William DeVaughn – 1974 – Be Thankful For What You Got

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William DeVaughn Be Thankful For What You Got front cover

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.

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Conversation for album: William DeVaughn – 1974 – Be Thankful For What You Got

  • Loïc
    Posted at 17:54h, 10 April 2009 Reply

    Three times DOPE!

  • Trespass
    Posted at 22:13h, 10 April 2009 Reply

    Fantastic!!!! Killer song & album!

  • music monk
    Posted at 22:26h, 10 April 2009 Reply

    I have just listened to the youtube clip and it sounds great, Can’t wait to hear more! Thank you!

  • Robert
    Posted at 00:48h, 11 April 2009 Reply

    wicked!! thanks a lot for this!!

  • jean paris
    Posted at 06:06h, 11 April 2009 Reply

    a pure classic…thanks dude…and thx to groovy emmanuel

  • FuNkAdeLiC
    Posted at 10:52h, 11 April 2009 Reply

    Diamond In the back, sun roof top…diggin the scene with a gangsta lean. CLASSIC CRUISING MUSIC…thanks to all those who made this post happen =)

  • phatrapper
    Posted at 11:03h, 11 April 2009 Reply

    Thanks Nikos! much appreciated!

  • javi
    Posted at 12:01h, 11 April 2009 Reply

    so cool ……………….Is brother curtis Mayfield

  • JTF
    Posted at 16:47h, 11 April 2009 Reply

    I am thankful!

  • robert
    Posted at 16:57h, 11 April 2009 Reply

    I just heard about this artist from a pal a few weeks back. Totally digging the youtube’s but no dice on finding this locally…yet.


  • Trakbuv
    Posted at 17:18h, 11 April 2009 Reply

    Groovy does it again – finds a major plothole in FunkMySoul !! Wonderful post – can definitely see where you got the nickname ‘Groovy’. Great words as well for an exquisitely charming LP that outdoes Curtis for being a gentle giant of a record. Still a major soft spot for ‘Give the little man’ since this is one of the first records I heard on a Soul Radio Show I’d discovered back in ’74.

    I am fortunate to own the CD (which includes his followup LP) and it contains a bonus cut from 1974. Not sure whether it came from these sessions, or was a B-side. I include it here for anyone interested.

    Title : “You gave me a brand new start” – a nice uptempo mover


  • Son
    Posted at 20:46h, 11 April 2009 Reply

    Absolutely Stunning!!!! Thank you.

  • larry
    Posted at 00:13h, 12 April 2009 Reply

    thanks nikos!

  • Dr.Jekyl
    Posted at 00:37h, 12 April 2009 Reply

    Damn Nick, this song is awesome!

  • Alice
    Posted at 00:39h, 12 April 2009 Reply

    You Have All The Good Memories. Love You..

  • Forty
    Posted at 11:59h, 12 April 2009 Reply

    Ohhh! Great post niko!

  • Soul is the Music
    Posted at 19:17h, 12 April 2009 Reply

    Except the classic title track there’s another killer tune – a favourite of mine – ‘Give The Little Man A Great Big Hand’. Thanx for sharing another masterpiece with us. Don’t miss it brothers. Great review Groovy Emmanuel…..

  • Bobby
    Posted at 20:17h, 12 April 2009 Reply

    Beautiful disco version! Really takes it’s time. Thank you so much.

  • DJSilk
    Posted at 21:28h, 12 April 2009 Reply

    Great! Pure Coolness.

  • 92bpms
    Posted at 07:25h, 13 April 2009 Reply

    Wow, this is beautiful stuff. Funk my Soul… to each and every contributor thanks so much for your hard work.

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 09:29h, 13 April 2009 Reply

    thanks man, good pick.

  • Sara
    Posted at 12:34h, 13 April 2009 Reply

    Thank you, beautiful music to my ears. I am 18 and exploring soul-funk music from my daddy’s old vinyl.

