Tuesday, March 01, 2011

James & Bobby Purify - Section C (Bell 774)

Section C

Early last month, I received this comment over on the other side from someone named Kent on a post I had written about James & Bobby Purify back in 2007:

"I wish I had read more about other acts that Bell cut. Most importantly Buddy Grubbs. I wonder if you have any more of his recordings besides "Im Telling You' and 'Sugar Man'?"

Well, as usual, I had no clue, but no less an authority than Papa Don Schroeder himself emailed me back and said:

"Buddy Grubbs was really the second Bobby Purify, before Ben Moore, for about 15 minutes... What a nice man, Buddy Grubbs, and what a talent! I almost forgot about this obscure title, Section C... He sang the second lead vocal in Section C and that was the only time I shared the lead on a James & Bobby Purify record. James was the Purify sound! That's how great I thought he was. Yea, what a nice man. I was so sorry to hear about his death. I think of him often. I pull out Section C when reminiscing just to hear him sing that one short section of Section C. I thought that song expressed so well the the truth about that time in America..."


A quick Google brought me to our hero Sir Shambling's Deep Soul Heaven where he talks about the single that Kent mentioned in the original comment, Bell 772 , I'm Telling You b/w Sugarman. There's also a short chronology of Buddy's life that was sent in by his son (whose name happens to be Kent), along with this cool photograph of him at right. He died in a fishing accident out on the Gulf in 1979. I sent Papa Don a link to the article, and he replied; "I forgot all about those 2 sides I cut on Buddy..." and he was happy to have been able to listen to them again. Thank you, Kent and Sir Shambling, for pointing them out to us!

Anyway, this great 'message song' we have here (written by the same guy that wrote Abraham, Martin and John) was Papa Don's contribution to the whole 'Ghetto' thing that was all over the radio in 1969. The strings and horns were arranged by Bergen White in Nashville, and I agree with Papa that they were 'a little over the top'. He went on to say "Section C was one of the few chart hits I cut on The Purifys with Moses Dillard, Jesse Boyce (awesome bass player and writer and also one of my favorite people in the world) and drummer, Jabo (sorry I can't remember Jabo's real name...Harold something, I believe. Forgive me, Jabo!)" Like you, I immediately thought of the legendary Bobby Bland and James Brown stick man, Jabo Starks, but it definitely wasn't him... let's take a look at the other two guys Papa Don says were playing on the record:

Mark V 40-26
Pretty As A Picture

Moses Dillard and Jesse Boyce formed The Dynamic Showmen while they were still in High School down in Greenville, South Carolina. They would release two singles on the local Mark V label beginning in 1964. You may recall that Mark V was the name of the studio where David Lee would record another Greenville soul legend, Ann Sexton, along with her husband Melvin Burton's band The Masters of Soul. Over on the largely defunct soulwalking, it says that Melvin would 'later play saxophone in Moses Dillard's band'...

As legend has it, Otis Redding saw the Showmen perform, and was just knocked out by Dillard's style of guitar playing (both men reportedly used an 'Open E' tuning). Otis would later bring him to Muscle Shoals to play guitar on the March 1967 mega-hit he produced on Arthur Conley at FAME, Sweet Soul Music. This was right around the time Papa Don was recording there (before he made the move to American). When I asked him if that was how they met, he said no, "Moses Dillard's band came to Pensacola and played at one of the clubs I believe..."

MALA 598
Get Out Of My Heart

In any event, Papa Don would cut two 45s on Moses for Bell's Mala subsidiary, the first of which was credited to 'Moses & Joshua Dillard'. The 'Joshua' idea, he said, came to him because "in the Bible Moses was followed by Joshua. Just thought it would be a cool name since Moses' real name was Moses." The 'using the same last name thing' had worked handsomely with James & Bobby, so I guess he figured it was worth a shot... Both great records, by the time the second single we have here was released in 1968, they had dropped the surname. So, who was Joshua? Well, according to a couple of sources, his real name was James Moore. Not so, says Papa Don, "Jesse Boyce was Joshua!" I'm not sure if the confusion has arisen because of the fact that the 'second' (or as we've established here today, third) Bobby Purify was named Ben Moore, but the fact that Moses & Joshua had actually been together since the Dynamic Showmen days sheds a new light on these recordings. Very cool!

After things went south for Papa at American in Memphis, he decided to go South himself, back home to Pensacola where he would open his own studio. When Reggie Young and the rest of the Memphis Boys elected to stay on with Chips, Schroeder would make Moses the vice-president of Papa Don Productions, and use him, Joshua (Jesse Boyce) and the aforementioned Jabo as the rhythm section on the records he cut down there. The arrangement didn't last long, as James Purify was becoming increasingly demanding, and driving everyone crazy. The first 'Bobby' (Robert Dickey) was the first to leave and, shortly after 'Section C' here was released, Papa Don gave up on James as well. Bell owner Larry Uttal's infamous hard-line 'No Purifys, no deal!' stance would drive Schroeder away from the music business for about five years (for more on all of that, please check out The B Side). By late 1969, he had closed down his studio, and Moses and Jesse were left without a job.

