More Lee Bates - The Detective Work Continues
"Your Love Is Slippin Away" (Emanuel Morris, Jr.)
Lee Bates, Instant 3329, 1975
With the goings on at Soul Detective having to do with Lee Bates, I’ve put up another side of his, a surprisingly big production number, that I picked up a few weeks ago. I encourage y’all to visit SD, if you haven’t already, and see the ongoing research being done on this unsung New Orleans vocalist and other worthy subjects.
“Your Love Is Slippin Away” comes form Bates’ final Instant single (he had 10 with the label over a 5 year run) and was also released on the IX Chains imprint in 1975, perhaps because Instant was in a downward spiral by this time. Co-produced by label owner Joe Banashak and the song’s writer and arranger, Emanuel Morris, Jr., this song surprised me with the sophistication of its presentation. I know very little about Mr. Morris at this point – he wrote a few other songs and was a bass player, I believe – but he obviously could take charge in the studio and render up a powerful, complex arrangement. While the string section flirts with going over the top at a few points, those swirling flourishes don’t overwhelm the tune. The horn charts here are effective, too, either working in counterpoint or layered with the strings. On the intro and choruses, Morris makes the groove a slow striding funk, while the verses have a nice, straighter descending pattern. Taken as a whole, the impressively big sound of this record shows that the producer/arranger/writer could hold his own with the bigger fish in town, namely Toussaint and Quezergue. I wonder where Morris came from and what else he worked on. I’ve got my own detective investigation going, but, please feel free to chip in with any knowledge or insight you may have on him. I did see an obituary listing from the Times-Picayune showing that Morris passed away in 1994.
All that said, I guess, reveals that I am somewhat more impressed with the trappings of this song than I am with the performance of the star of the show, Lee Bates. Don’t get me wrong, though. Bates’ singing is quite soulful with a raw edge, as usual. You can certainly hear a bit of his Otis Redding influence near the end of the song, and he kind of has a Teddy Pendergrass thing going on here, too; but, the song doesn’t seem to give him much to work with lyrically or melodically. Teddy Royal, who played guitar on the sessions for this single and wrote the other side, has told me that Bates was purposely going for the Pendergrass/Redding sound on this recording. So, he succeeded there, whereas the record itself was a commercial cipher.
Actually, I bought this 45 particularly because of Royal’s participation. As I have mentioned before, I am working on a piece on the guitarist/songwriter, including Q & A. I hope that our further discussions may shed some more light on both Lee Bates, Emanuel Morris, Jr., and other players on the sessions. I’ll be featuring the flip side, “(What Am I Gonna Do) What Am I Gonna Say”, in conjunction with that post at a later date. Stay tuned.