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oday brings an absolutely choice funk 45 on the Chicago based label Ultra-Class courtesy of the Classetts. Though billed as the Classetts, usually an all male group, on this record they joined by the awesome talents of Georgianna McCoy who lays down an absolutely searing vocal track backed by the super funky classetts. This is the flip to the much heralded “I Don’t Want Nobody Else” which is a nice funk/soul hybrid that McCoy also voices.

Ultra-Class was a subsidiary of the Mod-Art label and Distribution (along with Ultra-Sec Records) run by man about town Charles Sibit out of Chicago. Sibit was not only the business man behind the operations but also wrote and produced a number of the records released on his labels including co-writing this slice of sweetness. (The cynic could point out that label-dudes in his position often got “writing credits” in order to recoup even more on the record through royalties- see Alan Freed for the most publicized case- but Sibit released at least three records of himself letting loose.)

The Classetts were more or less the same group as “The Class-Set” which put out a number of 45s and LPs on both Ultra-Class and Mod-Art (including the same record featured here, but with lead singer Michael Quinn resuming his duties.)

In 2003 the publishing rights for the Ul-Trac publishing arm along with the rights for Ultra-Class, Ultra-Sec and Mod-Art Labels were sold which paved the way for the “Funky Funky Chicago” compilation that has made the flip to this record much more available. Though she’s listed on that compilation separately this 45 doesn’t make the distinction which is a little confusing because the record had already been released under the name “The Classetts” in 1972 on the same label. What’s also frustrating is where the hell did Georgianna McCoy go? Can’t find any other information about her out there; possible pseudonym?

There’s a slightly interesting link to the “Mod Lads and Singers” record I’ll be posting next, but all the liner notes aside, this record absolutely slays. So do yr download thing, sit back and enjoy.


Marv Johnson “I’ll Pick A Rose For My Rose” 45 Gordy, 1968

This song is definitely not for the weak willed, recently single or overly sensitive romantic types. I can say because in my coldest, darkest, most cynical moment hearing this song will shatter the illusion that I am a man of any spartan cut; my ability to remain stoic and logical in the face of Marv’s recorded longing simply does not exist.

Marv Johnson, for those uninitiated in his work, was a solid member of the Motown family, having the first single on Anna released under his name though it was picked up by United Artists (don’t be fooled like I was for so long, just because the label is really ugly - in the bad way- it doesn’t mean his sides aren’t worth your time!) for national distribution.

Side note, Gordy was probably pretty lucky that happened, there are too many stories of tiny labels releasing absolutely stellar records that have massive national demand which the label meets, paying and paying and paying for a million and a half singles only to see the middle men, stores and distributors slow (if ever) to pay effectively bankrupting a group of people who just displayed musical, if not business, brilliance.

Side-Side Note, lucky they didn’t get hooked into some eventual shit storm distribution deal like Stax-Atlantic allowing Gordy, ever the astute businessman, to retain rights to his artists and work.

Back to this absolutely gorgeous 7inches of circular acrylic. Cut in 1968 it wasn’t the smash it should have been (who the shit didn’t have something to be totally depressed about or long for in 1968, I mean, really?!) in America but, as is often the case with soft soul dancers like this, it caught on in a big way in the UK the following year.

Marv’s career with Motown continued into the 70s primarily as a song writer but this record, for me, marks the peak of his recording though you’re not going to feel disappointed if you pick up any of the records you come across.


Ruby Winters "Just Like A Yo-Yo" 45 (Diamond 1969)

Please excuse some of the surface noise on this record, it's not the cleanest 45 in my collection but I have such an affection for it and it's not that invasive I felt like this song deserved some air time and it's also a good excuse for me to put in on 15 times in a row.

There's scant biographical information I can find about Winters outside of her being born in Kentucky, raised in Cincinnati and being introduced to the small New York label on a duet with Johnny Thunder (The saucy "Make Love To Me") in 1967. She had a few minor hits though this particular track is not one of them. Why it wasn't a sizable hit (at least maybe in chicago which Diamond seemed to have some line on, a bunch of their records making noise in the already busy Chicago market.

Not to belabor the point, but hot damn, why was this record not a hit? Winters has an amazing voice, she sounds like her voice would be a little thin with a subtle, but dominant falsetto yet she carries so much weight (including holding an amazing note/wail as the song approaches the end) and is so affective with her voice that you're never thinking of anything except how sad you feel for the way this bozo is treating her in the song.

