To me, nothing says "Sunday vibe" like some easy groovin' soul singles. One of the coolest radio traditions of my lifetime (and one which educated me about many records in my formative years) are the oldies Sundays programs that have been popular in many major cities since the 80's (I've listened to them growing up in L.A, the Chicago area and here at my home in the bay area). Taking a cue from these shows, I'll pop in every now and then on a Sunday to lay out some tracks that you probably won't hear on the radio, but certainly should.
The Emotions (made up of the Hutchinson sisters) are purveyors of some of the greatest girl group harmonies in history, and even though they started recording early (around '67 when the ladies were teenagers), it took until 1976 for them to hit big. I'm a lover of harmony singing to the highest degree, and the Hutchinson sisters (Sheila, Wanda and Jeanette) outta Chicago consistently laid out some of the most divine (and in this case, serious stomp and ass kicking) harmonies ever cut to wax. There is simply NOTHING like the harmony blend of blood relations, and here, the ladies lay out some of the most heavenly vocals ever cut to tape.This record was cut in 1969, and thanks to Bedazzled host Spike Priggen, footage of the horn players rehearsing their part for this song at Stax studios is available for your viewing pleasure here.
The Vandals began their singing career as a teenage Temptations tribute act called The Young Tempts around 1967, while the singers were still in high school. A court order from The temptations saw the group change their name to The Young Vandals, then, by the time of this final release, The Vandals. Lead singer Otis Harris nails Eddie Kendricks' falsetto lead vocal style. After this release, Harris broke up the group because he wanted to go to college. fate had other plans, and in a bizarre twist of life imitating art, Harris BECAME the lead singer for the Temptations in 1971, as a friend urged him to audition for Kendricks' vacated slot. After changing his first name to Damon, Harris held the position which he until 1975. His falsetto, which we hear here, is all over the massive hit and stone classic "Papa Was A Rolling Stone".
I've listened to this record so many times in a row, trying to absorb every element of its magic; the first thing that's striking is the plink-plink muted guitar part that runs thru the song. Perhaps because I just downright love reverb-ed guitar, and being a guitarist myself this to me is one of the coolest hooks I've ever heard!
When Tutti Hill's vocal comes in, if you don't instantly melt, check your pulse and other vital signs. She delivers this ultra cool performance that oozes confidence and extreme vocal prowess. As I also produce music myself (with The Bang Girl Group Revue) in this style, I am constantly drawing upon the resource of the music I love for ideas on WHAT is happening sonically; just listen to how loud Tutti's vocals are mixed; they are RIGHT THERE and so tangible, while the backing chorus of girls gently sway amidst that lovely reverb. This record takes on a few of the Spector wall of sound techniques but strips away the layers and leaves something far more human and earthy, while still having that other worldly mysterious quality. Basically everything I'd ever want to achieve sonically in a studio happens on this track.
Tutti's vocal style is reminiscent of Mary Wells, and Mary herself cut this song a few years later. While I practically worship every Mary Wells record, her version is great but *this* is the version.
This seems to be the only release from this shadowy Tutti Hill figure. WHO IS SHE???? I'll leave you with another mystery record, this time circa 1970 from Lovehorn; most certainly a Chicago-cut record. Seems to be a glorious one-off, as the group name never turned up again.