Tuesday, January 31, 2012

James Brown
"Revolution of the Mind"

Recorded live at the Apollo Theater in 1971 this is James Brown doing his own best "greatest hits" live.

It doesn't perhaps have the same frantic energy and sense of discovery that he was channeling ten years earlier, but he's still on his game. Perhaps even more hair-parting is his backing band that is hanging on his every word, ready to flip from the bridge to verse to song to intro to...

Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey
"The Fabulous Dorseys in Hi-Fi

As usual, this Columbia six-eye vinyl is a beautiful specimen, just like most records from this era were. The packaging is luscious, full-color gatefolded and the records are heavy in the hand. The fact that these records are clean and in good shape is no small accomplishment.

This is a best-of double-LP set featuring compositions that both Jimmy and Tommy worked together on.

Leon Russell
"Leon Russell & the Shelter People"

After reading about Mr. Russell for a little bit, it occurs to me that he may have had the kind of career that I most respect.
Beginning his music-making playing in clubs, working as a session musician (both piano and guitar) for Phil Spector and getting to record with everyone from Sinatra to the Stones. Then, stepping into the producer's chair, has Joe Cocker take one of his songs to #11 on the Billboard (and then tour internationally in support of the album.) Next, release a couple of albums of your own music, be cited by Elton John as one of his most influential musicians and record with Eric Clapton, B.B. King and Bob Dylan.

I think it could be safe to say that Leon Russell is a musician's musician.

His music on this record, steeped in honkey tonk piano, is genuinely good. Perhaps some of these songs are blatant rip-offs of other hits ("Sweet Home Alabama/Home Sweet Oklahoma") but you can't deny Russell's instincts and sensitivity when it comes to what sounds good.

Monday, January 30, 2012

"Very Necessary"

This is still (I believe) the most successful album by an all-female rap group having been certified 3x platinum in the US alone.

I picked this up at a thrift store because I remember hearing the hits 'Whatta Man' and 'Shoop' on Mtv when we would visit our grandparents (my only access to cable tv.) This group, (like last week's Tribe Called Quest) had the great production for 90's rap music that made it so much fun to listen to. The beats are funky, the sampling's clever and I doubt there's any autotune happening.

That being said, perhaps it was funny and scandalous to rap about sex, but now its annoying to have song after song listening to the girls riff about their bedroom habits. Some things don't age that well, apparently.

Rockin' Dopsie & the Cajun Twisters
"Big Bad Zydeco"

The so-called "crowned prince" of button accordion Zydeco, Rockin' Dopsie is recorded in this album late in his short life when he started getting attention nationally for his talents.
Although he would only live another ten years after this record was made the record has the sort of energy you imagine all of these R&B/Jazz/Soul performers had until the day they died. There were no "off" nights.

Having had the opportunity to visit New Orleans on occasion I am fascinated by the collision of cultures, language, religion and music that occurred in this very old part of the continent.
Boasting some of the oldest buildings and neighborhoods in the continental US New Orleans also claims birthright to Zydeco, Creole food, culture and language. None of these things are unique or indigenous but rather a messy combination of all of the different people who have made their home there.
Zydeco is no exception. Using instruments and musical traditions from Europe, Africa, South America and North America elements are blended together into a style that can only be described as uniquely American.

Dick Clark
"Dance With Dick Clark"

The image you see isn't actually the album I have, but after looking around the tracks are identical. I think the only difference is that mine is in reproduced stereo and was either released simultaneously or a few years later. (How many homes had a stereo hi-fi in 1958?)

Glistening with influences from the cha-cha, Basie swing orchestras and skiffle there is something different about this music, and it would go on in the next few short years to grow up and become full-fledged rock n' roll. For now, though, this is what ABC would broadcast on a weekly basis. Fun, but very safe.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kings of Leon
"Aha Shake Heartbreak"

It's perplexed and frustrated me for years as to why I have this album. Or perhaps its perplexing why I only have this Kings of Leon album. I honestly can't decide.

I listened to this while I washed dishes tonight. I've obviously listened to it enough to bop the head and feign-lip sync to the songs, but why hasn't this ever really cracked the list of 'good albums' in my collection? Why don't I consider it important? Well, I finally have some thoughts:

The songs on this album are undeniably old-school rock n' roll. There isn't a single track on this record that doesn't sound like it could've been written 30-40 years ago.
What's lacking is any sense of energy or danger. The band plays and the album sounds very neat and tidy, but the last thing this music should sound like is neat and tidy. In contrast, it should sound like a near collision with a flaming cement truck.

