Lloyd Price's Jamaican Connection
"The Truth" (Jimmy Norman & Al Pyfrom)
Lloyd Price, JAD 212-A, 1968
Soon come. . .
Continuing the ongoing detective work right here, I am always amazed at how an obscure single I’ve bought on a whim or a hunch can open a window on unknown (to me) aspects of a song, an artist’s career, a record label, a significant time in the history of recording, etc. Such is the case with today’s single, “The Truth” b/w “Don’t Stop Now”, by New Orleans native Lloyd Price on New York-based JAD Records. I like the record so much that I thought I’d let you hear both sides; and the back story maybe makes more sense, if you hear them together.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Lloyd Price should be well known at least to fans of New Orleans music from the 1950’s, from his classic R&B debut with “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” in 1952, backed by Dave Bartholomew’s band with Fats Domino on piano, to his more slick, uptown pop records later that decade and into the next for ABC, after he had left his hometown. By the late 1960’s, his recording career had cooled off, at least as far as hits were concerned; and, in 1968, he released two singles on JAD.
Taken from the initials of the first names of its principals, singer Johnny Nash, producer Arthur Jenkins, and Nash’s business partner, Danny Sims, JAD Records was a venture that initially sought to develop Jamaican artists for the American and international market, specifically Bob Marley and his group the Wailers, whom Nash encountered on a trip to the island in 1967. This was a transitional period in Jamaican music when the rock steady style was just beginning to move toward reggae, with Marley and band to become the greatest exponents of the latter style. But, at the time, Marley wanted to be a soul singer in the Otis Redding mold and hoped his association with JAD would help him get there. Nash and the label brought in a New York engineer, songwriters, and such A-list session players as Bernard Purdie, Chuck Raney, Richard Tee and Eric Gale (the frequent studio band for Atlantic Records) for the basic tracking sessions in Jamaica. Tunes cut there then went back to New York for any needed overdubs of horns, strings, etc. Although some of these sessions were released in Jamaica on local labels, it appears that JAD only issued one single of Marley and the group, “Bend Down Low” b/w “Mellow Mood” in the name of Bob, Rita & Peter in 1968. When it didn’t sell, JAD lost interest in the project, leaving Marley to wander in the recording wilderness for a few more formative years.
Besides, attempting to develop and break the budding genius, JAD released about a dozen other singles, mainly by Johnny Nash, who benefitted the most from the Caribbean association. I don’t know how Lloyd Price got involved with the label for his two singles; but the songs presented here are certainly unworthy of obscurity. “The Truth”, composed by American R&B writers Jimmy Norman and Al Pyfrom, has a convincing Jamaican flavor for a track done by, I assume, the same NYC cats who played the Marley sessions. Meanwhile, the upbeat B-side dancer, “Don’t Stop Now”, is USA all the way with a great groove, hot horns, and Price's inspired vocal.
About a year after his JAD singles were released into relative oblivion, Price started a club in New York, The Turntable, and the short-lived Turntable label. He released one single of his own on it, the great “Bad Conditions” b/w “The Truth”, the same side as on JAD 212. The A-side was also taken from those same Jamaican sessions; but the single went nowhere, as well. I’ll try to feature it a little later on. Turntable, by the way, is probably best known for releasing some Howard Tate tracks that same year [see the thread in the comments for more on this].
Since Jamaican popular music was heavily influenced by American R&B/soul, including many New Orleans records, it’s interesting to learn of artists from this country, such as Lloyd Price and Johnny Nash, trying to capture some of that island sound at the source well before reggae caught fire through that young man who stood up to sing Rasta soul.
See there. All that connection from a record I pulled from a pile one day because it looked promising. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.