Sunday, 4 April 2010

Les McCann - Les McCann Plays The Hits

Les McCann Plays The Hits


256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Limelight LS 86041

Another of Les McCann's unabashed stabs at the mainstream market for Quincy Jones' Limelight during the mid-60s, Les McCann Plays The Hits is exactly what the title advertises. Although enjoyable on the whole, it's generally a luke-warm affair for the most part as Les sounds less eager to interpret these tunes than the liner notes would lead you to believe. While "Sunny" and "Sunshine Superman" certainly have sizzle, and McCann's jubilation during the gospel read of "River
Deep, Mountain High" is palpable even in the bum notes, the remainder of the instrumentals come off as merely the work of a lounge band, albeit a highly competent one as the roster attests.

Original Billboard review from Nov. 19, 1966

Ironically, two of the top tracks are not only the sole original compositions, one by himself and one by friend Gene "Not Yet Eugene" McDaniels, they're also the only vocal tunes and seem somewhat tacked-on to the track listing. It could be the inclusion of "Sad Little Girl" and "Compared To What" was a concession on Limelight's part, especially when it comes to the latter song. That type of social commentary in pop soul lyrics, which would be Les' specialty by the time he moved to Atlantic, had not yet fully come into vogue on the hit parade. The Summer of Love was still almost a year off and the bubbling brew of aspirational middle-class America's angst and disillusionment was not quite potent enough to sanctify its clear reflection in the charts.

As noted a few years ago on Funky 16Corners, this seems to be the first recorded appearance of McDaniels' "Compared To What." It pre-dates any others involving McCann and was taped prior to any version recorded by McDaniels himself. I originally heard the track on Roberta Flack's First Take, a classic soul-jazz "perfect storm" that remains one of my most cherished albums. Although for me Flack's remains the definitive version (mostly due to Ron Carter's bass), this version feels closer to the style McDaniels' exhibited on his later albums, such as the 1971 masterpiece Headless Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

"Sad Little Girl" is a swingin' mid-tempo minor-key number that purports to be another teen break-up tale on the surface, but McCann's characteristic depth of insight into personal politics subtly points to fallout from alienation, rootlessness and disenfranchisement as the true culprit. Although it was an album-only cut and never released as a single Stateside, word is this shuffler did pretty well rotation-wise on the Northern Soul scene in the UK for a few years. Along with "Guantanamera," "Compared To What" and "Sunny" (both parts), it was included on the Les McCann Talkin´ Verve compilation while the remaining songs have not been reissued since the album fell out of print over forty years ago.

Les McCann Ltd:

Les McCann - Piano, Vocals
Booker T. Robinson - Drums
Leroy Vinnegar - Bass
Additional personnel on tracks 2,5,6Lynn R. Blessing - Vibes
Plas Johnson - Sax
Jimmy Georgantones - Guitar
Ron Rich - Conga

Recorded Aug 5, 1966 at United Recording, CA

Additional personnel on all other tracks
Vincent Bell - Guitar
Carl Lynch - Guitar
Seldon Powell - Flute, Sax (Tenor)
Jerome Richardson - Sax (Tenor)
Warren Chiasson - Vibes
Joe Macho - Fender Bass
Johnny Pacheco - Conga

Recorded Sept 9, 1966 at Bell Sound Studio, NYC

1 Sunny (Part I)
2 Sunny (Part II)
3 Guantanamera
4 Summer Samba (So Nice)
5 Sad Little Girl
6 River Deep, Mountain High
7 Les Skate
8 Sunshine Superman
9 Message To Michael
10 Flamingo
11 Compared To What
12 Pretty Flamingo

This copy had seen better days and put ClickRepair through its paces. Although there's still some noise on the occasional intros and outros of some tracks, it's not so bad you can't enjoy the music - and unless you own a copy you ain't gonna hear most of it anywhere else!


Regular readers will notice a difference in the way sharing works at Soundological today. The most obvious is a lack of RapidShare links, a change that will be permanent starting now. I know RS is not the most popular service and it's often difficult for non-premium users to access files but I've stuck with them in the interests of stability; as long as I paid the piper y'all could dance to the tunes eventually.

Well, I don't cotton much to being called a "criminal" by a certain hypocritical prick named Bobby Chang (Rapidshare Aims To Convert Pirates Into Customers) while he wipes his ass with the piles of money he's made over the years - proceeds from what would now be considered criminal activity. He also wants to collude with the MAFIAA to help shut down all other file-hosting services that dare use the same business model RS has employed for ages.

Needless to say, the RS links will slowly die out after my RS subscription expires on May 13 so you may want to grab them while they're still available - I won't be placing a priority on re-posting old links and won't be switching to a new premium hosting service. I know y'all have your favourites but I'm not interested for the time being...

Rather than settle on a compromise with any single cyberlocker site, Soundological will now start using a combo of distributed hosting services (Sharebee, Mutliupload & FlameUpload at the moment) to increase the odds of a file's longevity. A few other adjustments were made based on the way the wind's blowing in the blogosphere: switching to RAR in order to hide the folder inside from prying eyes, adding a password ("soundological") to the archives and moving the links to the comments section. Hopefully this won't detract from your experience too much.

(updated 2013-05-24 see comments)


Anonymous said...





E-mile said...

Cheeba, thanks for the rant [:-) and sooo much more for 2 lovely Sunny's . . .see you around sometime soon again I hope,
peace, E-mile

Bill said...

Nice rant and nice post!! I`m with RS, but I`m grateful for any share with stuff like this! Thank you!

cheeba said...

@E-mile, you're welcome! I knew you'd be happy to pick up some "new" cover versions for your arsenal!

@Bill, glad you dig the Les! As you probably already know, those distributors usually have an RS link, so you'll still be able to get the speed you're use to asa subscriber by choosing the RS link from the list.

