Allison & Calvin Turner


The Turner Brothers are perhaps the least celebrated of all the male duos who recorded in the Golden Age of soul. I hope this short feature will help to redress this poor state of affairs.


Brothers Allison & Calvin Turner came from Columbia, SC originally but moved to Anderson, IN in the late 60s. And this new home became their long term base as they did all their recording in the nearby big city of Indianapolis. Most of their records appeared first on Jerry Herman’s local Lulu concern, often written by one or other of the guys.


Their initial release ListenYeah Memories was a fine ballad with some excellent doo wop touches and strong harmonies. This was also out on Howard Ladin and Herb Miller’s long running Lamp label before being leased out to Checker for national distribution. A very fine start.


The second release from the duo was even better. ListenIt’s Over Between Us had the benefit of a better melody, a strong horn section and most importantly a real soul feel to the vocals, especially the exuberant falsetto shrieks. Gorgeous. This found a berth on Atlantic but fared no bigger sales than the Checker 45 sadly.


The Turners third single was a splendid double sider. The gentle ballad ListenDrive On added a string section to the mix and featured some very tasty gospel flourishes from a fine organ player. The flip ListenYou’re A Liar You’re A Cheat enhanced the righteous tone thanks to the best harmonies the brothers had laid down so far.For some reason this 45 didn’t get a national release – it certainly deserved one.


Their next “release” wasn’t really properly issued at all and only exists as raw and very low fi demos or acetates. “Every Time I’m Near you” is a pleasant enough mid paced song and “Sweetest Thing In The World” was a funky little dance tune enlivened by a solo vocal (Calvin?) of great power and drive. Both sides of the obscure Calcomo 45 are pure funk of the “instrumental plus a little shouting” variety and therefore pretty forgettable fare.


It was in the mid 70s that Calvin Turner’s only solo single came out – and that was a vast improvement on to the previous couple of 45s. “After All” was a strong uptempo number which showed what a mighty fine vocalist Calvin was. His gospel drenched chops were even more inevidence on the superb deep flip ListenGotta Have My Baby Back – certainly a contender for the Turner’s greatest achievement. Over a simple arpeggio guitar and “bipping” horns Calvin howls out his rage and pain. Just fantastic – this track should be in every deep soul fans arsenal. Why it isn’t better appreciated is beyond me.




A change of name to the “Turner Brothers” followed in the mid 70s (these guys are not to be confused with the Turner Brothers on New York’s Carnival label). The new group’s recordings appeared on a new label, MB, owned and operated by the guys themselves. And the new concern started well with perhaps their best known number ListenLet’s Go Fishing. This tuneful toe tapper was well arranged and had a strong hookline – no wonder it has attracted the attention of some of the more progressive dance fans.


This was followed swiftly by the brothers sole album “Act 1” (also on MB). This set featured other Turner Bros in addition to Allison & Calvin – Rudy, Charles, Harrison and Paul – and was produced by Calvin. “Act 1” became an anthemic “want” for funk fans until it was reissued in 1999, but the two synth led funk tracks were so bad I had to lift the needle off my deck while they were playing. The two sweet tracks were also substandard thanks to the unlistenable pre teen lead vocal. But there were three interesting offerings. Firstly “Let’s Go Fishing” was included, as well as recuts of the rare titles on their rare “Every time I’m Near You” / “Sweetest Thing In The World” 45.


The frighteningly obscure Meeka 45, produced by another Turner – Butler Turner – was more disco based than anything else. And that wretched thumping beat obscures some typically superb Turner vocal performances. What a shame their recording history stops with this piece of nonsense.





ListenYeah memories / Shake what you’re Mama gave you ~ LULU 9701 / LAMP 157 / CHECKER 1229 (1970)
ListenIt’s over between us / What is this ~ LULU 9702 / ATLANTIC 2759 (1970)
ListenDrive on / ListenYou’re a liar you’re a cheat ~ LULU 9507 (early 70s?)
Every time I’m near you / Sweetest thing in the world ~ LULU (70s?)
Just keep on doing it / Sticky Franky ~ CALCOMO 182


After all / ListenGotta have my baby back ~ LULU 200 (1974)                            

ListenLet’s go fishing / Running in the rain ~ MB (1975)
Bad times / Togetherness ~ MEEKA 002 (1981)


Act 1 ~ MB (mid 1970s)


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