SummaryThe mother of all rare 45 compilations, Numero's 45th release Eccentric Soul: Omnibus closes the first chapter of a decade of mapping the American soul diaspora. The complete box set includes forty-five 45s, each with its own replica label and stylish custom Numero sleeve, as well as an 108-page hardback clothbound book chock-full of liner notes, band photos, ephemera, and indices. Everything is housed in a sleek, portable case featuring metal hardware, durable handle, and a vinyl-wrapped exterior patterned with a de-bossed Numero logo. Available in 19 different color combinations, drawing from red, blue, yellow, green, and orange, this beautiful case is the perfect home for this comprehensive collection. For the first time ever Numero Group is offering a complimentary digital download, allowing you to take their greatest work to date everywhere you go.
Back in early 2003, when Numero was still in an embryonic state, the label's inaugural release was envisioned as a 10-record, 20-artist pile of peculiar soul 45s, packaged in a cardboard clamshell mailer. It was cobbled together from what, at the time, seemed like a unique selection of singles: off-key vocalists and over-the-top guitar soloists, one-piece string sections and piecemeal brass lines, each of them ostensibly helmed by a savant mad-scientist producer working in jury-rigged, barely functional studio conditions. Its working title was Eccentric Soul.
The imagined box of ten 45s was scrapped, replaced by Eccentric Soul: The Capsoul Label, the project that became Numero 001. From the wreckage of the original set, Altyrone Deno Brown turned out to be a bedrock voice, a central story, and the cover image on 003, Eccentric Soul: The Bandit Label; the Dynamic Tints brightened one small corner of Twinight's Lunar Rotation; and Lady Margo's "This Is My Prayer" later found a home inside Pepper's Jukebox, the double LP that accompanied Michael Abramson's photography in 2009's Light: On The South Side hardcover book.
All 14 volumes of Eccentric Soul that pre-date this Omnibus sketch a given skein of connective tissue, but fully fleshed out here are the colorful strands linking any given record to untold others: untimely deaths, racial injustice, kid groups dimmed of charm by oncoming adulthood, military base installment, the bitter duty of Vietnam, the state of Alaska, tantalizing flirtations with fame. All of it is evidence that the darkened corners of the music business looked much the same in the pale light of Fresno, California, or Owensboro, Kentucky, or Benton Harbor, Michigan: record labels run by wannabe gangsters, managers with sticky fingers, radio promotion men funneling payola into disc jockey pet projects, marching bands turning into stage bands, youth centers turned into soul schools, and master tapes lost to fire, storm, and flood. Most of these 45s appear austere and simple at a glance, but every crude, hand-drawn logo, every missing or misspelled bit of crucial information, every malapropism-laden band name belies a deep well of unique history. PVC footholds in an uphill battle against badly stacked odds, these were records willed into existence through pure determination.
Omnibus Vol. 1 is an attempt at laying bare a tangled mess of loose ends that Numero (and cohorts) have been tripping over for years. Too disconnected and isolated from one another for expansion into full-length CD or LP projects, we've bound together 90 songs and 45 stories, cross-referencing each town and year of issue, and gathering it all into a compact and elegant monument to America's soul diaspora.
#1. Patt Stallworth (Cleveland, OH) - 'Questions Pt. I/ Questions Pt. II' (1974):
Stallworth's biography remains a mere sketch; a 22 year old wife and mother when news anchor Bill Jacocks saw her perform at the Karamu House community theater in Cleveland, little else about her is known. Years later, word on the street was Stallworth had gotten caught up in the drug scene, but during their brief interaction in 1974, Jacocks penned and Stallworth delicately performed "Questions" parts I and II, together creating a silky funk masterpiece. The single's elegant A-side is matched with a sensual edit of moans and purrs on the flip. As Jacocks focused on his career in broadcasting, music fell by the wayside, but he never quite shook his time with Stallworth at Agency Recordings, saying, "Fifteen years later, I moved back to Cleveland and started looking for her. I'm still looking.
#2. The Intentions (Chicago, IL) - 'Dig It (Shovel)/ Blow With The Wind' (1971):
In 1971, People's Gas employee and part-time music wheeler-dealer Art Dubois merged the Pharaohs-whose poached horn section and sensibilities would eventually comprise Earth, Wind and Fire-with the Intentions-a group of Kenwood teenagers-to record a single. Derf Reklaw's flute and future Soul Messenger Thomas Whitfield's slinky guitar openly flirt throughout "Dig It (Shovel)" b/w "Blowing With The Wind," recorded at Les Tucker's modest Goldcoast studio. As the 45 was being pressed, the Intentions and Dubois parted ways over the wearing of stage uniforms socially, at which time Dubois halted all promotional efforts for the single. Art Dubois resumed his toils for People's Gas, never to enter the music business again.
#3. Elements Of Peace (Monterey Bay, CA) - 'Together Pt. I/ Together Pt. II' (1971):
Despite feeling out of place with his ruffled suit and Motown mindset, Melvin Turnage fell in with the rock crowd at the Monterey Bay's Fort Ord Army Base when he arrived from St. Louis in 1970. Forming the soulful Elements of Peace, Turnage found surprising demand within the ranks of the military outpost network. A year later the Elements cut "Together" at Monterey's Super Sound Studios: half spoken-word monologue with local references to hook the surrounding community, half tender lover's duet blowing in the coastal breeze. The single failed to translate outside sleepy Monterey County, and when Turnage's tour ended he meandered back to the banks of the Mississippi river.
