Title: Got To Be Tough Artist: Toots & the Maytals Label: Trojan Jamaica/BMG Formats: CD, LP, Digital Release date: June 12, 2020
It is hard to imagine a title more fitting for Frederick “Toots” Hibbert’s final album than Got To Be Tough. The legendary Jamaican reggae pioneer, who died at age 77 on September 11, 2020 from COVID-19 related complications, experienced more than his share of hardships. Orphaned at the age of 11, imprisoned in his twenties for possession of ganja, and severely injured during a music festival in 2013 by an inebriated bottle-wielding fan, Toots was a survivor. What was meant to be a comeback album for Toots & the Maytals, the ska and rocksteady collective Toots led for nearly 60 years, instead serves as a poignant tribute to the much beloved musician and his indomitable spirit.
Title: Image a Nation Artist: Valvin “V” Roane Label: BBE Music Format: Digital Release date: October 2, 2020
Philadelphia R&B/soul singer, songwriter and producer Valvin “V” Roane is making his return with Image a Nation, his first full-length project with Barely Breaking Even (BBE Music) in 15 years. In collaboration with production partners Jontae Slade, Andre Capers and Yameen Allworld, V creates an album that colorfully illustrates the changes in the world around us through both the lyrical and melodic structures within the project.
Usually thought of as a blues musician,
is too versatile as a player to be bound within any one genre. Now 75 years old,
Wayne has been paying his dues for a long time, and that level of experience is
evident on Go, Just Do It! Playing
like a seasoned veteran—always playing the right notes, and always in the
groove—it is obvious why Wayne has been inducted into the Boogie Woogie Piano
Hall of Fame in Cincinnati. On this latest release he is joined by veteran
personnel, such as former B. B. King bassist Russell Jackson and a rhythm
section rounded out by Joey DiMarco on drums and Yuji Ihara on guitar, both of
whom have played with the Canadian act Boogie Patrol. Harmonica ace Sherman
“Tank” Doucette plays on “They Call Me the Breeze,” and Wayne is joined by Grammy
winner Diane Schuur on a cover of Percy Mayfield’s “You’re in for a Big
Surprise.” A horn section consisting of Jerry Cook on sax and Vince Mai on
trumpet rounds out some of the other notable personnel on the record.
Title: My Soul Says Yes Artist: Chicago Mass Choir Label: New Haven Formats: CD, Digital Release date: July 31, 2020
truly no sound like that of the gospel mass choir and the Chicago Mass Choir embodies the very spirit and
essence of this tradition. With thrilling heart thumping, hand clapping, foot
stomping songs, the choir takes you back to the “old time way,” to quote the
late Bishop G.E. Patteson (former presiding Bishop of the Church of God in
Christ denomination). My Soul Says Yes,
the choir’s 17th album release, continues this legacy through their creation of
songs that further their mission of giving back to their community and the
Rev. Juan D. Shipp was the force behind many Black gospel recordings emanating from Memphis, Tennessee in the 1970s. A pastor at the Greater Abyssinia Missionary Baptist Church, Shipp also had a gospel radio show on K-WAM, where he spun gospel quartet records as “Juan D.” Believing that “local artists deserve a better sound,” he formed a relationship with Clyde Leoppard, a former Sun Studio drummer who owned Tempo Recording Studio in downtown Memphis. Shipp began recording and releasing professional quality singles for many local and regional gospel groups on his own small boutique label, D-Vine Spirituals. Soon business was booming, and he spun off a secondary label, JCR, for up-and-coming artists who wanted to press a record but didn’t make the D-Vine cut. Seventeen of these tracks are featured in The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1, which was produced by Rev. Shipp.
Title: Just Coolin’ Artist: Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers Label: Blue Note Formats: CD, LP, Digital Release date: July 17, 2020
reissue of Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers’ Just Coolin’ is from a 1959 studio album that was never released,
most likely due to the fact that four of the six tracks were included several
months later on a pair of live albums recorded at the legendary jazz club
Birdland in New York City—Art Blakey and
the Jazz Messengers at the Jazz Corner of the World (vols. 1 & 2, later
reissued as a two-CD set.). Consequently, the original studio sessions
comprising this release were shelved and are finally seeing the light of day 60
Title: Classified Artist: James Booker Label: Rounder/Craft Formats: LP Release date: July 31, 2020
As part of Rounder Records’ 50th anniversary celebration, Craft Recordings is offering this remixed and remastered vinyl reissue of Classified, an unjustly overlooked 1982 release by New Orleans keyboardist James Booker, the iconoclastic disciple of the legendary Professor Longhair. On this record Booker performs an eclectic variety of songs, including tunes by R&B legends like Titus Turner, Fats Domino, and Lloyd Price. But he also covers “Hound Dog” (the Leiber & Stoller classic made famous by Big Mama Thornton and later by Elvis), the jazz standard “Angel Eyes,” the 1926 pop standard “Baby Face,” as well as the country classic “King of the Road” and two originals, particularly the scintillating “Three Keys” that concludes the record. Yet in spite of these disparate song sources, it all comes out sounding like Booker thanks to his inimitable musical talent and force of personality.
Title: Let’s Do It Again Artist: The Staple Singers Label: Omnivore Formats: CD Release date: June 5, 2020
In June, the reissue label Omnivore released four expanded editions of classic albums by the Staple Singers, including Family Tree (1977), produced by former Chi-lite Eugene Record; Unlock Your Mind (1978), produced by Jerry Wexler and Barry Beckett at Muscle Shoals; and Pass It On (1976), produced by Curtis Mayfield. The fourth release was another Curtis Mayfield production—the soundtrack to the 1975 film, Let’s Do It Again, which featured an all-star cast led by Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, Ossie Davis and Jimmie Walker. Recorded three years after Mayfield’s critically acclaimed soundtrack for Superfly, Let’s Do It Again used many of the same personnel from his Curtom house band: Mayfield on lead guitar, Joseph “Lucky” Scott on bass, and Master Henry Gibson laying down the funky conga and bongo parts. The album represented the Staple Singers’ first post-Stax Records release, and features five songs and three instrumentals that Mayfield composed for the film.