The song also has a pretty high production quality that you maybe wouldn't associate with a label of this size. A pretty straightforward mid-tempo pop soul the song is replete with backing arrangements that speak to a much higher budget that someone who's only had two or three minor hits. There are some wind arrangements in the back ground, touches of strings (very sparingly arranged with a really nice feel for emphasis at the end of phrases), clean, on key, well mixed background vocals and a good job in the control booth tucking the bass into the rhythm track in a song dominated by the drummer.

Not a terribly expensive record (just don't excited if you see the label in bin somewhere, 9 times out of 10 it's Ronnie Dove and NEVER the ray men - link and vernon wray's alternate spelling) and works in a lot of settings if you let dancefloors determine your purchasing habits (which I'm totally guilty of).


Where do I begin on one of my favorite 45s of all time? Well, first off you can look at the label and I'm sure your mind (if you don't already drool at the sight of it) can put together why this is sooooo good. Co-written by Jerry Butler, a mega-star (especially in chicago!), produced by Monk Higgins, a man of considerable experience (who would chart the same year with Who-Dun-It?- a record I'll have to post later) and on a small Chicago label at the height of independent labels making amazing records.

Born Mamie Davis, she cut her teeth as a singer in the backing band for Ike and Tina for a year then jumped on board the Little Milton train, singing with him for a few years before ending up in Chicago. It was here she changed her name on her first record, also on St. Lawrence, the bond/spy-craze inspired "Special Agent 34-24-38." Though a sort of gimmick record it still holds water if you run across it out there.

Her second record, the one we are psyched about here today, "It Ain't Necessary" was a much bigger deal locally (and I'd say historically). A raucous number, it brings the smooth tambourine driven soul that you'd expect out of detroit or chicago but Mamie, drawing on her years pushing the limits with Ike, Tina and Little Milton adds an unmistakable and absolutely beautiful hard edge to the song making the lyrics "you don't have to climb/ no mountain/it ain't necessary" feel absolutely triumphant with the lyric-less refrain of "woo hoo" bordering on the ecstatic.

This is a record that is an absolute mover, both emotionally and on the dance floor. Only down side is the stunning emptiness to her discography following this monster record.


Weather appropriate track for everyone on the Eastern Seaboard enduring the lashing or licking that Hurricane Irene has been dropping on us over the past couple days.

This is an early production/release by the soon to be massively famous team of Gamble and Huff on Excel Records which was their stepping stone into Gamble Records, then on into the Philadelphia International umbrella. The Intruders were constant companions of the Gamble and Huff team who, relative to what they were able to do with some artists and 'The Philadelphia Sound', never really broke out the way they should have with the big blip that carried them being the classic "Cowboys to Cowgirls."

This record is (along with being weather relevant) a really great uptempo dancer that is carried by an awesome performance by Sam ‘Little Sonny’ Brown who manages to give the otherwise bubbly song a touch of emotion to accompany "the birds may sing, but they don't sing sweet all of the time" tone of the song.

Clearly an early Gamble and Huff work it lacks any of the touches that became their trademark instead following a driving Detroit sound and adding in some of the doo-wop like back ups this track is definitely an interesting stepping stone in the musical path that Gamble and Huff blazed. They're super interesting dudes if you ever get the chance to read up on them.


Howlin Wolf "Do The Do" 45 Chess

Clocking in at just over two minutes this slice of electric blues sure as sugar gets a whole lot done. Sounding like a a recycling truck formed a marching band just to jam at double time with Howlin' Wolf talking smooth and easy (though still gravely and gruff), barely reaching his voice into a howl.

The writing credits belong to the legendary Willie Dixon though there's record of T.Valentine (of "Lucille, are you a lesbian?" fame) is supposed to have written and released the song in the early 60s on his VAL label (recently comped by Norton.) Whoever actually wrote the tune is sort of irrelevant because Wolf so clearly owns this version and does justice by whoever owns the writing credits. Further, who's ever heard of a blues song being re-done?

This may change depending on how your home entertainment (read: earbuds) are set up, but one of my favorite things about this song (besides EVERYTHING) is the mixing; there's a borderline riot going on behind the drum kit but the damn egg shaker is mixed right up front with Wolfs guitar. There's a poor piano that sounds like it'd be adding some really great frenetic flourishes but the poor thing is being strangled for any air time at all.