#4. The Volumes (San Antonio, TX) - 'I'm Gonna Miss You/ I've Never Been So In Love' (1966):
During the mid-1960s, Sunglows bandleader Manny Guerra owned the humble Amen Studios, and churned out high quality Latin and R&B records for San Antonio weekly. When Amen's part-time electrical engineer, Hector Valadez, offered to help manage the talent overflow via his Garu Records, Guerra obliged, and together they scooped up top-flight high school vocal group the Volumes. The sounds of teenage hearts throbbing were speedily committed to tape in Guerra's south-side recording shack in "I'm Gonna Miss You" b/w "I've Never Been So In Love." Youth proved to be the Volumes downfall when a strict father nixed their chaperone-free shot at touring, and the boys splintered into various fleeting groups, falling silent around the same time Valadez's Garu concern went quiet in the early-1970s.
#5. Flack And Company (Kingsport, TN) - 'Disco-TNT/ Been Loving You Too Long (Don't Want To Stop)' (1975):
The first accented murmurs of indigenous soul in Kingsport, Tennessee, called themselves the Scat Cats. After running the chitlin' circuit and a breakthrough record on Columbia, the Cats stagnated, so the young Flack brothers broke away to form a group more hip to the sound of 1975. Flack and Company recorded "Disco-TNT," a thinly veiled interpretation of Kool & the Gang's "N.T.", and "Been Loving You Too Long (Don't Want to Stop)"-in which Donnie Flack delivers a lonesome monologue lighting the fuse on a funky appeal to a female suitor-at Kingston's Tri-State Recordings Company. Times changed, former Cats returned home, and old band mates reformed into what a 2005 issue of Eastern Tennessee's alt-weekly called a "request band," playing a little bit of everything. Call ahead if requesting "Disco TNT".
#6. Curtis Liggins Indications (Kansas City, MO) - 'Funky Monkey Right On/ What It Is?' (1969):
In the late sixties The Indications were running the Kansas City scene, occasionally including cowboy hats and Native American regalia to find steady work. Founder Curtis Liggins would get them to Damon Studios in 1969 to record their lone original single. A-side, "Funky Monkey Right On," opens on a "Shaft"-esque hi-hat pattern before breaking into a near-psychedelic, guitar-fueled workout. An up-tempo and socially aware dancer that belies its genesis as a hasty also-ran comprises the flip. Liggins' career was cut short when, homebound from a 1972 gig in Iowa, his band's driver lost control of their vehicle, ending his life.
#7. The Majestees (Highland Park, MI) - 'Take Back All Those Things/ Let Her Go' (1966):
The Majestees entered the studio in the summer of 1966, a shade greener than a 7-Up bottle. The high school variety show celebrities of Highland Park, Michigan recorded "Take Back All Those Things," the band's first original, and "Let Her Go," a sugary dream created by Brothers of Soul's Fred Bridges and Robert Eaton during their brief residency at Inkster, Michigan's Mutt concern. The record was, like every other Mutt-labeled 45, doomed upon release, receiving paltry airplay and an egregious typographical miscrediting: "Majjestee's". The Vietnam draft would tear The Majestees apart in 1968, and give band member Angelo Bond fodder for his co-penned hit "Bring the Boys Home" as rendered by Freda Payne in 1971.
#8. Sag War Fare (Fort Myers, FL) - 'Girl You Better Change/ Don't Be So Jive' (1971):
When Melvin German needed to rename his band in the early seventies, he recalled the misheard moniker of cartoon rodent thief, Savoir Faire, which had stuck with him since mid-'60s viewings of The Beagles. The group became Sag War Fare and stormed up and down southwest Florida, briefly stopping by Orlando, Florida's Bee Jay studio to record a single in 1971. "Girl You Better Change" b/w "Don't Be So Jive" was as catchy as the band's name, but it did little more than help Sag procure future gigs. The fiery group continued to blaze through the region for the next five years, backing Joey Gilmore for a time. When the band started raising more hell than patrons, their gigging schedule slowed, but wouldn't completely hang it up until the early '90s.
#9. Family Connection (Waterbury, CT) - 'This Time/ Lost Her Love' (1971):
In Waterbury, Connecticut's North End neighborhood, the relatives behind Family Connection were separated by just a few blocks but intertwined by music. The group tied together brother pairs Ron and James Maia, Robbie and James Minnis, Lenny and Wilkes Butler, Jeffrey and Ricky Graham, and cousins Tony Smith and Carnegie Clapp. In 1969, they met one-time Five Satin's manager and then furniture salesman Sam Goldman, who brought them to Bridgeport's Complex IV studio to record their 1971 originals "This Time" b/w "Lost Her Love" for their own Jabali label. The haunting single topped local charts and landed the group opening slots for Funkadelic, the Manhattans, and Roberta Flack. After releases on Buddah, Sigma, and Rufus, bookings tapered with the rise of the DJ, but there were no hard feelings. "We were one big family," said John Maia. "If we had a dollar, it was gonna be split into pennies."
#10. Soul Walkers (Owensboro, KY) - 'Can I Say It Again/ Stay Ahead' (1970)
Owensboro, Kentucky, is known better for exporting coal than recording soul, but in 1967 Eugene Hayden, Michael Black, and Bruce Griffith, began making racket in their Mechanicsville neighborhood. Too young to drive, they lugged equipment on foot, inspiring The Soul Walkers moniker. James Palmer Jackson, Ben Griffin, Johnny McNary and Charles Winston were added to the group, along with Winston's driver's license used for traveling to gigs. Central City's Raymond Rich of Cardinal Studio approached the group, exchanging free studio time for top billing on their subsequent 45's label. Two singles were cut between 1969-1970 before the group split after an opportunity to back Carla and Rufus Thomas in Europe was missed due to the inability to find a suitable chaperone.
#11. Energettics (Boston, MA) - 'You Make Me Nothing/ Rainy Days And Mondays' (1974):
A decade older than New Edition and from an entirely different block than NKOTB, the Energettics make a case for being Boston's original boy band. In 1974, Mattapan, Massachusetts pre-teens Joey Lites and Bernard Franklin linked up with Herbert "Pee Wee" Jackson, Calvin Shepard, and Tony Borders at the Boston Black Action Committee. "You Make Me Nothing," paired with the Carpenters' "Rainy Days and Mondays", comprised the quintet's debut single on Cobra Records. After a Stanton Davis-arranged follow-up release, they signed to Atlantic but were dropped when their sacrifice to disco bombed, only to re-emerge briefly in the early '80s when boyhood neighbor Arthur Baker reconfigured them as Planet Patrol for a run on Tommy Boy Records.
