RECORD CRACK: Numero Group focuses on Cleveland with Lou Ragland box set

Another underrated soul music hero? There are many that the majority of music fans do not know, but those who do did not need a box set to honor his contributions. For everyone else, his name is Lou Ragland, and as Ohio has become one of the semi-secret states for quality soul and funk in the last 20 years, people are realizing “hey, we need to tell their stories before its too late”. Take it to Numero Group to come to the rescue for Ragland with a forcoming 4LP (or 3CD) box set called I Travel Alone.

If anything, Ragland’s story is not unlike the many other artists from Ohio, or more specifically the city of Cleveland. As thousands of people moved for better jobs or simply for “anything but Cleveland”, the many who stayed did so not only to have a chance for a hit record, but for greater success. Ragland was one of the hardest working singers and musicians around, releasing records under different names and being a part of many groups. In that time, one could document a part of Cleveland’s music scene just by hearing his records, but so much music was coming out. Most of these definitely wanted fortunes and fame, and the goal was to keep on working until it happened. Some realized they had to leave Cleveland in order to keep going. When he became a member of Seven Miles High, they ended up recording an album that barely made a dent, but would become a bit of a “holy grail” when collectors discovered this hidden gem. As the population of Cleveland continued to dwindle, Ragland decided it was time for him to leave and find something better, which he did when he moved to Las Vegas in 1980.

I Travel Alone focuses solely on some of the work he did as a Cleveland resident, going through different styles and textures but in the end shows an artist who used his talents to make music that will be heard by more people today than it did when they were recorded over 40 years ago. The box set will be released on April 10th.

OBITUARY: r.i.p. Edwin “Eddie Bo” Bocage (September 20, 1930 – March 18, 2009)

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This is a sad one. One of the greatest New Orleans music legends died Wednesday night from an apparent heart attack at the age of 78. Eddie Bo may not have had the national or international fame as Fats Domino or even The Meters, but his hard work in rock’n’roll, blues, R&B, jazz, soul, and funk made him one of the hardest working men of the South for years. He was not only a singer, musician, and songwriter, but an entrepreneur, starting up a number of labels for his music and his own productions, and occasionally releasing records under pseudonyms. It had been said that James Brown changed his style of music when he heard and had seen what Bo did with his.

“Hook & Sling”, “Check Your Bucket”, “Lover And A Friend”, “We’re Doing It (The Thang) (Part 2)”, “From This Day On”, “Can You Handle It”, and countless others are songs that influenced a generation of hip-hop and electronica DJ’s and producers to tap into the sound of New Orleans and Louisiana, and of course Mr. Bocage.

Eternal gratitude for your contributions to the world of music, Eddie Bo. As you had said yourself in one of your songs, “Fare Thee Well”. r.i.p.

SOME STUFFS: Little Feat’s “Dixie Chicken” to get the MFSL treatment

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Growing up, Little Feat always had the most interesting covers. A piece of cake on a swing, a duck wearing nylons and garters, a gelatin mountain, and then there was the cover for Dixie Chicken. Over the years the woman on the cover, drawn by the late Neon Park, reminded me of actress Kirstie Alley, maybe it had that Playboy feel to it. Of course, the hands of the lady was not quite human at all. The album covers were the lure and would become their trademark for awhile, but it was the music that kept fans coming back and going to shows.

Dixie Chicken was their third album released in 1973 and while it appealed to rock fans, the purpose of the album was to honor the music and people of New Orleans. From a hip-hop perspective, the album did supply “Lose Yourself”, the intro beat of which has been used many times in the last 19 years. The name of the album also inspired a group of ladies from Texas to form their own band, The Dixie Chicks.

36 years later, Dixie Chicken gets the remastered treatment with the help of the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, who will release the album as an Ultradisc II™ 24 KT Gold CD in May, with most likely a vinyl counterpart to follow. Fans are able to pre-order the CD by clicking here. If you’re only familiar with “Lose Yourself” and not the rest of the album, find out what you’ve been missing: