Various - Eccentric Soul : Outskirts of Deep City
Various - Eccentric Soul : Outskirts of Deep City
(CD) Numero Group NUMERO017, 2007-11-26
A new addition to the NUMERO catalog with 7 previously unissued tracks, in addition to 13 other related tracks from the rare vintage soul labels SOLID SOUL, SUN CUT, REEDSVILLE, LLOYD, and CONCHO labels, as well as four LP-only bonus cuts.
01. Knocking On The Wrong Door - The Rollers
02. No Way Out - Clarence Reid
03. What's In The Lovin' - Helene Smith
04. Mr. Lucky - Betty Wright
05. There Goes My Baby - James Knight & The Butlers
06. Don't Be Surprised - Lynn Williams
07. True Love Don't Grow On Trees - Helene Smith
08. Do What You're Doin' - The Rising Sun
09. One Little Piece - The Rollers
10. Don't Be A Fool - Clarence Reid
11. Do Your Stuff - Perk Badger
12. Show Me What You Got - Frank Williams & The Rocketeers
13. Masterpiece - The Deep City Band
14. Pot Can't Talk About The Kettle - Helene Smith
15. Play With Fire - The Rollers
16. Thank You Baby - Betty Wright
17. Wrong Or Right He's My Baby - Helene Smith
18. Nasty Dog Pt. 2 - Nasty Dog Catchers
19. One Night Affair - The Rising Sun
20. Your Love Won't Let Me Leave - Snoopy Dean
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LINER NOTES :
When Willie Clarke picked me up at the Fort Lauderdale airport in June of 2005, I had no idea what I was getting into. I had never been to Miami, and my knowledge of its celebrated soul history was informed by just a stack of TK-related 45s, sixty pages of Jeff Lemlich’s Savage Lost, and a rough discography of the Deep City and associated labels. As Willie’s sun-baked Nissan Sentra merged onto I-595, I popped in the "Deep City Sound" mix tape I’d made for the trip, and for the next few hours we drove around Overtown and Liberty City, glimpsing stray dogs everywhere, listening to that cassette over and over, me filling the pages of a little blue notebook, while Willie gushed a fountain of nicknames, places, gangs, songs, girls, money lost, Florida Marlins trivia, traffic patterns, and expletives. We hit all his old haunts: corners, nightclubs, strip joints, flophouses, the barbeque joint where Johnny’s Records used to be, and Helene Smith’s house around back. We were supposed to be making a record, but instead we were just hanging out. An odd friendship was forged that weekend, one that would have my phone ringing at all hours of the night and eventually lead us into Deep City’s distant outskirts.
The tale of the misfits of FAMU’s Marching 100 band was told in great detail on 2006’s Eccentric Soul: The Deep City Label, and other than a few names, a dozen photos, and a handful of tracks, that story remains largely intact. Left unexplored, though, were so many side quests and side labels, those narrow roads leading out from the center of Deep City and into the suburbs: the Reid, Sun Cut, and Lloyd labels. Outside that urban sprawl, arrowed road signs sent us to Concho and to Solid Soul (Population: 1), and the highway narrowed from four lanes to two. Way out there, inside a closet that time forgot, a box of tapes was waiting.
Willie had mentioned these mysterious tapes to me on that first trip, and my mouth watered at the possibility of visiting his ex-wife’s place for an extraction. But that would’ve been too easy. It would take nearly two years of badgering to convince Willie to pick those tapes up and no small amount of wrangling before he’d finally hand them over.
That ragged cardboard box—its master tapes and a few cracked acetates—began to fill in parts of the map that we’d always considered lost. Unreleased songs by Snoopy Dean and the Rollers were backed up against a rumored-to-exist Clarence Reid’s single, all on a tape stored inside a weathered Ziplock bag. A flood of instrumentals from the Deep City Band—including previously unheard versions of "Masterpiece," "Am I A Good Man," and "Darling I’ll Go"—showed us the ex-100s in top form, well before TK both hired and fired them. A new cast of characters emerged with stories from fresh perspectives, including Arnold Albury, who led us to his Sun Cut archive and the music of The Rising Sun, Lynn Williams, and Perk "The Soul Percolator" Badger. Dependable as ever, Willie Clarke ran around Miami collecting photographs, flyers, newspaper clippings, fan mail, and yearbooks, making it possible to dig deeper than we ever had before. We tapped collectors Jeff Lemlich and Angelo Angione to see what else, if anything, was left in Deep City’s tank. A second collection was taking shape, but it was no mere sequel. This was a rich appendix, not just to our record, but also to every other compilation of Florida soul issued in the last decade.