#12. Duralcha (Durham, NC) - 'Jody Is Gone/ Ghet-To Funk' (1976):
As far as band names go, no group better represents North Carolina's Piedmont region than Duralcha, a portmanteau of the triangulated cities of Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill. Through classmate connections, mutual friends on the club circuit, and marching band camaraderie, Stanley Saunders, Doug Kelly, Bobby Moody, Terry Bullock, Alfred Burton Jr., Jonathan Eubanks, Michael Meeks, Craig Beaumont, and Larry Knight started testing their bandstand chops together long after the school-day ended. Eubanks, who had previously been in a troupe of cross-dressing entertainers highly regarded in Durham's clubs, raised the eyebrow of E. W. McCuller, who produced the monster Black Experience Band cut "The Road." Duralcha recorded "Ghet-to Funk" b/w "Jody Is Gone" for McCuller's Microtronics label in 1976, the former of which was culled from Black Experience Band leftovers. The misspelled label "Duralcha" had little effect on the trajectory of the group, who disbanded upon college enrollment in the fall of '76.
#13. The 13th Amendment (Baton Rouge, LA) - 'Hard To Be In Love/ The Stretch' (1971):
"Musical Freedom Personified" is what a 1971 press kit called Baton Rouge, Louisiana's 13th Amendment. This lofty musical goal united Mose Williams, Greg Williams, Nolan Smith, Robert Wesley, Butch "Bayou" Lucas, Reginald Parrish, Kemp Thomas, Woody Douglas, Norman Veals, and Lamont Growe, and their message also connected with City-Parish councilman Joseph Delpit, who agreed to bankroll their project. Billed as an entertainment attraction and as a vote-baiting rehabilitation project, 13th Amendment's dashiki-clad stage show, with semi-improvised comedy skits between break-neck medleys, quickly attracted a following. A handful of originals took form, culminating in a December 1970 recording session at Baton Rouge's Deep South Studios. "Hard To Be In Love" b/w "The Stretch" was issued early in 1971 on the band's own Slave label. Later that year,13th Amendment signed on with Queen Booking Corporation, which listed them alongside no less than Aretha Franklin and Sammy Davis Jr. Another manager joined up, and the pie finally split into pieces the band couldn't feed themselves on. To mitigate the ravages of the 16th Amendment, 13th Amendment dissolved in mid-1972.
#14. Directory (Big Spring, TX) - 'World And Creation/ Feel It In Your Bones' (1975):
Big Spring's aging teen sensation Jay Thomas formed Directory in 1972 with the simple philosophy: "We can make every song a dance song." Generally reworking the day's top hits into dance numbers, in 1975 with backing from the owner of a rough local biker club, Directory hit Lubbock's Harold Franklin Studio to craft two of their own. The result- a solemn but danceable, "World and Creation," and an up-beat hip-shaker, "Feel It In Your Bones,"- poured out of car radios, making Directory, for a moment, local rock stars. Eventually disco invaded and live performances could no longer keep the bills paid. A band member's betraying union with a rival group would tear Directory in half, spelling the end in 1980.
#15. Everyday People (Phoenix, AZ) - 'Get Next To You/ (Loose Booty) Is A Real Thing' (1975):
Beginning as Howie and the Aladdins in 1964, Michael Del Ponte, Don Pogrant, Denny King, and Keith Norgren formed Everyday People, Luke Air Force Base's answer to the long and storied tradition of military base soul bands. In 1972 they were gigging regularly around Phoenix looking more "country cut" than "party funk," but 1975 saw the arrival of George Bowman, who shifted the band's focus. During this short-lived line up they cut their only record at Soundtech in Phoenix, and the session was helmed by Billy Williams, who later took home a Grammy for his work with East Texan Lyle Lovett. Bowman's departure ultimately split the group, at least until 2006 when the Arizona Music Hall of Fame (of which Pogrant was an active board member) inducted renaissance bluesman George Bowman.
#16. Trust (Fort Wayne, IN) - 'Funk Power/ Explosion'
When Jeffrey Smith's parents first heard their eight-year-old son's feeble attempts at percussion, he was banging on garbage cans. Convincing their parents to buy legitimate instruments, Jeffrey and his brothers Tony and Terry formed a makeshift family band. In high school, they renamed themselves Trust after gaining fourth member and classmate Gary Brabson. Their shot at the big time came via an ad in the Indiana Evening Gazette for The Bong Show, a local spin-off of NBC's the Gong Show. The group's winning performance awarded them a release courtesy of Troy Shondell, a Fort Wayne native famous for his one-hit-wonder "This Time (We're Really Breaking Up)." Trust's session at Shondell's Star Fox Studios produced the single "Funk Power" b/w "Explosion," but disagreement between the young group and Shondell squelched any chance of promotion. A follow-up album was cancelled when a rival group broke into the Smith house and stole all of Trust's gear, their home suddenly silenced.
#17. Aggregation (Huntsville, AL) - 'A Child Is Born/ Can You Feel It' (1970):
Regarding the band name Aggregation, Ron Carter offered simply, "Just a bunch of black guys coming together. Nothing creative." Arising out of the Alabama A&M College Marching Band, Carter, Larry "Skip" Glover, Arthur Wade, Eddie Scott, Edmond White and Michael Cornelius recorded their only two original tracks, "A Child Is Born" b/w "Can You Feel It" at Charles "Toot" Snoddy's Acoustic Loop Sound Lab in Huntsville, Alabama in 1970. The group went from playing fraternity parties to warming up crowds for Archie Bell and the Isley Brothers. The plan to get a record deal at Stax-"Let's just go up and sit in the lobby until someone asks us what we want," according to Ron Carter-never panned out because they "sounded too much like the Bar-Kays" according to Al Bell. Aggregation kept playing through 1974 until the usual suspects - kids, marriage, missing money - got in the way.
