"Anticipation" (Wilson Turbinton)
Willie Tee, from Anticipation, United Artists, 1976
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Back near the beginning of HOTG, just prior to the November, 2004 election, I posted this track by Willie Tee, Wilson Turbinton,. from his 1976 Anticipation LP. So, because I’m off on a brief road trip, in the run-up to Election Day 2006, I feel like it’s time for a replay.
This title track is the second of a two-part suite on the album; and some of you may recall I also posted the first segment, “Liberty Bell” last summer. As I noted in those other posts, Tee is backed on this project by his band, the Gaturs, called The Gator Rhythm Section here, with several hot Los Angeles sessions players of the day, guitarists Lee Ritenour and David T. Walker, percussionist Victor Feldman and others, joining in on select tracks. Those were overdubs done later in California. The basic tracks were cut at The Studio In the Country, which was at that time a high quality, very busy recording complex located in, of all places, Bogalusa, Louisiana.
A living relic of the Sixties, I guess I’m still a sucker for the all-for-one, brotherhood of man, love will save us all sentiments of this track, especially when emoted soulfully over a relaxed, funky rhythm section within an ambitious, sweeping production. If “Anticipation” does not ultimately rise to the heights of the classics of socio-political soul, it’s not for lack of trying. I find it to be an impressive and enjoyable contribution to the genre.
Harold Battiste’s horn and string arrangements are awesome here; and it’s interesting to find him working again with Willie Tee, as Battiste had given him his start as an artist at AFO in the early 1960s. In terms of the music emanating from New Orleans at this period, I don’t know of anything quite like this song and it’s partner in both sound and ambition. It truly shows what Mr. Turbinton was capable of as a writer, vocalist, player and co-producer (with Skip Drinkwater), who could give Allen Toussaint some high class competition. Interweaving funk, soul, disco, gospel and jazz elements on the album, Tee clearly sought the national stage for this work. But, the well-made album was clearly not promoted by the label, lost the chance to connect with the public, and remains generally unknown to this day.
When I found Anticipation years ago in a dusty bin (the $1.00 sticker is still attached), it was real news to me. I was only familiar with Willie Tee’s early soul material from the 1960s, his funk work with the Wild Magnolias, and his jazz playing in the 1980s. Listening to the LP gave me an entirely new perspective on his talents and what was happening in New Orleans music during that very active, creative decade. Even if it costs you more than a buck, I think the album is an important piece of the New Orleans musical puzzle worth seeking out. I’ve never regretted my investment.