Leon's Lounge, the venerable Midtown throwback dive, is currently closed for renovations as new owner Pete Mitchell (Under the Volcano) gives it a good scrubbing, but it should be back open before too much longer. Maybe as soon as next month. Earlier this week, Rocks Off heard some equally good news. Instead of a jukebox like at the Volcano - which is reportedly about to be updated for the first time since Lucinda Williams' Little Honey and Hayes Carll's Trouble In Mind were new albums - Mitchell is in the process of accumulating an LP library for the bar so that when Leon's reopens, the music will be vinyl only. We also heard that it would be all vintage '50s, '60s and '70s soul and R&B, but since have been corrected that Mitchell's bar will spin all kinds of music. Nevertheless, no lounge should be without as much product from Stax/Volt, Motown, King, Chess and Duke/Peacock - to name just a few labels - as it can get its hands on. Rocks Off hit up Houston's resident expert on the subject, our buddy, onetime co-author and Dirty Honey DJ Brett Koshkin, earlier this afternoon for his suggestions on which LPs Mitchell should add to the Leon's library. Take it away, Brett...
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While albums like James Brown's Mother Popcorn, Archie Bell & the Drells' Tighten Up and Marvin Gaye's What's Going On should be no-brainers, here's some lesser listened to albums for your collection. The Marvelettes, Sophisticated Soul The female vocal group that recorded for Tamla Motown and is best known for their song "Please Mr. Postman" laid down this album seven years later with a much more grown-up sound for the times. Tales of love and heartbreak are omnipresent, but even the most sorrowful song on the album provides a danceable backdrop for drinking. Bonus: I saw a copy for sale at Sound Exchange yesterday and if you hurry up, it might still be there. Ruby Andrews, Black Ruby An album that suffered from some serious under appreciation upon its initial release in the late '60s but years later became recognized as a masterpiece by soul aficionados. Up-tempo dancers like "You Made a Believer Out of Me" promise to have patrons singing along by the second chorus. Black Merda, Black Merda The name says it all really, a Detroit-born soul outfit with a penchant for adding Hendrix-esque guitar workouts into their songs. A fantastic album from start to finish, it was originally released on Chess and has been reissued in recent years.
Bobby "Blue" Bland, Two Steps From the Blues Not just because the label it was released on, Duke, is from Houston, but because it's stellar, and one of the finest recordings ever made. Bland sang in the gray area between blues and R&B most of the time, and the oscillating emotions put forth in the music provide all the drinking songs you'll ever need. Isaac Hayes, Hot Buttered Soul Leave the Shaft Soundtrack to your iPod and put this mood-setter on your turntable. Hayes proves why they called him Black Moses on what is possibly the greatest take on Burt Bacharach's "Walk On By" ever recorded. It's worth the price of admission alone. The Baby Huey Story, The Living Legend A truly talented 400-pound man records an album with songs about the social climate of the seventies, fighting for racial equality and trying to have a good time AND it was produced by Curtis Mayfield. The Meters, Struttin' Class instrumental New Orleans funk at its finest. A personal "go-to album" for parties on repeated occasions at my house filled with chicken scratch guitars and drums that couldn't be more on time. Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley Though primarily claimed to be a blues album, this record has more soul than heaven could ever hold. If you can't drink while listening to songs about wearing cobra snakes as neckties, I just don't want to drink at your establishment.