It has been a couple of weeks since my last post and I could blame the weather – you have to take advantage of the sunshine when you can in the UK – but it has been as much about blogging apathy, a state that has been difficult to shake for most of this year in truth. I am almost awash in my recent vinyl purchases though so hopefully, like little sunbeams, these will spur me on to some more regular posting in this little corner of the ‘net.
I was very pleased to pick this 45 up at a local record fair recently. The fair focuses primarily on ‘50s and ‘60s sounds – rock & roll, early r&b, early British pop stuff, that sort of thing. But there are usually some boxes of soul to root through. So while the rock & roll and rockabilly was blasting out in the room on seemingly duelling turntables there was I, no doubt being a tad unpopular, intermittently commandeering a communal deck to listen to my little stack of possibilities, and struggling to turn the volume on the headphones up loud enough to hear them!
I made a few purchases and this 45 from The Emotions is probably my favourite of the bunch.
I love the label on this one, and this is my first Twin Stacks 45 (Does anybody know why the label was so named? a local landmark?) . The Hutchinson sisters as The Emotions had their first releases on the Chicago based sister labels Brainstorm and Twin Stacks in late ’67 and ’68. Robert Pruter, in his excellent book “Chicago Soul” comments that their initial two releases were local hits only. National chart success would evade them until they signed to Volt, and of course in the ‘70s, when they teamed up with the Earth, Wind & Fire collective, international success would follow.
My interest in music began in the ‘70s and I am always fascinated to delve into the back catalogs and learn the back stories of many of the artists and groups that burst onto the UK scene for the first time back then. They all seemed like new talent to me then, but in many cases of course these artists had “paid their dues” and had been on the scene for a number of years. The Emotions very much fell into this category. Like most of the black soul singers that came up in the ‘60s Sheila, Wanda, and Jeanette Hutchinson first exercised their vocal cords in church as young children. They became the Emotions in 1967 and had a total of five releases on Brainstorm/Twin Stacks before Pervis Staples took them under his wing and got them a deal with Stax/Volt. The Chicago releases had not been their first recordings, however. Taking various names, including The Hutchinson Sunbeams (I like that name) in the early ‘60s their first release was entitled “Santa Got Stuck In The Chimney” that appeared as early as 1962 and there would be at least one more 45 before they settled on The Emotions as an identity. Whilst at Stax/Volt Jeanette would leave the group for a time to concentrate on motherly duties, to be replaced by a friend, Theresa Davis. Jeanette returned to the group in 1974 and stayed until 1977 during which time, with the exception of their duet with EWF “Boogie Wonderland”, they would enjoy their biggest hits, particularly “Best Of My Love”. When Jeanette left the group again to pursue other interests, another sister – Pamela – took her place. Very much a sister act then throughout their career.
“Somebody New”, their second 45 as The Emotions, was a local Chicago hit in the spring of 1968. The sisters ranged in ages from 15-18 at the time this was recorded, and this was also written by the eldest of the three, Jeanette. It's a gorgeous slow mid-tempo meander, perfectly suited to the lovely weather we have been having lately , and has been getting a lot of plays at the Darcy abode in recent weeks. (As I write the impending Jubilee Bank Holidays here in the UK have, true to form, seen off the good weather though, for the time being at least).
(The Hutchinson Sunbeams freshly minted as:)