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Billy Stewart: Summertime (Live at the Nixon Theatre)

Jimmy Bishop on Stage Live at the Nixon Theatre (Meka)

Billy Stewart’s hit 1966 recording of “Summertime” is one of the very best. However, this virtually unknown live version from 1967, recorded here in Philadelphia, is even better, and remains one of the greatest live performances I’ve heard on record. Wait until he starts playing with the echo… Unreal!

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Clarence Taylor & the Estate Singers: Sinner Man

Clarence Taylor & the Estate Singers: Sinner Man (Su-Ann)

One amazing thing about black gospel is how often, and how unself-consciously, it tinkers with and stretches song-form. It’s a generous, not a loose approach. I love how easily this tune repeats itself.

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Hayne Davis: She’ll Come Around

Hayne Davis: She’ll Come Around (Mother Cleo)

Peculiarly wasted early 70s artifact on Mother Cleo, an obscure South Carolina label. Check out the phased guitar and syrupy tempo and the guy’s epic lack of ‘tude. You should listen to this on a loop while reading Charles Portis and let me know what happens.

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The Challengers: Honey, Honey, Honey

The Challengers: Honey, Honey, Honey (Tri-Phi)

Beautiful early record from underrated singer Ann Bogan, who later joined The Marvelettes and, in the 70s, New Birth.

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Susie Klee: Mr. Zero

Susie Klee: Mr. Zero (Polydor)

Baroque, teenage ice-queen cover of the Bob Lind song. On UK Polydor, but Susie Klee was Swiss.

Why are cheap scanners allergic to red?

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Head Cheese: Jungle Jam/ Teenage Idol/ Non-Melodic

Head Cheese: Jungle Jam/ Teenage Idol/ Non-Melodic (Burn Potential)

Very cool, primitive Philly post-punk/synth ep from 1981. “Jungle Jam” features an ultra-basic groove and rather disturbing lyrics. For me the prize here is the brief “Non-Melodic”, whose strange, inept shimmer simultaneously charms and haunts.

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Nora Guthrie: Emily’s Illness

Nora Guthrie: Emily’s Illness (Mercury)

Woody’s daughter. 1967. She was 17. Beyond that, I’ll let the song sing for itself…

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Errol Dunkley: Please Stop Your Lying

Errol Dunkley: Please Stop Your Lying

Old-school Jamaican dj’s often personalized their records in ways that -at least for me- somehow evade defacement. The record is signed because it is loved. I like that.

Dunkley, who would go on to become one of the greats, was fourteen years old when he recorded this beautiful tune.

Especially moving, perhaps because so unexpected -such an unexpected formulation- are these lines directed at the fickle woman:

“Every night you’re on the beach with another guy/ And the poor guy works so hard to make you big and strong.”

Works so hard to make you big and strong… Dunkley’s vocal innocence fits perfectly the real sweetness of those words, which are peculiar, if you think about it, only in evading stock romantic tropes.

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Doria: Love Comes and Goes/ The Lost Road

Doria: Love Comes and Goes/ The Lost Road (Heart)

Who isn’t a sucker for lonesome female folk-rock from the 60s? On “The Lost Road” especially, Doria gets to that special sad spot… Never seen another copy of this privately-issued 45 despite years of looking. And I was never able to track down Doria…

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Los Socios del Ritmo: La Gallina

Los Socios del Ritmo: La Gallina (Capitol)

Smokin’ cover of “Funky Chicken” by a Mexican group. The guitar player shreds his solo. Needs to be heard LOUD.

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