Friday, March 07, 2008

It's a Mess, I Tell Ya (But It's Good!)

Gloria Walker & The Chevelles - Need of You

I'm back to Georgia after a great trip to Charleston and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The record dig I mentioned came up quite empty, with one site being very disappointing (lots of dirty, unsleeved, unkempt records in a funky store - not funky as in rhythmic, but funky so as to make my wife say "it smelled like refried s--t in there") and the other being pretty good but not R&B-oriented. But, as I had anticipated, when I got back home yesterday my mailbox was stuffed with good stuff, and today's selection was in there.

Gloria Walker & The Chevelles and the Flaming Arrow label are subjects about which I have very little knowledge. Walker's deep soul sides like "Taking About My Baby" and "Walking With My New Love" and funky 45s like "You Hit the Spot Baby" and "Papa Got the Wagon" have been soul collector faves for some time, but unfortunately the first tune named would be her only hit out of her Flaming Arrow, People and Federal sides. I've learned that Flaming Arrow (and its subsidiary, Crow) was owned by Eugene Davis, who also wrote and produced most of the label's sides on Walker, Nancy Butts and others, and it appears that The Chevelles must've been the label's house band. (Any additional info about Flaming Arrow, Eugene Davis, Gloria Walker or The Chevelles would be welcomed.)

Today's selection was the B-side of "Please Don't Desert Me Baby," the immediate follow-up to "Talking About My Baby" (and I mean immediate - the hit was Flaming Arrow 35 and "Please Don't Desert Me Baby" was Flaming Arrow 36), and it appears that it was hastily recorded to fill up a quick 45 to capture the hit's momentum. The Chevelles, who were given sole credit on the funky instrumental fave B-side to "Talking About My Baby," "The Gallop," are given co-billing with Walker, and they toss in some vocal support to go along with what is, frankly, a raggedy accompaniment: the horns sound a bit off, the entire groove seems slapped together, and the tune comes to a "show band" ending despite the background vocals attempting to sing another "Need of You" refrain. (In all fairness to Walker, her half-spoken, half-sung vocals on the verses and her nice belting finale are great.) It's a hot mess, but it works as a bouncy dancer that wouldn't seem out of place in the Carolinas among the "shagging" crowd.

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