You might be tired of the Holiday Music, and no, no I’m not being a Scrooge. Neither should you consider Capricorn, the 10th sign of the Zodiac to be the cold heart of winter either. As we sit in the even incrementally growing longer daylight hours as we head into 2017, we look with purpose to a lot of work, a lot of structures we need to put in place to secure a healthy future for all of us.
I look at Winter Solstice, just past now, as the actual New Year, with each dollop of extra light that comes on now in the northern hemisphere through June. I start making my resolutions, and look at what I want to do and accomplish in the next year. There’s nothing like the industrious sound of the selection of SeaGoat Soul (and related) singers I’ve assembled for our Astro-Month playlist.
We’ve got a large number of Black Women that wrote, produced and played on their own records, from Doris Troy, Barbara Lynn, and Patti Drew. We have “The House That Ruth Built” Brown and other architects of rock and roll + soul music that go sorely underappreciated in Johnny Otis and Bo Diddley. We have the master of New Orleans Vinyl Voodoo Allen Toussaint. We have our favorite Anal Sex fiend….err…Backdoor Santa…I mean multitalented blind artist Clarence Carter hanging out with Dolly Parton, Eartha Kitt and Esther Phillips alongside people you should really know like Ruby Winters….and then there’s always David Ruffin. And Van McCoy pre-hustle and taking time out from perfecting soul gems for everyone else to try out his on voice behind the glass booth.
Get in where you fit in with your resolutions through these 36 gems for 90 minutes of fun, and Happy New Year!
1) Barbara Lynn – You Left The Water Running (1966)
Pioneer Electric Guitarist, Bandleader, Singer and Songwriter Barbara Lynn Ozen was born January 16, 1944.
2) Esther Phillips – Just Say Goodbye (1966)
Starting her impressive career that spanned nearly 35 tumultous years as Little Esther Phillips in 1950, Esther Phillips was born December 23, 1935.
3) The Temptations – You’ll Lose A Precious Love (1965)
The Temptations probably still would have made magic without David Ruffin, but his contributions to the group were absolutely priceless. Davis Eli Ruffin was born January 18, 1941.
4) Donna Hightower – I Ain’t In The Mood (1951)
Never intending to have a performing career, Donna’s sterling silver voice was drawn out of diners and onto stages worldwide for the better part of 50 years. Donna Lubertha Hightower was born December 28, 1926.
5) Johnny Otis – Baby, I’ve Got News For You (1961)
Although a forgotten legend now, or just the dad of Shuggie Otis, Johnny Otis was one of the fathers of West Coast R&B, discovering not only Esther Phillips, The Coasters, Big Mama Thornton, Etta James and Sugar Pie DeSanto, but forged his own hit making and television career as well. He was born Ioannis Alexandres Veliotes December 28, 1921
6) Lee Dorsey – Behind The 8 Ball (1963)
Although he had a successful stint as a boxer in Portland named Kid Chocolate, When Lee Dorsey returned to New Orleans he opened his own car repair shop and sang at night. Gotta have a back-up plan, eh? Irving Lee Dorsey was born December 24, 1924.
7) Merry Clayton – Beg Me (1964)
Another sweet dynamite of New Orleans, Merry Clayton was one of the darling ingenues of the L.A. session scene as a mere 13 year old by 1962. By 1963 she had her own contract with Capitol. Although she didn’t score hit records during the 60’s, her powerful pipes cemented her legacy as one bad-ass lady that stood in the shadows too long, as detailed in Twenty Feet From Stardom. Merry was born as a Christmas Gift to us all December 25, 1948.
8) The Drew-Vels – Creepin’ (1964)
While Patti Drew and her Sisters made a little bit of noise with “Tell Him” in 1963, it spurred more than a decade of Patti making a go in the recording industry, primarily for Capitol Records for the better part of a decade. We bring in the Windy City babe born December 29, 1944.
9) Allen Toussaint – Poor Boy, Got To Move (1965)
Crafting thousands of songs for people as diverse as Irma Thomas, Lee Dorsey above and The Pointer Sisters, Allen Toussaint spent most of his career giving away his riches from the heart of The Big Easy to others, so we cherish those moments that he took to record himself in all his splendor. Allen Toussaint, our 4th babe of the Bayou, was born January 14, 1938.
10) Van McCoy – Hey Lover (1965)
Like Toussaint, Van McCoy spent the majority of his career gifting people as diverse as The Walker Brothers, Gladys Knight and The Pips, Barbara Lewis, Lesley Gore and a host of others hit records while spending nearly nilch in time recording himself until the 1970’s. Van Allen Clinton McCoy was born January 6, 1940.
