Quin Ivy And His Norala And Quinvy Studios, Part 5 – 1968 – Atco drop South Camp but Ivy opens his new studio plus a Nashville office.
So then to 1968 and to that “Take Time To Know Her” track cut by Percy Sledge on 8 January that year, the only song recorded at that particular session and the first ever Quinvy session for Barry Beckett (essentially beginning his spell as keyboards replacement for the great Spooner Oldham). The song was superb and the story behind it fascinating.
A certain Nashville music-man called Bob Wilson had been doing regular arranging and producing for John R’s Sound Stage 7 outlet and had also taken Joe Simon (then on that label) to the Shoals to record. Somehow Wilson came into contact with a 17 year old Nashville songwriter called Steve Davis, who was in the habit of using a fake ID to pretend he was older than he was just so he could make a few bucks playing bass in a Go-Go Club in Nashville’s Printer’s Alley. Davis had crafted a song back in 1967 in his room at his parents’ house at about 3.30 one morning and believed it would be right for Percy Sledge. In late 1967, Wilson and Karl Himmel recorded Davis on a now long-lost demo of his song “Take Time To Know Her” and, in pitching this to Quin Ivy, the young Davis introduced Wilson to Ivy too. As they always say on these occasions “the rest is history”. Ivy loved the song, Sledge loved the song and the public certainly loved it as well, the record easily becoming Percy’s biggest crossover hit since “Warm And Tender Love”. Coupled with June 1967’s “It’s All Wrong But It’s Alright” on Atlantic 2490, the song entered both national charts in March ’68, making No.6 on the R&B chart and a rewardingly high No.11 on the Pop chart. What’s more, the disc stayed a full 12 weeks on the R&B listing and an amazing 14 weeks on the Hot 100, even ‘outlasting’ “When A Man Loves A Woman” on that particular chart. Of course this big hit also lent itself to then becoming the title-track of Percy’s aforementioned fourth LP (see later re its issue).
Percy’s great recording of “Take Time To Know Her” is always worth another ‘play’ but by way of variation we feature here a fine 6-minute version of his own song by Stephen Allen Davis (to give him his full name), cut when he was 45 years old and taken from his 1995 CD “The Light Pink Album” (Core 9460-2), recorded in Davis’ own home, then situated in Pinecliff, some 9000ft up in the Colorado Mountains.
Ivy was no doubt impressed with Davis’ song but he was also impressed with Bob Wilson’s work on the demo and his record-biz credentials, especially his work for John R, and Ivy soon decided he could find a use for Wilson’s services. Wilson tells us he brought some further songs to Quinvy and some Nashville-based artists too (although he doesn't name them). One thing was for sure, whilst Wilson genuinely appreciated Quin Ivy’s interest in him, he was not too enamoured of the old 104 E Second Street studio and, frankly one can see why from his description here:
“It had been a shoe store at one time and it was just one big room. It really didn't look anything like a studio inside – it (still) looked like a big empty store (but) with a drum kit set up and some mikes here and there. And they only had an old monaural (one track) Ampex tape recorder that I was told came out of a radio station somewhere. Everybody else at the time had at least a stereo 2-track tape recorder, while the cutting-edge studios had 4-track tape recorders (as Quin's new studio would have later on); but, at that time, the entire R & B record business was all AM radio, which was not stereo, like FM radio is, so, it didn't matter if the recording was done on a stereo tape recorder or not, because your final mix was cut as monaural for AM radio play. So all the 45's were monaural. But it was very inconvenient to record on a monaural tape recorder as you had to have all the musicians there at the same time - and the vocalist and background vocalists - because you couldn’t go back later and ’over dub’ anything. But the sound was good, and more importantly, they were cutting hits there."
Six days after Sledge’s 8 January session, Quin Ivy would be attending another of those major Atlantic promotional ‘bashes’, this time held between 14 and 17 January at the Nassau Beach Hotel in the Bahamas. However, it seems, whilst Atlantic were still content with Ivy’s work with Percy, they were now becoming less happy with the sales of Ivy’s Atco-distributed South Camp product (see shortly).
However, once back at his Alabama base, amongst other things, Ivy would have re-started his habit of also visiting Nashville regularly to conduct business on ‘Music Row’ and he now decided that he should also open a Quinvy Office in Music City USA itself, where he hoped the ‘Shoals effect’ would gain more visibility and credibility in an important strategic location so understandably full of its own musical significance. Quin had only one man in mind to run this office - the already Nashville-based and aforementioned Bob Wilson, who readily agreed. The office was duly opened at 18th Avenue South, right in the heart of Nashville, and Wilson’s business card proudly proclaimed he was a manager within what Ivy now rather grandly termed the “Quinvy Music Corporation”.