Both a reference and a road trip, The Outskirts Of Deep City is our appendix to the first Deep City expedition. Instead of recounting any auspicious beginnings, bracing stories of growth and hardship, or heart-wrenching endings, we’ve opted for track descriptions, and a glossary, bibliography, and discography. Think of this 2nd disc as a companion to The Deep City Label and, if you don’t own that quite yet, as an introduction to the unfathomably wide world of Miami soul. Who knows? Any day now, the USPS might recover yet another box of missing tapes, stolen upon its delivery to Numero’s front porch, and we’ll glimpse a third installment just around the next bend.
Notes on the recordings :
The Rollers "Knockin’ At The Wrong Door" and "One Little Piece"
Spliced alongside a handful of other Deep City instrumental takes, these two cuts were our first evidence (after burrowing through a grip of James Brown albums and radio talk shows transferred to quarter inch) that the tape boxes absconded from Willie Clarke’s ex-wife’s house would yield incredible fruit. No date was listed on the tape, but both were recorded at Criteria, and more than likely after 1970 as the melody for the former takes a heavy bite from the Jackson 5’s "I Want You Back."
Clarence Reid "No Way Out" and "Don’t Be A Fool"
First discovered on a hand-labeled test pressing at Willie Clarke’s Hialeah condominium, we lamented at the tragic condition of the vinyl that rendered it more or less unplayable. The matrix number (2377), however, indicated that it was indeed an unissued Deep City 45. Six tapes into the box, "No Way Out" and "Don’t Be A Fool" were found. Both songs suffer from a bit of wow and flutter but are still irresistible even in this lo-fidelity state.
Helene Smith "What’s In The Lovin’," "True Love Don’t Grow On Trees," and "Wrong Or Right He’s My Baby"
Issued first as Deep City 45s, and then later on the compilation album Sings Sweet Soul!, all three of these songs were in the running for our first collection but, in the end, were carved away from an already Helene-heavy track list. "True Love Don’t Grow On Trees" was the hardest to crop, and we’ve included the Deep City Band’s instrumental as a bonus cut on the vinyl version of this collection.
Betty Wright "Mr. Lucky" and "Thank You Baby"
We first heard "Thank You Baby" on the flip side of the Moovers’ "Darling I’ll Go" acetate but left it behind because of the sub-par quality of the source. Jeff Lemlich graciously provided us with a near mint copy of the single, allowing us to finally make Wright’s second 45 available after nearly 40 years of total obscurity.
James Knight & the Butlers "There Goes My Baby"
A few years before he was The Black Knight, James Knight (with his relentless funk combo The Butlers) cut this nearly unrecognizable cover for the Concho label. Almost Bahamian sounding, Knight’s rendition turned the Drifters’ ubiquitous smash on its ear. We’ve included the instrumental flip on the vinyl. [Consider delelting references to vinyl version, also consider describing Deep City recycling]
Lynn Williams "Don’t Be Surprised"
A tune that was also cut contemporaneously by The Diamonettes, this moody interpretation by Williams is more spare and lonesome, to a positive effect. Albury, Clarke, and Reid produced Williams’ first 45 at TK, bringing in Mike Lewis’ top session players to fill in the otherwise spacious recording. Coupled with Reid’s filmic lyrics, Williams’ surprisingly mature teenage tenor takes the song past celluloid and onto the big screen.
The Rising Sun "Do What You’re Doin’" and "One Night Affair"
Self-released on Albury’s Sun Cut label, Sam Early’s backing band broke free in early 1970 to cut this mismatched double-sider at TK. All four Suns contribute vocally to the ballad, while Albury handles duties on the funky flip.
Perk Badger "Do Your Stuff"
An edited version was issued on Hit Sound, but this full-length version was long thought to be an apocryphal chapter in the Sun Cut story. Part two reveals just how hard-hitting Badger’s performance in front of the Rising Sun really was.