11) Ruby Winters – Act Three (1966)
Far underrated and with not many crossover pop hits to her name, Ruby Winters’s piquant voice graced a slew of soul singles from 1966 onwards. One of my favorites, and one of the first people I ever DJ’d live, she has a special place in my heart. Ruby Forehand blessed us with her birth January 18, 1942.
12) Patti Drew – Where Is Daddy? (1965)
13) Little Anthony And The Imperials – Reputation (1964)
And what a fabulous reputation Little Anthony Gourdine carved out for himself in the legacy of Soul Music. For nearly 60 years, he’s been one of the most peerless tenor voices in popular music, and found himself a trendsetter time and time again. Jerome Anthony Gourdine was born January 8, 1941.
14) Barbara Lynn – Don’t Spread It Around (1964)
15) The Staple Singers – Freedom Highway (Live) (1965)
Roebuck “Pops” Staples, although he wasn’t always featured in a lead vocalist capacity, held it down as a vocal civil rights, spritiual and political father to not just the children Staples, but to many people that listened to the magic music family he created. He was born December 28, 1914.
16) Eartha Kitt – Anyway You Want It, Baby (1966)
I don’t know where any of us would be without Eartha Mae Kitt. Righteous beyond what most of us mere mortals have been capable of, she’s the greatest Cat Woman, and also a woman that took so many career and personal risks to stick up for right and just causes using her platform. She was born January 17, 1927.
17) The Temptations – Angel Doll (1967)
18) Donna Hightower – If You Hold My Hand (1971)
19) Bo Diddley – We’re Gonna Get Married (1966)
Although Chuck Berry gets the lion’s share of attention, and perhaps because Bo’s style really informed R&B and Black music more than white rock ‘n roll, he’s not as much of a household name as some of his peers that gave roadmaps to post-war popular music. His electrifying style and support of those that wanted to play alongside him was a powerful force in music. Ellas Otha Bates was born December 30, 1928.
20) Doris Troy – He’s Qualified (1967)
Given like McCoy and Toussaint to be too readily give away her gifts to other performers, Doris Troy at least made one effort to get herself from behind the songwriters Piano and out into the world. With “Just One Look” she forced herself to be a woman to be reckoned with. Although she didn’t chart again in the US, she continued to record a plentiful output worth your repeated listens. Doris Elaine Higginsen was born January 6, 1937.
21) Ruth Brown – You’re A Stone Groovy Thing (1968)
She built Atlantic Records with her back-to-back-to-back-and-forward-again run of R&B and then Pop hits for the label throughout the 1950’s. Although Ray Charles gets the lion’s share of credit for Atlantic’s rise, Ray wouldn’t have had a pot to piss in without Ruth. Actually a number of R&B legends wouldn’t had she not lobbied for protections for performers that lead to the foundation of The Rhythm and Blues Foundation. Ruth Alston Weston was born January 12, 1928.
22) Johnny Otis – Signifying Monkey (1968)
23) Clarence Carter – Snatching It Back (1969)
Although he’s most known now for his most raunch filled offerings, Clarence Carter brought a bevy of self penned Fame Studios magic to the airwaves starting in 1967. Our favorite owner of all types of personal lubricants was born January 14, 1936.
24) Merry Clayton – Good Girls (1970)
25) Dolly Parton – Control Yourself (1966)
You’re like why is Dolly Parton on this list. Have you seen how often her compositions have been recorded by R&B singers? And, let’s remember that period in 1965-66 where she was like being a runner up to like Tammi Terrell and Brenda Holloway with Blue-Eyed Soul Singles, and I watched Dolly! The TV show back in 1987 so whatever. Dolly Rebecca Parton was born January 19, 1946. You might think she’s an Aquarius but nah y’all her birth chart is pure anoretic Capricorn.
26) Ruby Winters – Better (1967)
27) Allen Toussaint – Hands Christiananderson (1968)
28) Donna Gains (Summer) If You’re Walkin’ Alone (1969)
We go back to the Queen of the Discoteque’s beginning with this German one off single. Donna Gaines, later Donna Summer, was born December 31, 1948.
29) Clarence Carter – Getting The Bills, But No Merchandise (1971)
30) Lee Dorsey – My Old Car (1967)
31) Doris Troy – Tomorrow Is Another Day (1963)
32) Bo Diddley – Wrecking My Love Life (1967)
33) Esther Phillips – Too Much Of A Man (To Be Tied Down) (1969)
34) Jack ‘n’ Jill (Van McCoy & Kendra Spotswood) – (We’re Just) Two Of A Kind (1964)
35) Little Anthony And The Imperials – Better Use Your Head (1966)
36) Ruth Brown – Lucky Lips (1957)