Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Box Tops - Cry Like A Baby (Mala 593)

Cry Like A Baby

Another tragic loss, Memphis legend Alex Chilton is dead after an apparent heart attack at only 59 years of age. Performing again with The Box Tops and Big Star recently, he was scheduled to appear at both SXSW and Memphis in May this Spring.

More than any other single record cut at American, this is the one that defined a generation.

Produced by Dan Penn, who wrote it with his best pal Spooner Oldham, the 17 year old Chilton takes this incredible song and makes it his own.

I had planned on using this 45 to kick off my new American Singles series, as they just don't come any better than this...

May God Rest His Soul.

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Dramatics - In The Rain (Volt 4075)

In The Rain

Ron Banks

Founding member and leader of The Dramatics, Ron Banks passed away yesterday in his hometown of Detroit. That's him on the right in the way cool Soul Train photograph above.

As a struggling Motor City vocal group, Ron and his Dramatics were being produced by Don Davis for Golden World's Wingate subsidiary when the whole shooting match was sold to Motown in 1966. Motown apparently wasn't interested in picking up their contract, and so when Al Bell brought Davis down to Stax, he brought the Dramatics with him. When their initial Volt 45 went nowhere, he gave the group their release and sent them back to Detroit. Back home, they started working with a producer and songwriter named Tony Hester, who was able to hear the the group's potential, and brought things to the next level.

Duly impressed with what he heard, Davis resigned the group to his Groovesville Productions, and let Hester produce them 'under his supervision'. Their next Volt release, the groundbreaking What You See Is What You Get, sailed to #3 R&B in the summer of 1971, and established the Dramatics as a leading voice in the burgeoning Disco market. Their follow-up single, Get Up and Get Down, cracked the top twenty, and paved the way for their biggest hit, the awesome record you're listening to now.

Like its predecessor, it was pulled from the huge selling What You See Is What You Get LP, and spent a month at the top of the R&B charts in early 1972. Just a classic example of the interplay between Detroit and Memphis, that's Dennis Coffey playing that wild guitar...

The Dramatics have remained active, and are scheduled to perform as part of the 70s Soul Super Jam this weekend here on Long Island. "The show must go on. If it was me I’d want them to go ahead and I’m sure he’d feel the same way," fellow group member L.J. Reynolds was quoted as saying, "It’ll be a long, silent ride there. But we’ll take Ron’s mike and put it up onstage, and let it stand there.”

May God rest his soul.