Soul Serenade: Garland Green, “Jealous Kind Of Fella”

Garland GreenA couple of weeks ago I wrote about Danny White, a southern soul singer who toiled for years looking for a hit that proved elusive. This week, I’ll take a look at a singer who managed to find that hit, even reaching to Top 20 on one occasion, before fading from the memory of most people.

Garland Green was born in Mississippi, one or eleven children. He joined the great northern migration when he moved to Chicago at the age of 16. Green was still in high school when his singing talent came to the attention of Argia Collins, a local restaurateur. Collins became Green’s patron and paid for him to attend the Chicago Conservatory of Music where Green studied voice and piano.

While he was in school Green began to sing in the clubs around town and he won a talent contest at a place called the Trocadero. The win earned him the chance to open a show for Lou Rawls and Earl Hines. Joshie Jo Armstead was in the audience the night of the concert. Armstrong had written songs with Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson and she saw something in Green. Armstrong arranged for Green to record in Detroit and the resulting single, “Girl I Love You,” found enough local success that MCA Records picked it up for national distribution on their Revue Records imprint.

Green recorded a few more singles for Revue before being moved up to MCA’s most prominent label, Uni Records. “Jealous Kind of Fella” was a song co-written by Armstead and Green along with R. Browner, and M. Dollinson. When the single was released in 1969 it raced up the charts, reaching #5 on the R&B chart and winning a Top 20 spot on the pop chart while selling a million copies. Unfortunately, the follow-up single, the oddly titled “Don’t Think I’m a Violent Guy,” failed to come anywhere near matching the performance of “Jealous Kind of Fella,” not even cracking the Top 100. That put an end to not only Green’s association with MCA but his partnership with Armstead as well.

Green landed at Cotillion Records, an Atlantic subsidiary. He released five singles for the label but only the Donny Hathaway-produced and arranged “Plain and Simple Girl” found any success. The single was a Top 20 R&B hit but again didn’t crack the pop Top 100. The lack of success led Green to depart Cotillion for Spring Records. There he released five more singles including “Let the Good Times Roll” (not the Shirley & Lee song), and “Bumpin’ and Stompin’.” None of the singles found anything more than minor success on the R&B chart which led Green to yet another label, RCA.

At RCA, Green released three more singles and an album that was produced by Leon Haywood. The search for another hit continued to come up empty for Green. He moved to California in hopes of changing his luck. There he recorded for an indie label called Ocean-Front Records. The album that Green released for the label was co-produced by Lamont Dozier but only the single “Trying to Hold On to My Woman,” a song that had been a hit for Dozier a decade earlier, found any traction, reaching #63 on the R&B chart.

There was no quit in Green, however. He continued to record and release his own records until 2011 when he signed a new record deal with a subsidiary of CDS Records called Special Soul Music. The following year, Green released his first album of new material in 29 years, the appropriately titled I Should’ve Been the One. Indeed.

Soul Serenade: Love Unlimited, “I Belong to You”

Love UnlimitedFor a while there in the 1970s, it seemed like Barry White was the king of the music world. He could do no wrong whether it was as a songwriter, a producer, or a solo artist. For a period of about five years, from 1973-1978, White ran one hit after another up the charts. The hits included “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe” and “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything” both of which reached the top of the charts in 1974.
White’s success went well beyond the records he released under his own name though. In fact, he had success as a songwriter and producer before he ever did as a solo artist. Love Unlimited had formed in 1969 with an original lineup consisting of Glodean James (who later married White), her sister Linda James, and their cousin Diane Taylor. It wasn’t long before White took the group under his wing and began to polish their sound.

Eventually White got Love Unlimited a deal with Uni Records and in 1972 they had their first hit with “Walkin’ in the Rain With the One I Love,” a record written and produced by White. The single reached #14 on the pop chart and #6 on the R&B chart at the end of 1972. Oh, and that’s White himself who plays the part of the male lover on the record.

The 1973 Love Unlimited album Under the Influence of … Love Unlimited was a #3 hit on both the pop and R&B charts. They were the first female group to have a Top 5 album since Diana Ross & the Supremes did it in 1970.

Love Unlimited

White had made his production deal at Uni Records with Russ Regan. When Regan left the label for 20th Century Records, White followed him and took Love Unlimited with him. It was for 20th Century that the Love Unlimited single “I Belong to You” was a smash hit, reaching the top of the R&B chart and remaining on the chart for five months in 1974.

Love Unlimited had several other chart records over the next six years including “Share a Little Love in Your Heart,” and “High Steppin’, Hip Dressin’ Fella (You Got It Together)” which was released on White’s own Unlimited Gold label. In addition to their own hits, Love Unlimited could be heard providing backing vocals on White’s hits and for his live appearances.

