Further Adventures In Spelling
"How Do You Spell Love" (M. Boxley, J. Strickland, B. Patterson)
Bobby Patterson. Paula 458, 198? (1972)
Although this is a 1980s re-issue of the original 1972 single (#362), with a different flip (“Recipe For Peace”), I was still glad to have found a copy of it while digging the piles down here last year. The only version I had prior to that was Margie Joseph’s great cover on her eponymous first Atlantic LP from 1973. Of course, some of you may know this song too from the Fabulous Thunderbirds’ blues version in the early 1980’s. As a matter of fact, Paula 458 may have been re-issued because of the attention the T-Birds brought to the song.
I am fairly certain that Bobby Patterson cut “How Do You Spell Love” at Sound City studio in Shreveport (northwestern Louisiana) using the fine house band, who could throw down some serious funk at a moment’s notice and were led by Tunisian-born bassist Louis Villery. Originally based in Dallas, TX, Patterson had signed with Stan Lewis’ Jewel/Paula family of labels in Shreveport about a year prior to this release. There he teamed up with Jerry Strickland on various songwriting and production projects. Besides recording his own Paula material, which included the 1972 LP, It’s Just A Matter Of Time, he and Strickland, worked with many other artists during the 1970’s. In 1972, they also started the off-shoot label, Soul Power, which issued some classic sides of original material by the Sound City studio band, recording as the African Music Machine. The duo also wrote, produced and recorded the remarkable female soul singer, Tommie Young (who Patterson had discovered in Dallas), as well as Baton Rouge vocalist George Perkins.
As others have remarked, “How Do You Spell Love” has a feel similar to what was getting cut at Malaco in Jackson at the time, particularly King Floyd’s sides arranged by Waredell Quezergue with their syncopated interplay of instruments; but, funky as this track is, the drumming doesn’t quite match the grooves dished by Malaco’s James Stroud (who was originally from the Shreveport area, by the way). Still, this is a good ‘un', with a central guitar riff that sinks its hook in early. Patterson sounds totally inspired, too, letting rip some intense screams, particularly the spine-tingling one at the bridge about 1:35 into the song. On the basis of that one, you could almost rename the song, “How Do you Spell Nodes”.
I’ve been seeking out other examples of tracks cut at Sound City from the early to mid-1970s, and will be bringing you more of the ones with a decent funk quotient later on. But, for now, get to work on your lesson – listen and repeat until you’ve got it learned.
Note: Patterson's pre-Paula material can be found on CD here and several examples can be heard at the Soul Club.
Your spelling instructor, Mr. Patterson