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Keith Powell ‎– The Keith Powell Story

Keith Powell  ‎– The Keith Powell Story


A blue-eyed soul singer from Birmingham, Keith Powell released almost a dozen British singles in the mid-'60s without making the charts. Judged against other British soul (as opposed to rock) vocalists of the time, he wasn't bad, with a deep voice and expressive delivery, but unlike Chris Farlowe and John Baldry -- two peers who, at least from the recorded evidence, were not as talented -- he couldn't find hit material. His first three singles (in 1963 and 1964) were recorded for Columbia with his backing group, the Valets, a combo featuring brass and organ, somewhat in the style of a muted Georgie Fame. After moving to Pye in late 1964, the Valets would no longer play on his records; producer John Schroeder steered him toward melodramatic soul ballads with strings, produced in a fashion that recalled Jerry Butler's mid-'60s material. With Pye, Powell released eight singles in 1965-1966, three of which were male-female duets with Billie Davis (who had made the British Top Ten with a cover of the Exciters' "Tell Him"). The results weren't bad, if a bit lugubrious, but were not rewarded by commercial success.

Keith Powell  ‎– The Keith Powell Story
 

Both sides of his eleven 1963-66 singles (including his duets with Billie Davis), as well as a couple of unreleased tracks. There isn't much similarity between this stuff and the classic British Invasion sound; it has much more of a horn-organ-string feel, with production that is trying to emulate (with pale results) early-'60s American soul and R&B records. Powell was an okay singer, and his records weren't bad, but he wasn't exceptional, and there's little that makes you wonder why he didn't get a hit. "I Should Know Better," athough, is a lost gem of sorts with its swirling organ, pleading vocal, and memorable tune; "Beyond the Hill," a haunting number with a Latin-Euro feel (co-written by Powell), is pretty good too.

THANKS El mas frio for..

Jay & The Americans - Sands Of Time (1969) & Wax Museum (1970)

Jay & The Americans - Sands Of Time (1969) & Wax Museum (1970)


Sands Of Time (1969)

Johnny Rivers' mid-'60s hits may have set in motion the rock & roll revivalism that culminated in Grease and Sha-Na-Na in the '70s, but Jay and the Americans did their part, too, beginning with the 1968 LP Sands of Time. Covering a dozen doo wop singles from the group's own days as street corner singers, Sands of Time updates the material with prominent drums, busy electric bass, and occasional modern-sounding electric guitar solos. It would be impossible to mistake these performances for the originals, informed as they are by the folk-rock vocal groups of the late '60s. The lead-off track, "This Magic Moment," became a million-seller and the group's first Top Ten hit in over three years, which gave them sufficient encouragement to stick with their new oldies rock & roll format for a while. "When You Dance" and "Hushabye" became minor hits, and the closing track, "Goodnight My Love," begins with an Alan Freed aircheck, capping an entertaining and paradoxically forward-looking bit of nostalgia. 

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 Wax Museum (1970) 

Wax Museum was the follow-up to the successful oldies revivalism of Jay and the Americans' previous album, Sands of Time, and was also the group's last charting album. "Walkin' in the Rain," an excellent cover of a 1964 Ronnettes hit, made the Top 20, but the album produced no further singles and didn't quite reach the album Top 100. The band later complained that they recorded only reference vocals for the album and United Artists released it before they could set down the finished tracks. The performances are a little weak in spots, but not glaringly so. The inclusion of Ian & Sylvia's "You Were on My Mind" is inconsistent with the theme of the album and sounds a little odd sequenced immediately before "Johnny B. Goode," but the band seems equally capable of handling folk-pop material. Wax Museum fails to attain the heights of Sands of Time, but has several worthwhile moments in addition to "Walkin' in the Rain."

Jay & The Americans - Sands Of Time (1969) & Wax Museum (1970)


Jay & The Americans - Jay And The Americans (1965) & Sunday And Me (1966)

Jay & The Americans - Jay And The Americans (1965) & Sunday And Me (1966)


Jay And The Americans (1965)

This album offers a surprising amount of variety, mostly because three different groups of producers worked on its 12 songs. About half of Jay and the Americans shows just how well the Phil Spector-style Wall of Sound approach to pop music worked with male voices. Between the bells, a rhythm guitar that sounds like it's being strummed by God, the horns recorded at full volume, and the overall larger than life sound, you'd swear that the Bronx-born Svengali was turning the dials on "Some Enchanted Evening" -- actually, it's Gerry Granahan of Dickey Doo & the Don'ts renown who ran the session, producing not quite half of this album. "Cara Mia" is a known touchstone of operatic-style rock & roll, but nearly as overpowering is Jay Black's performance on "Twenty-Four Hours from Tulsa." He's almost over the top, and once Kenny Vance, Sandy Deane, Marty Sanders, and Howie Kane come in, soaring over and around his overwrought singing, the effect is almost a sonic white-out. Luckily, there's some variety here, mostly provided by the handful of leaner-sounding songs, produced by Artie Ripp, on which individual instruments' textures are important -- Jay & the Americans come off more like a band and not a studio-bound group on "She Doesn't Know It" and "If You Were Mine Girl." Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller were the producers on "Only in America," "Look in My Eyes, Maria," and "To Wait for Love (Is to Waste Your Life Away)," the latter two lesser-known Bacharach/David songs that are interesting if not exactly ear-catching as potential singles.