Frank Williams’ Rocketeers "Show Me What You Got"
The second of their Lloyd singles, the Rocketeers (with Little Beaver fronting) were barely settled into their steady gig at Criteria when Clarke and Pearsall coaxed this JBs impression out.
Deep City Band "Masterpiece"
One of the real treasures from the Willie Clarke "vault," this instrumental is just one of dozens of rehearsals discovered while trolling through tape. Clarence Reid would later lay vocals over it for "Masterpiece" (Alston 4588) and, as Blowfly, on "I Don’t Want No Woman To Get Me Nothing."
Helene Smith "Pot Can’t Talk About The Kettle"
The ultimate Miami collectible, Helene Smith’s first 45 was issued in a quantity of 300, though only two have ever turned up. Written by Willie Clarke and arranged by Arnold Albury, this earliest Master-Blaster production shows our misfits just getting on their feet.
The Rollers "Play With Fire Part 1"
Found on a clearly marked acetate at Willie Clarke’s home, "Play With Fire" was the first piece used in solving the Rollers puzzle. While the instrumental version of this song was found spliced with the Rollers’ other recordings, this vocal take had to be pulled in from the badly damaged acetate. Part 2 was missing sizeable chunks of sound and was unfortunately beyond the reach of modern technology. All versions were cut at Criteria.
Nasty Dog Catchers "Nasty Dog Part 2"
Clarence Reid borrowed the Mighty Dog Catchers and rechristened them the Nasty Dog Catchers for this Reedsville 45.
Snoopy Dean "Your Love Won’t Let Me Leave You"
Another unreleased track recorded at Criteria, this is certainly the most dynamic tape discovery. Notable for its intensity and for the fact that it was yeoman guitarist Snoopy Dean’s first shot fronting a session, "Your Love Won’t Let Me Leave You" is cut from the same cloth as the Moovers "Darling I’ll Go"—and is something of a departure from the established Deep City sound.
Albury, Arnold "Hoss" – Born 1940, organist, member of the Marching 100
band. He arranged for the Blue Star, Deep City, Lloyd, and Reid labels, was owner of the Sun Cut label, a founding member of The Rising Sun, and was backed by the Casuals on three Dade 45s. A heart attack and stroke led to his untimely departure from the music business in 1973.
Badger, Pearstine "Perk" / "The Soul Percolator" – Guitarist, singer, managed by Willie Walters, recorded "Do Your Stuff" for Sun Cut, which was originally issued on Hit Sound, a label Badger co-owned with Willie Reynolds.
Blue Star – One-off record label owned by Steve Palmer. Issued Helene Smith’s first 45.
Clarke, Willie "Pee Wee" – Born 1936, drummer in the Marching 100 band, producer, songwriter, co-owner of the Concho, Deep City, Lloyd, Reedsville, and Reid labels with Johnny Pearsall, sole owner of the Green Gold and Solid Soul labels. Founding member of the group Miami with Robert Moore. Prior to his Grammy winning productions at TK, Clarke was an art teacher in the Miami-Dade school system. Clarke’s sketches can be found on the labels of various Alston, Cat, Concho, Dade, Deep City, Dig, Glades, Green Gold, Reedsville, and Solid Soul 45s.
Criteria Studios – Recording studio owned by Mack Emerman, located at 1755 NE 179th Street, Miami, Florida.
Dean, Nathaniel "Snoopy" – Member of Third Guitar and Deep City Band, later issued five singles and an album, Wiggle That Thing, on Henry Stone’s Blue Candle imprint. Died of diabetes-related complications in 1998.
Delmiras – Unorthodox vocal group that backed Clarence Reid on his Dade, Nuria, Reid, and Selma label 45s. "Sooner Or Later" (Selma 4002) was credited to Clarence Reed & the Delmiros [sic] but actually features a young Paul Kelly in place of Reid, who was ill at the time.
Deep City – Record label owned by Willie Clarke and Johnny Pearsall that took its name from an off-campus speakeasy in then-dry Tallahassee, Florida. Released fifteen singles and one LP between 1966 and 1968.
