Monday, October 07, 2019

I can feel it

I'm a sucker for picking up records in the wild just on the fact they look to be in great, almost unplayed, condition (M- as the grading would go). I might not have any great desire to have the record for it's content, the condition alone can be sufficient attraction to make me part with some cash if the entry price is cheap enough. I think the motivation is if I see a record that is forty-odd years old and is seemingly as good as new I want to keep it that way and save it from an uncertain future - mishandled in a charity shop box, parted from its birth sleeve, forced to sit unloved and unnoticed between scratched, grubby, and frankly awful Cilla Black and Ken Dodd singles, that sort of thing. (Of course the record must hint at potentially having some merit in the grooves, on those grounds a minty Cilla Black or Ken Dodd record would not qualify!).

And so it was in the case of this single 50p was certainly cheap enough, and I was familiar with Bo & Ruth, although not these particular tracks.

You're Gonna Get Next To Me was a big UK hit in the mid 70s for Bo & Ruth (a much bigger hit than in the US), and one I remember fondly. But in the end it was all over the radio at the time to the point of being overplayed I think.

Bo & Ruth were Bo Kirkland & Ruth Davis. Just another duo in the Peaches & Herb vein I probably thought at the time. It wasn't until a few years ago I learnt that Bo was in fact Michael James Kirkland who, along with his brother Robert, had been in the group Mike & The Censations, and cut a number of few beautifully soulful singles in the the second half of the 60s. Many of those singles are highly collectable now. (Arguably There Is Nothing I Can Do About It is the best of them, a B side at the time). But did I get that wrong? Was Bo in fact Robert, not Michael James Kirkland. "Bo" would certainly fit better as a shortened form of Robert, after all, No, apparently Michael took the performing name Bo when he thought he might be confused with Michael Jackson. Maybe he chose Bo as a nod to his brother? Bearing in mind Mr Jackson's success at the time many people would have probably been happy to be confused with him. Testament to MJK that he believed in his own ability – and there is no denying he had a great voice.

I guess you could call Ruth Davis something of a journeywoman on the Soul scene. She had appeared in at least a couple of groups in the 60s, including a short stint as an Ikette. In 1971 she had a single released on Kent. It was a slab of uptempo funky soul but didn't stand out form the crowd and didn't do anything chartwise. After that disappointment Ruth went back to singing in local clubs until she was signed to Claridge and ultimately teamed with “Bo” Kirkland.

Bo & Ruth had seven singles released in the US, but only two in the UK. You're Gonna Get Next To Me emerged in the US late in '76 and got a UK release about six months later in the UK. It was a massive hit in the UK and went on to be a worldwide hit. To follow up its success in the UK EMI went back to Bo & Ruth's second US single Easy Loving, which had initially seen the light of day in the US a couple of years earlier. Personally, now I have listened to it I think Easy Loving is a bit average, and they probably would have been better going with the single that followed ...Next To Me in the US – Stay By My Side, stronger to my ear and one I remember featuring here many moons ago. I was pleasantly surprised by the B side though. Can You Feel It was included on Bo & Ruth's one and only album but didn't appear on a US single. It is a lovely slice of gentle, soothing Soul with some nice understated piano and horn additions and, yes, I can certainly feel it.

1 comment:

C said...

Haha, love your words about the attraction of old singles for their condition alone! Not knowing the song (or the artist) either would add to the allure. Enjoyed the track here as well - it's only in recent years that I've grown to appreciate this kind of classy soul.