I see a similar pattern in many of the vocal groups I read about. Someone gets drafted and is replaced and then someone else leaves and is replaced, as time goes on the group is made up of a whole new cast of characters. Reminds me of the story of the bloke who’s owned the same axe for twenty-odd years, having only replaced the handle twice and the head three times. It was 1963 when Let’s Kiss And Make Up was released and The Falcons had been around for eight years already. The Motor City group included the Wicked Wilson Pickett singing lead and Sir Mack Rice baritone. Neither Eddie Floyd or Joe Stubbs were members at this time. Along with Pickett’s trademark raspy vocals, the standout sound on Let’s Kiss And Make Up is the tremelo-laden guitar of Robert Ward. He played in a band called The Ohio Untouchables, who often backed The Falcons and later became the Ohio Players of ’70s funk fame.
Rhythm & blues with a whole lot of soul is what we get from Mary “B” on this 1962 scorcher. Something For You, Baby was written by Mary Banks, whose life details seem to have somewhat faded into obscurity. It was released on Fling Records, a label run by Bobby Robinson who also ran Fire, Fury, Enjoy and others. Banks released one more record for Robinson on Enjoy, but that’s about all I can find out about her. What a voice though, just listen, and great Marshall Sehorn production too. I’ll be spinning this in and out for a long long time.
You Hurt Me is a simply incredible soul ballad from Little Willie John. His vocals on this tale of heartbreak will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand tall. It was released in 1960 as the b-side to Walk Slow. How a tune like this ends up on the flip is beyond me – although I have seen an advert in a Billboard magazine from the time describing it as a ‘double-play disk’. Like all of LWJ’s singles, this was released in the US by King Records out of Cincinnati, but mine’s a Canadian pressing on Delta.
Larry Birdsong had already released records on Excello and Vee-Jay before making this singular recording for Ace in 1960. His career only included one chart entry, but don’t judge him for that. I’m So Glad You’re Home, which he wrote, is a powerhouse of emotional energy and Birdsong’s voice lives up to his name. This is a song my DJ pal Colonel Spencer Evoy is likely to spin at the Slow Drag Blues Dance next week.
mp3: Yvonne Baker – Eyes
The Sensations were a doo-wop group from Philadelphia who had a couple of R&B hits in 1956. They disbanded when lead singer Yvonne Mills left to marry and start a family. In 1961, Mrs Yvonne Mills Baker was persuaded to reform the group and the hits soon again started flowing. However, today’s record doesn’t fit neatly into that narrative. Released in ’62, Eyes wasn’t a hit and its moody sound is distinct from the upbeat poppiness that permeate through the majority of The Sensations’ back catalogue. It’s a scene setter that often invites comment at my nights. Maybe you remember it from Johnny Alpha’s Popcorn Mix, which popped up on these pages about three years ago, or from last November’s Diddy Wah radio show.
The Watts Little Angel Band was a group of children who sang and made music using bits of junk. They lived in Watts, an area of Los Angeles where there had been severe race riots six years prior to this 1971 release. Community-activist Mike Joseph brought them into a studio, where they recorded a medley of Land Of A 1000 Dances and New Orleans, as well as a version of nursery rhyme Nik Nak Paddy Whack. The result was a single which seems to have originally been pressed for promotional purposes on what I’m guessing is Mike Joseph’s own label, MJ records, before receiving wider distribution through Cotillion. Both of these releases included a picture sleeve showing a photograph of the group and their unconventional instruments. Unfortunately, my scratchy second-hand copy didn’t come with this sleeve and from what I can gather it goes for more than the record. Record and sleeve were recently reissued on Japan’s EM records.
I was inspired to make this post after listening to this spine-tingling version of the Jackson 5’s I Want You Back, which singles out Michael’s pre-teen vocals, acapella style.
Fourteen year old Stevie Wonder recorded This Little Girl in Detroit with the backing of the Funk Brothers. It was released as a b-side in the period between his Little Stevie, child genius stage, which produced the #1 pop hit Fingertips, and the more mature sounding Stevie Wonder on his next big chart success, Uptight (Everything’s Alright). For anyone who wants to know more about this particular song and how it fits within the context of what Wonder, Motown and pop music were doing in ’63/’64, there’s an interesting deconstruction of it here. I think it’s a tune and look forward to testing it out on an unsuspecting dancefloor tonight at Joe’s in Camden for Get Rhythm.
Merry Clayton, who featured heavily in the recent documentary 20 Feet From Stardom, is the lead vocalist on today’s vinyl selection. The Raelettes (the spelling of which varies, it’s The Raelets on my copy of this single) were Ray Charles’s backing vocalists. I think that’s well established. They also released their own records on Charles’s Tangerine label with the man himself on keys, naturally. Written by John Leslie McFarland, One Room Paradise was the flip to one of their biggest hits, the 1966 ballad One Hurt Deserves Another. It’s a storming soul stomper which also includes the voices of Clydie King, Gwen Berry and Alex Brown.
Dance The Boomerang is a b-side from 1961 which features Theresa Cleveland and Ann Gissendanner, who went on to put out some great records on Sue as The Soul Sisters, as well as Joe Louis Johnson aka Lou Johnson, who became a soul singer of repute. It’s a dance craze record, but with seriously heavy piano and fervent vocals in the style of the gospel music Johnson cut his teeth on.
Ted Taylor’s (Love Is Like A) Ramblin’ Rose is one of those records that upon hearing I just had to own. Despite that initial, urgent feeling, some records can still be too damn expensive. Thankfully, this isn’t one of them. It’s Taylor’s opening falsetto that instantly grabs my attention and renders me helpless to the songs many charms, which include a solid rhythm, driving horns and more vertigo inducing high notes. For reasons I will never fully understand, it was released as a b-side. Written by Marijohn Wilkin and Fred Burch, Ramblin’ Rose was also a b-side in its original 1962 manifestation by a tame sounding Jerry Lee Lewis. Mercifully, its brilliance didn’t go unrecognised. A few years after Taylor’s 1965 Okeh release, Ramblin’ Rose blasted out of stereos worldwide as the opening track on the MC5’s long-playing debut, Kick Out The Jams.
An Aquarium Drunkard
Be Bop Wino
The B Side
Carlos Rene's Scene64
Derek's Daily 45
The Devil's Music
Flea Market Funk
Frankie Bundle's Mazzetta78
Home Of The Groove
Jester Wild Show
Kogar's Jungle Juice
La Dimension De Trastos
Liam Large's Rekkids
Mean Mojo Mathias
Night Beat Records
So Many Records, So Little Time
You Got Good Taste