Bob Wilson would play a significant role for Quinvy for some while and, as we shall see in the next Part, he was instrumental in 1969 in bringing Z.Z. Hill to record at what was then Ivy’s ‘new’ studio at 1307 Broadway.
It would be 2 months to the day from the cutting of Sledge’s “Take Time To Know Her” before the next recording session occurred at Quinvy, according to Ivy’s own records. It was Bill Brandon who breezed in once again on 8 March and, with his earlier South Camp release not selling all that well and his other May ’67 sides still sitting ‘in the can’ prior to what would be a much later release on Quinvy in 1970, presumably both Quin Ivy and his artist were hoping for something which would be at least a regional hit. In the event the main song recorded would become a collector’s classic but, again, it would neither see immediate release nor become a commercial success. The song in question was the remarkable “Rainbow Road”, which we’ve already discussed in the last Part when Don Varner made his never-issued original ‘cut’ of it in September ’67. (In addition to Arthur Alexander eventually getting round to recording the song, Joe Simon would cut it as part of his Fall-1969-recorded album “Better Than Ever” on Sound Stage 7 LP15008 and Percy Sledge would himself record it at Quinvy in August 1971 – see later Part). Quite why Brandon’s sublime performance of Penn and Fritts’ song did not see early release on an Ivy label is, like so much of Quinvy’s history, something of a mystery.
However, with Tony Borders’ South Camp 7009 forty-five (like all the others on that logo) failing to make any great sales impression by the beginning of 1968, it seems likely that Jerry Wexler decided, possibly as early as that Nassau convention, to pull the plug on South Camp as an Atco-distributed label, leaving rights both to the South Camp material and to the name itself with Ivy. (Note: a much later one-off South Camp 45 by Percy Sledge Junior – see later Part - was not distributed by Atco). If, as seems likely then, Atco/Atlantic were only continuing to support Ivy chiefly via the Percy Sledge connection, Quin must have been in something of a dilemma about whether to instantly release other good new product on his merely locally-distributed Quinvy logo or maybe wait until he or David Johnson could create interest from another label which had some national ‘clout’. In the event, Brandon’s Rainbow Road was soon picked up by Tower Records for issue in the latter half of ’68 on Tower 430, coupled with the only other song recorded by Brandon on 8 March 1968, namely the strong dancer, “You’ve Got That Something Wonderful”.
On 2 April, Tony Borders cut just the one track, Cornbread Woman, with some of the regular rhythm section but without need on this occasion of either horns or back-up singers. A song of mixed tempos, Borders made it plain (via its lyrics) that he was a good ole southern boy (a Cornbread Man) who, having been let down by a slick city chick, now needed a southern country gal (a Cornbread Woman) to truly satisfy his rustic needs. The theme was good but the overall effect wasn’t considered strong enough to warrant single release and the track stayed unissued until Charly’s 1989 “You Better Believe It!” LP (CRB 1223).
Borders would return within 10 days but, in the interim, Percy Sledge fitted a 3-day session from 9 to 11 April into his busy schedule. However, whilst “Got To See My Baby” from this session was simply left to gather dust, even the three other tracks put down, Percy’s take on Aretha and Carolyn Franklin’s “Baby Baby Baby” (which Aretha had included on her first Atlantic album), “Cotton Mill Man” and “Woman Of The Night” would all be re-recorded at sessions which wouldn’t be held until 19 and 20 August (see shortly) and only the re-recorded version of the last-named track would see release, much later, on Atlantic 2646, paired with Percy’s April 1969 cut, “Kind Woman” (see next Part). A version of “Baby, Baby, Baby” (which was apparently neither of the 1968-recorded versions but one recorded in a one-off session in September 1969 – see next Part) would eventually see CD release in 2006 on Atlantic/Rhino’s "Atlantic Unearthed: Soul Brothers" (8122-77625-2).
So to that 12 April Tony Borders session where three good tracks were put down. Borders’ version of “High On The Hog” may or may not have pre-dated the Demon Brothers’ issued version (which we now believe to have also been a 1968 recording – see last Part) but it was equally funky and boasted a fine tenor sax solo courtesy of Aaron Varnell; however this Borders track remained unissued until the aforementioned “You Better Believe It!” Charly LP. Charlie Rich’s old 1960 rockin’ hit “Lonely Weekends” got a potent, slightly funked-up treatment but Borders’ always-reliable vocals were of their usual high quality. Ivy and David Johnson would eventually manage to get this one onto a Uni 55180 single in the fall of 1969, coupled with the impassioned “You Better Believe It” (previously on South Camp 7009 but by then available for Ivy to do with as he pleased with Atco’s distribution deal well and truly ended).