  • Amenovis
    Posted at 20:55h, 13 April 2009 Reply

    Wonderful post! William DeVaughn’s ‘Be Thankful..’ is one of the finest albums to come out in 1974. Just gets better and better with each listening and the title song is fantastic. Later covered by Massive Attack among others. Still play it on my sets. A classic groove still sounds fresh. I love your blog. Keep up the great work.

  • Jeff
    Posted at 09:39h, 14 April 2009 Reply

    This is a beautiful, delicious lp. I really can’t get enough of these records. Thank you Groovy & Niko.

  • hopalong
    Posted at 10:20h, 14 April 2009 Reply

    thanks nikos. never heard the whole album before. a thing of beauty is a joy for ever.

  • ZZoRR
    Posted at 14:02h, 14 April 2009 Reply

    Congratulations for the superb post and record. Respect! Peace to yall!

  • Songbird
    Posted at 09:07h, 15 April 2009 Reply

    Thank You very much for sharing a classic!! I often wondered what the album was like. After 35 years, I can finally get the opportunity to listen and own a copy of the album. “I’m Thankful!”

  • manny
    Posted at 07:14h, 17 April 2009 Reply

    thanks for posting

  • Radek
    Posted at 23:56h, 17 April 2009 Reply

    A really groovy album. Thanks a lot!

  • Jonathan
    Posted at 17:52h, 19 April 2009 Reply

    I’ll add this to my best albums collection. Million thanks.

  • Sonar
    Posted at 05:35h, 20 April 2009 Reply

    OMG…I can’t believe this! The Spaced Invaders dropped “Be thankful” in front of 4000+ people this weekend and every person at that party got down to this. Talk about some timeless soul classics!

  • whoknows
    Posted at 22:10h, 21 April 2009 Reply

    huh! thought that it was curtis’s tune…learnin something new everyday. Thanks for introducing this great SOUL MAN to me!

  • perri
    Posted at 05:07h, 25 April 2009 Reply

    I have the original on my mp3 player. But, I hadn’t heard the disco version until now. Thanks!

  • vaios
    Posted at 01:26h, 26 April 2009 Reply

    great soul voice and sound! jewels must be shown to everyone! thanks!!

  • onejazzyman
    Posted at 12:42h, 01 May 2009 Reply

    Excellent album. Thanks for posting!

  • mo
    Posted at 20:01h, 01 May 2009 Reply

    OMG! Been searching for years to find thid classic album. THX a million!

  • Double
    Posted at 19:49h, 08 May 2009 Reply

    Wow. I got to this too late. Anyone able to re-up this gem? Would really like to have this to listen to. “Be Thankful…” has always been one of my favorite songs of all time. Never heard the entire album though.

  • Double
    Posted at 06:15h, 10 May 2009 Reply

    Thank you very much for the re-up. It’s very much appreciated. Can’t wait to hear this.

  • yodasbestmate
    Posted at 14:34h, 11 May 2009 Reply

    Diggin the scene with the gangster lean! – Nice one Nikos!


  • Eddy
    Posted at 20:43h, 09 June 2009 Reply

    Incredible song! Been listening to it every other day for the past month!

  • Geewiz
    Posted at 02:55h, 12 July 2009 Reply

    This is a true classic!!!!

  • Funky1
    Posted at 08:48h, 08 October 2009 Reply

    Thank you very much. I love this LP!

  • Ricardo
    Posted at 16:17h, 30 December 2009 Reply

    Absolute stone classic album. Everybody should have this. Thanks Nikos, super share!

  • ednom
    Posted at 05:13h, 07 March 2010 Reply

    just a quick word of thanks to u guys, and to think that that such an old link still works, just shows how attractive ur blog is and how many people appreciate and make use of it

  • Lars Swede
    Posted at 00:42h, 22 May 2010 Reply

    Bought this record today for just 10 swedish kr , 1 us dollar, ex condition. Suprised how good this record is.

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