The Brockingtons – 1971 – The Brockingtons
Awesome funk/soul album. Simple as that.
Extremely rare early 70s album from Julius Brockington’s side group, featuring arrangements by a young Patrick Adams (later of P&P etc). Includes the often comp’d “I’ve Just Got To Know” and eight other tracks which range from smoothers to dancefloor groovers.
This is a @320 vinyl rip of the original Today Records Lp including covers.
A1. Never Forget Where Your Came From – 2:30
A2. Love World – 2:30
A3. Smackwater Jack – 2:35
A4. Jeremiah – 4:00
A5. Please Come Back – 3:50
B1. Eye Doctor – 4:10
B2. Natural Woman – 3:10
B3. I Just Got To Know – 2:30
B4. Pretty Thing – 3:30
Review by Trakbuv
“Julius Brockington was born in Pumphrey, a suburb of Anne Arundel County. Proficiency at saxophone, drums and the piano whilst still at school earned him the privilege to travel around the country with local group,”We Four Trio“. However, it was his vibrant style with the ivories that brought him recognition for a series of funky, noteworthy albums at the beginning of the 70s on the Today imprint. He later went on to become the head of the A & R Department for Perceptions Today Records in New York City. During these early years, it was the genius of Patrick Adams that oversaw his recorded output, and gave it that light-handed, but assured touch. On this record, he marshals as co-arranger with Julius, production duties being ably represented by Terry Philips and Maurice Irby, Jr. Five of the nine tracks were also written by Maurice, further displaying his tremendous talent. The album (TLP 1003) appears to date from around 1970-71, pre-dating his 1972 solo release ‘Sophisticated Funk’ (TLP 1006).
Having donned my cyber-magnifying glass and pipe, I am sorry to report that I still have no idea who the female lead is joining Julius, or indeed what relationship she is to him (if any). The only Ms Brockington I am familiar with is Sandy of ‘Girl in Distress’ fame, but she has a more forceful nature. The ‘Ms Brockington’ in this case has a curious vocal quality – a sort of mix of a misty Sandy Shaw and weaker Gloria Scott. Accompanying her flaky vocal styling with the much more aggressive approach of Julius would ordinarily ring alarm bells, but they generate a mystical, almost awkward magic that took me a while to adjust to. Once hooked, I was well and truly Paul Kelly’d (‘hogtied and collared’).
You may already be familiar with the track ‘I Just Got To Know’, either as their version, or Benny Johnson’s more soulful stance. Here, the duo work a joyful sweat, with the stabbing interjections of Julius providing the perfect cradle for the pleading ‘Ms B’. Phenomenal by any standards. The LP kicks off with the funky, brass-riddled ‘Never forget’, a seemingly obvious commercial lead track on the super-rare set, with ‘Ms B’ singing in a lower key than usual. My least favourite track.
The next track brings Julius to the fore with an awkwardly phrased number that works that magic so deftly. A major grower, setting the ethos for the platter. Carole King’s ‘Smackwater Jack’ is given a great vocal rendition by ‘Ms B’, but Julius is unwisely on a tight leash – shame. Then there are two ballads I am already familiar with: ‘Jeremiah’ and ‘Eye Doctor’. Both are featured on Debbie Taylor’s 1972 set, ‘Comin’ Down On You’, also released on the Today label (TLP 1007). Unfortunately for me, that is one of my all-time favourite LPs. So in trying to remain impartial, the tracks here have a very soulful (not dissimilar) treatment with Julius grinding out a bluesy organ-filled smoke and ‘Ms B’ injecting it with a wispy, brokendown melancholy. Very very nice, very very intoxicating.
‘Please come back’ – it took me a while to grapple with ‘Ms B’s’ lazy vocal pitching, to the extent that I wondered if the record was suffering from distortion. Whichever, it won me over with its wild jazzy infection – and has become one of my favourites. Another Carole King favourite with the soul fraternity, ‘Natural Woman’, is given a thoughtful arrangement making it so much more than a filler track. In a similar vein to ‘Jeremiah’, we have the rhythmically complex ‘Pretty thing’ to close off proceedings with assured aplomb.
Nikos has provided me with yet another gem that I may have glossed over if I wasn’t ‘forced’ to write this review. How this man manages to gather these lesser but equally important pearls from the soul shore is surely testament to a very discerning ear. Many thanks dear friend for another musical lesson gratefully received.”
Don’t forget to show some love and respect to Trakbuv for this amazing review, which is the only one available in the net.