King Floyd 1969 – A Man In Love (1971 Heart Of The Matter)
By Dan Phillips
New Orleans native King Floyd, III, grew up in the intense, post-WWII musical atmosphere of the city, which was heavily laden with the heady rhythm and blues and early rock ‘n roll that changed the world. Deciding to become a singer at an early age, he was inspired not only by seeing and hearing the likes of Earl King, Ernie K-Doe, and Irma Thomas in their early days, but by national stars like Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson.
While still a teenager in the early 1960’s he got his first gigs on Bourbon Street, but soon was in the military. Upon his discharge, he began singing professionally again, not in his hometown, but in the New York City area, and working on his songwriting, learning the ropes from such masters as Don Covay and J. J. Jackson. He then moved on to Los Angeles to seek his fortune, arriving in the mid-1960’s and encountering a number of New Orleans expatriates in the business there, including producer, arranger, musician Harold Battiste, whom he knew from back home. Battiste’s connections got Floyd into the LA scene; and the young singer soon recorded his first single, “Walkin’ and Thinkin’” b/w “Why Did She Leave Me?”, released on Original Sound. From there he was able to get an album deal with Pulsar, again with the help of Battiste, who also produced and arranged on the project. The result, A Man In Love, was issued in 1969.
In 1971 VIP (Motown) re-issued it as, Heart Of The Matter, that was put out to cash in on King Floyd’s new popularity when “Groove Me” hit. As good as the album is, with Floyd writing or co-writing (two with Mac Rebennack!) every song on it and singing well throughout, it does not really reveal anything of the soulful funk that he would pursue in the 1970’s. Floyd’s direction on his first LP was more of a soul/pop sound with a definite Motown influence. I find his songwriting ability to be surprisingly well-developed and consistent on his first full-length effort. Surely, Harold Battiste’s hand in developing the record and doing the arrangements had much to do with the over-all quality of the finished product.
Although I have no session information on this album, it is likely that there are some New Orleans musicians on it, as Battiste had access to a pool of HOTG talent that had re-located to the West Coast; but, despite its positives, A Man In Love, was not promoted and did not sell. And after spending a while longer in California with no more recording opportunities forthcoming, performing sporadically, and writing for other artists such as Alvin ‘Shine’ Robinson and Jane Mansfield (?!), King Floyd moved back home, soon to begin the more successful phase of his career.
Enjoy this nice bit of up-tempo soul and the smooth tenor voice of a young man getting his first big break. And, by the way, what’s up with that puffy shirt?