Sir Joe Quarterman & Free Soul – 1973 – Sir Joe Quarterman & Free Soul
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Although the first track comes off as derivative of early ‘70s James Brown, this album is symbolic of the straight, tight funk that defined the early ‘70s. The only difference is that this album is more-or-less unknown even in funk circles. To my knowledge, this is Quarterman’s only full LP release and it was considered a lost album up until very recently. Quarterman is also representative of the bum deal that so many black musicians got back in the day.
This album is clearly a classic on first listen. Its quality is undeniable. Unlike most funk albums in particular, which tend to stack the tunes at the beginning, this album doesn’t really reach it’s stride until the socially conscious third number, “The Trouble with Trouble“.
“I’m Gonna’ Get Me a Friend Some Day” is a certifiable party climax. Good times.
Joe Quarterman was an unfairly overlooked funk and soul singer influenced by — but not imitative of — James Brown. Honing his chops in church choirs and various vocal groups, Quarterman earned the nickname “Sir” in high school while singing with a group called the Knights; he subsequently joined up with a female backing quartet as Sir Joe & the Maidens and cut a few records during the early ’60s. Quarterman went on to play trumpet in the El Corols (aka the Magnificent Seven), whose highest-profile gig came as Garnet Mimms‘ backing band. In 1970, after playing jazz with the Orlando Smith Quintet, he formed a backing group called Free Soul, which featured lead guitarist George “Jackie” Lee, jazz-trained guitarist Willie Parker, fretless bassist Gregory Hammonds, keyboardist Karissa Freeman, drummer Charles Steptoe, and horn player Leon Rogers.
Their first single, “(I Got) So Much Trouble in My Mind“, was also their biggest, reaching the R&B Top 30 in early 1973. Quarterman’s only LP, Sir Joe Quarterman & Free Soul, was released later that year on the small GSF label, and showed Quarterman to be an avatar of the kind of hard, socially conscious funk James Brown often recorded during the early ’70s. Further singles followed, including “This Girl of Mine (She’s Good to Me)“, “I’m Gonna Get You” and “Thanks Dad“, before Quarterman moved to Mercury in 1974. Unfortunately, the label issued only two singles, the fine “Get Down Baby” and “I’m a Young Man,” before letting Quarterman go. Financial problems broke up the band, and Quarterman quit the business to return to college and earn his degree in architecture.
Collectables reissued Quarterman’s lone album on CD during the ’90s, adding several non-LP singles as bonus tracks and Soul Brother on 2007, features a plethora of bonus cuts including some non-album sides like ‘Thanks Dad‘, ‘This Girl of Mine‘, ‘Get Down Baby‘, ‘I’m a Young Man‘ and the brilliant and often sampled ‘I’m Gonna Get You‘, plus three previously unreleased tracks including ‘How High‘.
A Great album which still sounds incredibly fresh, spunky and funky!.