The Neptunes - House Of Heartaches (Instant 3255)
House Of Heartaches
At the risk of an 'Instant' overdose, I just had to put up one more...
In the comments over on The B Side, vinyl scientist Zlatko posed this very interesting question:
"...do you/anybody know anything about that Neptunes record on Instant? Who they are, what else they may have done?"
Hmmm... well I sure don't, so I figured I'd give all of you a chance to hear it, and see what we can come up with. I'm loving the lead singer's soulful baritone (tres Roy Hamilton) and, while it takes them a while to get in the groove there, by the end of the record them crazy Neptunes have got it goin' on!
Anyway, here's a couple of clues that might help us along the way...
The song is listed in the BMI Database under the title House Of Broken Hearts. If you look at the label, the songwriters are credited as Allen & Holbert. A closer look at BMI reveals that the 'Allen' refers to someone named Bill Allen... that ringing any bells with you? How about our man Bill 'Hoss' Allen, the much-loved WLAC disk jockey and host of those way cool THE!!!!BEAT TV shows? As you know, it was common practice in those days to throw a composer's credit to a dee-jay as a form of promotion, but there's more (I think); according to the Wikipedia article, "Allen's popularity grew steadily until the early 1960s, when he decided to branch out into the record business. He took a job with a label as a field representative..." In the liner notes to The Rogana Story, Fred James had this to say: "...his first outing into the record business came with his Athens label in the late 1950s... he folded the company in the early 60s and went to work for Chess Records. Record promotion involved a lot of traveling, though, and Hoss was soon back in Nashville at WLAC..." After he returned home, Hoss formed his own production company called Rogana which leased songs to labels like Jewel, Excello and Hollywood throughout the decade. I believe it's entirely possible that this Neptunes 45 was an early example of that kind of thing, and was a Nashville record leased to Irving Smith for his Instant label, and consequently had nothing to do with Allen Toussaint (which is why it didn't make the podcast).
What makes me think that? Well, the only other reference I can find to Allen's co-writer Thomas Holbert is in the Kirk Collection Country Music Index, where he's listed as a Nashville songwriter affiliated with Acuff-Rose Publishing. Another clue that points in the direction of ol' Music City is that the B side of this Neptunes single here was written by Country music stalwart Warner Mack...
Whoa, hold on... after writing all of that, I decided to google 'Neptunes Nashville' and lo and behold, I found this:
Night Train to Nashville? Wait one minute, I sez to myself, I got that!
I'm Coming Home
Sure enough this great tune was on there. Here's what the liner notes had to say: "Founded by Tom Holbert and Paul Hendricks in the late 1950s, Nashville vocal group The Neptunes recorded under various incarnations for a handful of small labels..."
"Hal Hardy (who would later become known for his caped performances on the Nashville produced TV program Night Train), Robert 'Dickey' Dixon (a professional boxer), Joe Wade (singer Johnny Bragg's nephew), Hendricks (recorded solo as P.W. Cannon), James Porter Box, and Henry 'Sonny' Short were part of the ensemble when this little known gem was recorded. Singer Gene Kennedy produced 'I'm Coming Home' for his short-lived imprint Victoria Records. The Rivieras, also on Victoria, provided backup, and Cliff Parman arranged the music. The recording was made at Fred Foster's Sound Studio... with assistance from engineer Billy Sherrill, who went on to become one of Country music's most influential producers..." The liner notes say that this song was recorded 'circa 1964'. Sherrill, of course, had left Rick Hall behind in Florence a few years earlier, and was making a name for himself there in Nashville.
It would appear, then, that the Instant 45 (which Global Dog has dated as 1963) was recorded first... which kind of makes me wonder if this wasn't where Allen Orange (who was still signed to Minit at that point) first got the idea to head to Nashville. Wild, huh?
There you go, Travis... I hope that helps!