Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Trance Off

In the year 1967, even the most unlikely record companies jumped upon the soul train. Well, New York's Musicor-Dynamo was not really an unlikely company to do that: their roster included a few artists who made some noise in the R&B-pop field. From 1967 onwards, most of them were relegated to the subsidiary Dynamo (Luther Dixon's label), including Inez & Charlie Foxx, Barbara & her niece Brenda, Kenny Ballard, Tommy Hunt and a latter day version of The Platters. On the other hand, Musicor's roster was a colored bunch and included also C&W-singers, bigband outfits, Puerto Rican musicians and, securing the survival of the company over the years, Gene Pitney. If you look at Musicor's discography from 1967 onwards, who will find that the bunch got ever more colored after that, and only a few artists managed to have more than two single releases.

Musicor LP # MS3131 (1967), cover
However, in 1967 Musicor went for it: »... with best wishes from Musicor, the home of soul!« was the final salute to those who read the notes on the back cover of Musicor LP # MS3131. This album, released in late May or early June '67, was called »A Quartet Of Soul« and included 12 songs by four of Musicor-Dynamo's most successful soul artists. (It was later reckoned as "first volume" because similar anthologies were to follow). The adjective-stuffed (»amazing line-up«, »fantastic teaming«, »terrific new sides«, »searing vocalistics« ...) sleeve notes further proclaim that »if soul is the thing, then Musicor has it in generous quantities« and eventually arrive at this conclusion: »This is absolutely a rocking jamboree of soul that will make you think you're right there at a wild and stombing live performance.« Winding that pompous message down considerably, Billboard (June 10, '67), in a bland and noncommittal review, declared that the album was »a truly all-star soul package with plenty of pop potential« and had »diversified and dynamic flavor«.

The Billboard writer had a point, though. The album is diversified and dynamic, as an anthology should be. And there is one song that stands truly out from the rest. It certainly isn't rockin' soul, but, if the truth be told, I don't know what it is. I'm speaking of »Too Young To Be Fooled« by Barbara & Brenda (see a nice picture of them here). What is it? Psychedelic R&B? Soul in the Sky With Diamonds? You tell me. No surprise, in any case, that the song has attracted some attention and was repeatedly sampled on CD: you find it on Ace's »Where The Girls Are, Vol. 2« and on Bear Family CD RPM 212 (»It Takes Two: 23 Prime R&B / Soul Duets«). Originally, the hypnotic song, written by Barbara Gaskins, was released in Feb. '67 as the soulful B-Side on Dynamo # 103, together with »If I'm Hurt You'll Feel The Pain«.

The song takes you right off the ground. Listen here and trance off.
It is utterly beautiful.

Barbara & Brenda: »Too Young To Be Fooled« from the Musicor LP # MS3131 (1967):

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