The final track cut that April day in ’68 was a real winner aesthetically despite its Cheaters Never Win title! Certainly one of Borders’ finest moments, this was Penn/Oldham storyline deep country-soul of the highest order with some fine guitar fills from Eddie Hinton. Oldham was now no longer around to play piano on his fine song but Barry Beckett was more than equal to the task. The track was soon leased out to Revue who issued it as no.11025 that fall, coupled with the August ’67-recorded “Love And A Friend”.
On 13 April, the day after Borders’ session, the picture-ad featured here appeared in Billboard mentioning Percy Sledge’s big-selling “Take Time To Know Her” single and anticipating the release of the album named after it some two weeks hence. In the event, Sledge’s fourth LP would enter both the Billboard Top 200 Pop album chart and what was now the Top 50 R&B album chart on the same day, 25 May, spending 6 weeks on the Pop chart, peaking at No.148 and 10 weeks on the R&B chart, peaking at No.27.
When Cliff White and John Ridley were co-operating on that much-mentioned series of Charly LPs from 1989 which gave a first vinyl release to so many fine Quinvy recordings, they came across an ‘artist unknown’ tape in the Quinvy ‘vaults’ which some later detective work from John McGuigan showed to be a track by Joe Perkins. You can check on Joe’s label-hopping discography via his artist page on this web-site and it seems he stopped off at Quinvy at some point in 1968 (we have no session details) together with his then producer Audie Ashworth (of J.J. Cale fame) to cut the lovely country-soul ballad Think I’ll Go Somewhere And Cry Myself To Sleep. The result, coupled with “Movin’ In The Groove”, appeared on the Tennessee-based Nugget label (No.1029) and the somewhat optimistically-titled “Complete Library of American Phonograph Recordings” indeed confirms that this particular 45 was a 1968 release. The ‘A’ side had been penned in 1965 by country singer-songwriter Bill Anderson and in the Fall of that year Charlie Louvin had a sizeable country hit with it before Italian-American crooner Al Martino took it to No.30 on the national pop charts in the Spring of the following year. Apart from Perkins’ Quinvy-cut version, it would then revert to being a staple country ‘vehicle’ for the likes of Billy ‘Crash’ Craddock, Stonewall Jackson, Jack Greene, Jean Shepard and Connie Smith.
Now, we do not know exactly when in 1968 Quin Ivy opened his newly-built studio at 1307 Broadway; but what we do know is that there seems to have been a hiatus in recording at Quinvy between Borders’ 12 April session and the next known one, which was a Percy Sledge two-day session on 19 and 20 August. There could be a couple of reasons for this: on 4th April Martin Luther King had been assassinated not all that far away in Memphis and the nationwide rioting and unrest that followed would, by the time the worst was over, leave 46 people dead and over 3000 injured. Things were not helped by the backlash from black Vietnam military personnel who felt they were largely being ‘used’ by a white administration, at huge personal cost, to try to win an ‘unwinable’ war. Relationships between many whites and blacks became strained and white entrepreneurs like Quin Ivy who ‘benefitted’ chiefly from the sales of records by black artists received plenty of flak from the increasingly vociferous and militant black-based organisations, several of whom thought only black guys should run such businesses. Whilst the major unrest was confined to the bigger cities, the Shoals area situated in the racial-hotbed-State of Alabama would certainly not have been immune. Therefore, even though there had been both a Sledge and a Borders session at Quinvy immediately after King’s assassination, it could be that a further ‘cooling off’ period with no recording activity was necessary. However, four whole months without a single recording session seems excessive even given these special circumstances and I am therefore guessing (and it can only be a guess until more information comes to light) that the other reason for this was that maybe the ‘move’ to the new studio took place sometime during this period. I think added weight to this theory is given by the fact that much of Sledge’s material cut on April 9, 10 and 11 had to wait till his August dates before it could be re-cut when one would have expected that ‘remedial’ work to songs by such a major performer would have been undertaken much sooner. What’s more, the Quinvy session sheet for these August dates is the first-ever to indicate that three of the tracks put down were overdubbed just over a week later. You’ll note from Bob Wilson’s comments above that the old E. Second Street Studio used a single-track monaural recorder and that as a result no overdubbing was possible. It seems clear that Sledge’s August session was now being held in Ivy’s brand new studio with a 4-track recording facility, thus allowing for the luxury of overdubbing, when required.
Anyway, we shall work on this assumption unless and until new evidence emerges to the contrary and we will move on shortly to those 19 and 20 August ’68 Sledge sessions which we will choose to think of as the first to be held in Ivy’s new, much larger, purpose-built studio, situated in what was then a sparsely developed area on the fringes of Sheffield at 1307 Broadway, close to that street’s junction with E. State Street.