Sun Zoo said...

On point like always...thanks.

ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ said...

Blogging is a bitch. You might even try Not directly linking to the file server (make the peeps cut and paste) is also a good thing.

I am feeling less and less like blogging every day. So many downloads so few comments.

ish said...

Thanks Cheeba...looking forward to hearing another version of Compared to What. I heard McCann before Flack and I like his better (though I like Flack's "Tryin Times" better than Donny Hathaway's).

Regarding the rant, I guess I don't feel plugged into the tech part of this world very well: that link you provided was info all new to me. Provides some useful (and creepy) background about some of the obvious trends in music blogland lately...I thank you for it. What with google cracking down on Blogpress blogs and Baywords falling into a coma I sorta feel like music blogland's time may be short; though it's been a great run.

cheeba said...

@Sun Zoo, you're welcome and appreciate you droppin' a line

@Oracle, so far I'm more concerned with giving that company any more $$$ rather than being too worried about the MAFIAA. Like you, I stick with OOP stuff that is in the grey area for copyright and normally not even available digitally.

@ish, glad I could geekily keep you informed. Don't think it's time for a eulogy yet, tho. Perhaps private blogs/trackers may be the way to go down the line but for now, as long as we ride that OOP line it looks like we'll get a pass...

I very much dig McCann's versions at Montreuax and with Eddie Harris on Swiss Movement, both are pretty fierce and funky while Flack's is a bit more subdued so I completely understand why you prefer those. This version of the song also predates them so hope you enjoy it too!

Goofy said...

Cheeba, too bad you are dropping RS. I gave in months ago and took a premium account...
I didn't know that Q had another label before Qwest. If you have access to more LImelight vinyl, please post them.
I like your review, it is not just praise. Thanks!

cheeba said...

Hey Goofy, my choice is based purely on the hosting aspect. Although I will no longer be offering direct RS links, premium RS users will still be able to get RS links via the mirroring services so you'll still get the same speed etc out of your subscription.

Limelight was not owned by Q, it was a subsidiary of Mercury that he started and supervised beginning @1964. Since little of the catalogue has been reissued, I'll probably be sharing some more down the line...

Thanks dropping by again!

Anonymous said...

Hey cheeba! Thanks for introducing to this beautiful record. Am new to this kind of sound, and certainly appreciate the added commentary.

With you on the RS subject, but like you say more for their $$$-snatching attitude than anything else.

I hope to enjoy many more great introductions. Thanks again, heavily appreciated!


cheeba said...

You're welcome mk! I also hope you can make friends with some more new music through Soundological!

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for The Les McCann!

Waterfallman said...

Thanks for this Cheeba! The song on youtube sounds very cool, so I'm getting it!

elusive said...

looking forward to listen to this one
thank you

cheeba said...

You're welcome guys!

@Moes Lake, I'm playing with some ways to keep preview clips when there isn't one already available on YouTube, etc.

Hopefully this means readers won't miss out on giving something a chance and will also them help avoid wasting time/bandwidth if they know in advance it is not to their taste.

cheeba said...

I may re-evaluate my RS decision based on developments since this post.

From the RapidShare website, news section:

RapidShare AG parts from CEO Bobby Chang

April 20, 2010
With immediate effect and by mutual agreement, RapidShare AG has parted from former CEO Bobby Chang. Christian Schmid, the inventor and founder, states: "We will continue RapidShare's success story, faster and more consistently. We believe we can better achieve this goal with different leadership - for the benefit of our customers, partners and users."

Seems ubergeek Schmid is fighting for subscriber privacy and RS was also dismayed at the huge drop in biz after the first announcement.

TorrentFreak article here.

censusloss said...

Hiya Mr SI,
Got to you via All That Jazz. Les McCann could be very tasty keysman esp when he was not attempting to be Grover- this LP is no doubt a reflextion of the times that jazz was not exactly a hot earner but its still nice to sample this which i'm off to do now

Thanks for the post

cheeba said...

you're right cencusloss, jazz at this time was not as lucrative as rock n roll or soul. It would start to get popular again in North America shortly after this release with Monterey and the Summer of Love in 67.

Hope you enjoy!

John said...

Thanks for resurrecting these "oldies". I haven't heard some of the albums you've posted here since the late 60's. It's a pleasure to hear Les McCann again on Limelight. Carmen McCrae, wow! John Handy, another unsung musical warrior.

I am also absorbing your philosophy on the dilemma of sharing files. Agreed, everything ends up being about money and there is always going to be someone who will benefit no matter the altruistic nature of many.

And as so often happens, there are going to be unscrupulous people making the money grab. Things change constantly of course though.

We are all moving at breakneck speed nowadays. Change is afoot and we have to stay positive.

C'est La Vie! I'm going back to my new Les McCann and my old JB's albums :)

Thanks, Cheeba

John - Atlanta, GA, USA

Satchelmouth said...

Thank you from New Zealand

Liam Latrine said...

Hi, I've been blocked from blogspots for 3 years. Could you please send me a private RS link for this album - so hard for me to get any of Les's albums and Sad Little Girl was "the" song that got me into him.

Liam Latrine said...

I hope you got my post comment - if not I would so appreciate a private RS link emailed to me for this album - I've been blocked from blogspots for 3 years ++


cheeba said...

Hey Unknown - thx for your today:


ps - hard to send links personally when there is no contact info

Luis said...

Can you please change permissions for the RS link above. RS recently changed their policy and one has to specifically give permission for file to be downloaded. As it is now one gets 'Download permission denied by uploader.

cheeba said...


No more RS but...


Luis said...

Thank you cheeba.

Jonny said...


Thanks so much for the great OOP Les McCann LP! Really enjoying it!