TWO SISTERS OF MYSTERY

It’s been a few days so I’ve got three tunes for you today!

First up is a track I previously mentioned as the dominant sample used in Public Enemy’s “By the Time I Get to Arizona.”

Well, to get right down to it, formed in 1968 by three Panamanian born, but Bed-Stuy raised brothers, here’s Mandrill with a song off of their 1973 album Just Outside Of Town: “Two Sisters Of Mystery.

Like it? Buy it.

Up next I’ve got two lovely ladies who simply do not know what to do about love.

Born in 1937, Anna King began her career as a gospel singer, but joined The James Brown Revue in 1963 as a replacement for Tammi Terrell (Whitmore, 2007). A few years later Terrell would go on to find great success with a series of duets with Marvin Gaye before dying of complications from brain cancer, only a month shy of her 25th birthday. Anna King, however, would become the only one of James Brown’s female singers to have an entire album produced by “The Godfather of Soul” himself; this album being 1964’s Back To Soul. Not only did James Brown produce this album (and it certainly shows with its precision horns and organs) but he also wrote many of the songs himself. Albeit he did so under numerous pseudonyms, such as today’s song being credited to “Jim Jam.”

Anna King left The James Brown Revue towards the tail-end of 1964 and released her final single, an “answer record” to her former employer, entitled “Mama’s Got a Bag of Her Own.” King then effectively retired, only to return to gospel, singing in Duke Ellington’s “Sacred Concerts.” Anna King became a minister for the remainder of her days and died in Philadelphia on October 21, 2002.

Today’s song was released as a single in 1963 before appearing on King’s sole album Back To Soul, here’s the “Jim Jam” penned, “If Somebody Told You.”

———————————————(CLICK TO LISTEN)

Like it? Buy it.

Miss Rhythm

Our second lady in question (or “sister of mystery”) is the legendary “Miss Rhythm,” Ruth Brown. Throughout the 1950s Ahmet Ertegun’s Atlantic Records was known as “the house that Ruth built” due to Ruth Brown’s succession of R&B hits: from 1949 to 1955, she had sixteen Top 10 records, five of which were number one. Born Ruth Alston Weston on January 12, 1928, in Portsmouth, Virginia, Brown first sang with her father in a church choir but soon left home and was managed by nightclub owner—and sister to famous bandleader “Cab”—Blanche Calloway (Bernstein, 2006). Later in life, after much struggle with both love and money, Ruth would become an activist for musicians’ rights and royalties and helped create the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. After suffering from a stroke and heart attack, Ruth Brown died on November 17th 2006 in Las Vegas suburb, Henderson, Nevada. She was 78.

Released as a single in 1959, here’s Ruth Brown with “I Don’t Know.” Just listen to with what skill she can alternate between a deeply sonorous voice to a desperate squeak that seems so fragile, so brittle, that you wonder how she’ll ever make it through the next syllable, let alone the rest of the song.

————————-(CLICK TO LISTEN)

Like it? Buy it.

To find out more about Ruth Brown you could check out her autobiography:

————————–Bobby Calero

Ref:

Bernstein, A. (2006, November 18). Ruth Brown, 78; R& B Singer Championed Musicians’ Rights. Washington Post. Retrieved January 29th, 2012 from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/17/AR2006111701411.html

Jam, J. (1963). If Somebody Told You. [Recorded by Anna King] On Back To Soul [CD] Smash Records. (1963). Shout Records. (2006)

Santiago, N. (1973). Two Sisters Of Mystery. [Recorded by Mandrill] On Just Outside Of Town. [CD]. Polydor. (1973). Collectables. (1998)

Stevenson, B. & Benton, B. (1959). I Don’t Know. [Recorded by Ruth Brown] On Taking Care Of Business. [CD] Atlantic. (1959). Jasmine Music. (2011)

Whitmore. (2007). Anna King. Amoeblog. Retrieved January 29th, 2012 from http://www.amoeba.com/blog/2007/08/the-thing-of-a-thing-of-a-thing-/anna-king.html

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