Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dave Hamilton Week: Tolbert!

O.C. Tolbert:

You Got Me Turned Around
I'm Shooting High (I Reach For The Sky)

Arthur "O.C." Tolbert crossed paths with Dave Hamilton several times in the '60s, '70s and '80s, in addition to sojourns with Jack Taylor's labels. Although his recorded output well exceeded Little Ann's, it is similarly unfortunate that his impact in the history of soul wasn't what his talent warranted. Tolbert's vocals have a hint of David Ruffin but also raw gospel, and his recorded output, spanning from soul to funk to gospel, is very impressive. Today I'll focus on two Northern Soul-oriented tracks that appeared on the Detroit Dancers series. "You Got Me Turned Around" started life as "Sweep It Out In The Shed," a tune that Hamilton recorded on Priscilla Page and Little Ann. Tolbert's version featured a horn section and new lyrics, and Tolbert's anguished vocal captured the theme of the song very well. "You Got Me Turned Around" was actually leased out to Palmer Records in New York. "I'm Shooting High" is a tasty piece of mid-tempo soul, featuring strings and a male chorus to buoy Tolbert's reading of the optimistic lyrics. All of the Tolbert tracks that appear on the Hamilton comps are worth checking out, and I'll feature Tolbert again on Sunday to show off some of his gospel stuff. It's worth noting that Tolbert recorded two 45s worth seeking out independent of the material reissued by Ace: "Hard Times" (not related to the Curtis Mayfield composition) was a late '60s record billed to "Rev. O.C. Tolbert and the Blues Congregation" (foreshadowing his own turn to religion in the 1980s, maybe?) and it's a great funky 45; "Message to Black Women" b/w "That's All She Wrote" was released under the pseudonym "King Diamond" and it couples another good up-tempo number with a great bluesy tune that appears, in re-recorded form, on Dave Hamilton's Detroit Dancers, Vol. 2.


Bernardo said...

You got excellent soul podcasts,keep with the excellent work,shame that we don't have access to this kind of records in Brasil.

Anonymous said...

I've got to say, I wasn't familiar with any of these Dave Hamilton artists you've been posting this week, including Dave Hamilton himself, but it's great to hear it. Detroit wasn't Memphis, but it's great to hear the range of non-Motown stuff that was being produced. Thanks.

The Stepfather of Soul said...

Indeed, it is good to hear non-Motown Detroit stuff. Obviously, for many reasons, Motown deserves the acclaim it has received over the years, but Detroit was certainly no one-horse town, and the rawer sounds that labels like Hamilton's put out are truly magnificent in their own right. Of course, since Gordy had the biggest game in town, this stuff got lost in the shuffle, but thankfully Northern Soul fans and others have championed their cause in these times!