About a year later (this timing being based on a report in Billboard) Ivy would sell his old downtown studio at 104 E. Second Street to electrical engineer James Thomas and draughtsman Billy Cofield who, whilst retaining their non-music-related jobs, would re-build it into a four-track facility for their new Paradox venture. Ironically, this was the very same Billy Cofield who had played sax (one of the so-called ‘out-of-tune’ horns) on the original recording of Sledge’s “When A Man Loves A Woman”. Pre-Sledge, Cofield had been in the Del-Rays – he co-wrote their “Night Prowl” R&H side cut at Fame - and post-Sledge he’d played on many a Fame session, often alongside the fellow sax-man who had also featured on the original Sledge session, Don ‘Rim’ Pollard.
As Sledge was undertaking his 19 and 20 August sessions, his latest single “Sudden Stop” (recorded November 1967 – see last Part) was just beginning to move up the two national charts. Coupled with the even earlier (June 1967) recorded “Between These Arms”, this release, on Atlantic 2539, would nonetheless peak at only Nos. 41 (R&B) and 63 (Pop). As noted above, the August Sledge sessions saw re-recordings of three of the four songs he had first put down in April (see above) but they also threw up four new tracks. “Love Is Where Life Begins” would remain unissued at the time but Eddie Hinton and Donnie Fritts’ fine ballad You’re All Around Me would become the ‘A’ side of Sledge’s next single, coupled on Atlantic 2563 with Percy’s very acceptable cover of Bill Brandon’s May 1967-recorded South Camp 7006 side “Self Preservation”, Percy’s version having over-dubs added on 28th August. (Incidentally, it should be noted that string overdubs used on Quinvy recordings were usually done in either Memphis or Miami as there appears to have been no facility for hiring the requisite string players from within the Muscle Shoals area).
Despite the optimistic 12 October review in Billboard, this would prove to be Percy’s first-ever 45 to fail to crack either of the Billboard national charts, although it did manage to spend just 2 weeks in the lower reaches of the Cashbox Pop Chart towards the end of October and ‘bubbled under’ the Billboard Pop chart at No.109. Although Percy would go on to have two more Ivy-produced US Billboard hit singles in 1969 (see next Part), in truth, in terms of US national record sales, Sledge’s star was now definitely beginning to wane. However, Percy’s March 1967-recorded “My Special Prayer” had recently been released in South Africa where he was extremely popular and it was currently doing big business there as this clip from their pop chart from the Fall of 1968 shows.
This foreign success would be instrumental in seeing the song released on a US Atlantic 2594 forty-five in 1969 (see next Part), coupled with “Bless Your Little Sweet Soul” (see shortly, as this flip was recorded in October 1968) and the record would duly become one of those two final Ivy-produced US hit-singles.
The only other track recorded by Percy at his 19 and 20 August 1968 sessions was a melodic version of Bob Hilliard and Burt Bacharach’s 1962 hit for Chuck Jackson, “Any Day Now” (again over-dubbed on 28 August) and this would also become one of those 1969 US hits in April of that year (see next Part) when issued on Atlantic 2616 together with “The Angels Listened In” (more about this particular atypical Sledge performance shortly, as this flip-side too was recorded in October 1968).
Meanwhile, around August/September, Quinvy female back-up stalwart Jeanie Greene once again took solo honours on a 45 but this time under her own (married) name. Now, I have seen reports that her Sure As Sin Atco 6619 single was released after Elvis Presley had been duly impressed with her work as one of his main back-up singers. However, Jeanie did not begin to work with Elvis until his ‘come back’ venture at Chips Moman’s Memphis studio in 1969 and her own record was released and on the market by October 1968. It seems much more likely that co-writer and producer of the performance, husband Marlin Greene (who, via his work at Quinvy, would still have had connections with Joe Galkin and even Jerry Wexler) persuaded Atco to give the record a chance some months after Chess had declined to release the first non-demo (and arguably finest-ever) version of the song, cut by Laura Lee during her 2-week stint at Fame in January/February of that year. The song was certainly a great piece of deep storyline soul by Marlin Greene and Eddie Hinton, such that even as late as 1972, Rick Hall selected it for Candi Staton to record (again at Fame) as the pairing for her “In The Ghetto” hit (Fame 91000). So I am sure Mr and Mrs Greene both felt the song – and the very fine interpretation of it by Jeanie – was well worthy of major exposure, albeit, sadly, it would not result in a national hit.