Deep City Band – A rag-tag group of Marching 100 members that would play on dozens of Deep City, Lloyd, and Reid recordings before joining Willie Clarke and Clarence Reid at TK. Their sound is the Miami sound.
Dukoff Studios – Recording studio owned by Frank Dukoff, located at 7821 S.W, 134th Terrace, Miami, Florida.
FAMU – Florida A & M University, a predominantly black university located in Tallahassee, Florida, home to the Incomparable Marching 100. [Was it called that?] Students included Arnold Albury (1958–1962), Willie Clarke (1956–1960), Earl Finley (1957–1961), Preston Marshall (1958–1962), Willie North (1958–1962), and Johnny Pearsall (1957–1961).
Finley, Earl – Trumpeter, member of the Marching 100 band and subsequently the Deep City Band. Shot and killed by the doorman of the Overtown’s Sir John Hotel Lounge on his wedding anniversary in 1970.
Gray, Freda – At age 16, an employee at Johnny’s Records whose notorious crush on Johnny Pearsall led to the song "Stay Away From My Johnny." Green Gold – One-off record company owned by Willie Clarke.
Hale, Willie "Little Beaver" – Nicknamed for his prominent front teeth, a vocalist and guitar player for Frank Williams’ Rocketeers, Thunder, Lighting & Rain, and All The People (with Robert Moore). Producer, songwriter, artist for many Saadia label releases. In addition to being an in-house session player at TK, Hale would later issue three albums on the Cat label.
Johnny’s Records – Record store and defacto rehearsal space located at 5994 NW 22nd Avenue in Liberty City, owned by Johnny Pearsall. Their weekly trivia contests led to the discovery of Betty Wright.
Johnson, Aaron "Long Boy" – Trombone player for the US Army band and later the Deep City Band. Attended Booker T. Washington High School with Willie Clarke and Arnold Albury.
Kelly, Paul – Born 1940 in Overtown, member of the Spades, Valladeers, and Delmiras, issued two 45s on the Lloyd label before signing to Buddy Killens’ Dial imprint with Clarence Reid in 1965. Kelly would later turn up at Philips and Happy Tiger, before his signature song ("Stealing In The Name Of The Lord") earned him national stardom.
Killen, Johnny "K" – Born 1938, Tampa singer discovered by Frank Williams. Issued singles on AJP, Buddah, Deep City, Drive, and Phono. Though "Killens" appears on his Deep City 45, "Killen" is the correct spelling of his last name.
Killens, Johnny K & the Dynamites – See Killen, Johnny "K"
Knight, James – Guitarist, vocalist, leader of the Butlers, issued one 45 on the Concho label before moving to Cat for two singles and an LP.
Liberty City – Predominantly black neighborhood within Miami city limits that takes its name from the Liberty Square Housing Project built in the 1930s.
Lloyd – Record company owned by Willie Clarke and Johnny Pearsall, issued five 45s during 1965 and 1966. Lloyd is Johnny Pearsall’s middle name.
Marching 100 – [work in the Incomparable part of their name] FAMU marching band in which Arnold Albury, Willie Clarke, Earl Finley, Preston Marshall, and Willie North cut their teeth.
Marshall, Preston "Ghost" – Trumpeter, member of the Marching 100 and Deep City bands.
Master Blaster Productions – Miami’s first all black production company founded by Willie Clarke and Johnny Pearsall.
Mighty Dog Catchers – Stalwart Miami backing band led by tenor and baritone saxophonist Vernon "Piggy-tee" Teague. Featured Reed "Manson" Roberts on bass, King Edwards on organ, Charlie "Chan" Smith on guitar, Clifford "Screaming Jay" Hawkins on drums, and the mysterious Ambristo on tenor sax. Their two singles were issued on the Green Gold and Reedsville labels.
Moovers, The – First-class vocal group featuring Norris Clemmons, Jimmy Hartfield, Norris Hill, Robert Thomas, and Woodrow Tucker, issued two singles on the Deep City label before changing their name to the Prolifics. The Prolifics would release one-offs on Avco/Embassy, Drive, and Konduko before yet another name change to Living Proof.
Nasty Dog Catchers – See Mighty Dog Catchers
North, Willie "Bro" – Trombonist, member of the Marching 100 and Deep City bands.
