New Jersey native Faye Adams had a string of R&B hits in the early-to-mid 1950s. Born in 1923 as Fay Tuell, she began her career at age five alongside her two older siblings as the Tuell Sisters gospel group, regularly appearing on Newark radio broadcasts. She became a staple of the NYC nightclub circuit after marrying Tommy Scruggs in 1942. However, it wasn’t until legendary R&B songstress Ruth Brown spotted Fay during a performance in Atlanta, nearly a decade later, that the singer earned an audition and was subsequently signed to Herald Records.
Under her new stage name Faye Adams, the singer quickly found success fronting the band of labelmate Joe Morris. In 1953, the group released a pair of singles that reached number one on the U.S. R&B charts: “Shake A Hand” and “I’ll Be True.” The former would be Adams’s biggest hit, sitting atop the charts for eight weeks. She continued to have moderate success both as a solo performer and with Morris’ band over the next couple of years. By January of 1955, Adams had sold more than 2 million records for Herald.
By the end of the decade, the public’s demand had shifted from traditional R&B to the rock n’ roll stylings of Elvis and his African American predecessors. As a result, Adams gave up the game and headed back to New Jersey to focus on family, rediscovering her gospel roots. Adams earned a Pioneer Award from the Rhythm & Blues Foundation in 1998 for her contribution to the genre.
Her single “The Hammer” has been included in a terrific new compilation called Jukebox Mambo. The compilation is available in a stunning book featuring six, 10″ vinyls on Jazzman Records. Jukebox Mambo is available on CD and digital download for the non-vinyl enthusiast. “The Hammer” was originally released in 1956 as the b-side to “Anytime, Any Place, Anywhere.” The track is bookended by Adams’s haunting howls, with the band working itself up to a confident saunter in between. Listen to the track and check out the packaging for Jukebox Mambo below.
Written by Rob Peoni
Most of last night was spent camped in front of my computer as updates of the havoc Hurricane Sandy wreaked upon the East Coast flooded my news feed from every conceivable angle. Failed backup generators at NYU’s hospital. Blown transformers on 14th Street. Walls of water rollicked through the ongoing construction site at ground zero. Powerful images of lower Manhattan sheathed in darkness.
As I’m prone to do on momentous occasions – or occasions of any kind really – I found myself in search of a soundtrack. After a bit of rummaging, I settled on Laughing Stock, the brooding, farewell masterpiece from British post-rock pioneers Talk Talk. Released in 1991, the album resides at a gorgeous intersection of avant garde jazz and art rock, completing the band’s metamorphosis from its synth pop origins a decade earlier. Laughing Stock has a pervasive placidity that seemed to resonate with the opaque images coming from New York.
The nearly 10-minute “After the Flood” sits at the center of this six-track release. The song begins at a slow amble, eventually building around the dampened vocals of lead singer Mark Hollis. A crescendo of distorted feedback from the synthesizer creates a visceral tension in the middle of the song. Just when it begins to feel as if the track is going to collapse from the pressure, the synth recedes and the interplay between Hollis and the keys returns to bring it home.
Laughing Stock received a full vinyl reissue from Ba Da Bing! Records in October of 2011. In the two decades since its initial release, Talk Talk has remained a source of inspiration for a broad cross-section of musicians. Austin, TX’s Shearwater and fellow Brits Wild Beasts are two disciples whose recent work comes to mind. However, Talk Talk has been covered by everyone from Weezer to No Doubt. Their influence is limited by neither time nor genre. Listen to “After the Flood” below.
Written by Rob Peoni
During my freshman year of college, I was trolling the virus prone and often improperly labeled file sharing service Kazaa, and stumbled upon a batch of Jeff Buckley downloads. Included in the bunch was a 1992 recording of WFMU‘s “The Music Faucet” that featured a phoned-in rendition of Bob Dylan’s oft-covered “I Shall Be Released.” Given the hackneyed song selection and gimmicky nature of singing from the phone, all signs pointed toward disaster. However, this is Jeff Buckley we’re talking about. An artist that covered Dylan as well as anybody. For evidence, check out the incomparable live compilation Live at Siné. There, he demolishes classics “Just Like A Woman”, “If You See Her, Say Hello”, “Dink’s Song” and the aforementioned “I Shall Be Released“, reforming them into fluid, perfectly toned electric guitar sketches. Buckley’s WFMU take adheres relatively closely to the original, calling to mind the grandiose send-off on The Last Waltz. Buckley is effervescent by the end of the song, clearly taken with the performance. Even his impromptu harp solo is pulled off without a hitch, taking on the aesthetic of an early blues field recording through the telephone wires. Listen to an uncut version of the recording, featuring a lengthy – albeit fun – introduction via Soundcloud or a shortened version focusing on the song via YouTube.
Written by Rob Peoni