Tony Clarke wrote a few great tracks for Etta James, and released a handful of singles on his own for the mighty Chess records, and a one-off for MS in Detroit (his last). In an ugly turn of events, Tony was murdered (allegedly by his wife in a domestic dispute) in 1970. While I could never excuse the disgrace of violence against women, I have learned to separate the music from the people who created it, and allegedly Tony was a wife beater.
Tony's fourth release was "The Entertainer" (1964), and it turned out to be his biggest hit as well. The lyrics deal with the smiling face that those on stage must show, especially poignant for those of us who do perform. The lyrics (written by Clarke) explain these feelings in a way that is very hard to explain to those who don't.
"Stormer" is a track that gets thrown around a lot in describing soul records, and if I were to try and explain that term, it would probably be best to just throw on "Landslide" (1967)
I'm a sucker for not only drum breaks in records, but even more so for a drum intro.
This is one of the best drum intros EVER! It's probably Maurice White (later of Earth Wind And Fire) pounding out the jackhammer intro on this stormer!
While the previously heard Clarke entries were recorded in Chicago, this one was cut in Detroit (1968) and it burns strong with motor city fuel (both sides also features some of my all time favorite guitar breaks).
"(They Call Me A) Wrong Man" plays out like a one man show; the record starts out with Tony cooly explaining his life, which later explodes into a dramatic and powerful conclusion matched with a backing band that follows him every step of the way. Records simply DO NOT get better than this one. Flip side "(No Conception) No Sense Of Direction" is an excellent uptempo stomper that continues in the theme of the a side. This record turned out to be Clarke's final release.
Mike Terry was the arranger of this record (in addition to arranging a dizzying array of other great Detroit 45's); Mike was also the baritone sax player who played incredible breaks on countless Motown hits. His horn was one of the defining sounds of Motown records, yet for some reason he wasn't part of "Standing In The Shadows Of Motown"; a travesty. He passed away in 2008.