October 24, 2005

Ted Gets It With Wardell's Help

"Somebody's Gettin' It" (Chico Jones, Clarence Colter, Don Davis)
Ted Taylor, Alarm 112A, 1976

This record caught my eye for two reasons. The first and biggest hook was not the artist, Ted Taylor, but the “Producer & Arranger: Wardell Quezergue” on the label. That’s always a promising sign for me, as regular readers and/or those who search within this blog or hit the links (hint, hint) will see that Mr. Quezergue has played a prominent role in the development of New Orleans artists and music from the mid-1960’s though the 1970’s. A gifted composer and arranger, he is able to take the elements of the city’s funky pulse and infuse them into many of his productions, even when outside New Orleans and using players not brought up in the heady polyrhythmic, street parade atmosphere of the Home of the Groove. His work at Malaco studios in Jackson, MS is a perfect example of his ability to transform and influence the sound of a talented, hip studio band and label.

The second hook on the 45 label for “Somebody’s Getting’ It” b/w “Steal Away” is that Alarm is shown to have been based in Shreveport, LA, which has had a rich musical history (think Louisiana Hayride, the Jewell-Paula-Ronn labels, and artists like James Burton and Dale Hawkins, to name just a few examples) that included
some obscure and impressive soul from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. As I am always looking for soul and funk from parts of Louisiana outside of New Orleans, this 45 looked tempting for that, plus it had the New Orleans connection, too.

I confess I am not very familiar with
Ted Taylor, other than having a few singles by him and some of his early Ebb sides on a CD comp. He had a smooth high tenor range and could move effortlessly into his trademark falsetto. Originally from Oklahoma, he got his start in gospel. The group he was singing with got signed to Modern as a rock and roll group in the 1950’s and became the Cadets (a/k/a the Jacks); but Taylor left them to go solo before they hit and ended up on Ebb, a division of Specialty. He then signed with Duke, and became a soul artist in the 1960’s with hits such as the ballad “Be Ever Wonderful”. From there he recorded for a string of other labels before hooking up with Jewell and Ronn out of Shreveport in the mid-1960’s. He was with them for about eight years. By 1976, Taylor was with Alarm, which had relatively few artists, the most well-known of which were Reuben Bell and Eddie (Eddy) Giles. His work with Alarm seems to have been about it for Ted, besides a single in 1983 for Watts City.

From what little information I could find, “Somebody’s Getting’ It’ and it’s flip were recorded at Sound City Studios in Shreveport. Whoever the musicians were*, they laid down pure funk on this one. Quezergue’s arrangement of the tune is typical of his talent for setting up simple, interlocking parts that work together with a precision syncopated movement. Taylor’s vocal almost seems too light for the serious groove going down; but all in all I think it’s an effective track. Soul master Johnnie Taylor (no relation) also did a version of this song in 1976 for Columbia. I’ve only heard a snippet; but the backing certainly seems less intense than what this track has to offer.

You can find this tune and the more sedate b-side comped on the CD
Somebody’s Getting’ It, which reproduces Ted Taylor’s 1976 album for Alarm, plus some outtakes, I think. Having heard this single, I am looking for that album in hope of finding more tracks that Quezergue worked on[see update below].

*Update [2008]: From notes to the newly released CD, Sound City Soul Brothers, featuring the three major Alarm recording artists, Taylor, Bell and Giles, I have learned that Alarm regularly brought over the studio band from Malaco in Jackson, Misssissippi to record sessions at Sound City in Shreveport. So, Quezergue was working with familiar people and fine musicians. I briefly reviewed this CD on February 15, 2008. Highly recommended.

Ted Taylor


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Dan-Very nice track! Totally unfamiliar w/Ted Taylor--at first I thought that was the Meters behind him. Never too late to syncopate.

Speaking of Shreveport, I lived in nearby Minden for a year or so around 1976/77 . . . hometown of the great Percy Mayfield. Unfortunately, didn't really get tuned in to N.O. and soul music very seriously until after moving back to Tennessee.

thanks a bunch for your tunes, tips and insight!


11:07 PM, October 24, 2005  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Thanks, dc. I'm hoping that CD lists session players. And, no, it's never ever too late, as my blogging schedule proves.

Yeah, Percy wrote a song called "Minden Is A Dry Town" and did it on one of his early 1970's RCA albums, I think. Did they ever start selling alcohol there?

11:56 PM, October 24, 2005  
Anonymous mikeatturnpike said...

Hi Dan, been some time since you posted this up, but the musicians were indeed Malaco regulars:
Dino Zimmerman (guitars),Don Barrett and Vern Robbins (bass), Carson Whitsett and Wardell Quezergue (keyboards), James Stroud (drums/percussion). The Muscle Shoals Horns were used on some cuts while the Jackson Southernaires and Dorothy Moore provided some of the vocal backing.
Good solid album but not quite up to Ted's earlier Ronn effort Taylor Made.

5:26 AM, April 20, 2009  

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