Original Cousins – Deco-era sock hop group featuring saxophonist
Lorenzo "Billy," issued one 45 on the Reid label.
Overtown – Originally "Colored Town," Overtown remains a largely black neighborhood in Miami. Home to Booker T. Washington High, Sir John Hotel Lounge, Fiesta Club, Harlem Square, Knight Beat, and Rockland Palace.
Pearsall, Johnny Lloyd "Concho" – Born 1939, owner of Johnny’s Records, co-owner of the Concho, Deep City, Lloyd, Reedsville, and Reid labels with Willie Clarke. Husband of Helene Smith.
Phil L.A. Of Soul – Philadelphia record company owned by Harold Lipsius and Larry Cohen. Licensed and purchased many Miami records for national distribution through their parent company, Jamie/Guyden.
Reedsville – One-off record company owned by Willie Clarke and Johnny Pearsall.
Reid – Record company owned by Willie Clarke and Johnny Pearsall. Issued three singles during 1964 and 1965.
Reid, Clarence "Bear Rug" – Born 1945, fronted the Delmiras, Nasty Dog Catchers, the New Clarence Reid, songwriter for Deep City, Green Gold, Lloyd, Reedsville, and Reid labels. Issued solo singles on Alston, Dash, Deep City, Dial, Phil L.A. Of Soul, Tay-Ster, and Wand labels. In 1971, Reid would create Blowfly, an alter-ego, who performed and recorded a series of groundbreaking proto-rap albums on his very own Weird World label.
Reynolds, Willie – Songwriter, partner with Perk Badger in the Hit Sound label, member of the Spoilers, an obscure early 1970s vocal group.
Rising Sun, The – Backing band for Miami R&B legend Sam Early, featuring organist Arnold Albury, bassist Charles Hepburn, drummer Ivan Orlando and guitarist Simian Taylor. Formed in 1970, The Rising Sun issued one single on Sun Cut and backed Lynn Williams and Perk Badger’s Sun Cut 45s and a Sam Early single on Cat before disbanding in 1972.
Roberts, Reed "Manson" – Bassist, member of Mighty/Nasty Dog Catchers and Deep City Band.
Rocketeers, The – Prolific Miami backing band led by trumpeter Frank Williams and featuring organist Louis Howard, drummer Robert Ferguson, guitarist Willie Hale, bassist Edmund Collins, and a horn section comprised of Abe Meeks, Art Wilson, and Denvil Liptrot. Earlier members include bassist Joey Gilmore and off-and-on drummer Austin Butler. The Criteria Studio house band during 1966 and ’67, the Rocketeers issued singles on Deep City, Dial (backing Paul Kelly), Lloyd, Octavia, Phil L.A. Of Soul, and Saadia.
Rollers, The – Managed by Johnny Pearsall, the Rollers recorded an unissued single in1966 for Deep City ("Play With Fire Part 1 b/w Part 2") that features backing vocals by the Diamonettes (Shirley Levan, Betty Joe Johnson, Sharon Simmons, and Mary Smith—sister of Helene). A few years later, this cryptic group would return to cut a few demos at Criteria, but no official Rollers records were ever released.
Smith, Helene – Miami’s First Lady of Soul issued 45s on the Blue Star, Lloyd, Deep City, Phil L.A. Of Soul, Dash, and Dade labels. Her marriage to Johnny Pearsall all but ended this reluctant talent’s career.
Stone, Henry – Godfather and benefactor to the Miami sound. In addition to owning Tone Distribution, Stone oversaw a plethora of labels including APA, Alston, Blue Candle, Brownstone, Chart, Dade, Dash, Glades, Glory, Good Sounds, International Brothers, Kayvette, Knight, Marlin, Mida, Rockin’, Shield, Sunshine Sound, Thirdstone, and TK. Stone’s post-disco largess led to the eventual downfall of the Miami music business.
Sun Cut – Record company owned by Arnold Albury. Issued three singles between 1969 and 1971.
Them Two – Deep soul duo featuring Larry Green and Larry Mobley. Issued one 45 on Deep City.
Tone Distribution – South Florida’s largest independent record distributor.