#18. Stone Creations (Cleveland, OH) - 'The "It" Song/ Hands On A Golden Key' (1973):
Two years before Bill Jacocks became an anchor at Cleveland's WEWS-TV in 1975, he made a Hands On A Golden Key, a television documentary about students working to alleviate racial strife in schools. For his film, Jacocks envisioned an original score, but the producers at NBC station WKYC offered no music budget. Deciding to pay out-of-pocket, Jacocks found inspiration in his neighbor's garage, where Robert Goodson Jr., Terry Milliner, Raymond "Raymo" Travis, Joe Jenkins, and Raymond Bruton were rehearsing as Stone Creations. Jacocks brought the young group to Arnie Rosenberg's Agency Recording in 1973 to track the score, as well as a 45, released on Jacock's own Fly-By-Nite imprint. The single helped Stone Creations secure gigs, culminating in the Spinners inviting them to Detroit for a residency at the Sahara Supper Club. Feeling like they were on the cusp of fame, the Creations were shocked one night in 1976 to find the Sahara up in flames, incinerating their instruments and torching their career, their music dreams obliterated into ash.
#19. Trinkas (Oklahoma City, OK) - 'Black Is Beautiful/ Remember Me' (1969):
Before adopting the Trinikas name, Marsha Bratton, Debbie Sheffield, Georgetta Dixon, and Lenise "T-Bird" Morgan sang to hospital patients as part of their junior high school's Paramedical Career Club. Debbie's father, Leslie Sheffield, had been a pioneer on the outer-west jazz circuit, and his insistence that Debbie learn to compose and play the piano ultimately gave her singing group a leg up over their peers. In 1962, they met Richard Gilleland, who had opened a local franchise branch of Saugus, California-based Century Records and planned to release high school music program fundraising albums. The Trinikas and Gilleland journeyed to Independence, Missouri's Cavern Studio to record "Black Is Beautiful," b/w "Remember Me" in 1969. The Trinikas' recordings at Cavern would be their last: Marsha Bratton, the daughter of a stern minister, was on restriction the night of Douglas High's talent show, but she snuck out and performed. On the way home, Bratton's car was struck by an oncoming vehicle, killing her instantly. Douglas High's fundraising album was released by Century in the spring of 1970, carrying a dedication to Marsha Bratton.
#20. The Prophets Of Peace (Minneapolis, MN) - 'The Max/ You Can Be' (1977):
In the publisher's statement of Minnesota's Black Community, Walter Scott declares the volume will "help close the gap which keeps white Minnesotans and black Minnesotans from clasping hands to 'work' toward a United America." Before his son and co-publisher Anthony could pay tribute to his hometown, he'd first need to contribute something himself. After graduating from Mankato State College, Scott trekked back to Minneapolis to forge a career as a bass player and rehearsed alongside Earl "Sonny" Williams Larry Loud, Larry Lubov, Dan Dahlgren, John C. Curly, Bruce Pallagi, Jimmy Wallace, Ron Atkinson, Donald Thomas, Doris Johnson, and Ed Garrett. Just two of several Prophets recordings, "The Max" came out of Herb Pilhofer's Sound80 in 1975, while "You Can Be" was recorded at Audiotek Studios Inc. A young David Z, who engineered Lipps Inc's "Funkytown" and several Prince productions, piloted both sessions. When the Philadelphia Story departed for California in 1976 and left open their residency at the Flamme, the Prophets of Peace stepped up, and the group would secure its legacy on page 181 of Minnesota's Black Community.
#21. Super Soul Movement (Moss Point, MS) - 'Bad Bad Bad Pt. I/ Bad Bad Bad Pt. II' (1974):
Growing up in Moss Point, Mississippi, 12-year-old David "Lenny" Stallworth began rehearsing with his brother Doug and fellow neighborhood kids Sam Stanton, Leonard Walker, Phillip Williams, and Frank Rogers in their backyard in 1972. When their racket reached the ears of local boutique owner Jackie Wells, a management deal was tendered and the Super Soul Movement appellation was assigned. After a year of club owners balking over the group's minor status, Wells brought Super Soul Movement to Moss Point's APM Studios to record the single he hoped would push them to the next level. The Super Souls trekked to Los Angeles in 1974 to try their luck, but after two summers of Hollywood shuffling, the teens' energy and in-fighting led to the group's demise.
#22. Tickled Pink (Fort Worth, TX) - 'Reach Out/ Never Can Say Goodbye' (1972):
Despite its reputation as a Lone Star State ensemble, not a single member in Clarence "Pinky" Pinckney's Tickled Pink is from Texas. Pinckney's Air Force enlistment brought him to Fort Worth, Texas before moving on to Guam, and then East Washington University, where he formed a combo with Mark Breeze, Billy Haddon, Larry Marshall, Mike Smith, Merlin Bell, and the snow-white Vicki Teller. The integrated Lamplighters relocated to Texas, but the patrons of the Fort Worth nightclub scene were still adjusting to post-Civil Rights Act realities, resulting in very few gigs. In 1971, the group renamed themselves Tickled Pink, and a year later they recorded "Reach Out (And Give Me Your Hand)" b/w "Never Can Say Goodbye" at Dallas' Sonic Productions for their own Pink Knip imprint.
