Monday, 21 September 2009

The Stroziers - Red Light

Red Light


320 CBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip + pics from MRL 415

Swamp Walkin' Charlie

Welfare Woman

This one comes courtesy Arkadin P.I. of Arkadin's Ark, who is currently on a well-deserved vacation. Sherlock, as we often call him, has been a boon to the music blog world the last year, consistently emerging from the depths with more gems in hand than a pearl-diver at an oyster farm. He's been especially helpful with filling up the many holes at the shad shack and this is yet another one he's plugged. However, due to time restrictions and the fact blues ain't really his bag, he passed it my way to post on Soundological.

As you can tell from the clips it's a straight-up blues set and a one-shot for the brothers as a family unit, at least on Mainstream - although the info is severely sketchy, they may have had another later release of some type or other under the name Hill Street Blues Band. As for Red Light it looks not so much to be for Shad but more like the tapes were licensed/bought from elsewhere since Bobby didn't produce. Its place in the sequence of the label's catalogue, immediately after the first Ted Nugent cash-in re-issue effectively announced Red Lion's demise as a creative enterprise, is an even clearer indicator this was not done in-house.

Similar to other releases at the tail end of the run, this record has markedly different album art than the normal Ruby Mazur style and lacks liner notes since
by this point in time MRL, gasping for breath, had dispensed with gatefold covers in order to cut back on costs. However, it was all over but the cryin' and there were only a half-dozen more releases to come before the label closed it doors for good. It took a while to dig up some solid info on these Atlanta brothers, mostly due to the mysterious Abner. However, once I clued into the fact that "Abner Strozier" and "Al Strozier" were the same cat after reading the latter's MySpace page, the pieces started to fall in place.

Al Strozier ca. 2009

Source: The Al Strozier Band @ MySpace

Born in 1942, Al was the oldest of the brothers and the most musically prolific. Highlights of his lengthy career include a year with the Soul Stirrers alongside Sam Cooke and being a founding member of Gladys Knight and the Pips, playing with them from their formation until they left Atlanta. He also founded the legendary Houserockers with Luther Johnson and, due to his serious skills on the harmonica, spent over three decades supporting blues artists like Little Richard, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Billy Wright and BB King. He's still going strong to this day in his native GA with the Al Strozier Band, playing a mix of R&B, blues and soul originals.

Clyde Strozier ca. 2005

Source: Georgia Council for the Arts

Clyde, born in 1946, was the middle kid. He started playing blues guitar when he was 9 and prior to forming this group with his brothers had been a member of The Tams and played in bands behind Curtis Mayfield and Martha & The Vandellas. According to him, it was really brother Al who wrote The Tams' biggest
hit "Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy" and not the writers credited (Whitley & Cobb) who "stole" it. Sucks to be Al since that slice of upbeat soul found longevity thanks to the Northern Soul crowd and can be heard on Kent's excellent Shoes compilation. Clyde still works the Atlanta blues scene, although in contrast to his elder brother's band he specialises in a much rootsier brand of acoustic folk-blues. He recently spent time as a Master Artist with the Georgia Council of the Arts' Traditional Art Apprenticeship program, preserving the blues art form by assisting in the development of younger players.

Curtis was the youngest of the brood, born a year after Clyde and as often happens with the baby of the bunch, there was nothing left for him at the table when they passed out internet biographies.

Clyde Strozier - vocals, guitar ,bass
Curtis Strozier - drums
Abner Strozier - harmonica, vocals on "Swamp Walkin' Charlie"

1 Red Light
2 Mo-Jo-Georgia Woman
3 Swamp Walkin' Charlie
4 Big Boss Man
5 Honest I Do
6 Oh Baby You Don't Have To Go
7 Welfare Woman
8 Love Shortage
9 Let's Have A Party

Saunter through Arkadin's red light district with Soundological HERE or HERE.


Arkadin said...

Thanks for the flattering write-up, mate! Astonishing how you much you could find out about the Stroziers-brothers! Now who's the Sherlock? You make me feel like Watson! ;)
Hope to get my new preamp soon so I can help you filling some more holes at the Shack - cheers!

cheeba said...

Welcome back, Arkadin! Hope you had a great time on vacation!

Diggin' up facts is one thing, diggin' up dusty diamonds is another so Sherlock you shall remain.

Good luck getting the gear sorted, not just for the shack stuff... I'm assuming you found some more jewels on your jaunt!

Moes Lake said...

I just heard 'Swamp Walkin' Charlie' and I loved it. I have no idea about The Stroziers but I'm up to learn more. This blog is really precious and you're the man cheeba. Thanks again

Moes Lake said...

I've just heard Welfare Woman too and I have to say I much prefer Clyde Strozier's vocals. More raw and harsh, great for blues. But anyhow this record's is delicious :)

cheeba said...

Not a lot of blues gets posted here so glad there are folks out there who appreciate it when it does!

I agree with you about Clyde - he's definitely got a gruff and grizzled voice made for the blues!

boogieman said...

I love good blues. Did not know that album and i must confess that i would have overlooked it in a bin because of the sleeve. Thought i'd be some kinda smooth soul but luckily it's gritty.

Arkadin said...

Good things come to those who wait... ;)
Finally some comments, thanks Moes Lake & Boogieman!

cheeba said...

@boogieman - LOL! It's funny b/c Arkadin mentioned when first heard it, he was surprised it was a blues album as well. I would not have expected it either from the cover art. Since I also love good blues - especially raw and gritty - I was quite pleased with this. Glad you enjoy!

@Arkadin, glad to get some comments too. Nice to know that I can post the odd blues joint and it won't fall on deaf ears. I have a couple up my sleeve and until hearing from Moes and boogieman, I wasn't sure if they'd see the light of day here...

Ruby said...

This is Ruby Mazur and I DID do all the Mainstream covers, except for the last 8 months of the companies existence. However, I don't ever remember doing this one in particular.

cheeba said...

Hi Ruby, it's definitely an honour to have you drop by and let us know some background on the art!

I had a feeling this wasn't your work and it's nice to know my hunch was good.

BTW, LOVE the iconic border design you came up with for the imprint and happy to get a chance to thank you for all of incredible album art you created over the decades!

If you are a bit nostalgic for the Mainstream covers, you might want to head over to the shad shack since I've been able (with the help of many contributors) to collect every one of them there - to my knowledge the first time they've all ever appeared in one place.

bradnik said...

I saw Clyde and Al jam in a studio in east Atlanta back in the 70s and they were mind blowing. It's my understanding that Clyde was tutored by Corel "Foots" DeLoach a great guitar player in his own right. I take full credit for turning Tinsley Ellis on to Swamp Walkin' Charlie, a completely original song by Clyde.

cheeba said...

Although I'm slow to respond I try to post reader comments as soon as I can...

Cool story, bradnik! You would have seen them around the time of this release then!

You wouldn't know offhand a recording of Tinsley's where he covers SWC?

I'm not very familiar with him outside of a handful of compilation tracks and it might be a good entry point for me into his ouvre