Williams, Frank – Tenor saxophonist and bandleader of the Rocketeers, owner of the Saadia label. Issued singles on Deep City, Dial, Lloyd, Octavia, Phil L.A. Of Soul, and Saadia labels. Credited as Brother Williams on Saadia 7386. Died in the early 1980s from diabetes-related complications.
Williams, Lynn – Daughter of DJ Vanilla "Mrs. Boom Boom" Williams, adopted by Arnold Albury when Vanilla died of cancer. Issued one 45, "Don’t Be Surprise" [sic] b/w "How Can You Call Love Fascination," produced by Arnold Albury, Willie Clarke, and Clarence Reid, on the Sun Cut label, as well as three other singles on the Dade label. Williams married in 1973 and was never heard from again.
Wright, Betty – Born 1953 and discovered at the age of 11 at Johnny’s Records by Willie Clarke. Background vocalist on many of Helene Smith’s Deep City recordings, she issued 45s on Deep City and Solid Soul prior to her mega-hits at Alston. Wright’s appearance on the scene at Deep City led to a rift between Clarke and Pearsall, causing the two to split and the label to fold.
79 Helene Smith "The Pot Can’t Talk About The Kettle b/w Gossip Don’t Worry Me"
2250 James Knight & the Butlers "There Goes My Baby b/w Instrumental"
300 Red Rooster "Like A Baby Part 1 b/w Part 2"
1001 Helene Smith "Sings Sweet Soul" LP
2366 Freda Gray & the Rocketeers "Stay Away From My Johnny b/w Instrumental"
2367 Moovers "One Little Dance b/w Someone To Fulfill My Needs"
2368 Helene Smith "A Woman Will Do Wrong b/w Like A Baby"
2369 Frank Williams & the Rocketeers "You Got To Be A Man b/w The Spanish Fly"
2370 Johnny K. Killens & the Dynamites "I Don’t Need Help b/w Frenchy The Tickler"
2372 The New Clarence Reid "Cadillac Annie b/w Tired Blood"
2374 Moovers "I Love You Baby b/w One Little Dance"
2375 Helene Smith "True Love Don’t Grow On Trees b/w Sure Thing"
2377 Clarence Reid "Don’t Be A Fool b/w No Way Out"
2378 Betty Wright "Paralyzed b/w Good Lovin’"
2379 Them Two "Am I A Good Man b/w Love Has Taken Wings"
2380 Helene Smith "Wrong Or Right He’s My Baby b/w Sure Thing"
2381 Helene Smith "What’s In The Lovin’ b/w China Melody"
2390 Helene Smith "Pain In My Heart b/w You Got To Be A Man"
6969 Mighty Dog Catchers "It’s Gonna Be A Mess Part 1 b/w Part 2"
no # Paul Kelly "It’s My Baby b/w The Upset"
007 Paul Kelly "Chills And Fever b/w Only Your Love"
008 Frank Williams’ Rocketeers "Good Thing Part 1 b/w Part 2"
009 Helene Smith "Thrills And Chills b/w I Am Controlled By Your Love"
0010 Frank Williams’ Rocketeers "It’s All Over b/w Show Me What You Got"
1970 Nasty Dog Catchers "Nasty Dog/ Pt. 2"
2743 Helene Smith "You Got To Do Your Share b/w Willing And Able"
2744 Clarence Reid & the Delmiras "I Refuse To Give Up b/w Somebody Will"
2746 Original Cousins "Egg Man b/w Sock-It"
3030 Betty Wright "Mr. Lucky b/w Thank You Baby"
001 Rising Sun "One Night Affair b/w Do What You’re Doin"
1008 Lynn Williams "Don’t Be Surprise b/w How Can You Call Love Fascination"
1167 Perk Badger "Do Your Stuff Part 1 b/w Part 2"
Curtis, Kurt. Florida’s Famous & Forgotten. Florida Media, 2005
Lemlich, Jeff. Savage Lost. Distinctive, 1992 – Available at www.limestonerecords.com
Various Artists. Miami Sound. CD/2XLP. Soul Jazz Records, 2003
Various Artists. Good Things: The Story Of Saadia Records, CD/3X7", Jazzman Records, 2007
Various Artists. Florida Funk, CD/2XLP, Jazzman Records, 2007