All in all, Love Unlimited recorded four albums but when Diane Taylor passed away in 1985 at the age of 38, it marked the end of the group. Barry and Glodean White were married in 1974 and in 1981 they had chart singles as a duo with “Didn’t We Make it Happen Baby” and “I Want You.” They also released an album called Barry & Glodean.

Glodean White can be heard singing on White’s last album, Staying Power, which was released in 1999.

Barry White passed away in 2003.

Soul Serenade: The Foundations, “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You”

The FoundationsAs I’ve written many times in this column, soul can come from anywhere and in a variety of forms. This week I’m featuring a multiracial band from England that scored two of the most indelible hits of the ’60s.

The Foundations featured horn players from the West Indies, a few white British musicians, and a Sri Lankan. They were certainly racially diverse but that wasn’t their only distinction. The lineup was also diverse in terms of the ages of the members which ranged from the 18-year-old drummer Tim Harris to the 38-year-old sax player Mike Elliott. The rest of the lineup included sax player Pat Burke, trombonist Eric Allandale, guitarist Alan Warner, bass player Peter Macbeth, keyboard player Tony Gomez, and lead vocalist Clem Curtis.

The Foundations got together in London in 1967. Things weren’t easy at the beginning. They ran a place called the Butterfly Club where the cooked, cleaned, slept, and rehearsed. They derived their name from the basement rehearsal space in the club. Their break came one night when they were playing at the Butterfly and a record dealer named Barry Class came in. Class liked what he heard, signed on as the Foundations manager, and got them an audition with Pye Records.

Tony McCauley was a producer and songwriter at Pye and he was looking for a new act. He had written a song with his partner John Macleod and when he heard the Foundations he thought that the song just might be right for them. That song was “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” and McCauley’s instinct was dead on, although that wasn’t apparent at first.

Pye released “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” in the summer of 1967 and it was an immediate … flop. No one paid any attention to the record. At the time, pirate radio was very popular in the UK, siphoning off listeners from the BBC. The BBC decided to combat the pirates by playing records that the pirate stations weren’t playing. One of those records was “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” and when BBC Radio 1 added it to their playlist the record raced up the charts. By November of that year, “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” was the #1 single in the UK.

The Foundations

As it turned out, the Foundations had it all. Not only were they the first multiracial group to have a #1 hit in the UK, many people thought that they were the first British group to come up with an authentic soul sound. The fact that their live show revealed that they were a well-rehearsed, tight, entertaining band didn’t hurt either.

Uni Records, an imprint of MCA, released “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” in the US where it streaked up the charts to #11 and sold three and a half million copies. Suddenly, the Foundations success was worldwide. Unfortunately, the follow-up single, “Back On My Feet Again,” didn’t make it into the British Top 10 and barely crept into the US Top 50. The lack of success of the second single, along with McCauley’s refusal to let the Foundations record their own songs, led to the beginning of problems between the band and the producer. At the same time, Curtis began to feel that some members of the band were resting on their laurels and not putting in the same effort that got the band to the top of the charts. That frustration led him to leave the Foundations for a solo career. Around this time, Mike Elliott also quit the band.

Curtis was replaced by Colin Young. Elliott was not replaced. That’s Young singing lead on “Build Me Up Buttercup” which topped the US charts and peaked at #2 on the UK charts in early 1969. The song was written by McCauley and Mike D’Abo and it was the biggest hit of the Foundations career. The song has remained in our consciousness for nearly 50 years now. A follow-up called “In the Bad, Bad Old Days (Before You Loved Me)” was a respectable hit but certainly not on the same level as “Build Me Up Buttercup.”

The beginning of the end for the Foundations came when McCauley left Pye Records and the band was suddenly without their hit-making songwriter. That combined with the changing nature of soul music in the late-’60s and early-’70s (with James Brown leading the charge to a harder, funkier sound) made it difficult for the Foundations to fit in. They broke up in 1970, just one year after their massive hit “Build Me Up Buttercup.”

A few years later, Curtis decided to revive the band, but so did Young. The result was two groups of Foundations, confusing everyone. Inevitably it ended up in court where it was decided that Curtis could call his band the Foundations while Young would call his the New Foundations. That didn’t exactly clear things up. Curtis continued to tour into the 21st century with Clem Curtis and the Foundations. Meanwhile, original guitarist Alan Warner has been out there with Alan Warner’s Foundations.

Soul Serenade: Garland Green, “Jealous Kind Of Fella”

Soul Serenade - Garland Green

Popular songs are a funny thing. What is it that makes some hit songs live on forever, while others are forgotten with the passage of time? Is there something in the melody or lyrics that give a song its staying power? I suppose that if anyone knew the answers they would be cranking out timeless hits on a regular basis …

Soul Serenade: Garland Green, “Jealous Kind of Fella”