The Softones – 1973 – The Softones
Here we are again with a special guest post from brother Vincent The Soul Chef . I suppose most of you know him from his amazing work in Fufu Stew Blog. A vinyl collector and a true music lover who explains :
Greetings from Fufu Stew, or as I like to say, Hello, kiddies.
It is a pleasure and a privilege for me to be able to come to you with this special guest post. I have been a fan of everything that Nikos has done here as well as his stellar work at Lost In Tyme, so when I saw the posts that he did for the Whatnauts, it only made sense to me to add another fine Baltimore act to the mix. Being a lifelong resident of Baltimore makes this guest post all the more special so without further ado, I bring to you one of my all time favourite albums from arguably the best sweet Soul group of Charm City, The Softones. This is their self titled release from 1973 as issued on Avco Records which has been a staple in my crates ever since I was a young child…
This is a perfect @320 vinyl rip of the original Avco Records including covers. Never released on CD (do not confused with their Greatest Hits Cd with the same cover).
A1. The First Time 3.30
A2. Everybody Knew But Me 3.00
A3. Can’t Help Falling In Love 2.52
A4. Extra Ordinary People 2.54
A5. I’m Gonna Prove It 3.15
B1. Why Why Baby 5.18
B2. And I Remember Your Face 3.04
B3. Never Let A Woman Like That Go By 4.07
B4. My Dream 3.15
Now, this debut album is also one of my favorite soul albums ever. Furthermore, I agree with Vincent that The Softones was the best Sweet Soul Group From Baltimore (The Whatnauts and First Class are coming next). I was after this rare vinyl for a long time and finally last year put my hands on it.I almost like every tune on it but my fav songs are : “The First Time”, Everybody Knew but Me” and “My Dream”.
Since there’s no review for this album anywhere, here’s a part of a review of their Greatest Hits album which is very interesting and partly true:
As has been previously stated, there is much good music on this cd, so I will not expand on that. When the question(s) arise as to the reasons the group did not attain greater recognition and commercial success, in the writer’s opinion, I have a big question? Based on the talent of the group, their style, such a quality lead tenor, why didn’t the group end up being produced by the premier architects at that time of “East Coast Soul”, who were succesfully producing groups of this type….. the powers at Philadelphia International Records, or the likes of Thom Bell (Delfonics, Stylistics, Spinners, amongst others), Norman Harris, Vince Montana, etc., etc., etc., “The Philly Sound”? The importance of label and who produces a group is HUGE! The heart & soul of this group was East Coast sweet soul. For a group with this kind of talent, how not Philly, and the aforementioned legends??? As to why not? The writer doesn’t know. This group, placed in the hands of Thom Bell, or Gamble & Huff, what could have been!
The Softones are a “sweet soul” group from the city of Baltimore, Maryland. Their biggest hits were: “My Dream”, “Can’t Help Falling in Love”, “I’m Gonna Prove It”, “Carla My Love”, and “That Old Black Magic”. They recorded for the Avco Records record label, in the early to mid 1970s. They were a very underrated singing group, whose initial breakout recordings were blessed with superb production. A single listen to the lush production of “My Dream” transforms you to another place, a magical kingdom, with the majestic use of strings and French horns that is this tune’s opening signature… in the same fashion as Thom Bell’s early arrangements for The Delfonics, the song “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” as an example. Lead singer Marvin Brown’s high falsetto, similar to that of Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey, only higher and smoother and almost as instantly recognizable. Also in the group are Steven Jackson and Elton Lynch. To this date, they are still together and still singing.
Like The Stylistics, The Softones were also produced by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore, Joseph E. Levine, and the late Van McCoy, whose orchestra, comprising the top New York session players of the era, served as the house band for many of these Avco recordings.
Listen up my beloved “The First Time”
I like to thank Vincent The Soul Chef for this excellent contribution, for one of the most underrated soul groups ever. Enjoy and let’s see your replies on the post and album and of course show your love to brother Vince.
You can also get their 1977 Black Magic album here