Jo Armstead is a Mississippi-bred firecracker vocalist who is also a dynamite songwriter (a field dominated by men). She told SoulMotion.co.uk:
“By the time I was in my teens, I was sneaking out to cafes, juke joints, and dances on Saturday nights. Blues man Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland gave me my first opportunity to sing with a band…”
“The amplified sound of the guitar, bass, drums and piano with the horn section blasting away made the tiny nightclub atmosphere infectious. I remember a hot sticky night and my body dripped with sweat. I gave it my all and it was an intimate, hypnotic and totally exhausting experience”.
She joined the Ikettes in 1961, and wound up in New York a few years later, working in a songwriting trio with Nick Ashford and Valarie Simpson. The team split up in the mid-sixties, with Nick and Val going to Motown and Jo arriving in Chicago.
Her first songwriting success in Chicago was “Casanova (Your Playing Days are Over)” for Ruby Andrews in 1967 (a HUGE record here in Chicago that year). By then married to Mel Collins, the two ventured into a record label that almost exclusively featured her compositions, Giant Records, as well as the offshoots Gamma and Globe.
A number of releases on Giant also featured Jo Armstead’s sassy soprano vocals, including “I’ve Been Turned On” and “There’s Not Too Many More Left Like Him” [below].
Many of her compositions were recorded featuring a trademark rollicking, melodic, string-laden stepper groove that has aged quite well. Most arrangements were collaborative efforts between Armstead and Detroit’s own Mike Terry.
During her time in Chicago, she also wrote or co-wrote hits for Carl Carlton (“Drop By my Place”, and “Two Timer [above]), Garland Green (“Jealous Kinda Fella” [click here for more on Mr. Green]), and herself (“Stone Cold Lover”). But, by 1969, her marriage was on the skids and she was bound for New York again. But, during her time in Chicago, she was indeed a giant among men. Jive on…
Terry Callier: You Goin’ Miss Your Candyman.
We lost Terry Callier on Sunday. He was an artist who melded Soul, Folk, and Jazz seamlessly. My first experience with his music is detailed below.
This portion of the post was originally posted on Darkjive on October 17th, 2009:
I remember where I was when I first heard [“Dancing Girl” by Terry Callier]: the local round-the-way record store [back when I was in high school]. The carpet was checkered with the maytag logo in bittersweet on brown (harkening back to the store’s past life). There we stood in a communal experience that began with the shop owner saying, “You’ve got to hear this record”. We stood waiting. Waiting melted away to awe. Nine minutes later we knew life was a bit different…just wait for the progression of the track. It blossoms and eventually bursts.
“Dancing Girl” is from the album, “What Color is Love” (Cadet, 1973). A great record for a chilled autumn day.
Terry Callier was a childhood friend of Curtis Mayfield and co-wrote numerous Chicago Records for artists as diverse as the Soulful Strings, The Dells, and Garland Green. He spent much of the eighties and nineties as a single father, raising his daughter, Sundiata, and working at the University of Chicago.
He returned to recording in the late nineties to critical acclaim, and released “Hidden Conversations” (his fifth album in 10 years) this year. It features Massive Attack.
Jive on…. Jive on.
2009 was to be his last appearance on record. Since I first discovered him, I’ve fallen in love with a number of his compositions,
such as: “Ordinary Girl”, “You Don’t Care”, “You Goin Miss Your Candyman”, and others.
I’ve also realized that he co-wrote a few of my old Chicago favorites, including: “You Can’t Get Away that Easy” (as performed by Lee Charles and, later, by Garland Green), “The Love We Had Stays on My Mind” (as performed by The Dells), “I Don’t Want to Lose Your Love” (as Performed by Billy Butler & Infinity), and “I’d Rather Be With You [performed by the Dells].
Below, Terry singing You Goin’ Miss Your Candyman. Because I do.
1 Comment | tags: Billy Butler, Cadet Records, Garland Green, Hidden Conversations, Local Chicago Music, Local Chicago Soul, Massive Attack, terry callier, The Dells, University of Chicago | posted in Chicago Cultural History, Commentary, Local Chicago Music, Music