Rhythm and Blues

‘Pretty raw, and pretty fresh’: On the first-take genius of Stax stars like Otis Redding

‘Pretty raw, and pretty fresh’: On the first-take genius of Stax stars like Otis Redding

The wonder, in listening to ageless sides from Stax Records stars like Otis Redding, was how often they came from one-take performances. Too, these songs were typically written just days, or even hours, beforehand.

Books:  Huey ‘Piano’ Smith and the Rocking Pneumonia Blues, by John Wirt (2014)

Books: Huey ‘Piano’ Smith and the Rocking Pneumonia Blues, by John Wirt (2014)

Despite his sweeping influence — not to mention rollicking classics like the song that inspired this book title – Huey “Piano” Smith remains this endlessly enigmatic figure. An excerpt from John Wirt’s new comprehensive, first-ever biography, courtesy of LSU Press, takes us inside the moment when “Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” caught fire.

‘I have to listen to it instead’: Hall and Oates star can’t go for music in bed

‘I have to listen to it instead’: Hall and Oates star can’t go for music in bed

Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames. It might not be the first question that you’d ask a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. Then again, ask just about any other similarly recognized legend, and you might not get such a no-BS answer, either.

One Track Mind: Earth Wind and Fire, “Can’t Hide Love” from Essential (2014)

One Track Mind: Earth Wind and Fire, “Can’t Hide Love” from Essential (2014)

This sound, in the dead of night, comes rushing out of my radio — a tornadic gust of horns. Then there follows a devastatingly cool lyric, amid a suave and spacious groove. But who is it? 45 seconds in, I finally peg “Can’t Hide Love” as the new Earth Wind and Fire song; I knew Maurice White’s “yow” anywhere.

Hall and Oates’ ‘I Can’t Go For That’ isn’t about what you think it’s about; neither is ‘Maneater’

Hall and Oates’ ‘I Can’t Go For That’ isn’t about what you think it’s about; neither is ‘Maneater’

It would be fair to assume, while listening to Hall and Oates’ No. 1 smash hits “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” and “Maneater,” that they are about relationships gone bad. But you know what happens when you assume, right?

Something Else! sneak peek: The Black Keys, “Fever” from True Blue (2014)

Something Else! sneak peek: The Black Keys, “Fever” from True Blue (2014)

A lean groove, a crinkly throwback riff, a pained falsetto. Yes, the Black Keys are back — with a song that thrums with pent-up passion and swirling darkness, with something finally worth celebrating. “Fever” is the sound of a churning, unrequited love, and the sound a band that’s completely returned to form.

Gimme Five: Doobie Brothers Songs with Jeff “Skunk” Baxter

Gimme Five: Doobie Brothers Songs with Jeff “Skunk” Baxter

Most fans of the Doobie Brothers seem to have allegiances to particular periods in the band’s 45-year history — with the most common divide being Tom Johnston vs. Michael McDonald.

‘Will you give me my job back?’: Difficult early choice led to Steve Cropper’s Hall of Fame career

‘Will you give me my job back?’: Difficult early choice led to Steve Cropper’s Hall of Fame career

Steve Cropper had a once-in-a-lifetime chance, in 1960, to become a road warrior. Yet, even while riding the crest of attention afforded by a breakout hit called “Last Night” with the Mar-Keys, the former music-shop clerk knew he had a difficult choice to make.

Irma Thomas – Full Time Woman: The Lost Cotillion Album (2014)

Irma Thomas – Full Time Woman: The Lost Cotillion Album (2014)

Not yet recognized as the Soul Queen of New Orleans, Irma Thomas had gone some time without a hit by the time she signed with Atlantic’s Cotillion subsidiary in the early 1970s. She’d last charted a pop hit in 1966, and had only gotten to No. 42 with her most recent R&B hit — back in 1968.

John Oates – Good Road to Follow (2014)

John Oates – Good Road to Follow (2014)

John Oates wrote or co-wrote some 82 songs between 1972-2003 as part of Hall and Oates, including the No. 1 hits “I Can’t Go For That” and “Out of Touch.” So, really, it’s easy to understand his interest in mixing it up with some new collaborators.