William DeVaughn – 1974 – Be Thankful For What You Got
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Here is something really special for the weekend. Groovy Emmanuel sent me this vinyl and let’s see what Dusty Groove America says:
One of the undisputed masterpieces LPs of 70s soul! William De Vaughn may never be remembered for anything else – and the poor guy will always be mistaken for Curtis Mayfield by record shoppers everywhere – but he really out-Curtised Curtis on the super-dope original version of “Be Thankful For What You Got”, one of those righteous soul tunes that everybody knows, everybody loves, but which was recorded by an artist that nobody can remember. Get this one, and you’ll remember William De Vaughn as a genius for the rest of your life – not only for the full 7-minute version of “Be Thankful”,which has a great conga breakdown in the middle, but also for other original tunes like “Blood is Thicker than Water”, “You Can Do It”, and “Give the Little Man a Great Big Hand”. Very righteous, and with a deep soul groove that was hardly matched by other albums of the era!
This is a @320 vinyl rip of the original Roxbury Records LP including covers.
A1 Give The Little Man A Great Big Hand (5:35)
A2 We Are His Children (5:14)
A3 Blood Is Thicker Than Water (7:19)
A4 Kiss And Make Up (2:48)
B1 Be Thankful For What You Got (7:12)
B2 Sing A Love Song (3:26)
B3 You Can Do It (3:38)
B4 Something’s Being Done (3:44)
Review by Groovy Emmanuel
There is a load of great records by great artists over the years, but what about those who shined once in a lifetime and later on almost disappeared? Such is the story of this 1974 record by William DeVaughn. That and the thing that creativity is the mother of invention.
In 1972 William, a Washington D.C. native, was a salaried government employee, was 24 years old and the man could sing and more important could write songs. So, he entered Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, arranged a recording session and yes, even paid for it! But what a great session proved that to be. The core of TSOP was there, the great rhythm section of MFSB. in guitarist Norman Harris, drummer Earl Young, bassist Ron Baker, and vibist Vince Montana. Omega Sound Inc vice-president and Sigma Sound Studios president Frank Fioravanti was impressed with the record and began shopping it around to various labels. Finally the 45 produced by Fioravanti and arranged by John Davis was issued in Wes Farrell’s Roxbury label in 1974. Wes had started his Chelsea (remember New York City) and Roxbury labels with that in mind: To release great records by artists like William De Vaughn or New York City. Oh dear, lucky us.
The 45 sold over a million copies in the summer of 1974, and over the years it became something like a legend. It was that catchphrase: “Diamond in the back, sunroof top, digging the scene with a gangster lean” that set the pace in the years to come. Lyrics understood or misunderstood about those who actually had those “great, big Cadillacs”, William himself once said that he was talking to the ordinary working folks, the ones who “might not have a car at all.” After all brothers, just listen for yourselves! And enjoy.
Forgot to tell you the title of the 45! “Be Thankful For What You Got” parts 1 and 2, Roxbury Records BR B0-0236. reaching #1 on the U.S. R&B charts and #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, selling a million copies, with a sound and content influenced by Curtis Mayfield, its simple and encouraging lyrics hit home, to the extent that it became featured on gospel radio stations.
Roxbury finally released the album titled after the 45, featuring mostly songs of an overtly religious character, and the second single, “Blood Is Thicker Than Water”, made the R&B top ten and the pop top fifty later in 1974; “Give the Little Man a Great Big Hand” had minor success early the next year. On stage, William DeVaughn used to almost preach to his audience and furthermore to admonish it. Lyrics and texts are almost biblical influenced and yes, someone can easily get down with some of the greatest moments of smoothness ever waxed on a piece of vinyl. And sometimes you can find yourself wondering, is that a TSOP record? Yes it definitely is! Such a great studio, such a great pack of some really great musicians in just to sound as anything good can ever sound.
But later on William seemed to lose interest in the music industry, and began working in a record store and again as a draftsman. And suddenly in 1980 he released the album “Figures Can’t Calculate” on TEC, which included the title song, a minor R&B hit and a remake of “Be Thankful for What You Got”. Yet again..
Just for conclusion, let’s hear what Earl Young, the great drummer of MFSB, said once about TSOP: ” I think that the Philadelphia Sound is so unique, because we were like family, we recorded like family. Everybody knew everybody in the studio, it wasn’t just about making records. And yes, it is me playing in Cliff Noble’s The Horse (a sixties classic) and Van McCoy’s The Hustle (a seventies disco anthem), and William DeVaughn’s Be Thankful. And The Village People!. And many many more.” Yes brothers, music is definitely a wheel spinning endlessly, no matter what style it is, as long as it is rocking us eternally.
And always have that in mind: “You may not have a car at all. But remember, brothers and sisters, you can still stand tall. Just be thankful for what you’ve got.”
It’s also worth listening the killer 12 inch version of this classic song and check you tube for the disco version as well.