Soulful Strut

"Soulful Strut"

[song written by Eugene Record and Sonny Sanders]

Most recently this tune has enjoyed airplay courtesy of the late Grover Washington JNR and the 1996 CD from Warner Records of the same name.  However, enthusiasts of a certain generation will remember the original version by Young Holt Unlimited.

Eldee Young and Isaac Holt formed the rhythm section of the Ramsey Lewis Trio in the early sixties. They broke away to start their own band and took Soulful Strut to #3 in the R&B charts in 1969.  The track next appeared as a cover by George Benson on his 1977 album ‘Livin Inside Your Love' while the Young Holt original went on to feature on more than twenty compilations over a twenty five year period.  In addition, it also appeared on the soundtrack of the 1998 movie, ‘The Parent Trap'.

"Soulful Strut"

[song written by Eugene Record and Sonny Sanders]

Most recently this tune has enjoyed airplay courtesy of the late Grover Washington JNR and the 1996 CD from Warner Records of the same name.  However, enthusiasts of a certain generation will remember the original version by Young Holt Unlimited.

Eldee Young and Isaac Holt formed the rhythm section of the Ramsey Lewis Trio in the early sixties. They broke away to start their own band and took Soulful Strut to #3 in the R&B charts in 1969.  The track next appeared as a cover by George Benson on his 1977 album ‘Livin Inside Your Love' while the Young Holt original went on to feature on more than twenty compilations over a twenty five year period.  In addition, it also appeared on the soundtrack of the 1998 movie, ‘The Parent Trap'.

Normally this would be the end of the trail but in this case, it only represents an interesting turn in the road.  As is commonly known ‘Soulful Strut' is an instrumental.  However, a few months before Young Holt Unlimited took the recording into the charts, Chicago based Barbara Acklin had a hit on her hands with the vocal version of the same tune titled ‘Am I The Same Girl'.  Acklin was born in Oakland, California and moved to Chicago at the age of five.  She developed her vocal skills while singing gospel at Big Zion Baptist Church and, in 1966, joined Brunswick Records as a receptionist for producer Carl Davis, who was to make his name working with the Chi-lites and Gene Chandler.  She had a passion to record and persistently asked Davis to give her the big chance she was looking for.  He said he would but in the meantime encouraged her to develop her song writing skills.  This indirectly gave her a breakthrough as it brought her into contact with the legendary Jackie Wilson who heard an example of her work, ‘Whispers (Gettin Louder)', that she had co-wrote with David Scott, and recommended it to Davies.  It was recorded on August 8, 1966, went to # six in the R&B charts and # 11 on the pop listings in the fall of that year.  Her recording of ‘Am I The Same Girl', also on Brunswick, reached #33 in the R&B charts and #79 in the pop listings.

Barbara Acklin went on to have an extremely successful performing and writing career.  Her compositions with Brunswick stable mate Eugene Record of the Chi-Lites and co-writer of ‘Am I The Same Girl', set the tone for that groups success through the late sixties and early seventies.  ‘Have You Seen Her' settled at # one R&B and # three pop.  It earned the Chi-Lites their first gold record.  ‘Oh Girl' followed in the spring of 1972 while other Acklin/Record compositions for the Chi-Lites included ‘Stoned Out of My Mind' and ‘Toby', a double-sided hit single and the title track of a 1974 album.

‘Am I The Same Girl', as well as going on to figure on several compilations, also proved to be a cover version hit in the UK singles charts for Dusty Springfield.  More latterly it has been covered by Swing Out Sister on their 1991 release ‘Get In Touch With Yourself'.

Nearing the end of this musical journey the path is stained with sadness.  Grover Washington JNR. died in December 1999 only thirteen months after Acklin was heard doing a phone interview with Chicago cable TV host Royce Glamour from her Omaha, NE, home.  During the interview she said she was excited about working on material for her new album, and she also reported that she had a bad cold.  The following weekend she was rushed to a hospital where she passed away from pneumonia.  It was November 27, 1998 and she was fifty-four.  Nine months after that, at the age of fifty nine, Dusty Springfield also died.  All are sadly missed by music lovers everywhere.  Despite all that ‘Am I The Same Girl' lives on.  It appears on the 1999 album by the excellent Kim Waters, ‘One Special Moment'. 

A real Smooth Soul Survivor.

By Denis Poole

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