Coral 62549
Soul Symphony

Dillard next turns up aligned with another of those southern 'record men', Major Bill Smith. This rockin' 45 we have here (which kind of puts you in mind of ol' Bob Wilson, no?) is credited to 'The Sons of Moses'. I'm not sure if Jesse was one of the 'sons', but I can't help but wonder who's playing that piano... come to think of it, I'm not sure if I even hear a guitar on the record. Did Moses play keyboards as well?

FAME 1458
Grits And Gravy

When Barry Beckett and the rest of 'The Swampers' left Fame to open their own Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in 1969, Jesse Boyce would become one of the founding members of their replacement, The Fame Gang. In addition to incredible ground-breaking records like this one, they would go on to play on some of our favorite 45s by the likes of Sir Lattimore Brown, Willie Hightower and Candi Staton. Check out Jesse's double bass solo on here... great stuff, y'all!

Shout 253
We Got To Come Together

Moses returned home to Greenville, where he hooked up with a young singer named Peabo Bryson and formed a group called The Tex-Town Display. Releasing an album on their own label in 1970, they got noticed by Curtis Mayfield who picked them up for his Curtom label. After a couple of singles that didn't do much, they signed with Ilene Berns' Shout label in 1972. Berns, who had been running both Shout and Bang since her husband's untimely demise in 1967, had just purchased the studio that Chips Moman built in Atlanta, and was relocating there from New York. Just an awesome record, you have to wonder why it wasn't more widely heard... Peabo Bryson would break into the R&B top 25 for Bang in 1976, launching his fabled solo (and duet) career.

123 711
Good Stuff

Moses, meanwhile, after cutting a duet with Martha Starr for the local Awake label, turned to another legendary southern record man, Atlanta impresario Bill Lowery. Released on Lowery's 123 label in 1974, Dillard's new project Love Joy took the same kind of thing Barry White was doing at the time, and kind of funked it up a little bit here at the dawn of the Disco age.

Prelude 12155
Don't (Take Your Love From Me) (edit)

By 1977, Moses and Jesse had joined forces once again, and created Dillard & Boyce Productions, Inc. Forming a studio outfit called the Saturday Night Band, along with fellow Fame Gang cohorts like Clayton Ivey and Harrison Calloway, they continued to record in Muscle Shoals (both at Fame and Wishbone). Together they would produce incendiary dance records on people like Lorraine Johnson, The Constellation Orchestra, Hot, and Frisky. This was the era of the 12" club single, and Jesse and Moses were on the cutting edge.

Mercury 76061
Love Zone

In 1980, they would release an album as Dillard & Boyce called We're In This Thing Together, which they most certainly were. This movin' and groovin' number we have here illustrates the wealth of talent these guys had. Written by Jesse, that's him on bass and keyboards as well. Yeah, I know it's a little dated by the whole disco thang, but check out Moses' guitar there towards the end. Just amazing.

As far as I can tell, this was Moses Dillard's last recorded work. According to the All Music Guide, he died in Nashville in 1993.

Jesse Boyce has remained active as a Nashville music industry professional, and is heavily involved in Contemporary Gospel music, both as a leader of his own band, Vision, and President and CEO of his own record and publishing companies. In addition to the many awards he has received throughout his career, he has also become an ordained minister, and continues to spread the Word of God through lectures and workshops both as music minister at the Ray Of Hope Community Church in Nashville, and abroad.

Papa Don will tell you that James Purify was, hands down, the greatest singer he ever worked with. After he got back together with him (and 'Bobby' Ben Moore) in the mid-seventies and started producing records again, I think it broke his heart a little that it didn't work out. By all accounts, things weren't too easy for James in the ensuing years, and you hear stories about the various problems he ran into. Well, check this out; "In closing, guess who showed up to sit right next to Papa Don and Mama Gail at Olive Baptist Church several weeks ago? James Purify!! Church had already started and when I saw who it was coming down the aisle to sit by me...I stood up and we must have hugged and cried for two minutes. God is good!"



Blogger Red Kelly said...

Facebook Comment Thread

6:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful tale, with a stunning soundtrack! Thanks. W.

7:00 PM  
Blogger Red Kelly said...

On a sad note, I just learned today that the original Bobby Purify, Robert Dickey, passed away on December 29, 2011. May God Rest His Soul.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Private Beach said...

Nice story, but the "Get Out of My Heart" ;link appears to be dead.

2:58 AM  
Blogger Red Kelly said...

Thanks for the heads up, Beach... I've got it working now!

5:54 PM  
Blogger Quinten Williams said...

Reading your blog made me remember growing up in Greenville, SC and going to local clubs to see Moses Dillard and the Showmen, and 'James Moore' did appear on stage singing with Moses a few times. Even though they billed themselves as Moses and Joshua, these few times it was actually Moses Dillard and James Moore on stage singing. I was an occasional side man myself playing keyboards on a few Dillard night club shows in Greenville, SC at that time.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Red Kelly said...

Thank You, Quinten, for your recollections... I imagine, then, that 'Moses & Joshua' was a name Dillard used before he ever hooked up with Papa Don and Bell Records?

As a Greenville musician, you may also be interested in our recent update on Joe Haywood, who was from Spartanburg:


In which we spoke with a local promoter named Don Bramblett who told us he booked the Showmen and other local acts in the mid to late sixties. Thanks Again!

4:54 AM  

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