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Articles: Jan Bradley Interview - Bob Abrahamian 2008


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Although this was released after "Mama Didn't Lie" in Dec. 1963,I believe it was recorded along with other cuts done with Mayfield, BEFORE "Mama Didn't Lie" became a smash hit, and that was before Che

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A sweet soul singer, but just a bit "lightweight" for my taste. Maybe as she is older she should re record her best tracks if her voice has deepend...just m h o.

I do like this though.

Ed

 

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13 hours ago, Tomangoes said:

A sweet soul singer, but just a bit "lightweight" for my taste. Maybe as she is older she should re record her best tracks if her voice has deepend...just m h o.

I do like this though.

Ed

 

Jan wrote this completely on her own based on trying to copy Curtis Mayfield's style as best she could, because she got her only hit with his song, and she didn't like Talty's songwriting, and Chess had a disagreement with Curtis on producer credits and pay, and told Talty and Jan to not use Mayfield any more.  She did such a great job emulating his style that I wish she'd have written a bunch more like that, as the rest of her Chess material was lousy.  At least she got Mayfield's other songs written for her out on Talty's Formal Records, and "Behind The Curtains" out on Night Owl Records.  Those were all great, having The Impressions backing her.

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8 hours ago, The Yank said:

It looks like as long as the release wasn't on Chess, Jan could work with Curtis - 

 

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Although this was released after "Mama Didn't Lie" in Dec. 1963,I believe it was recorded along with other cuts done with Mayfield, BEFORE "Mama Didn't Lie" became a smash hit, and that was before Chess offered a contract to Jan.   The Night Owl record's cuts were also produced by Talty with Mayfield, BEFORE Chess leased "Mama Didn't Lie".  Her new contract with Chess stated that she couldn't work with Curtis any more.  That didn't prevent Don Talty from leasing cuts he made on her working with Curtis and The Impressions before she signed with Chess.  The Hootenanny(Stacy) release was cut before - so, no possible problem.  The lease to Night Owl (probably owned by Talty, Jan, and Curtis) was, indeed released later than "Mama didn't Lie", but Chess had no claim on it, and couldn't legally prevent the 3 of them from releasing it, because it belonged solely to them, and was recorded BEFORE Chess signed Jan.  Talty had 3 releases on Jan from the recordings with Curtis on his own Formal Records, all before Chess leased "Mama Didn't Lie", after its local success on its Formal Records release, and after she was offered the Chess contract, Talty released the Night Owl record, and leased the Christmas record to Stacy/Hootenanny.  On Hindsight, Talty and Jan should have not had her sign with Chess, and gone with Mayfield and his crew at ABC IF Chess and Mayfield had the falling out before Chess offered her the artist contract, while her Formal record was just being leased by Chess.  I think that was the case, because the disagreement probably came about when Curtis told Chess what cut he wanted for himself out of Chess' ongoing deal with the 3 of them. 

Jan would have been best off by going with Curtis to ABC, where he worked with Johhny Pate as arranger, and sometimes also as producer, and there was a "Curtom" production crew, including The Impressions as back-ups, Curtis on guitar, Curtis, Johnny Jones, Jerry Butler, Billy Butler, and Major Lance as sometimes songwriters.  That group probably would have gotten her more hits than Talty did for Chess, and also more than The Chess writers and arrangers did. 

However, it could be that the disagreement caused by Mayfield's discontent came AFTER Jan and Talty signed, and then Chess gave them an ultimatum that she'd have to quit working with Mayfield, or they would tear up the contract.  They had lots of money and could hire much better lawyers than Talty could.  So, they would be afraid to tear up the contract themselves, for fear of losing a big lawsuit.  Besides, Talty had gotten her an artist contract with a big, successful label, and he had reason to believe that Billy Davis and his production crew could do just as well for her as Mayfield/Pate could do for her at ABC.

But this whole situation just points out how very important the quality of songwriting and production values are to even an excellent singer; and also shows how important having a producer who has a good rapport with the singer, and also knows how to get the most from that singer, and has the singer's best interest at heart (not just for his or her own success).  Such a situation can make the difference between the singer making an entire life's career out of singing, or only doing it for a few years and being forced to get a common "day job".  A couple years later, Jan was out of The Business.

Edited by Robbk
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There must have been problems with Jan's contract. The last sentence in this article (Cashbox Dec. 1963)  makes it sound like  Jan was no longer a Chess artist - 

 

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5 hours ago, The Yank said:

There must have been problems with Jan's contract. The last sentence in this article (Cashbox Dec. 1963)  makes it sound like  Jan was no longer a Chess artist - 

 

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This is the PR announcement by Talty & Jan's publicist.  They were worried about problems with Chess because of the clause in the contract that read "No songs written by Curtis Mayfield will be accepted for production".  I'm sure they still felt safe in getting this released by another label because it was recorded previous to her signing her artist contract with Chess.  They just leased that old Spring 1963 recording to Stacy in November 1963, they didn't have Stacy record it that late in the year.  The same was true of their releasing "Behind The Curtains" on Night Owl.  Jan and Don were safe (probably told to them by their lawyer, who advised they add the contract comment in their press release.  Clearly she was okay contractwise, as Chess released "I'm Over You" soon after "These Tears" flopped, and  several other singles, one-by-one at regular intervals, for 2 years after.  There was no long gap, which could account for her leaving Chess after fulfilling her contract with "These Tears", and then she and Don having a rapprochement with Davis or Phil Chess, and signing a 2nd contract.

Jan apparently had an exclusive artist contract with Chess, which didn't allow her to do any recording for any other record company while she was under contract to Chess.  She didn't, as although the Hootenanny and Night Owl releases occurred while she was under contract to Chess, the recordings were made under the auspices of, and paid for, by different producers, and those owners of those productions had the rights to commercial use of those products, and the right to release new records with those recordings, whenever they wanted to do so.  The add-on in the press release was only to let Chess know that Talty and Jan knew their contract obligations and that they weren't breaking them.  This was because Chess didn't know whether or not those 2 releases were recorded before she signed her contract.  If Billy Davis were to bring up his irritation about the 2 releases, Don could show the recording studio receipt, showing the individual songs.  He had to keep those for his Formal Records' taxes.  Jan Bradley was still a Don Talty (Formal) artist - she was on lease to Chess Records, just like Marv Johnson was a Berry Gordy artist while under contract with UA.

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