Thursday, February 02, 2006
Flying Eagles Label
I was prompted to reflect on this mid 70's Detroit label after receiving a CD-R from a friend John Nightingale, which contained a track called "The Man" by the Four Real Inc.
The only sides I previously knew on this label were two by David Lenyard and The Music Tree. I first read of "It Could Have Been You" in an article by Ian Levine in Black Music in 1975 when he reviewed the 45 as a new release which he was playing at the Blackpool Mecca. I cannot recall ever hearing this fast choppy side at any venues and I picked up a copy in 1975 off the legendary Soul Bowl.
"It Could Have Been You" tells the story of a woman who blew it by not sticking with David and the wonderful life she is now going to miss. There are some powerful horn runs and near psych guitar with some lead guitar flourishes which reflect David's anguish as he really lets rip in parts to demonstrate that he has a fine voice.
"It's Never Too Late" is one of the best mid 70's Detroit ballads you are likely to hear and holds up against Eddie Parker's "But If You Must Go" on Miko/MAM. The best bit is that has a part 2 making it over 7 minutes long. This opus starts off with a spoken intro over an electric piano, synths and guitar as he tells us the problems of love and how he feels about his girl leaving him. He pleads with her to stop packing and listen to him before she goes and that he may never get the chance to speak to her again. The song is so poignant as he tells us that he has realised she has another lover who is controlling her! There are some fine build ups by the band to emphasise the tension as David let's out ear splitting screams as he tries to get her to change is mind. I recall playing this side on Hans and Harry's Fingerpoppin' Soul show late one winter's night in Amsterdam a few years back and they went wild over it!
The Four Real Inc side is another staggering piece of mid 70's Detroit soul which demonstrates that not all the best Detroit sides were recorded in the 60's! This one was written and produced by the legendary Popcorn Wylie and is simply one of the best things he has produced. This starts off with a burbling bass and cymbals before some street jive talking similar to the beginning of Rance Allen's "Everybody's Talking". They tell about the hard times going on around the country. This side is Rance Allen Group meets The Four Tops with a bit of the Dramatics thrown in for good measure. There is a wonderfully heavy backing track over which the guys tell us about the economic difficulties and that the resulting poverty really lies with the "The Man" with "the bag" who has has the masterplan. I presume that it is a strong anti-poverty and anti-drugs song though it is difficult to pick out all the lyrics because the singers are fighting against the powerful backing track. It is full of anguish about how people felt in the mid 70's when the dream went up in smoke. A lost Detroit 70's classic!
The link between the 3 records is Therman Hollis who was involved in the production of all 3 sides. The motto of the label says it all for me "Tomorrow's Music Today" and 3 fine sides for the legacy of the Motor City.