantic) and Professor Longhair's Mardi Gras favorite ‘Big Chief’ (that’s Earl singing/whistling on Part 2). King also co-wrote one of my favorite Allen Toussaint produced sides, Diamond Joe’s ‘Fair Play’. King was possessed of a soulful voice and a gritty guitar style (his biggest inspiration being Guitar Slim), and recorded many of his best sides for the Imperial label (a left coast operation with strong ties to Nawlins, see Fats Domino etc.). ‘Come On Pts 1&2’, which was released in 1960 is a stop-time rumbler with plenty of room between the verses for King to stretch out on guitar (which he does even more on Pt2). The record has a great dance beat (helped along by a cool horn chart) and it’s also cool to hear King’s New Orleans accent come through (‘They keep a lot of doit up their sleeves…”) in the verses. One of the coolest things about Earl King (aside from his songwriting talent) is the fact that his recordings manage to blend blues, rock and roll and New Orleans sounds together so effortlessly. Listening to ‘Come On’, or tracks like ‘Trick Bag’ or ‘Mama and Papa’ (also on Imperial) is a real pleasure. At some point King’s Imperial sides were available as a single CD (as were his Ace sides).
*Of course I came to love/understand Hendrix's version of 'Come On'. It took me 20 some years, but whatever....
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Cher - I Walk On Gilded Splinters
As a rule, with the exception of a few Sonny & Cher 45s, I try to make it my business to avoid all things Cher and Cher-related. In the last 30 years she’s come to represent the worst excesses of self-worshipping Hollywood celebrity, as well as making herself the poster child for Frankensteinian self mutilation. This is not to say that she is without talent. She’s a fairly good actress (or was before her face looked like canvas tarp strapped over a lifeboat), and if not the best singer in the world, a proven hitmaker. The “hitmaker” part is contentious because it seems as if she never made a great record that didn’t have someone else’s (Sonny Bono etc.) fingerprints all over it. Her relation to her best work is the same as a fine piece of gold that someone has fashioned into a dynamite bracelet. It’s a beautiful piece of jewelry, but if someone hadn’t been there to beat it into shape, it’d still be a rock. From her beginnings as a bit of flotsam bobbing in Lake Phil Spector, then Sunset Strip proto-hippie icon, to lame Vegas showroom act, back to big-time TV star, to serial celebrity dater/mater (see Gregg Allman and Gene Simmons), back to Oscar winning actress, her career has been a schizophrenic rollercoaster, characterized by a herky-jerky dashes in and out of the spotlight (speeding ever so briefly through the land of quality…). Taken in full it’s quite a spotty track record. However, I come not to bury Cher, but to praise her… Back in 1969, Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd took Cher down to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to try and repeat the success (financial and artistic) that they found by juxtaposing the pop melodrama of Dusty Springfield with the soul of Memphis, Tennessee on the ‘Dusty In Memphis’ album. To do something similar with Cher didn’t produce as sharp a contrast. While not a bonafide “rock” star, Cher had a little more street cred than Springfield (if not her voice). The palette they were giving her to work with was a little more rock oriented (Buffalo Springfield, Bob Dylan), some southern white-boy soul (stuff by Eddie Hinton, Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham and Chips Moman), and hit covers (‘Dock of the Bay’, ‘Cry Like A Baby’). The resulting album, ‘3614 Jackson Highway’, with the cover photo of Cher, Wexler, Dowd and the Muscle Shoals house band The Swampers standing in front of the studio, is something of a lost classic. It represents a kind of high water mark for Cher’s musical credibility. Though not a watershed – she would return to well crafted if not remarkable pop hits in short time – it is a perfect illustration of the success of the producer-as-auteur paradigm. That is to say, that left to her own devices, it is highly (if not completely) unlikely that Cher would have created something of equal interest and quality. However, with the guidance of old hands like Wexler and Dowd, picking the material, working the band and the boards, all in service of Cher’s raw talent, a very interesting album resulted. Far and away the most satisfying moment on ‘3614 Jackson Highway’ is the inspired cover of Dr. John’s ‘I Walk On Gilded Splinters’. Culled from the good Doctor’s 1967 debut LP ‘Gris Gris’, the original version of ‘I Walk On Gilded Splinters’ is a mélange of Nawlins voodoo and West Coast psychedelia that manages to be both trippy and genuinely spooky (and in a related note, recorded in LA during leftover Sonny & Cher studio time*). Cher’s version gathers all of the elements of the original, tightens them up (squeezing out much of the menace) and adds a dose of funky soul. There’s lots of Hammond, a strong horn chart and solid drums. Cher gives an energetic reading of the lyrics, though they’re infinitely more sinister coming out of Mac Rebennack (for some reason the tune is credited to Rebennack’s alter-ego ‘Dr. John Creaux’). The bottom line is, if you are Cher-phobic, this is definitely the record to look for. If your friends insist on playing that awful ‘If You Believe In Love’ song over and over again, treat them to a copy of this gem. *Sonny and Cher’s musical director was New Orleans transplant Harold Battiste. Battiste worked at Imperial Records in LA and is largely responsible for some of Irma Thomas’s best work, and for luring other Crescent City heads – like Mac Rebennack and Alvin Robinson - out to the left coast.