#23. Union (Mesa, CA) - 'Strike/ Come To My House For Lunch'
Rather than another guided-missile single aimed straight at the charts, Union's "Strike" b/w "Come To My House For Lunch" was a songwriting demo, meant to showcase the compositional abilities of Alfred Jesse Smith-the man already known better to Billboard readers as Brenton Wood. "Gimme Little Sign," his 1967 smash for Double Shot Records, is the hit song most associated with the Compton-via-Shreveport talent, and while Brenton Wood's given name appears on the "Gimme" single alongside credits for two Double Shot producers, Wood-for all appearances simply a singer of songs-was actually quite prolific as a composer. Union never performed live, but the group featured an all-star ensemble including Sterling Smith, Al Mckay, Ed Green, George Semper, Phil Kelsey, Gail Anderson. The single was released on Mesa Records, which belonged to Matt Hill, brother of Z. Z. Hill. Matt was a promoter more aiming to rep talent to fellow insiders than to sell records, but Mesa's Union 45 serves as a vital snapshot of Wood's career as it passed out of the spotlight during the early 1970s.
#24. Crystal's Image (Washington, D.C.) - 'A Friend/ Crystal's Image (Cold Crush Theme)' (1980):
Benton Harbor, Michigan, is about as well known as the home of the Whirlpool kitchen appliance corporation as it is known as a hub of rioting, blight, and civic mismanagement. Despite a population that barely cracks five digits, the town's soul culture was fertile in disproportion to the size of its talent pool and corporate vortex. While in junior high, Frank Gillespie convinced his classmates Larry Scales and Richard Alexander to form Crystal's Image. The group agreed to a Washington, D.C., relocation, though Alexander soon returned home and was replaced by Derek Cortez Hill. After a few disappointing run-ins with unreliable managers and a poorly promoted debut single, Gillespie himself scheduled studio time at Silver Spring, Maryland's Track Recording in 1980. "A Friend" b/w "Crystal's Image (Cold Crush Theme)" was a creative triumph, but the sessions broke Gillespie financially, driving him back to the welcoming arms and spiraling eddies of Benton Harbor later that year.
#25. Third Generation (Alto, GA) - 'Love Is Gonna Rain Down On Me/ Mother Nature' (1977):
A pensioned high school art teacher with a strong social conscience, Ellis Haraka applied for an opening at Georgia Industrial Institute in 1974, a minimum-security prison camp in Alto, Georgia, to teach remedial reading and GED preparation. After selling the warden on converting the art room into a rehearsal space and rescuing gear from a defunct music program, Haraka watched Georgia Industrial's band form spontaneously. Inmates Roderick Willis, Linwood Moore, Michael Cody, Eugene Bostic, Willie "Shoeshop Slim" Zackery, Kenny Rewis, Eddie McCluskey, and Rufus Amis thus formed The Third Generation, rehearsing regularly with Haraka through 1977, who then painstakingly arranged for a field trip to Atlanta's Precision Studios. "Love Is Gonna Rain Down On Me" b/w "Mother Nature" was issued with the group's own PRISON SOUL banner, and over the next few years the group disbanded naturally, as members completed their jail time and rejoined civilian life.
#26. Morning After (Chicago, IL) - 'Hey Girl/ Disco-Tick' (1975):
With the arrival of the Kennedy Expressway in 1960, Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, once home to Polish beer barons, regressed quickly into a haven for junkies, prostitutes, and gangs. Morning After's Polish-American teenagers grew up in this blight, informed by both their Eastern European heritage and the influx of ghetto realism. After losing a few members to the Vietnam draft, the line-up shuffled into Peter Pollack, Gennaro "Jeep" Capone, Tom Richards, Ken Bender, Chris Natale and Al Young. Renaming themselves Morning After and newly aiming for a funkier sound, Greg Thomas and Johnny Watkins joined in. Their only recording session happened at an unmemorable Madison, Wisconsin, location, where "Hey Girl" b/w "Disco-Tick" was issued on their own Reward Records in 1975. By the late '70s, the Wicker Park seemed pastoral by comparison. Disco's tick had latched on hard and, as the Kennedy Expressway had done 20 years earlier, was paving the way toward a bleak new era.
#27. Now (Columbus, OH) - 'Land Of Now/ Lovin' You Is Easy' (1976):
After six years of back and forth between failed vocal groups at Bruce Clarke's CVS label in New Jersey and lurking in the shadows of Columbus' Capsoul concern, tenor Jimmy Radford traded hotel key for house key in Columbus and shacked up with Mary Guillaumez, recently separated from James Guillaumez of free-funk outfit Earth's Delight. Any bitterness over the love triangle soon dissolved when James and Radford became musical allies, and they were joined by Glen Dunlap, Reuben Washington, and Tim Whitmire to form the group Now. In 1976, Now began sessions at Mark and Donald Spangler's Kingsmill Recording Studio, where they tracked "Land of Now" b/w "Lovin' You Is Easy," the latter of which had appeared in an earlier version on Radford's CVS sessions that became the mysterious 1978 Graham International LP. The "Land Of Now" 45's label teased that its sides had been "Selected from the album In The Beginning", but that LP never did materialize, as Radford was underwhelmed by the single's performance. Through Stone Man Productions, Now locked down local residencies in Columbus, and the group lived on for a decade before crumbling in 1986.
#28. Deep Heat (Detroit, MI) - 'Do It Again/ She's A Junkie' (1974):
C. W. "Ace" Jones was decidedly behind the times in terms of promotion, distribution, and overall sound quality, but he knew he had the ingredients for a hit single in 1974. The classifieds and Jones' connections provided the kindling for Deep Heat, linking up Jesse Richards, Michael Brown, Levell Siders, Greg Patton, and Lyall Hoggatt. They spent all of 1974 rehearsing and encoding eight solid songs to magnetic tape in Jones' ramshackle recording studio. But Jones was cheap, and all they got from the sessions was Steely Dan's"Do It Again" b/w their original "She's A Junkie (Who's The Blame)." Bookings boosted thanks to studio time, but gigs were rare as Deep Heat preferred the company of hippies and pot dealers to paying supper-club patrons. Membership cooled into day jobs or further states of ennui, making it easy for the heat to dissipate completely by 1977.
