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Mickey Murray – 1970 – People Are Together

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Throughout the sixties, Mickey Murray made a name for himself as a hard working entertainer viewed by many as a cross between James Brown and Otis Redding. He held a regular gig with Dyke and The Blazers on Broadway in NYC, toured with Wilson Pickett and The Staple Singers, and also performed sporadically with the queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. All of his hard work finally paid off (though not financially) when he recorded his first single, Shout Bamalama in late 1967. It sold a million copies! In 1969 Murray was signed to King Records. The label was preparing for the inevitable loss of James Brown. Since they obviously couldn’t afford to sign another act of Brown’s caliber, they decided to develop their own. Mickey was groomed by the label to become their next superstar act. He recorded People Are Together and they prepared to release it in 1970 on their Federal Records imprint. They chose the title track as the lead single. The response from most of the black DJs they relied on for support was that they wouldn’t play the song. Most of them feared that the song was far too racially provocative for a developing artist. In fact, many black DJs said they were concerned they’d lose their job if they played the track. It didn’t take long at all for King to abandon the release. According to Murray, the record may have never actually been formally released in stores. 

A1 Fat Gal 2:15
A2 Try a Little Harder 2:37
A3 Ace of Spades 3:05
A4 Going Back to Alabama 2:12
A5 I Wanna See My Baby 3:14
A6 Money (That’s What I Want) 3:00
B1 People Are Together 3:05
B2 The Buzzard 3:07
B3 Explosive Population 1:52
B4 Fever 3:50
B5 I Found Out 2:10
B6 I Don’t Know Why 3:05

Any list of bona-fide One-Hit Wonders – whether on the Billboard Pop Top/Hot 100, R&B, Country or Adult Contemporary listings – will include Mickey Murray, whose only claim to national fame was a cover of the Otis Redding-penned rocker Shout Bamalama, which immediately brings to mind Little Richard and was one of the first songs recorded by Otis in 1961 billed as Otis Redding & The Pinetoppers.

That modest success led to an album titled “Shout Bamalama And Other Super Soul Songs” (SSS Int’l M-102) before the year was out. Produced by Bobby Smith for Shelby Singleton Productions.Unfortunately for Mickey, nothing else released could get him back on any national listings, including a single culled from the album, a cover of the 1962 Brook Benton hit, the Sibelius Williams-penned Hit Record b/w How Many Breaks Can One Heart Take? (SSS Int’l 727) early in 1968. Mickey  cut the original driving sides Sticky Sue and Mama’s Got The Wagon, this time sounding very much like James Brown in both voice and arrangement, but once again neither side resonated enough with Djs or juke-box players, never mind the record-buying public to get him charted nationally.

After a parting of the ways with Singleton, Mickey and Smith next turned to Federal Records, the early home of James Brown, but 3 singles released there into 1972 went nowhere. He also had his 2nd and last LP at Federal, 1971’s “People Are Together”.

One of the last great funk albums from King Records – a set recorded in the early 70s, but done with a crackling sharp sound that’s like the best late 60s James Brown albums for the label! Mickey Murray is from Augusta, GA – James Brown’s hometown – and his approach is similar to James’ at times, but it’s also got more of a southern funk groove too – a bit like the great combination you’ll hear in Lee Fields’ music, which is a perfect fit for the album’s raw, rootsy production! The record includes a great funky cut called “The Buzzard“, plus other nice ones like “Explosive Population“, “People Are Together“.

Mickey also became the lead with the 1970s Disco aggregation The Jungle Band, cutting sides like Marvellous and Love Make The World Go Round.
In the end perhaps part of his problem in not achieving greater commercial success was his choice of too many covers and trying too hard to sound like someone else.