There’s no doubt Hinton and Greene were pushing the song and felt there were writing (and publishing) royalties to be enjoyed from it. This is clear from Laura Lee’s own account of how she came to be the first to cut it. She did meet Eddie Hinton at Fame who, with Marlin Greene, wrote not only “Sure As Sin” but also “It’s All Wrong But It’s All Right”, both of which Laura cut at her early-1968 2-week session there. She says that, at the time, “he (Eddie) had brought in the songs for Rick (Hall), and Rick said this was the kind of stuff for me and I had no problem. Everybody was hustling to get an artist to sing their (Hinton and Greene’s) songs and they hung around the studio.” In fact, even though Laura’s “Sure As Sin” stayed in the can at the time, her version of “It’s All Wrong But It’s All Right” would eventually earn the Hinton-Greene duo a few pennies at it did finally appear on Laura’s “Love More Than Pride” retrospective LP which Chess issued in 1972 on CH 50031 after they had been taken over by the GRT Corporation, probably if only to ‘cash in’ on Laura’s then burgeoning success on the Hot Wax label. To my knowledge Laura’s “Sure As Sin” has only ever appeared on one Japanese P-Vine double-LP (“Uptight Good Woman” – P-Vine PLP 6017/6018) and on one (now known to have been unauthorised) Charly CD (“That’s How It Is” - Charly CD RED 27).
Anyway, returning to the then Mrs Greene, no-one should detract from what is a magnificent blue-eyed soul performance and easily the best solo recording she ever made – except perhaps for the flip-side of the same single (I’ve Been A Long Time Loving You, penned solely by husband Marlin) which, although a little pacier, is, to my ears, very nearly as good.
We are assuming that, as these sides were Marlin Greene productions, they were probably cut at Quinvy; however, it is clear that Marlin had begun to do more work for other studios now that Ivy had moved to 1307 Broadway and more or less installed David Johnson as his engineer and ‘main man’. Also, from Laura Lee’s report, it’s clear that Marlin hung around Fame a lot and of course Jeanie had already done back-ups and cut demos there. Hence, as there is no Ivy recording session sheet for this material and as Fame and Quinvy often still shared many of the same musicians at this time, it is indeed possible that it was cut at Fame, although Quinvy would still seem the more likely.
Jeanie Greene’s great singing ability was recognised by just about all who encountered her professionally and Bob Wilson was particularly impressed, describing her as “fabulous” and with a voice that was “one in a million.” He adds: “She was very demure and feminine and was really a ‘secret weapon’ down there. We all insisted that we had her on our sessions”.
What we might also mention at this point is that “Sure As Sin” wasn’t the only superb Hinton and Greene song to provide a vehicle for a stellar soul performance by a fine female vocalist. Sometime in 1968, Eddie would cut a very listenable demo of a song which it seems he and Marlin had co-penned perhaps with Joe Tex in mind. Joe didn’t cut the song but a certain famous blues-singer’s daughter would visit Quinvy from New York to turn it into a genuine ‘deep femme gem’ – but as the 45 on which the song would be released would not appear until 1969 and as we can’t be sure whether she cut it just before or just after the end of 1968, we’ll return to this particular story near the beginning of our next Part.
However, back in Sheffield, the next Quinvy session for which we have details fell to Tony Borders on 15 and 16 October. Jeanie Greene duly returned to back-up vocal duties along with Mary, Susan and Donna while the rhythm section comprised Hinton, Hawkins, Hood and Beckett. The Memphis Horns plus Ed Logan and Ronnie Eades were also in attendance. Borders would cut his second version of “Polly Wally Doodle” and it was presumably this one which would make it onto a Revue 11054 single, coupled with another song cut at the same time, namely the countrified “Gentle On My Mind”. Penn and Oldham’s fine ballad I Met Her In Church was also recorded at these sessions and that would see even earlier release on Revue 11040. However, this was paired with a reissue of August ‘67’s “What Kind Of Spell” (which had first appeared on South Camp 7009) rather than with the only other song to be recorded by Borders in October 1968, namely the ballad “A Nice Place To Visit”, which remained unissued until Charly’s “High On The Hog” CRB 1222 LP.
The next two days after Borders’ sessions (i.e. 17 and 18 October) saw that other top-drawer singer Bill Brandon cutting again at Quinvy (using the same fine rhythm section but now with no horns or back-up singers in evidence). Only three tracks were put down, including Bill’s take on Dr John and Jessie Hill’s soul-ballad She Knows What To Do For Me, which Ben E. King had cut at Quinvy for his Atco 6527 forty-five back in May 1967 and which also became a country hit for Loretta Lynn. Borders’ version was sparse, uncluttered and fairly countrified but it was all the more appealing for that. Sadly, like the other two tracks cut at these sessions, it remained unissued until that oft-mentioned series of Charly LPs appeared in 1989. Those other tracks were another fairly sparse version of Bacharach & David’s “What The World Needs Now” and a solid, if hardly original-threatening version of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” (the latter track alone having some horn and back-up-vocal overdubs added on 25 October).
