All posts tagged: Leon Huff

CD Review: Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, “I Learned the Hard Way”

Retro-soul is a musical style in which contemporary artists attempt to recapture the sound and feel of the great soul music of the ’60s and early ’70s. Musical touchstones include the sounds of Motown, Stax, and Gamble and Huff’s Philadelphia International Records. Among the artists who are purveying this style these days are Ryan Shaw, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, and The Revelations featuring Tre Williams. I would include Joss Stone’s first album, but she’s moved in a more pop-oriented direction since then. Raphael Saadiq and Maxwell are often thought of more often as neo-soul artists (a genre that fuses ’70s soul with hip-hop, jazz, and funk), but there is definitely a retro element in what they do. If pressed, I would have to say that ’60s soul is my favorite kind of music, and by extension I’m also a big fan of retro-soul. So why is it that I can’t get more excited about Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings? I know, I know, everyone else loves them. I found their last album, the …

Bootleg City: Mayor to Mayor

The mayor of Bootleg City is back! And in case you have no idea who that is, the mayor is me! Thank you, thank you, you’re too kind. But if it’s not too much of a bother, please turn down the crickets — I’m having trouble hearing your applause. I originally planned to be on vacation for two months. Not long enough, if you ask me, but sometimes you have to make difficult sacrifices for your constituents. Then I remembered that I said I’d be spending the first 100 days of my second term far away from this godforsaken open sore of a town. (Those of you who didn’t vote for me wanted “the next mayor” to be honest, remember? Well, look who’s next, suckas.) A hundred days is more than three months, not two, so I shouldn’t even be here right now, except maybe to dump more snow in Matt Wardlaw’s driveway. I should be relaxing on the beach, or reading on the couch, or signing up for a remedial math class.

Bootleg City: Daryl Hall & John Oates

The career-spanning, four-disc box set Do What You Want, Be What You Are: The Music of Daryl Hall & John Oates comes out October 13, and in anticipation of its release, the 1980s pop superstars recently made a special stop in Bootleg City for an interview. (Okay, so their tour bus caught a flat. They were reluctant to talk at first, but once I proposed an alternate option — community service — they perked right up.) Me: You two have been making music together for nearly 40 years. What do you consider to be the secret to your success? Oates: Well, Daryl and I have a healthy balance of give and— Hall: (interrupting) Take one-fourth of John and three-fourths of me and you’ve got the winning formula. We’re the Beatles of the post-Woodstock generation, no question. It was the same with them in their day: three-fourths Lennon and McCartney, one-fourth George, and one-fourth Ringo. Oates: I’m pretty sure that adds up to— Hall: The most successful rock ‘n’ soul group of all time, right after the Beatles. Exactly.

CD Review: The Revelations featuring Tre Williams, “Deep Soul”

I love soul music in each and every one of its glorious permutations, so it’s been gratifying for me to listen as a new generation of soul masters has taken the spotlight in the last few years. For me it seemed to start with that first Joss Stone album, but then she seemed to lose the thread as she moved forward. Into her place stepped artists like Sharon Jones, Ryan Shaw, and Eli “Paperboy” Reed, among others. Meanwhile, the great Al Green kept the fire burning, and Raphael Saadiq provided a new soundtrack for the soul revolution. For years I feared that soul music as I knew it was dead, only to have it come roaring back to life. Let’s define terms. Soul music doesn’t employ auto-tuned vocals, electronic beats, or sampled music. It’s played by real singers backed by live bands. It’s not hip-hop, it’s not rap, and it’s not rock. It’s not black, and it’s not white. It’s whatever it is that Marvin Gaye, or the Temptations, or Otis Redding had, and Aretha …

Hall of Fame Week: Todd Rundgren

“All the lies, all the truth, all the things that I offer you / All the sights, all the sounds, all the times that you turned me down / Is it my name? / … Why don’t you love me? / Is it my name?” —Todd Rundgren, “Is It My Name?” (from 1973’s A Wizard, a True Star) A few weeks ago, when Jeff Giles asked Popdose’s writers to brainstorm the names of bands and artists who aren’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame yet, I said I’d like to write about Daryl Hall & John Oates. Their albums are spotty, and Hall doesn’t seem to have a humble bone in his body, but I’m sick of their hits being called guilty pleasures by people who just aren’t man enough to admit how much they really like them. Hall & Oates should be inducted just to spite hipsters. (Eat it, skinny boys in tight pants.) Then my mind made the leap to Todd Rundgren, the producer of Hall & Oates’s 1974 album War Babies. …

Cutouts Gone Wild!: Bunny Sigler, “The Best of Bunny Sigler: Sweeter Than the Berry” (1996)

Note: My brother’s visiting from out of town this week, so I’ve got less time than I normally do for blog-type stuff; fortunately, our friend Robert, of the always entertaining Mulberry Panda 96, has returned for his second stab at a Cutouts Gone Wild!, and fans of Philly soul are going to be glad he did. Thanks, Robert! —J Memphis and Detroit have nothing to be ashamed about, but for me, the most exciting soul music came out of Philadelphia in the 1970s, particularly the strings-laden, socially conscious kind produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff at Philadelphia International Records, home to artists like the O’Jays, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Billy Paul, and Bunny Sigler. (Here’s where you say, “Bunny who?” Here’s where I repeat his name.) Sigler never scored huge crossover hits like those other artists did, but as Epic/Legacy’s retrospective of his years at PIR proves, it wasn’t for a lack of trying. He did have a #22 pop hit in 1967 with “Let the Good Times Roll/Feel So Good” on …