Instead this sounds lazy. The vocal stylings of Anthony Followill are virtually identical from one song to the next. It's only the changing meter and tempo that lets you know a new song has begun.

I think I've wanted to like the Kings, but their schtick as being the dirtiest (literally, unbathed) rock band in show biz coupled with lukewarm music proves unpalatable. Combine that with Mtv's love for the band and I'm ready to burn this record.
It's a shame, really, because it's not a bad record. At all. It's just a shame they didn't make it better.

Paul Barbarin, Punch Miller's Bunch
"Jazz at Preservation Hall III"

Atlantic Records recorded legends of Dixieland jazz for a week in July of 1962, releasing a total of four volumes of music from the heart of New Orleans' jazz scene.

This specific record was made over two nights. Paul Barbarin recorded on July 5th. Punch Miller recorded on the 6th.
The artists were not young when these records were made; I would liken it to the resurgence in popularity of blues artists like Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and the like in the 60's when a young generation of rock n' rollers discovered them.
This feels like an archival project of sorts, but the recordings are great and the musicians play with as much energy and vigor as they ever did.

Oistarkh, Oborin
"Beethoven 'Spring' & Prokofiev's First violin sonatas"

A hefty record from the 1950's, it's really in beautiful shape and is a decent capture of a 40-something Oistrakh at the height of his power.

The recording itself sounds like the microphone was at the back of an empty recital hall, but aside from that, it's quite good.

It's interesting hearing the Russian influence over modern American playing (moreso than many American contemporaries of Oistrakh and Milstein.)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bartok, Sam Ramey, Eva Marton
"Bluebeard's Castle"

Adam Fischer conducts the Hungarian State Orchestra in Bartok's one-act opera.
Samuel Ramey and Eva Marton perform the two singing roles.

I don't know this piece that well, but knowing that it's origin is near 'the Wooden Prince' which I like a lot.
Sam Ramey sounds amazing, of course.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sondheim, NY Philharmonic

A reunion concert of sorts.
Recorded live over two evenings at Avery Fisher Hall the cast is accompanied by the New York Philharmonic.

It's not one of Sondheim's biggest hits, but the music is still quality.

This is a record on the RCA label, but it was recorded digitally, so listening to it on vinyl seems like a bizarre upset of the universe.

Smokey Robinson & the Miracles
"Greatest Hits vol. 2"

I'm really showing true impartiality here.

After listening to a Herb Alpert record that comes during the height of glossy production we return to early Motown.
The recording quality isn't the same as would be enjoyed by virtually every recording artist fifteen years later, but the music is so much more interesting and, dare I say it, good.

The opening track ("Going to a Go Go") features the weirdest out-of-tune timpani accompaniment to the bass line that not only attracts the ear but lends a memorable note to the song.

Let's not even start to mention the beauty and power of Smokey Robinson's vocals.

Herb Alpert

This is also an odd project.

After finding out that Mr. Alpert's "Fandango" and I didn't agree I decided to re-visit and see what other treasures lay in his area.

This whole album is built around the song 'Rise' which was a hit back in its day, mostly because it was featured prominently on 'General Hospital' during a rape scene.

My same complaint here with 'Fandango': the innocent charm and whimsy of the Tijuana Brass is gone and replaced with a glossy soft jazz veneer.

Not something I need to dwell on.

Actually I just heard the biggest reason this song endures into my generation: One of the passing moments in Mr. Alpert's guitar line was sampled prominently in the Notorious B.I.G.'s hit 'Hypnotize.'

David Clayton Thomas, Linda Ronstadt
"Back on the Street Again"

This is a re-hash of previous Capitol releases on the budget Pickwick label.
The Stone Poneys were Linda Ronstadt's folk rock trio that found moderate success (and helped launch her solo career.)
David Clayton Thomas was the lead singer of Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Together they make one very odd, uneven record.

I can't say I'm a fan of Ms. Ronstadt. It reminds me of everything my mom probably listened to growing up.
Just when David Clayton Thomas' songs start to get good his side is over.

