Features

Barney Hoskyns

Barney Hoskyns

Barney is the former U.S. Editor of Mojo and author of, among other books, Say It One Time for the Brokenhearted (about country soul), Across the Great Divide (about The Band) and Waiting for the Sun (about L.A.). He is now Editorial Director of ROCK'S BACKPAGES, the Online Library of Rock & Roll, featuring thousands of classic articles and interviews by hundreds of the best rock writers of the last 40 years. JOIN TODAY at www.rocksbackpages.com

Selected releases

  • Albert King 'Born Under a Bad Sign'

    When Flying V giant King teamed up with the Stax crew on East McLemore Avenue, a blues-funk monster was born. This irresistibly propulsive splurge of self-pity, covered drably by Cream, has it all: a killer riff and groove, the phattest drum track ever, a wonderfully growly vocal and some typically stinging guitar lines from King. Not even the many unsavoury stories I've heard about Big Al could turn me against this scorcher.

  • Big Star 'Thirteen'

    Ah, the curse of being a rock critics' darling! If Alex Chilton ever gets his proper dues it'll be for gems like this - the early 70s acoustic teen courtship ballad to end 'em all. Who else could have written a line like "Won't you tell your dad get off my back/Tell him what we said 'bout 'Paint It, Black'"? No wonder Teenage Fanclub named an album after it...

  • John Edwards 'I'll Be Your Puppet'

    If you like yer heartbreak on the orgasmic side, future Detroit Spinner Edwards' treatment of this soaring Sam Dees/David Camon/Frederick Knight song has to be heard to be believed. Swathed in strings, the track builds to a crescendo of throbbing bass pushes and howling falsetto shrieks that'll put bumps all over you. The sound of early 70s Atlanta in full soulful flow.

  • Country Joe And The Fish 'Bass Strings'

    Cut in Berkeley in June 1966, this psych-blues classic was as pivotal in the emergence of the original aciiieeed underground as any record - a loose, spacey dirge that blends flinty vibrato guitar with harrowing harmonica and shimmering Farfisa organ. I knew the later, more refined version on "Electric Music for the Mind and Body" first, but this one is the more spookily beautiful.

  • Howling Wolf 'Moanin' At Midnight'

    When you hear the pre-Chess Chester Burnett on a seminal track like this, you wonder what all the fuss is about so-called "nu blues". Has there ever been a more visceral, bestially exciting voice than the Wolf's howl-cum-snarl, progenitor of Beefheart's Delta desert dadaism and a hundred other electric blues offshoots? If Elvis Aaron P, Jerry Lee L et al had never walked into 706 Union Avenue, Sam Phillips would still have gone down in history for putting Wolf and his blues brudders down on tape.

    • Morning At Midnight aka Moanin' At Midnight
  • The Soul Children 'Love Makes It Right'

    A late (1974) Stax masterpiece from a neglected unisex vocal group, this luminous cheatin' creed was cut not in Memphis but in Muscle Shoals, where the house style - thudding bottom end, murky electric piano, warm wah-wah fills - better suited the sensual desperation of the Homer Banks/Carl Hampton lyric: "He might have a family, but if you love him/Love makes it right..." Tell that to George Double-Yah.

  • Johnnie Allan 'The Promised Land'

    I adored this cajun rock'n'roll belter from the first time I heard it on Charlie Gillett's original 1974 compilation, and it still sends me. With the guitar and drums jumping out of the speakers, Allan's mumbly, gumbo-soul voice does more with Chuck's timeless travelogue-lyric than its author ever did. And as for that accordion...

  • The Chi-Lites 'The Coldest Days Of My Life'

    Immaculate Windy City mix of sombre sadness and plush, luscious production, this is symphonic soul on the grand scale, topped off with breaking waves and twittering seagulls. As kitsch in its way as the Shangri-Las' 'Past, Present and Future' - which I'm pretty sure I bought at around the same time from the Rock On stall in Soho - and no less moving.

  • Creedence Clearwater Revival 'Fortunate Son'

    Creedence never got more exciting - more rough'n'ready - than they did on this snarling blast of garage-swamp surliness. Imagine Solomon Burke osmosing into a demonic Tom Jones over a choogalatin', turbo-charged bar-band groove and this is whatcha get.

  • Rozetta Johnson 'Who You Gonna Love (Your Woman or Your Wife)'

    At the risk of a Sam Dees overdose, I'll pick this 1971 track because it's so extraordinary - like three songs in one, with melodies sliding in and out of each other and rhythms shifting in mid-verse. The domestic heartbreak is par for the early '70s course, but the song underscores just how unorthodox a ballad writer Dees is. Just one of the many lost gems unearthed by Mr Godin in his sublime deep soul series.

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