Jay & The Americans - Jay And The Americans (1965) & Sunday And Me (1966)


Sunday And Me (1966)

Nine months before "Cherry Cherry" would launch the career of Neil Diamond as a singer, he had his first Top 20 chart record as a songwriter, "Sunday and Me," the leadoff track to Jay & the Americans' album of the same name. Continuing with the Spanish-flavored sound found on 1964's "Come a Little Bit Closer" and 1965's "Cara Mia," the light pop comes in with flamenco guitar, Jay Black's familiar voice, and bullfight trumpets. "Granada" also features old-world instrumentation and Black emulating an operatic Mario Lanza more than the teen idol sound of the day. Jay & the Americans were a talented bunch, Kenny Vance and Marty Kupersmith (listed as Marty Sanders here) adding much to the mix, though the vocal harmonies are never as dense as their contemporaries, the Four Seasons. Just listen to how Vance, Kupersmith, Sandy Deane, and Howie Kane embellish Jay's voice on their Top 25 version of Roy Orbison's "Crying." The two tunes that hit from this 12-song collection did so between December of 1965 and June of 1966, part of ten Top 40 entries by the group from 1962-1970. Standards like Carl Sigman's "'Til" and Stephen Sondheim's "Maria" display a vocal prowess that Gary Puckett would also bring to radio beginning a couple of years after this. Classics IV producer Buddy Buie contributes "I Miss You (When I Kiss You)," while a J. Phillips/J. Stewart title, "Chilly Winds" -- sounding like a country predecessor to Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talking" -- is also included, Black's voice dominating while the doo wop sound is kept to a minimum. Jay runs through the Rascals' "Good Lovin'" and it's fun, though Gerry Granahan's production hardly gives the song the definition Felix Cavaliere and company invented to give that group their first number one hit with the same title three months after "Sunday and Me" would hit the Top 20. Artie Butler's arrangement is as thin as Granahan's production, lacking the intensity of the Rascals' pop explosion. The paradox of Jay & the Americans can be found back-to-back in their excellent rendition of Wes Farrell's "Why Can't You Bring Me Home" -- which sounds a bit like the Crystals' 1963 hit "Then He Kissed Me" in both opening riff and melody of the verse -- and Stephen Sondheim's aforementioned show tune classic "Maria." The group dips into different musical bags -- current pop, doo wop, Spanish folk, show tunes -- Artie Butler working on seven of the arrangements, Arnold Goland the other five. Butler's impressive reworking of Roy Orbison's "Crying" hit the Top 25 in June of 1966, though it wasn't as successful as Orbison's own huge rendition from five years earlier or Don McLean's Top Five showing 15 years after. Jay Black and Sandy Deane co-write a sequel of sorts, "Baby Stop Your Crying," while Kenny Vance and Marty Sanders close out the disc with their "She's the Girl (That's Messin' Up My Mind," boldly displaying the music that pair likes to listen to.

Jay & The Americans - Jay And The Americans (1965) & Sunday And Me (1966)

Jay & The Americans - Jay And The Americans (1965) & Sunday And Me (1966)

Jay & The Americans - Livin' Above Your Head (1966) / Try Some Of These (1967)

Jay & The Americans - Livin' Above Your Head (1966) / Try Some Of These (1967)


A recording of the Bernstein-Sondheim song "Tonight" from West Side Story -- a United Artists film release, in which the parent company had an interest in the publishing as well as in publicizing the movie -- came out both better and different from the way it was expected, featuring Traynor out in front as lead singer rather than an ensemble vocal at its center. Leiber & Stoller decided that the group would be better off with a lead singer's name in front and, after some attempts to turn the name into a joke, settled on Traynor's lifelong nickname "Jay" as the front name -- hence, Jay & the Americans were born. Released in the summer of 1961, "Tonight" performed well in New York City -- where the group was based, in the borough of Queens (later made famous by Archie Bunker and Kevin James' sitcom The King of Queens) -- and a few other cities and regions, but never charted nationally. Its sales were limited to around 40,000 copies, and were overshadowed by those of a rival instrumental recording by the piano duo of Ferrante & Teicher (also on United Artists), who scored much bigger. It was once they broke away from tie-ins with current movies and chose some fresh, unique material that the group's fortunes took off, with their second release, "She Cried." Originally a B-side, this was the record that broke the group nationally -- six months after the single was released with "Dawning" as its A-side (and did absolutely nothing), a DJ in San Francisco flipped it over and began playing "She Cried," which started working its way east, hitting number one successively in a dozen major cities from the West Coast to the East Coast over the next few weeks and months, and number five nationally...More :

Jay & The Americans - Livin' Above Your Head (1966) / Try Some Of These (1967)

Keith Powell  ‎– The Keith Powell StoryJay & The Americans - Sands Of Time (1969) & Wax Museum (1970) Jay & The Americans - Jay And The Americans (1965) & Sunday And Me (1966)Jay & The Americans - Livin' Above Your Head (1966) / Try Some Of These (1967)

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