#29. Darker Shades (Waco, TX) - 'Trackin' Down Judy Pt. I/ Trackin' Down Judy Pt. II' (1971):
Managed by Providence, Louisiana's G. W. Griffin High School music teacher Bobby Moore, teenagers Henry Dixon, Fred "Sugar Bear" Wallace, Henry Lane, and Cliff Lee first came together as the Bar-Bs. Moore helped them land music scholarships at Paul Quinn College in Waco, Texas, and by 1970, the group picked up Johnny Smith and Classie Ballou, a guitar player 15 years their senior. After firing his back-up band, Ballou replaced them with the Bar-Bs, recommended by booking agent Dan "D" Fields in 1971. Renaming themselves Darker Shades of Black, Classie's reputation won them opening slots for Ike & Tina Turner and Betty Wright. They scheduled recording time at Austin's ACR studio, cutting the two-part "Trackin' Down Jody," their original answer song to Johnny Taylor's hit, issued on ACR's imprint and credited to Darker Shades Ltd. With a growing family back home in Waco, Ballou stopped touring in 1976, while Darker Shades lurched forward. They tracked a few sessions at Curtom, but by 1980 the Darker Shades were emitting no light whatsoever.
#30. Inbassador (Milford, DE) - 'Everyday/ Everybody's Doing It' (1977):
Sandwiched between the towering soul capitals of Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., the city of Wilmington, Delaware, has never been known for its wealth of black music. Bringing together members from the other very few black Delaware groups, Inbassador began performing in 1974 and was comprised of James Bell, Grayson Allen, Robert Benson, Kenny Baynard, Mary "Miss Snow" Brown, Jimmy Shockley, Wayne Johns, and Lionel Caynon. The group secured time at the Electric Possum Land jingle studio in nearby Milford, Delaware, where they recorded the Caynon and Benson originals "Everyday" and "Everybody's Doing It" on their own LBC label in 1977. Several Inbassadors were ready to take the single to the world, but Caynon's pursuit of his master's degree solidified their stay-at-home status. Inbassador kept at it through 1989 as a weekend attraction, crossing over into yacht-soul territory as they found themselves in front of private parties and conventions.
#31. Hot Snow (Los Angeles, CA) - 'Four Times The Love/ Me And You' (1971):
"Our manager was pushing us to be the first interracial rock couple. I don't think the world was quite ready for that," Dorothy McDonald recalled about the Southern California septet Hot Snow. The black Sonny to McDonald's Cher, Fred Snow formed Freddie Snow & his Snow-men in 1966, with McDonald on vocals. After booking agent Gail McConkey promised gigs in Los Angeles, the group went West. McConkey added Roger Alves, Fred O'Brien, Harvey "Jackson" Self, Terry Curran, and Sharon Robinson and renamed them Hot Snow. While McConkey secured residences in Hawaii and Alaska, LA club manager Rick Fleming arranged for the group to record at Hollywood's T.T.G. Studios with Hendrix engineer Angel Balestier, and Hot Snow's two originals were issued on Hadley Murrell's Relevant label in 1971. A 1979 club gig in Fresno angered the audience, who ransacked Hot Snow's hotel rooms in response to the group's mixed membership. Shortly thereafter, Dorothy and Fred broke up, and the band followed suit.
#32. Walter & The Admerations (Chicago, IL) - 'Life Of Tears/ Man Oh Man' (1967):
Walter Smith led the Cabrini-Green-based vocal harmony group the Admirations while in middle school, recording two 45s for the Leaner family's One-Derful! label in 1967. After transferring to Tilden High, Smith formed a new group with classmates the Donaldson brothers-Brad, Keith, and David-and Cliff Frazier, who had been performing as The Four Gents. Incorporating the Four Gents as his back up band, Walter & The Admirations went on a talent-show tear. Manager Ted Daniels then obtained a one-off contract with Leo Austell and Hillary Johnson's La-Cindy label. Daniels' La-Cindy connection, as well as the studio where "Life Of Tears" b/w "Man Oh Man (What Have I Done)" was cut, remains unknown. Frazier co-wrote both songs with guitarist Phil Davis, though a typo credited the single to the "Admeration's." Following graduation, all five members had their draft cards pulled. Taking on military-inspired moniker The Green Berets, the group ended up as part of a package deal Andre Williams sold to the Los Angeles-based Uni label in 1970.
#33. Three Days Ahead (Minneapolis, MN) - 'Face It Man/ Rolling Love Pt. 2' (1972):
Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was a planned community housing the workforce of the Manhattan Project, where Bill Davis's father was employed. The village's institutionalized segregation relegated Davis's black family to the dirt roads and contaminated spring water of the Gamble Valley area. Davis had to practice with a guitar fashioned of stick and string, until a neighbor noticed Davis' talent and loaned him a Harmony. Alongside some neighborhood kids, Davis formed the Soul Dynamics, but a local hippie's peace, love, and drugs schtick influenced Davis to drop out of high school and light out for Minneapolis in 1968 with a Fender Strat. Davis' self-described "freedom of the soul" guitar style attracted Louis Sanders and Alex King, with whom he formed Three Days Ahead. In 1972, the group visited local bluesman and manager Walter Lewis' St. Paul basement studio, recording their only single. Following Alex King's murder at gunpoint, Three Days Ahead dissolved, as Davis continued his search for love, peace, and faith all the way to Denver.
