High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Perfect Storms: The 10 Most Exciting Records...Ever! (Part 7)

We're counting down the most exciting songs in the Motown and Soul/R&B categories on our way to naming the 10 Most Exciting Records...Ever! As you will notice, blue-eyed soul and disco are also included in this category.

10. "Stoned Love" - Supremes (November 1970)

If given a choice between music that is uplifting and empowering and music that's a downer, I choose half full over half empty every time. That's what I loved about Jean Terrell & the Supremes: their positive energy. I felt it coming through in "Up the Ladder to the Roof." I felt it in "Nathan Jones." Nowhere is the positive vibe more evident than in "Stoned Love." In the fall 1970 the Supremes delivered an upbeat message of hope that lent credence to the notion that this is indeed the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. "Stoned Love" is hip, it's hot, it's transcendental. Performing their smash hit on Soul Train in 1972 the new Supremes had the excitement meter pegged, and you can bet your last money it's ALL gonna be a stone gas, honey!

That Soul Train performance might not match the excitement of Mike's Motown moonwalk, but it comes close. In my little red book that was the definitive Supremes lineup - fresh and fly.

I don't mean to diminish the contributions of Diana Ross. I liked her work with the Primettes and her early recordings with the Supremes. I loved her work as a solo artist. I found it particularly exciting when Diana started showing up and showing out with some of the best hits of the disco era including "Love Hangover," "Upside Down," "The Boss," "I'm Coming Out," and "Muscles."

9. “Got to Get You Back” – Sons of Robin Stone (April 1974)

Granted, this mid-70s entry belongs in the disco category, but it's so exciting that I had to include it on one of these lists. For those who weren't around in the 70s, I'll have you know that Disco polarized.

(Soundtrack album from one of my all time favorite movies.)
Go Kate! Go Chloe!

As hardcore rock fans might say, “You either hated disco…or you really hated it!” Critics dismissed Disco as synthetic, mass produced, derivative, drum machine driven poop. Disco bashing ratcheted up when everybody and his grandmother tried to cash in by releasing a disco record and novelty songs like “Disco Duck” turned the genre into a joke.

Yet, here we have early disco done right! It’s the clean, powerful sound of “Got To Get You Back” by Philly's best kept secret, the Sons Of Robin Stone. The Sons were a 5-member white r&b group from Philadelphia originally known as New Concept. Bunny Sigler, one of Philly's foremost singers, songwriters and producers, renamed them the Sons Of Robin Stone.

Sigler borrowed the name from the central character of Jacqueline Susann’s popular novel The Love Machine which became a movie in 1971.

The idea was that Robin Stone’s sons would surely be chips off the old block – dashing, debonair love men like their father. When audiences were unable to connect the dots the abstract moniker proved to be a liability. The group also fell victim to record label politics and insufficient promotion. (Reminds me of another magnificent blue-eye soul group that I could name.)

“Got to Get You Back" managed to land on Billboard’s Dance chart, but that was the extent of the group’s success. Here, in all it's splendor, is one of The Most Exciting Records...Ever!...the extended dance mix of "GTGYB."

This Sons of Robin Stone single is all filler. On the flip side is a fine 70s soul ballad that deserves to be heard!

"Love Is Just Around The Corner” is a slow jam that has the Sons sounding a lot like their Atco label mates Blue Magic.

"Love is Just Around the Corner" was originally declared to be the A side of the 45 until a Baltimore DJ flipped the record sensing the potential of "Got to Get You Back" as a disco hit. Confusion over which is the plug side is never a good sign. Bottom line: the gifted Sons of Robin Stone failed to catch on and remained no-hit wonders. I saw the guys perform both of these songs on Jerry Blavat’s TV dance show Jerry’s Place. I remember being thoroughly impressed by their mature, no-nonsense approach to the material. Decades later the Sons Of Robin Stone are well known and highly regarded in northern soul circles and their recordings are considered among the best of 70s blue-eyed soul.

8. “The Boogaloo Party” – Flamingos (March 1966)

With personnel and label changes the Flamingos, a popular 50s bird group, reinvented themselves for the 60s. Did they ever! During the Dell's legendary March Madness period of 1966 the Flamingos shocked the house with one of the most electrifying dance numbers in the hangout's history. "The Boogaloo Party" became a club classic on both sides of the pond and is unabashed, high voltage excitement from start fo finish!

7. "Justine" - Righteous Brothers (July 1965)

Iconic East Coast songwriter/producer Jerry Ragovoy had it. Bang/Shout Record Company founder Bert Berns had it. Mr. Dave Bupp and Mr. Adrian "Buddy" King had it. (Still do!) Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield had it. These white men all had a heart full of soul manifested in the music that they produced. The Righteous Brothers were as exciting to see as they were to hear. Proof of that can be found in this scene from the 1965 teen musical A Swingin' Summer in which Bill and Bobby perform their rousing yet poor selling Moonglow release "Justine."

6. "Little Latin Lupe Lu" - Righteous Brothers (June 1963)

In 1983 I saw the Righteous Brothers live in concert at Valley Forge and the blue-eyed soul duo tore the roof off the sucker. 20 years earlier their first charting Billboard single "Little Latin Lupe Lu" became what I consider to be the most exciting recording of their career; yet this sensational white R&B shouter barely cracked the Billboard top 50. Behold the look and the sound of young America as Bill and Bobby do some righteous testifin' on Shindig!

My countdown of the most exciting Soul/R&B continues soon, so stay close!

Have a Shady day!

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