I'm not sure why this record was produced the way it is. As it is, it's kind of a pointless collection of artists/songs.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Allegri Quartet, Bishop, Brymer
"Kegelstatt Trio & Stadler Quintet"

Mozart's unusual instrumentation (piano, clarinet and viola) for his 'Kegelstatt' trio is a jewel for violists. Rarely did Mozart (who regularly intended to perform the viola parts himself) extend his writing beyond what the viola regards as comfortable. Of course he helped press these boundaries in his own way (the 'Sinfonia Concertante') but this particular work gives us a glimpse of Mozart's ideas of what the viola was capable of. Mozart wrote violin sonatas, but this is as close to pairing the viola directly with piano as we get.
It's a beautiful, whimsical piece. Borne of the same age as 'Marriage of Figaro' it demonstrates Mozart at the height of his composing power.
The 'Stadler' quintet I'm not familiar with - I'll listen to it when the record flips.

The recording and performances themselves are careful, if not cautious, and clean. The clarinet, by virtue of it's design, dominates the microphone a bit, but this could be expected in a live performance as well.

Eric Clapton & the Yardbirds
"Eric Clapton & the Yardbirds"

A live album of blues and rock standards and covers, I'm having trouble learning anything very specific about this record. The cover image suggests a late 70's release, but there isn't any record of this in either Eric Clapton or the Yardbird's discography on Wikipedia.
The album was put out in stereo by Sprinboard records which (according to the back of the jacket) specialized in live concert recordings of everyone from Clapton to Tina Turner, James Taylor, Cher and Dr. John.

It's not a very good recording...me thinks this was a budget label release?

Enoch Light & Orchestra
"The Million Dollar Sound Vol. 1"

Imagine cramming a studio full of Stradivari, Guarneri, Gagliano, Guadagnini, Bergonzi and Villaume instruments. Then imagine having them play "I've Got You Under My Skin."

Somewhere between the novelty of having millions of dollars worth of stringed instruments playing together and making them play like the Hollywood Strings lies poetic justice, I suppose.

The greatest travesty is this recording isn't even done well enough so that you can really enjoy the timbres of some of the world's finest stringed instruments.

The Beach Boys
"Endless Summer"

I know now why this album confuses me.
This is a compilation album put out by Capitol records after the Beach Boys had moved to Reprise records.
In an effort to capitalize on the Beach Boys' success, this "best of" record features pre-'Pet Sounds' surfer rock hits.
Everything the Beach Boys are known for ("Surfin' USA," "Surfer Girl," "I Get Around," "California Girls") is on this one two-LP set.

Not a bad compilation, but it's confusing because this is all the mop-top board short-wearing teenager music but the cover depicts the far wilder, what-happened-to-you-Mr. Wilson? kind of atmosphere.

Jars of Clay
"Jars of Clay"

This groups debut album, released in 1995, has aged a bit, but its impossible to ignore the strength of the group's songwriting. Some of these songs came about while its members were still in school together and wrote music for music recording classes.
This album would be their biggest selling album to-date, certified double platinum, and would receive mainstream airplay.
Sadly, although aspects of the Jars became better and more refined, on a basic level their songwriting was never better than on their first album.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


The end of the Woodstock-era Santana, this album is chock full of the psychedelic Latin rock charm.
It's quite a trip, man, and certainly zenith-period Santana.

Various Artists
"The Life Aquatic - Sountrack"

The soundtrack to my favorite Wes Anderson film shows exactly why Anderson's film scores are so popular. A combination of old favorites (Bowie, Iggy Pop) re-done classics (Seu Jorge's Portuguese covers of David Bowie's hits) or original music (penned by Devo superstar Mark Mothersbaugh) it blends together in an instantaneously memorable tableau of the film.

Etta James
"At Last!"

In honor of Ms. James' passing this week.

"Vegas Car Chasers"

This is one of the rare exceptions of a CD that I've owned for over ten years that I still listen to. And I still enjoy it.

Silage is a now defunct band that was born under the sign of "Jesus Freak" -era DC-Talk when alt rock was huge in the mainstream and Christian rock had its worthwhile ambassadors.

The thing with Silage (and this album in particular,) was that this album was truly ahead of its time. So ahead of its time, in fact, that it still sounds interesting and has avoided the dreaded "dated" stamp.

