Thursday, June 01, 2006

Sweet Soul Appreciation

The Moments & The Whatnauts - Girls (Pt. 1)

The early-to-mid '70s was probably the glory years of sweet East Coast soul. The Stylistics, particularly due to Russell Thompkins' falsetto, embedded "Betcha By Golly, Wow" and similar songs permanently in the brains of listeners nationwide, and half of today's featured grouping, the Moments, did their share with hits such as the immortal "Love on a Two-Way Street" and "Look At Me (I'm In Love)." Although less successful than the Moments, the Whatnauts also recorded in that vein, but they may be better-known today for their funkier work, which has been sampled by discerning DJs and rappers for some time ("Why Can't People Be Colors Too," with it's great extended breakdown, comes to mind).

The Moments and the Whatnauts recorded for All Platinum's Stang subsidiary, and in 1975 they joined forces on the Top 30 R&B hit "Girls." The song is a lip-smacking admiration of the fairer sex (and greedy lust after the same), and it features an engaging early disco groove. Also featured is the notorious low-fi sound that plagued most of All Platinum's product. Joe and Sylvia Robinson's Englewood, New Jersey studios were, to be polite, a few steps behind the cutting edge of studio technology; like most soul studios of that era, though, the "magic" was sufficient enough to allow the Robinsons to release hit records (to the Robinsons' advantage, the studio was large enough to allow full string sections to record, which may have something to do with said "magic"). Outside of the hokey intro ("Hey, Whatnauts, what's happenin'?" "The Moments! What it is, brothers?"), the beginning of the first verse, and lines between verses, the song is performed by both groups together, although the Moments seem to dominate the track. The lyrics are fun and the song moves along nicely. A French version of the record was also recorded, which I understand is just as good.

I only have one quibble with the song: is it just me, or does the first note of each chorus sound out of tune?


Anonymous said...

what a beautiful song

Inge said...

Yeah! The seventies!
This song makes you want to turn back the hands of time ...
To me everything and everyone in this song sounds fine: No off key singing that I hear. Then again, I am a leftover of the seventies and do not care too much about such details. lol

Anonymous said...

Not out of tune, just an unusual modulation.

angina said...

i can't believe it! i always dug the heck outta this record and pulled out my scratchy stang 45 last week, have burned it to CD! what a coincidence. yer a mind reader. it ain't off key, methinks, but the slightest off-center effect of 45s drives me crazy. especially that cheesy old string synth. one other thang: i don't think that spoken intro is "hokey" at all - no man, that's so of its time. "what it is?" ha! man i miss the 70's so much.

thanks for such a fantastic blog!

RS Moore: b/NashvilleTN, now in NJ