Monday, October 23, 2006

Ted Taylor - Going In The Hole (Ronn 65)

Going In The Hole

Hey everybody! After I posted a Clarence Fountain tune on Jewel Records over at holy ghost on October 11th, I noticed that my compadre Dan Phillips offered up a Bobby Patterson side on Paula just three days later (great minds thinking alike, and all of that). I figured I'd complete the cycle, and put up something on Ronn for ya today.

Austin Taylor was singing Gospel in his hometown of Okmulgee, Oklahoma by the time he was 14 years old. While still in his teens, he moved out to the West coast and joined The Santa Monica Soul Seekers, a Gospel 'quartet' that had been formed by Lloyd McCraw in 1947. When the group approached Modern Records arranger Maxwell Davis about a recording contract in 1955, he convinced them to 'crossover' and start singing R&B.

In one of my favorite Bihari Brothers stories, they decided to get more bang for their buck by marketing the singers as two different groups! They would release a single by The Jacks on RPM, then follow it up with a Cadets release on Modern. By sharing lead vocal duties between the different members, the public never realized the records were by the same outfit. You gotta love it! The Jacks hit big in 1955, taking Why Don't You Write Me all the way to #3 R&B that summer. By the time The Cadets broke into the top 5 the following year with Stranded In The Jungle, 'Ted' Taylor had already left the group(s).

His first singles were released on the Ebb label in 1957, but didn't cause much of a stir. By 1959 Ted had signed with Duke Records, and began showcasing his songwriting ability with songs like Be Ever Wonderful. The next few years saw him jumping from one obscure label (like Top Rank International and Gold Eagle) to another, and his records were going nowhere.

Columbia Records A&R man Dave Kapralik heard Ted's unbelievable voice, and signed him for their newly revitalized Okeh subsidiary in 1962. Columbia wanted a piece of the hot R&B market, and appointed Carl Davis (who was the man behind Gene Chandler's mega-smash Duke Of Earl for Vee-Jay earlier that year) as the head of production for the label at around the same time. Davis brought in local talent like Curtis Mayfield, Billy Butler, and Johnny Pate and set about creating 'The Chicago Sound'. Taylor's records from this period are simply fantastic, revealing a more 'hard soul' side of Chicago than other Okeh artists like Major Lance.

In late 1964, Columbia decided to send Taylor to Nashville to work with big Country & Western producer Billy Sherrill. It turned out to be a great idea, resulting in Ted's biggest hit, Stay Away From My Baby, which spent 3 months on the charts in 1965, making it as high as #14 R&B. After a few more singles on Okeh, Ted signed with Atlantic, but his Atco releases sank without a trace. His next stop would be with Stan Lewis' Jewel label in 1966. As I said over at holy ghost; "Lewis had started out with a jukebox route, and was able to open his own record store in 1948. He was quite the entrepreneur, and built up his mail-order business by advertising on the radio, especially on John R's fabled WLAC broadcasts. Before long, Stan became the 'go-to' distributor in the region for all the major labels, developing close ties with Chess in particular. He started his own label, Jewel, in 1963 and soon branched out to form the Paula and Ronn labels as well."

After a few singles on Jewel, Taylor became one of the first artists on Lewis' new Ronn imprint in 1967. He was back in the charts by 1969 with It's Too Late cracking the R&B top 40 that summer, and both Something Strange Is Going On In My House and How's Your Love Life Baby doing the same in 1970 and '71. This was around the time that Lewis signed the Texas dynamo Bobby Patterson to his label, and paired him with Jerry Strickland as both a songwriting and production team. The A side of today's single, I Want To Be A Part Of You Girl, is a sweet soul ballad that was written and produced by the duo at Lewis' Sound City Studios in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1972.

This monumental slab of greasy funk that you're listening to now, however, was co-written by Taylor and Marshall McQueen and produced by Ted himself. The band on here is just INCREDIBLE... I mean, check out the 'in-the-pocket' groove laid out by the bass player and drummer, while the wah-wah pedal just screams! As good as it gets, yo. Now, ol' Dan has done a lot of research into the house band at Sound City, the African Music Machine, and they just crank. I'd like to be able to tell you that they're the guys funkin' it up on here, but I'm not really sure. I mean, they go to all this trouble of printing where the A side was recorded, but leave that info out on the B... The really cool photo at left shows Ted holding a decked out Fender circa 1970s, could that possibly be him working the 'white room' wah-wah? Whew!

After barely denting the charts for Ronn one more time with What A Fool in 1973, Taylor decided to move on the following year. His next releases appeared on the Alarm label, which was started by Jerry Strickland and Stewart Madison in 1975 and (according to this cool scan I borrowed from the Home Of The Groove) still operated out of Sound City Recording in Shreveport. Ted's version of Steal Away (Alarm 112) made #64 R&B in the summer of 1976, but it's the ultra-amazing B side of that record, Somebody's Gettin' It that you should check out. As Dan pointed out when he posted it last year, it was produced and arranged by Wardell Quezergue, and it shows it! Ted's Alarm singles (along with some 1977 album tracks) have been re-issued on a CD by Basix Records which lists Malaco studio regulars James Stroud on drums and Carson Whitsett on keyboards (along with Dorothy Moore and The Jackson Southernaires (!) on background vocals), so I'm guessing the song was recorded in Mississippi at the Malaco studios.

Ted Taylor went on to release a few singles on MCA, and later formed his own label, Solpugids (apparently named after a species of 'non-arachnid spiders'), in the mid-eighties. He was 'on the comeback trail', and touring again as a 'down home blues' type singer when he lost control of the car he was driving, and died on the road in Louisiana on October 22, 1987.

May he Be Ever Wonderful.


Blogger Dan Phillips said...

It seems like both audio links are broken on this one, Red. If it was recorded at Sound City in 1972, though, most likely some or all of the AMM are playing on it. Look forward to hearing it. I'll have to dig down and see if I've got this one. I have some Ted Taylor singles that I haven't processed yet.

It makes good sense that Taylor's Alarm singles, at least the ones produced by the Big Q were done at Malaco. Glad you verified it. That house band could lay down a funky grooves. I need to grab the CD.

12:00 AM  
Blogger Red Kelly said...

Ok Dan...
thanks for the heads up. The links seem to be working now (I'm not sure if Hipcast was down or what... please let me know if you continue to have the problem).

Also, yeah, I'll go for the African Music Machine as well, I'm just not sure who's workin' that wah-wah pedal, it cranks!

7:22 AM  
Anonymous mikeatturnpike said...

Interesting that the bside of my copy of I Want To Be Part Of You Girl is not Going Down but another Ted Taylor song called Ollie Mae which had been used much earlier as the bside for Ronn 21 - I Need Your Love So Bad.

5:56 AM  
Anonymous mikeatturnpike said...

...and the Alarm album was done at Sound City, according to the credits, but some of the Malaco session regulars were brought in

5:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ted Taylor was incredible.

12:00 PM  

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