#34. Mixed Breed (Washington, D.C.) - 'Gotta Get Home/ Wise' (1973):
In the 1960s, Washington, D.C. was a highly segregated city, with the northeastern H Street corridor being just a few families shy of 100% black. There, the Rosenburg's owned a car wash, where the very white Burt Rosenburg started Sound Innovations, his own booking and talent management agency, in 1968. The roster's most important group, the Young Senators, would issue two 45s on Innovation Records, Rosenburg's in-house imprint. When Eddie Kendricks poached the Senators, Rosenburg moved on to finance a 1973 session at Silver Spring, Maryland's Track Recording with Mixed Breed. The group formed in 1969 around Charlie Oliver, Jimmy Lewis, Kenny Wylie, Paul Greenwall, Wayne Cooper, Robert Talford, Billy Pierce, and Tommy Anderson. The single, "Gotta Get Home" b/w "Wise," didn't lead to many more bookings, and when buyout offers reached Rosenburg, he didn't hesitate. In 1976, Mixed Breed's Sound Innovations contract was bought out by RCA, and although a single was tracked, the band fled what they felt was a bad deal. Afterward, the gigs came sporadically, until they stopped coming altogether.
#35. Two Plus Two (Detroit, MI) - 'I'm Sure/ Look Around' (1966):
Although Two Plus Two was long suspected to be a Wilburt Jackson and Cyril Clarke duo, they form just half of the equation. Jackson began with Clyde Wilson as the Two Friends, which recorded on Harvey Fuqua's HPC label. When Fuqua joined brother-in-law Berry Gordy in 1963, he brought Jackson and Wilson with him to Motown. Clarke began singing with the Majestics but left the group before they signed to Motown in 1963 as the Monitors. He later joined Motown as a songwriter and teamed up with Jackson, composing the Monitors' "Number One In Your Heart" in 1965. The other half of Two Plus Two, Lawrence Matchett and Terry Davis, joined them on the 1966 single, and the quartet gigged sporadically. Recorded in New Haven at Larry and Danny Lick's Sound Inc., the lone 45 was issued on Velgo, but the quartet didn't last much longer. As Clarke said, "It wasn't going nowhere, and one day I said to myself, 'I can't be doing this shit, I got too many babies.'"
#36. Black Soul Express (Ocala, FL) - 'Party Time/ When I Left You' (1975):
Stone High School of Melbourne, Florida, had a mean drum line, a fact Kenny Hall exploited to form the Florida Soul Twisters in 1963. By 1972, the Twisters had turned over significantly, transforming into Black Soul Express with a line-up including Hall, Greg "French Fry" Gaines, Alberta "Bert" Rivers, William Slade, Richard Mickles, Troy Bryant, William Miller, and Freddie Woolfalk. Despite its Afro-centric locomotive moniker, Black Soul Express employed a revolving crew of Caucasians, including keyboard player "Mike," who appeared on their only recordings. Those 1975 sessions took place at Ocala's Gaff Studio, where "Party Time" b/w "When I Left You" were issued on a disc whose stark black label gave no label name. Hall's older musician brother Charles caught his brother's band in action and stripped off Gaines and Kenny to join him north in a new group he was putting together, the New Ghetto Express, which like the preceding Black Soul, made local stops only.
#37. The Techniques (Lexington, KY) - 'Get Technified/ When You're Away':
Richmond, Kentucky teenagers Randy Black, David Burdette, Frankie Turner, Paul Walker, and Wayne Hill began as the Mellow Meditators, straddling the line between garage pop and stage-band soul. By 1972, the group were playing gigs but struggling to find their niche. Math teacher Robert Blythe took on the duties of mediator and manager, ushering in fellow classmates Otis Ballard, Jasper White, Floyd Covington, Cynthia Miller, and Burdette's brother George, and a much needed name change. The renamed Techniques tracked two originals-"Get Technified" and the Intruders jack "When You're Away"-at Track 16 Studio in Lexington, Kentucky. Pressed at Cincinnati's QCA and distributed by Richmond's premier booking agency Progressive, most of the pressing was destroyed in a barn flood. The Techniques remained strong into 1978, but Blythe's relocation to Akron, Ohio, to get technified by an IBM job led to the group's demise.
#38. Suspicious Can Openers (Colombus, OH) - 'Fever In Your Hot Pants/ Tuesday In The Rain' (1971):
Mingled amongst 13 other siblings, Eugene and Walter McMahan of Columbus, Ohio escaped their parents' watchful eyes, taking up residency at the Preview Lounge in 1966 while still teenagers. There they met Henry Lee Sapp, who thereafter birthed his Timmy Willis stage persona. Managed by Roy Hoover, Timmy Willis & the Show Pushers made it to Detroit, landing a deal with Sidra. Willis hit the road, and Suspicious Can Openers came into being when another pair of McMahan brothers, Jerry and Ronnie, were inspired by their elder brothers' success. Classmates Ron Johnson, D. C. Collins, and Cornell McLeary joined in, as well as Timmy Willis, who had returned to Ohio. Hoover resumed managerial duties, establishing the Mo Soul label to issue the Openers' single, 1971's "Fever In Your Hot Pants" b/w "Tuesday In The Rain," recorded at Magnetic Recordings. The mercurial Timmy Willis was off and running again by 1972, behind an Epic-issued single. Even Willis-free, Suspicious Can Openers held a steady gig schedule until their disbanding in 1974.
#39. The Free Mind (Milwaukee, WI) - 'Just Jammin'/ After We're Gone':
"Get On Up," issued in 1967 on Bunky Records, was a godsend for Milwaukee vocal group the Esquires, who would sell a million copies of their debut. In 1970, Charles Small auditioned with the Esquires, securing the duties of guitarist in Navajo Train, their backing band. But as Navajo Train began to falter, Small escaped into his new group Free Mind. Small drew Marcus Robinson, Jimmie Rogers, Reginald Humphrey, and Floyd Cheatham into the group, and after hearing rumors of opportunities in Minnesota, the band relocated to the Twin Cities. Free Mind caught the eyes of KUXL's Ray Moss and Jimmy Smith, who signed on as managers. Moss and Smith then scheduled time at Kay Bank Studios to track a single released on George Garrett's Twin Town imprint. A few months later, Free Mind wound its way back to Milwaukee, and a disastrous reunion tour with the Esquires left the group in shambles.
