New Smooth Soul Survivor - "Love Don't Love Nobody"

Spinners

Soul Tracks is indebted to BK Scholfield from New York City for his recommendation of ‘Love Don't Love Nobody' as the latest in this series of Smooth Soul Survivor's.  The track originally appeared on The Spinners 1974 album ‘Mighty Love' and was written by Joseph B. Jefferson and Charles Simmons who, together with Bruce Hawes, became a massive songwriting presence in the annals of early 70's Philly soul.

Spinners

Soul Tracks is indebted to BK Scholfield from New York City for his recommendation of ‘Love Don't Love Nobody' as the latest in this series of Smooth Soul Survivor's.  The track originally appeared on The Spinners 1974 album ‘Mighty Love' and was written by Joseph B. Jefferson and Charles Simmons who, together with Bruce Hawes, became a massive songwriting presence in the annals of early 70's Philly soul.

In fact Jefferson was a ‘discovery' of Philly arranger/songwriter/producer Thom Bell with whom he got his first writing chance and who introduced him to Hawes and Simmons.  In so doing Bell forged a collaboration that resulted in the O'Jay's smash hit ‘Brandy', numerous compositions for The Spinners through the seventies and three of the bands number one R & B hits, (‘Mighty Love, Part 1', ‘One of a Kind (Love Affair)' and ‘(They Just Can't Stop It) Games People Play').  Other Jefferson-associated songs included the "steppers cut" ‘Aiming at Your Heart' from the Temptations Thom Bell produced ‘The Temptations' and the title track from ‘Jealousy', the 1976 LP by former Delfonics member Major Harris.

Of course The Spinners were the greatest soul group of the early '70s and created a body of work that defined the lush, seductive sound of Philly soul.  This was a golden age and, at the time ‘Mighty Love' was released, Thom Bell was already riding high from the Grammy nomination he had received in the category of Producer of the Year for his work on The Spinners previous, (self titled), collection.  Infused with a mix of seductively scored slow jams and stylish mid-tempo grooves ‘Mighty Love' proved to be another masterpiece and the first single from it to make the charts was the briskly paced title song.  Although it was quickly followed by the Thom Bell composition ‘I'm Coming Home', the real blockbuster was the seven minute plus ‘Love Don't Love Nobody' which peaked at number four on the R&B chart in the fall of 1974.  Just as with ‘Mighty Love', the flip side of ‘Love Don't Love Nobody' was a continuation (‘Part 2') of side one and this elongated version picked up extensive radio play.  Later the tune would again become popular on radio as a track from the 1993 Luther Vandross release ‘Never Let Me Go' but, in terms of artists who clamored to cover this heart-wrenching smoker, it was Ken Boothe who got there first.  Often described as Jamaica's answer to Wilson Pickett, Boothe enjoyed considerable success throughout what was termed the ‘rock steady' era.  Even though he made ‘Love Don't Love Nobody' part of his 1974 album ‘Blood Brothers' the collection remained a secret of his native island for some years.  In fact it wasn't exposed beyond those shores until four years later when Trojan Records marketed and distributed it in the United Kingdom.

Jazz pianist Gene Harris was the next to recognize the magic of ‘Love Don't Love Nobody' when including it on his 1976 Blue Note release ‘Nexus'.  Heavily influenced by Oscar Peterson, his soulful style made Harris one of the most accessible players of his time and another soulful performer with interest piqued by ‘Love Don't Love Nobody' was the wonderful Jean Carn.  Lifted as a single from her 1981 project ‘Sweet and Wonderful' it went on to attain #35 on the R&B chart of that year.

Otis Clay is an artist famous for his refusal to change with the times.  As R&B audiences began to embrace disco Clay stuck with the type of raw, ‘in your face', soul that had first put him on the map. Although from Chicago, Clay's approach always had ‘Memphis' written all over it and in 1983 was very much in his prime when recording the magnificent ‘Live In Japan'.  Among such treasures as ‘Holding On To A Dying Love' and Al Green's ‘Here I Am (Come and Take Me)' was his own special take on ‘Love Don't Love Nobody'.  It is a version that completely eschews the sleek production values of the original which are replaced with Clay's own brand of Southern style soul.

As the nineties ushered in enticing synergies between soul and the newly fashionable sound of urban contemporary, one artist to make the most of it was former Montclairs member Phil Perry.  His 1991 release on Capitol, ‘The Heart of the Man', got him noticed as both a solo recording artist and session vocalist and his 1994 follow up, ‘Pure Pleasure', included his own mammoth seven minutes and forty eight seconds version of ‘Love Don't Love Nobody'.  Over time Perry has became a ‘go to' featured vocalist for a clutch of performers from the world of contemporary jazz and it's from this genre that our final link to ‘Love Don't Love Nobody' can be found.  Maryland born saxman Kim Waters is one of the most soulful players around and his 2001 project ‘From The Heart' features a particularly cool interpretation of ‘Love Don't Love Nobody'.  Later, his label Shanachie kept the tune on the Smooth Soul Survivor radar screen with its inclusion on the seductive compilation from 2007, ‘Quiet Storm - Soul Jams'.

If you know of a great track that is worthy of being a ‘Smooth Soul Survivor' then let Denis Poole know about it at denispoole2000@yahoo.com.

 

 

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