The last session at Quinvy in 1968 for which we have details was a three-day stint from 21 to 23 October by Percy Sledge (there were probably others by local or lesser-known artists but without further documentary evidence we shall probably never know). We have already mentioned above two of the eight tracks put down by Percy on this occasion, namely “Bless Your Little Sweet Soul” and “The Angels Listened In”, both of which, as noted, became flip-sides of Atlantic singles. The former was an impressive-enough version of the deepish ballad its writer Al Johnson had earlier cut with added drama and in a somewhat higher register for Quin Ivy back in November 1967 and which had seen release on South Camp 7002. The latter was something of an anachronism – Percy’s take on a 1959 doo-wop hit for (Johnny Maestro &) The Crests on Coed 515. Percy takes the piece at exactly the same fairly fast pace as the original hit and really barely changes it at all (at time of writing you can see and hear The Crests performing it on You Tube).
A nice piece of deep-soul cut by Percy (though it had overdubs added later on 10 January 1969) was his version of Otis Redding’s “Keep Your Arms Around Me”, which had been written by O.B McClinton and submitted to Stax in 1964 while O.B. was still in college. Redding had cut his fine version on 20 January 1965 and it got included on his “…Sings Soul Ballads” Volt 411 LP, released in March of that year. Later in ’65 white Cajun-cum-blue-eyed-soulman Charles Mann would cut his own very good version at Huey Meaux’s studio for Lee Lavergne’s Lanor label (Lanor 524) which you can listen to here. I don’t believe Percy’s version saw release, although one discography shows it as a potential Sledge single but with no Atlantic issue number or flip-side.
Another unreleased track (which also received overdubs on 10 January 1969) was Percy’s version of the 1955-penned song “Let It Be Me”, originally a hit for Frenchman and co-author Gilbert Becaud, and later popularised by Jill Corey in 1957, the Everly Brothers in 1960 and soul duo Jerry Butler and Betty Everett in 1964. However, it was probably the summer 1967 hit-version by the Sweet Inspirations on Atlantic 2418 which prompted Percy to try his hand at this old favourite.
“Have A Little Faith”, which had been a minor pop hit for Epic’s David Houston in March that year, remained ‘in the can’, as did Percy’s version of a still-current Atlantic-group hit for the Bee Gees with “I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You” (Atco 6603), although this studio version by Percy would appear with intro and crowd overdubs on the 1970 South African Atlantic LP “Percy Sledge In South Africa” (ATC 9257). Another song cut at this session, Wanted, penned by writer/singer Jackie Avery, would appear (as recorded at Quinvy) only in 1971 on another Sledge South African LP, entitled “That’s The Way I Want To Live My Life” (Atlantic ATC 9364), an album kindly drawn to my notice by Greg Burgess, the cover scan of which has been provided by David Cole, editor of the excellent “In The Basement” magazine.
The only other Sledge track cut at these sessions to see eventual release was “Standing On The Mountain” (with overdubs added on 24 October), this performance being used as the flip of Percy’s August 1971 version of “Rainbow Road” when it was issued at the very end of that year on Atlantic 2848.
So, as 1968 drew to a close, Quin Ivy probably felt that with Sledge continuing to have a degree of national (and international) appeal, with a sparkling new studio to attract new artists and a new presence in Nashville, things were looking OK. Little did he know that in mid-April the following year he would lose his entire rhythm section!
UPDATE ~ We have no reason to doubt most of the Quinvy session sheets in our possession (albeit they do not cover every session at the studio) yet the Percy Sledge Rhino box-set (issued after Parts 1 to 5 of this article were written) often gives different dates (and even locations) for many of Percy’s recordings, presumably based on Atlantic discographical information. There is no reason to assume the Atlantic info. is necessarily more accurate. Sometimes it would seem the Atlantic data may be right (as when it mentions a pre-Fall 1968 stereo recording perhaps at another studio because we now know that the old E Second Street studio was ‘monaural only’) but at other times it could simply be that these alternative dates (usually later) may relate possibly to when Atlantic masters of Quinvy recordings were received and noted rather than when the recording itself was actually laid down in the studio. The truth is, we just don’t know. Anyway, here are some further recording-date variations which relate to 1968.
