Archive for the ‘Edwin Starr’ Category

Edwin Starr

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Listen: Ain’t It Hell Up In Harlem / Edwin Starr

Edwin Starr had some surprising US pop hits quite early on in his career curve. Surprising given they were precursors to Northern Soul, and usually those titles didn’t chart. That was the whole point. But ‘Agent Double-O-Soul’ (#21, ’65), ‘S.O.S. (Stop Her On Sight)’ (#48, ’66) and ’25 Miles’ (#6, ’69) all did well and even at the time, they had that magnetic something special.

By 1970, he switched up labels, leaving Ric Tic Records for Motown. Simultaneously trading in his soul stylings for the intense Vietnam protest diatribe ‘War’, he transformed a Temptations album track into a #1 chart story. But his US success was short lived.

Europe and the UK proved more loyal, and given the nature of his earlier hits, Edwin Starr relocated to England in ’73. Ironically, during ’74, he recorded a very American ‘Ain’t It Hell Up In Harlem’, main title of the HELL UP IN HARLEM film, itself an official sequel to BLACK CAESAR.

Despite a slightly cluttered arrangement, the track perfectly snapshots the sound of Blaxploitation, a near official genre, briefly prevalent at that time and very much synonymous with grainy, washed out color cinema.

Shades Of Blue

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Listen: Oh How Happy / Shades Of Blue
Oh How Happy / Shades Of Blue

Like The Casinos from around the same time period (1966), Shades Of Blue were basically a white, really white, vocal group that got mistaken for black. It became a big part of their story. ‘Oh How Happy’ could have easily been The Contours or The Vibrations suddenly coming on to your local pop station that summer, when a groundswell of airplay surrounded the single’s release.

Although the label copy indicates otherwise, Shades Of Blue’s website claims Edwin Starr co-wrote ‘Oh How Happy’ with their help. Either way, someone turned out a mainstream blue eyed soul benchmark in the process.

One of the many RnB indie label licenses Guy Stevens acquired for UK release through Sue, I’m betting he too thought they were from the hood.

Edwin Starr

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Agent Double-O-Soul / Edwin Starr

Listen: Agent Double-O-Soul / Edwin Starr EdwinStarrDouble.mp3

An original talcum powder classic and way before ‘War’.