My love of deep soul, and particularly female singers of the genre, led me a few years ago to the small but perfectly formed recording catalog of Margie Alexander. Margie had only five single releases during a thirteen year period that started in the early seventies, and they are all well worth seeking out. She was singing in Clarence Carter’s backing band in the late sixties and it was Carter who got her debut single released on Atlantic in 1971. On the 18th September 1971 Billboard magazine “spotlights” listed it as “predicted to reach the Soul Singles Chart”. Margie was just a few weeks short of her 23rd birthday and might have been anticipating chart success as a present. Alas it was not to be, but listening to that record now (and it’s equally strong B side) you wonder how it wasn’t a hit.
In September 1971 I was just discovering music, and would have been tuned into Pick Of The Pops every Sunday, lapping up everything the poptastic world could throw at me. From that time I remember Al Green’s “Tired Of Being Alone” as probably being the first Soul record that made me sit up and say “wow!”. Then, of course, I was totally unaware that there were hundreds of equally sublime soul records out there with the same “wow” factor. I can now easily count Margie Alexander’s debut 45 among those, as finally, a mere 41 and a bit years after its release, I added a copy of it to my collection (it’s seen a few plays I think, but it will do until I find a better copy).
It would have been early in March when that copy of “Can I Be Your Main Thing” dropped through the letterbox and I had been meaning to post it here for a few weeks now. Then, last week, I caught up with the sad news that Margie passed away on 26th March, at the age of 64.
RIP Margie Alexander Babbs (11 October 1948 – 26 March 2013).
I have three of Margie’s five 45s now, and I will get them all eventually. The 1977 Chi Sound B side(!) “What’cha Tryin' To Do To Me” is just probably the pick of a very fine bunch of recordings that Margie has left us with. You can listen to it over at Deep Soul Heaven.