The box-set dates the recording of both Percy’s “Take Time To Know Her” and it’s flipside “It’s All Wrong But It’s Alright” at 1st February 1968, at an unknown recording location. In mentioning above Laura Lee’s version of the latter song, we should have noted that Percy Sledge himself had already cut it at Quinvy in June 1967 (see last Part), although, if the box-set info. is correct, it seems he may have re-cut it for the flip of the “Take Time To Know Her” single.
Where we mention both the April and August 1968 Sledge versions of “Baby Baby Baby” and the fact that there would be yet another re-recording of the song by Percy in September 1969, it should be noted that this final version did see vinyl release before the CD issue mentioned in our article, namely via the 1970 Dutch Atlantic 588220 “My Special Prayer” LP. In addition, Tony Rounce advises that a version of “Baby Baby Baby” was also issued on a South African Atlantic 45 # ATS 536 . Although apparently issued in 1971, it was culled from Percy’s earlier South African LP “Wanted” (see two paragraphs ahead for details of this LP). It’s coupling, “Keep Your Arms Around Me”, was also taken from the “Wanted” album.
Sledge’s “Any Day Now” – which we have described as a 19-20 August 1968 recording – is also given a general ‘November 1968’ date by the box-set. The box-set also dates Sledge’s recordings of “You’re All Around Me” and “Self Preservation” at 19th September 1968 at an unknown recording location.
Re Sledge’s sessions which we date as between 21st-23rd October 1968, many of the songs here are given simply a ‘November 1968’ date by the box-set, with “Wanted” specifically attributed to a 14th November 1968 session. In addition to its appearance on the 1971 South African album to which we refer, “Wanted” also featured earlier, in 1969, as the title-track of another South African Atlantic 9210 LP. Meanwhile Percy’s version from these sessions of O.B. McClinton’s “Keep Your Arms Around Me” did indeed see release, though only in 1970 on the Dutch Atlantic 588220 LP “My Special Prayer”.
New evidence from Tony Rounce of Ace/Kent Records clearly confirms that JAMES CARR, no less, cut three vocal tracks at Quinvy on 21st May 1968. Tony has examined the original reel of multi-track tape on which all three vocals were recorded (although one - see shortly - has since been removed). The tape-box has the relevant date and the Quinvy logo both clearly marked on it and Quin Ivy was the engineer, as you can see from the image close by.
The first song recorded that day was 'Love Is A Beautiful Thing'; however the only vocal now left on the multitrack tape is that of Vernon, Alabama-born blue-eyed soulman, Ben Atkins, so Tony assumes that once a suitable mono mix of James' version had been made, his voice was wiped from the multi-track and Ben was overdubbed, possibly not at Quinvy, at a later date. Ben Atkins & The Nomads’ version would see release on Goldwax 336 that year. Meanwhile, James Carr’s version, using the same backing-track, remained unissued until UK Kent’s 2002 CD release “You Got My Mind Messed Up” (CDKEND 211). The song itself had been penned by Felix Cavaliere and Edward Brigati of The Young Rascals, whose original version appeared on the flip of their mid-1966 Atlantic 2338 pop hit “You Better Run”. Wilson Pickett cut it too, at Fame in February 1967.
The second Carr vocal cut at Quinvy that day was a take of “Life Turned Her That Way” but Quinton Claunch has implied that whilst the instrumental track used on the released Carr 45 (Goldwax #335) was indeed cut at Quinvy using the ‘regular’ and often ‘shared’ musicians of Fame and Quinvy, Carr’s vocal track cut there (we now know on 21st May 1968) turned out to be not what Claunch wanted and James actually re-cut the vocal track which would be used on the release at Bell Sound Studios in New York, Larry Uttal of Bell having flown Claunch out to the Big Apple to oversee the session. Presumably the same vocal track appears also on James’ 1968 album “A Man Needs A Woman” (Goldwax 3002) as the label of the issued 45 states that this version comes from that LP. Tony Rounce comments that, to his ears, Carr’s Quinvy vocal is a little more rough-edged than the 'New York' one but, even so, it's still magnificent and would have satisfied most producers and artists.
Carr’s 21st May 1968 Quinvy session concluded with 'That's The Way Love Turned Out For Me'. Tony comments that on close inspection, it's the same version (vocal and backing) that came out on Goldwax 338, and on even closer inspection it's patently a Quinvy recording - despite Colin Dilnot's earlier assertions that this Carr track was cut in Memphis. The tape stock on the reel is the same as for the other two tracks, which indicates that it was not spliced onto the reel at a later date.
A connection between Carr and Quinvy had first been noted (to my knowledge) in the sleeve-notes to the UK Kent 2003 Carr CD “A Man Needs A Woman” (CDKEND 215) but thanks are due to Tony for now providing confirmation that no less than three Carr vocal tracks were put down at Quinvy on 21st May 1968 with one, plus its instrumental backing track, actually making up one issued side of Goldwax 338.