#40. Hifidelics (Aliquippa, PA) - 'Hifidelics Groove/ Quiptown'(1973):
The steel boom of the 1940s set off a wave of pop-up rust belt towns, each producing its own temporary culture. Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, is among the smaller steel communities, but its relative isolation and large African-American population created a short-lived soul town in the 1970s. The teenage group Hifadelics, originally named Hollow Grooves, coalesced in the late 1960s, and in 1973 manager George Perkins led them into Hartman & Associates' studio in Pittsburgh to record their only single, "Hifidelics Groove" b/w "Quiptown." Despite the typographical error on the 45, Hifadelics were signed by Ray Mitchell's Pittsburgh Music Industries, which immediately put them on the rust belt circuit. When the Jones & Laughlin Steel Mill closed up shop in 1980, Hifadelics went silent with it. The newly jobless band membership had to skip Aliquippa for employment, accounting for just a handful of the 18,000 souls the town would lose over the next three decades.
#41. Black Fur (Fresno, CA) - 'When We Get Together Soon/ Feel The Shock'(1976):
Equidistant from Los Angeles and San Francisco, the valley burg of Fresno, California, was, for most traveling groups of the 1970s, little more than a pit stop for gas. In the Westside neighborhood, however, teenage brothers Jarvis and Jeff Henry, and their classmates Dewayne Johnson and David Wyatt, formed Black Fur in 1972. After gigging on the state's Naval and Air Force base circuit, they added Vicky Jones, Fred Walton, William Barnett, and John Sherman, and their manager (and Vicky's father) Vernon "Sarge" Jones hatched the idea of recording. $300 from the band fund covered the project at Don Barton's Bar-Tone Studios in Fresno in 1976. The 45 was issued on the Bar-Tone label, with leftover sketches for an album not making the cut. The loss of Bar-Tone to a 1979 fire sealed the fate of those never-released Black Fur works, and the rise of the DJ led to the demise of the band before the decade turned.
#42. Rokk (Los Angeles, CA) - 'Patience/ Don't Be No Fool'(1976):
On March 2, 1964, Tollie Records-a subsidiary of Vee-Jay-issued its first single: The Beatles' "Twist And Shout" b/w "There's A Place." While Vee-Jay was cleaning up, James Dockery was just ending his Marine Corps tour and relocating to Los Angeles. His performances on the club scene with the Fabulous Four led to an encounter with Arthur Monday. In 1968, they incorporated True Productions and its subsidiary Soul Craft Records. In the mid-'70s, they pulled La Marco Nesbit and Denny Lash from Soul Craft's La Marco International to form Rokk. The sextet spent 1976 tracking a full album at various Southern California studios, by which point Vee-Jay comptroller Betty Chiapetta had taken over the bankrupt concern. A 45 appeared on their Tollie imprint at the end of 1976. Shortly thereafter, Dawson wrote to Dockery asking him to step down as manager, and disagreement over the letter ultimately broke up the rest of the band.
#43. Clifton White (Beaumont, TX) - 'The Grade A/ Ain't No Love':
The bayou country of Eastern Texas and Western Louisiana has delivered its fair share of black musical legends, and Clifton White stakes his place in the zone's musical middle class. His first break came playing guitar for Sam Cooke on the S.A.R. label in 1962, remaining on board through Cooke's 1964 death. White's debut solo single appeared on Goldband's Anla subsidiary in 1968. Following White's third Anla 45, he took his business hyper-local, recording at Lowland Studio, owned by Mickey Rouse in Port Neches, Texas. Backed by the Royal Knights, White cut the original "The Grade A" and an instrumental reworking of Eddie Floyd's "I've Never Loved A Girl" as "Ain't No Love." After the record was issued on Lowland's in-house PMRC label, White turned to zydeco as his genre of choice. After more than 30 years spent assembling pick-up groups for live performance and working at a Texaco service station, Clifton White passed in 1997.
#44. Sky's The Limit (Gary, IN) - 'Don't Be Afraid' (1976):
Pittsburgh Pirates scout James Dye had a knack for recruiting talent, and in Gary, Indiana, Dye monitored a wealth of athletic ability forged at Theodore Roosevelt High School. To get to the ball field, he cut through the music room, and in 1973, Sky's The Limit was inside at all times. After meeting with the group's parents to discuss a musical training program, Dye opened J.M.J. Productions in downtown Gary and negotiated a residency at Clayman's, where Sky's the Limit opened for the Dells, the Delfonics, and Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes. J.M.J. scheduled time at Gary's Bud Pressner Custom Recordings, where the 1976 session was helmed by J.M.J. musical director Robert Lee. Nationally distributed by Nashville-based IRDA, "Don't Be Afraid" would be the Limit's sole release, though they recorded locally throughout the late '70s. J.M.J. shuttered in 1980, with Gary slumping, by then, into economic woe, and the group dissolved soon after.
#45. The Procedures (Chicago, IL) - 'Magic Mirror/ Give Me One More Chance' (1976):
Sprawling over Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood, the Stateway Gardens housing project doubled as one of the nation's most prolific group harmony hotbeds. In 1970, five Stateway teenagers signed to the Five-0 label as the Soul Procedures. After several members left the group, the Soul Procedures floundered until the arrival of Walter Jones, who split his time with the Notations, then on Curtom subsidiary Gemigo, where Ron Grace was a songwriter. Grace's relocation to Waukegan led him to Tra-Mor's Morris "Ron" Moore, and they partnered up. By 1975, the Soul Procedures were renamed the Procedures and were looking to record; Grace's call came just in time. "Mirror Mirror" was cut at Plynth Studios in 1975, but disappointing results required Grace and the group to try a rework. In 1976, the track was reissued as "Magic Mirror," b/w "Give Me One More Chance." After a tipster informed Moore of the plant owner's plans to pocket all deposits, Moore rescued the records, but a storm destroyed 98% of the pressing, which he had stored in his backyard.