They don't sound like any other band of their time, and they weren't big enough to be imitated by anyone since. The result is a collection of fun songs that blends a pleasing cocktail of nu-metal, beach rock and punk.

Budapest String Quartet & Walter Trampler
"Brahms Viola Quintets

The father of the modern string quartet captured in the studio with collaborator-extraordinaire Walter Trampler recording both of Brahms' quintets for two violins, two violas and cello.

These pieces have long been a staple of chamber music literature (and a favorite of violists everywhere.) The Budapest gives a good performance here, but it is an enlightening record to listen to: the recording itself isn't the most thought out. The first violinist is favored too much by the microphones, the ensemble is "loose" by the standards which we judge these things today.
In an era before microscopic editing capabilities these recordings are very useful to help remind us of the artificial standard we hold ourselves to today, and also help us see what we've accomplished.

Herb Alpert

I'm spotting a trend.
Artists who I love and admire do weird things in the 80's.
It's not their fault, really. The production methods changed dramatically between the 70's and 80's, but also musical tastes changed and an overarching need/desire to remain relevant means you incorporate new sounds into your recipe.
For some, this helps. For others, it lessens the potency of your cooking.

I love the cheery, innocent attitude of Alpert's recordings from the 60's. I think it's genius.
But something happens in the 80's to so many of these artists: with the everyday incorporation of synthesizers into a band's line-up comes a wild veer into what sounds most like soft jazz. The glossy production that became commonplace in the 80's doesn't help.

I just can't help it. I don't like the 80's. This recording won't last in my collection.

Captain Beefheart
"Safe as Milk"

Capt. Beefheart's debut album doesn't indicate just how far Van Vliet would take his rag-tag group of misfits in the next handful of years, but it is a good start.

Steeped heavily in the blues, this sounds more like an early Stones record than anything truly new. Where they headed from here, however, is the stuff of legend...

Ry Cooder, at the time only 20 years old, plays guitar for the Band on this record.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Aussie's Wolfmother's debut is a near-hit. It has pitch-perfect album artwork, the band has pitch-perfect band photos and near-perfect production.

The problem is the songs. I remember listening to this album while I was preparing to go to basic training. It was right around the same time that I started listening to Black Sabbath's "Paranoid." The comparison was inevitable.
The problem with this album is that Wolfmother really never finds its center of gravity with these songs. The songs are all heavy, all buzzing with power chords and riffs, but there's never the sense of abandonment that came from their predecessors.

It's fun enough to stay in the collection, but I hope that Wolfmother finally perfects the recipe and generates a truly awesome album.

Xavier Cugat
"Viva Cugat!"

From the liner notes:

"What Paul Whiteman was to symphonic jazz, Guy Lombardo to 'sweet corn' and Benny Goodman to swing, Xavier Cugat has been to the Latin beat in American dance music."

A Latin bandleader, Cugat is responsible for bringing Latin music to American audiences. (Think Ricky Ricardo.)
The music is fun, whimsical and full of an ocean of Latin percussion.

This has to be one of the more valuable records I own; you can see why these Mercury label records are desirable. It's a gorgeous full-color gate-fold jacket with detailed liner notes and illustrations detailing the orchestra's set up during recording and now, 60 years later, the record still sounds amazing.

A Tribe Called Quest
"Midnight Marauders"

I love the Tribe. When discussions emerge about hip hop then-and-now the conversation MUST include the Tribe. This group embodied the ideas of soul, funk and humor wrapped in a truly enjoyable, groovable package.

Made in an age when sampling and real, actual drum beats were the backbone of a rap song it has a warmth and comfort to it that you didn't know you were missing until you hear it.

This album doesn't hang together quite as well as their previous "Low End Theory," but it comes close.

J. Geils Band
"Nightmares...and other tales from the vinyl jungle"

This is an interesting band. Now known for its hits that would happen a decade later, at this point (in 1974) J. Geils was looking for a way to forge their own identity after being known as a cover band of R&B and Blues tunes in Boston bars.
This is their first album of original tunes (except for one cover) and preserves the band as a group of energetic, tight blues/funk musicians albeit perhaps not that inspired or creative.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kronos Quartet
"Performs Philip Glass"

I forgot to mention another Nonesuch artist: the Kronos Quartet, responsible for some of the last 25 years' most important chamber music performances and commissions.