John Ridley has noted that in addition to the songs mentioned above, the rhythm tracks at least for the following Carr recordings were cut in Muscle Shoals:-
"Search Your Heart", "To Love Somebody"
It may be therefore that more evidence of James Carr recording at Quinvy could still come to light.
ANOTHER NEW UPDATE ~
In mentioning above Tony Borders’ superb rendition of Penn and Oldham’s “I Met Her In Church” (released on Revue 11040), I should have noted that the original commercial recording of this song was actually by The Box Tops, produced at American Studios in Memphis by Dan Penn and which saw release on both a Mala 12017 single and as a track on the group’s “Non-Stop” Bell 6023 LP. It’s quite a credible version too, with Alex Chilton in good form.
I don’t have an exact recording date for the Box Top’s version but on 14th September 1968 (a full month before Borders even cut the song) both the group’s 45 and their album were on the US charts (the single entered the Billboard and Cashbox Pop charts the same week and also that same week the album hit the Cashbox Album Chart). The LP did not make the Billboard album chart and the single was never an R&B hit on either chart.
The song was also included on “The Box Top’s Super Hits” album (Bell 6025) which was issued before 1968 was out and that album did feature, that December, on both the Billboard and Cashbox Album Charts.
Penn and Oldham had originally written this song for The Sweet Inspirations but that didn’t work out and so Dan used it instead for the Box Tops whom he was producing at American. The Sweets had cut Penn & Chips Moman’s “Do Right Woman – Do Right Man” on Atlantic 2465 in 1967 and, whilst this didn’t chart, Penn & Oldham next wrote “Sweet Inspiration” especially for the group, whose version on Atlantic 2476 was recorded on 24th August 1967 in Memphis and made No 18 Pop and No.5 R&B on the charts early the following year. Presumably “I Met Her In Church” was offered as a ‘follow up’, but the Sweets went with the Bee Gee’s “To Love Somebody” instead (cut 22 and 24 April 1968 back in New York), the single on Atlantic 2529 making No.74 Pop and No.30 R&B.
YET FURTHER UPDATE ~ I mention above Percy Sledge’s recording on 19/20 August of Eddie Hinton and Donnie Fritts’ “You’re All Around Me” which would appear on Atlantic 2563. However, I omitted to mention that this song had been demoed by co-writer Hinton and this recording can be found on the fine 2004 Zane ZNCD 1020 release, “Playin’ Around”.
LATEST UPDATE ~ The so-called 'long-lost demo' of "Take Time To Know Her" by Stephen (Steve) Davis, although never surfacing in the USA, nevertheless amazingly found its way onto a UK Fontana TF 922 forty-five, issued as early as March 1968. The side was credited simply to Steve Davis and its flip was a rather Beatles-like self-penned opus from Steve called "She Said Yeah". A label-shot of the main side appears nearby. Thanks for making this information available must go to Tony Rounce, who disclosed it in his fine sleeve-notes to UK Kent's CD "Behind Closed Doors - Where Country Meets Soul" (CDKEND 375), a compilation featuring soul songs originally recorded by country artists.
Incidentally, when Stephen Davis first submitted his song to Quin Ivy it contained extra lyrics. As originally written, after the guy who is the main character in the song has stumbled upon his new wife “kissing on another man”, he actually shoots both of them! However, Ivy felt this kind of lyric would not sit well with Percy Sledge’s fans and it duly got omitted from Percy’s recorded version of the song and, indeed, I have never heard it included in any rendition.
This information about the lyrics stems from Sledge himself via a spoken intro to a relatively recent live performance of the song, which was featured on You Tube. Stephen Davis has himself agreed on his Facebook page that the lyrics were indeed changed.
Acknowledgements: John Ridley; Peter Guralnick; Barney Hoskyns; Charles Fuqua; Gilles Petard; Colin Escott; Roben Jones; Gregg Burgess; Kevin Kiley; David Cole/In The Basement; Clive Richardson/RPM-Shout; Gary Cape/Paul Mooney Grapevine-Soulscape; Peter Thompson/Zane Records; Soulful Kinda Music; Vintage Soul fanzine; Billboard; Rick Clark/Lynyrd Skynyrd Boxset Booklet; red kelly blogspot; the websites and blogs of many of the artists/personalities featured.
Special thanks to Bob Wilson for his most helpful contributions.
Paul Mooney - All licensing enquiries for Quinvy / South Camp / Broadway Sound masters should be directed to Selrec Ltd and most of the songs are controlled by Millibrand Music Ltd in all territories outside the US and Canada.