(Charles Earland, Hammond B-3 organ; Virgil Jones, trumpet; Houston Person, tenor sax; Melvin Sparks, guitar; Idris Muhammad, drums; Buddy Caldwell, congas)
Many Hammond B-3 devotees consider Charles Earland to be greatly underrated as a B-3 master, worthy to be named in the upper echelon of B-3 masters such as Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff, Lonnie Smith and Jimmy McGriff, just to name a few. Earland’s Black Talk! was arguably felt to be his strongest release, so it is a real pleasure to see it released with remastering by ace engineer Rudy Van Gelder in his series of RVG remasters for Prestige. These remasters are meant to sonically rival in prestige (no pun intended) those done for Blue Note. [And I’ve found at least a couple to rival previous expensive xrcd and SACD versions…Ed.]
Earland’s release created quite a stir upon its initial release in 1969 due to the fact that Charles picked three pop songs to be given the soul jazz treatment and he succeeded magnificently in his efforts. The title track was an anthemic reworking of the Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby, and the other two pop hits were Aquarius from the hit musical Hair, and lastly, More Today Than Yesterday.
Earlands’ backing band was the cream of the Prestige crop- each a star in their own right. Jones, Person, and Sparks were capable of making any soul-jazz band top notch and they all still have that distinction recording well into the 2000 era. (Witness one of this years top releases being the duo recording of Person with Bill Charlap on High Note we reviewed recently.)
Earland’s nickname was The Mighty Burner, a moniker he picked up soon after recording the tune here. The tune originally was recorded as a tribute to a Philly DJ, Sonny Hobson. Virgil Jones has a great solo on this track. Here Comes Charlie swings so hard courtesy of Earland and Person, with Houston particularly on fire providing the heat to Earland’s greasy playing. Sparks also gets in his licks in a bluesy fashion.
Aquarius, which has not held up well over the years due to the musical Hair’s outdated hippie reputation, is handled well here with a soulful version featuring once again Person and Earland. More Today Than Yesterday, the longest track at over eleven minutes, was released in an edited version on a single, and helped Black Talk become one of the best selling LPs in Prestige’s history.
If you didn’t buy this release in either the LP or the first CD version, there is NO excuse in passing up this RVG remaster. The sound is pristine, warm and inviting. It is the one Mighty Burner release that belongs in any self respecting Hammond B-3 fan’s collection.
Tracklist: Black Talk, The Mighty Burner, Here Comes Charlie, Aquarius, More Today Than Yesterday
– Jeff Krow