This CD is a collection of four of Philip Glass' string quartets. (Nos. 2-5)

Glass is an American master of minimalism and, if you're able to palette the flavor, writes some beautiful quartet music.
The Kronos' performance is still lush and warm despite the calculated music.

Charles Castleman
"Ysaye: Six Sonatas for Solo Violin op. 27"

Apparently the Nonesuch label has always been on the perimeter of musical currents. Today their label boasts a roster such as The Black Keys, the Punch Brothers and composer Steve Reich. In 1983 they released this, an album of solo violin sonatas by Eugene Ysaye.

I love the Ysaye sonatas that I've heard. The most famous is his second (dedicated to Jauques Thibaud) which is an homage to Bach's solo violin compositions and is sometimes called the "Obsession" sonata.
Some of these are much shorter (No. 6 is less than seven minutes long) but each is dedicated to a prominent violinist of Ysaye's age.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Janis Joplin

The last album that Joplin (nearly) completed before she died is considered to be her finest.
There was an era in the 60's when capturing many artists' music on record was quite a feat since much of the performers' magic came while they were live on stage. Putting everything in a studio made their music often feel artificial.
(See: Led Zeppelin's "How the West Was Won" and compare their live versions to many of their studio counterparts.)

Still, it seems care was taken to try and capture Janis' stylings and talents as she was.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo
"Thuthukani Ngoxolo"

I first heard (probably like many kids of my generation) Ladysmith Black Mambazo on Sesame Street. Only as an adult did I learn that LBM became known to this continent because of Paul Simon and 'Graceland.'

This is a very recent addition to my CD collection. I knew nothing about the album except that it seemed improbable that you could buy a bad LBM album.

It's beautiful. You could fall asleep to these songs. The trance-like all-male group performs with great diction and ensemble and makes you wish you were from South Africa.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Three Dog Night
"It Ain't Easy"

If this was the more radio-friendly rock n' roll that enjoyed a larger commercial success than some more enduring rock artists of the 1970's then I was definitely born in the wrong decade.

It's not that every song on here is awesome, but it IS that record production and song arranging was in a place that was so much more satisfying to sit and listen to than what would be coming in another 15 years.
Don't even talk to me about Prince.

The White Stripes
"Walking With a Ghost" EP

I remember being on the west side of Cleveland and happening into a music store the day this EP was released. Of course being the White Stripes fan I am I had absolutely no idea this was being released.
This was my introduction to Sara & Tegan. Mostly this short disc serves as a vessel for decent live versions of Stripes' standards except for the cover of 'Walking With a Ghost.' So basically, it's just an elongated single, right?
Kremer, Harnocourt, Weiner Philharmoniker
"Mozart Violin Concerto nos. 1, 2, 5"

What looks like a CD that was part of a comprehensive collection of Deutsche Grammophon Mozart CDs, this is a beautiful recording of two lesser-known Mozart concertos and one of his warhorses.
The Mozart violin concertos are erroneously thought of as 'easier' concertos because they're often some of the first pieces of major literature that a young violinist would learn. But wisdom teaches that those things that are often thought of as the easiest are often the most difficult. So it is with Mozart's music.

Ethel Merman, Ray Middleton
"Annie Get Your Gun!"

This is the original broadway cast album of Rodgers-Hammerstein's production of 'Annie Get Your Gun' with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin.

The distinctive grating of Ms. Merman's vocals aside, everything on this record is golden-age musical fun. Jay Blackton conducts the cast, chorus and orchestra.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jane's Addiction

This album was released in 2003, just about the time I started really waking up to what good music was/wasn't.
I got to hear Jane's Addiction play some of these songs live in an outdoor concert outside the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame in downtown Cleveland. There's been an emotional attachment to this album ever since.
That being said, this is certainly an album borne of the Age of Loud, where everything is mashed together, compressed and turns into noise. Loud noise.
Also, I'm increasingly of the mind that Perry Farrell is Jane's Addiction. Navarro & Co. are just along for the purple-and-plaid ride.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Hives
"Tyrannosaurus Hives"

This is only of the most tightly-wound albums I've ever heard. It's as if the band asked "why, if you can do a song in 3 minutes, can you not do it in one?"
Each track is sizzling with frantic energy, crammed shoulder-to-shoulder yet, magically, with daylight showing between one guitar riff and the next.
On top of this "Screamin'" Pelle Almqvist unleashes his trademark stylings.
Of the Hives' three full-length albums, I consider this their finest output to date.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dave Brubeck & Gerry Mulligan
"Live at the Berlin Philharmonic"

A great live recording of some jazz greats at their greatest. Recorded in 1970.

