Here’s another sweet soul must have album with very unique style.
Those who like groups like Black Ivory, Main Ingredient, Blue Magic, O’Jays or Stylistics, do not miss this one. It is special.
First Class, from Baltimore, only received sporadic play in the South and Midwest and next to nothing west of the Mississippi River. They were mainly popular in Philly, Jersey, New York City, and the Baltimore/Washington, D.C., area.
They recorded a few singles for Three Way, Today, Ebony Sound – most of them are including here as bonus – and then signed to All Platinum Records for their 1st album “Going First Class”
A1 This Is It 6:27
A2 Filled With Desire 3:45
A3 Me And My Gemini 6:25
B1 Lady Of The Evening 5:28
B2 I’ve Got You / No Room For Another 3:35
B3 Foxy Lady 4:06
B4 Let’s Make Love 4:08
1. What Is Life 4.01
2. What About Me 3.16
3. The Beginning Of The End 3.31
4. Don’t Know What You’re Doing 3.27
5. Baby (So Glad I’ve Got You) 4.20
6. Give Him Up 3.12
7. I Do 3.24
8. Nothing You Can Do 3.31
This is another fine contribution from our regular visitor Trakbuv who explains :
Here is a compilation of sorts of the great All Platinum outfit, First Class. It includes their 1976 LP, ‘Going First Class’ and an assortment of other tracks. It excludes their 1980 LP, ‘They Are First Class’. The tracks are of mixed quality, coming from several sources, but all very decent I feel. One source is the excellent ‘Battle Of The Bands’ CD featuring First Class & The Continental Four (highly recommended). I have used some of the inner sleeve notes to provide some background to this overlooked quartet.
“The group hailed from Baltimore and comprised Tony Yarborough and Harold Bell III (sharing leads), ably backed up by Fred M Brown and Sylvester Redditt. ‘What Is Life’ (Thereway 13778) was a marvellous first single, a dreamy slice of romantic philosophy. The next single, ‘What About Me’ (Today 1528), achieved a top 100 placing in the spring of ’74. A tender ballad, falsetto led, it featured a superb Bert De Coteaux arrangement. This was followed by a revival of The Unifics ‘The Beginning Of The End’ (Ebony Sounds) which reached no. 62 in the charts. The more orthodox slowie ‘Don’t Know What You’re Doing’ (Ebony Sounds 188) sadly didn’t do any over-the-counter business and First Class moved to New Jersey for their next releases.
Under staff writer/producer Tommy Keith, they came up with a strong debut album in 1976, ‘Going First Class’ (All Platinum 3018), from which two hit 45s were taken: ‘Me and My Gemini’ (All Platinum 2365) was an attractive, insidious mid-pace foottapper, followed by the similar ‘This Is It’ which also crept in the charts. I also have a soft spot for ‘Let’s Make Love’, a slightly funky beater featuring alternate falsetto/hard leads included on the LP. Around this time, they linked up with George Kerr and released the obscure ‘Softones & First Class Together’ LP on his own Park-Way International label. Despite some classy arrangements, this attractive collection didn’t sell – and neither did any of its 3 singles.
Their final release would appear to be back with All Platinum who issued ‘They Are First Class’ on Sugar Hill (255) in 1980.”
I hope that any lovers of sweet soul unfamiliar with the band will appreciate how wonderful and enduring these tracks are.
Listen up their wonderful 2nd single “What About Me”
Big thanks to Trakbuv for this great contribution introducing to most of us, a group which deserved to be more widely known. “Let the music play” as Barry White sang. These songs will touch your souls, brothers!
Groovy Emmanuel’s lessons on Soul and Funk continues : This is another fine chapter in the never ending story of east coast harmony soul music, as it came out in the 70’s. Black teenagers always had nothing but their voices to sing their hearts out. In this case, it is a new fusion of black rooted music that emerged from the 60’s and took shape in the 70’s under some heavenly vocal and instrumental arrangements made by some dedicated gentlemen like George Kerr, Tommy Keith and my goodness Norbert De Coteaux, the man responsible for the superb sound in the work of Main Ingredient, Marlena Shaw, the Manhattans, Linda Lewis and on and on and on… These men left some serious legacy for the next generation to deal with. It is no wonder that Sylvia Robinson of All Platinum marked another chapter of black culture in the late 70’s by introducing Rapper’s Delight to the world.