November 03, 2006

Lingering Anticipation

"Anticipation" (Wilson Turbinton)
Willie Tee, from Anticipation, United Artists, 1976

(tune in to HOTG Internet Radio)

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent track reminds me a bit of some Donny Hattaway numbers, I like the horn arrangment even if the strings section is rather too present imho ! Great groove and great singing Nice discovery Thanks Dan !

6:21 AM, November 06, 2006  
Blogger SadButTrue said...

This site is so cool! I found it doing a search for Barbara George's 1961 hit I Know. Now I know where to come when my ears are hungering for some soothing funk. I am totally impressed.

1:20 AM, November 08, 2006  
Blogger Keeping Soul Alive said...

Hi Dan

Been out of it a bit recently with one thing and another - dropping back to see what's happening and see that you are still keeping up the good work!!!!

Willie Tee - top man for me - and it was great to see him at the last 2 NO based Ponderosa Stomps!!!

My fave album by him is the sublime Capitol album "I'm Only A Man" which was another attempt in 1969 to put him on a national stage



6:01 AM, November 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is truly a great site--thanks for putting it together. Hearing new music is one of my favorite things, especially music that is rare or that I could not hear at a regular music store--online or brick and mortar. When I heard Anticipation for the first time, I knew I'd heard that base line somewhere before and it was really gnawing at me. It took me a bit to place it, but if you listen to Robert Palmer's track "Between Us" from his Heavy Nova CD, you'll hear that baseline of Willie's!

6:18 PM, November 10, 2006  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Welcome back, Colin. WT's Capitol album has been on my want list for a long time. Did he not also produce Margie Joseph's first 45 on Volt around that same time?

Willie makes a recent appearance on the great 'Sing Me Back Home' CD by the New Orleans Social Club, by the way.

And, anon, I hear a bit of the bass line in that Palmer track here and there - not enough to call it a direct lift; but there are similarities. Thanks.

And, jipes, I am sure WT would be honored to be spoken of with Donny Hathaway. This song is certainly of that era.

11:14 AM, November 11, 2006  
Blogger Unknown said...

Great to see some Willie Tee (Turbinton) fans here! I am Bill Roberts, Willie Tees engineer (recording)

Just so you folks can be updated,

Wilson (Willie Tee) escaped hurricane Katrina to Memphis and his home and all of his archives, everything he and his Wife owned was destroyed, even the vehicles. Since katrina, Wilson took up residence via invitation by Winton Marsalles at Princeton University where he had tenure for approx. one year. He had the oppurtunity to go to Vienna and be with his long time friend and musician Joe Zawinul. Willies Brother "Earl Turbinton" is not doing so well these days and Tee now resides outside of New Orleans to be close to his brother during these tough times.

Personally..if anyone has a good copy of Anticipation that they could put on CD for me (my turntable is in a bad way, needs replacing) both myself and Tee would be delighted to hear it again. We have plans in the future to revisit Capitol records and revisit the master and see if it can be re-released. I promise to keep it as intact to the original mix as possible providing all of the tracking (instruments) still survived the vaulted storage.

To all of you fans of Willie Tee, we say hello and we are doing fine.


reach me @

Remove the _ for proper email.

11:46 PM, January 07, 2007  

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