This 45 is taken from the "London Howlin Wolf Sessions" which features a bevy of second wave (british) blues musicians before they got annoying and spent their time being shadows of themselves. A particularly inspired performance (am I about to type this?) by Clapton on lead guitar can be heard being faded out as the song disappears at the 2:10 mark.


This 45 is a little hard to put my thumb on, it's clearly coming from a soul perspective though the end result that ends up working it's way off the record and into yr earhole is something, in my opinion, all together different. There's a mod / hard soul / garage feel that I can't escape and does not fit with the work of NY native Kerr. The track is unrelenting with a sort of live energy that gets running with the ominous organ and stomping bass drum intro, never letting up with the no-reverb-lead guitar line that repeats and repeats only pausing briefly to mash out some chords briefly and it sounds like even missing a few notes here and there, kind of losing some steam after the second breakdown.

Not to say that counts against it, the sort of desperate, frantic energy, including straight up dropping notes during the final go round makes me get even more psyched on the performance and enhances the sort of general weirdness of the song. Like a bloodied boxer getting a little sloppy but fighting with all his heart.

Released in 1970 on New Jersey's All Platinum, the record's details, despite my enthusiasm, suggests this side was probably not much more than filler with its frantic drumming, technical errors and the "one take, done live" vibe. Further the writing credits belong to Kerr and label owner Sylvia Robinson which is the same as the A side, a verifiable soft soul, croon fest "3 Minutes to Hey Girl" that was the actual hit they were interested in getting to market. (Reminds of you the Cliff Nobles "Love is Alright" vs. "The Horse" situation except "Back Lash" is more of a rave up sweat machine that a catchy dance tune.)

Kerr's other productions work (O'Jays, Linda Jones, Whatanuts) has nary a hint of the adrenaline contained in one measure of "Back Lash" instead, his work was often refined and smooth, which is great and worth checking out when you're in a dim the lights, pour some cognac kinda mood, but for now, thank you for the filler!


This record is not much of a secret, Betty Harris is rightfully regarded in the top tier of (female) soul voices despite a limited discography. After a brief stint and some success working with the (awesome) Bert Berns in New York for Jubilee Harris began working with another outstanding talent in the form of Allen Toussaint and releasing music on his label Sansu. While this record wasn't the highest charting it's arguably been one of the most enduring of her hits, not that we need to really rate the records, they're all really amazing and worth your ear's time.

I'm Evil Tonight is a super heated mid-tempo (though I can't muster the mind to dance to it) track that absolutely oozes emotional intensity in both the understated, restrained verses into the release of "if you don't minnnnnd" of the chorus.

Allen Toussaint's arrangements are, no surprise, so strong and mirror the subtlety and explosiveness of the Harris' performance, from the muted guitars during the verses to the strings and vocals buried in the background behind a ominous piano and the definite punctuation of the xylophone.

Ultimately, you could have Betty singing along to a damned spoon and whistle orchestra and you'd still feel this song like a punch to the gut
because she's that good of an artist.


There's no Rob Base, DJ EZ Rock or Lyn Collins samples here but The Four Sonics put together a pretty rowdy little number that is, in context, definitely a great dance record.

From the Ashes of the Velvet Angels (a group that credits their 45 with being "recorded in a jersey city hotel room"!) the Four Sonics -named after their production company cut a couple 45s on Sport Records, sometime home of the venerable Andre Williams, one of which we have here today.

The vocal group origins of the Four Sonics is only a hair's breath away with an awesome, dominant bass performance by Jay Johnson but the record has a definite rollicking soul vibe that places the record pretty clearly in time, 1968 to be precise.



Mississippi born but Chicago expressed Ruby Andrews (Ruby Stackhouse) drops an excellent middle ground 45 on us with "You Made A Believer (Out of Me)." Not unlike Etta James who was identified with Chicago because of her label but drew from Southern Soul influences, Ruby Andrews' Zodiac releases seem to skirt identification based solely on region. The Chicago elements are there, hints of detroit and enough grit to float down the Mississippi river a ways.

This is a favorite of mine, the opening break feels like it could be on any De La Soul record, the dominant piano gives the record a very personal feel, the persistent background vocals and lyrical themes suggest a secularized gospel feel and the song does not let up at all even when it briefly drops into a minor chord feel half way through.

Released in 1969 it was a slightly lesser hit than her previous single "Casanova (Your Playing Days Are Over)" though I'm definitely partial to this record, Casanova is a pretty unusual specimen that I'll upload when I get a chance. I don't come across her records too often (especially not in shape to write home about) but if you do, pick em up!


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