Still learning my A to Z's with jazz, but at least I know Brubeck and Mulligan.

Led Zeppelin

No one's ever done a best-of collection of Led Zeppelin...this year.

But 2008's two-disc compilation is about as good a stab at it as exists. All of the greats are here in their remastered glory.
It's just astonishing how good this band really was. Thank goodness they existed during an era of recorded history.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Black Keys
"Rubber Factory"
(Vinyl + CD)

I've been yelling a lot about the Black Keys with the release of their latest, 'El Camino' and for fun I thought it'd be good to visit (what I regard) their best album, 'Rubber Factory.'
For me this strikes the pitch-perfect combination of swagger, blues and heart. This record still has the very raw, unpolished sound that was a trademark for their early albums. (All on the Fat Possum label.)

The Keys have earned all of the success that they now enjoy, but for me, I don't know if it'll get any better than "10 AM Automatic."

Alexander Gibson, Royal Scottish National Orchestra
"Sibelius: Symphonies 2 & 3"

Okay, I'll admit it: I'm doing a little homework. This CD came out of the cabinet because I have to play it next month, so I thought it might be nice to get a head start.

And after I popped it in while I did the dishes...I think I've played this before. Is this going to happen a lot going forward?

Huey Lewis & the News

Leaving the cheesy glory of HL&N aside, this record has some decent tunes on it. More importantly, I feel it's a really useful example of what was happening with music production in the 80's. This band was VERY radio friendly and tailored their music according to the public's taste which is an interesting way of listening to how studios made music during the 'golden age' of studio glory.
Zubin Mehta, LA Philharmonic
"Tchaikovsky Symphony no. 5"

Somehow this particular record's cover image doesn't show up online any where, so you'll just have to believe me when I say this recording exists. I promise.

This is actually one of the most recent records I've added. My mom found this in a thrift store, and ever attentive to contributing to her son's addiction, spent a whopping 50 cents.

The performance is (of course) top notch.

The record itself needs a good cleaning which would help get rid of a lot of the "noise" I hear on this recording.
After going through the George Benson corner of the collection I was compelled to find other records in the jazz section that I A) have never listened to and B) don't even know what kind of music is on them.
I think the only recurring theme here is that I'm not really a Bob James fan. Or maybe its soft jazz that I'm not keen on. Oh well...

Bob James

Bob James & Earl Klugh
"One on One"

Bob James & Earl Klugh
"Two of a Kind"

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Artur Rubinstein
"Chopin: The Waltzes"

Even in the 50's RCA Victor was figuring out the importance of marketing.
This single LP disc comes in a beautiful full-color box with an accompanying booklet that looks like it should contain at least two additional discs.
The box creates a presence on any shelf and draws the eye - a perfect strategy when you're trying to interest people in another recording from one of the most prolific performers of the early 20th century.
To help, the packaging claims a NEW recording of Chopin's waltzes, clearly demarking it from Rubinstein's earlier recordings of the same popular piano works.

The playing is beautiful, I'm just more amused by the sales pitch of the record than anything else.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sam & Dave
"The Best of Sam & Dave"

Despite the danger of showing my ignorance I must confess that before I found this dusty record in a thrift store in Mankato, MN I had never heard of Sam & Dave. Or so I thought.
Once I listened to this record I realized that perhaps I didn't know WHO performed the songs, but I was VERY familiar with Sam & Dave's music.
This is a compilation from 1969 and sounds a bit more like Detroit than Philly. Me likey.

George Benson
"The Other Side of Abbey Road"

Finishing my sojourn through the 'Benson' section of my alphabet I come to this album of Beatles covers.
I've listened to this before, but perhaps the time just wasn't right: before I never thought this was that interesting.

Now, however, I can appreciate (more than anything) the truly funky velour-clad orchestra arrangements by Don Sebesky. (Complete with jazz flute!)