March 16, 2008

The Sister Steps Out At Last

NOTE: Those of you who have been along for the ride for the past few years may recall that I featured an amazing funk tune from The Sister And Brothers, "Yeah, You Right" back in 2005, just about a week before Katrina blew in. I have recently updated that post with new details on the sessions and those involved and re-activated the audio while we also take a look at the third and seemingly final single from that aggregation. I encourage you long-timers and new readers alike to check out the song and revised background there before, during, or after you take in the current post, because I am writing it assuming that you have. That's what links are for.

"Ack-A-Fool" (R. Shaab)
The Sister & Brothers, Calla 175, 1970

(Tune in to HOTG Internet Radio)

After The Sister And Brothers only two Uni singles tanked, the label obviously dropped them. I wasn't even aware that they had another release until I quite by accident ran across this on the Calla label, dating from 1970, a lucky break to be sure. Before even listening to the songs, the label provided me with the previously unknown identity of the lead singer, Sister Geri, a/k/a Geraldine Richard, who also arranged both sides with producer Ron Shaab. I still haven't come up with any further information about her, but it's a start. As previously posted, Cold Grits played on the Uni sessions; but it is still unclear whether all, some, or none of them appeared on the Calla tracks, although the b-side makes me think that’s possible. At any rate, the third time was not the commercial charm for Sister Geri, Shaab, and the Brothers.

Written by Ron Shaab, "Ack-A-Fool" is a much less intensely rhythmic outing than either "The Jed Clampett" or "Yeah, You Right". I find it light, casual and ultimately inconsequential funk - one of those tunes that talks more about being funky than it delivers. It's not an a-side that would have made people line up at the local record hut with a couple of hot dollars in hand. There's just not much going on. Sister Geri and her backing sister singers amusingly keep asking if the music and musicians are "black enough for ya", either an ironic comment, if Cold Grits were involved, or an indication that the Brothers were now bruthas - not that it made the track any better. Anyway, the women made some soulful noise; but their talents were pretty much wasted on this trifle. Fortunately, flipping the record turns out to be a redemption and revelation

"Chained" (F. Wilson)
The Sister & Brothers, Calla 175, 1970

(Tune in to HOTG Internet Radio)

Finally! On the final side of the final single, Sister Geri got a chance to let it rip, covering a great tune from Motown songsmith Frank Wilson that Marvin Gaye took to funkville in 1968 on his great original version. Her arrangement with Shaab borrowed the guitar (electric sitar?) riff from Gaye's single, but smoothed out the dynamics and push-pull that made his take hard to top. Still, it's a great groove and song choice that allows Ms Richard to shine on something vocally and musically substantial. Why oh why was this not the a-side? She sings the thing as if she knows it's her last shot at the spotlight, and holds nothing back. Maybe she doesn't have one of the absolutely classic soul voices; but this is a damn fine record. I definitely wish I could have gotten to hear more from Sister Geri.

[Sister Geri also sang backup on Willie Tee's 1976 LP classic, Anticipation, and recorded at least one solo single as Jerri Richard, "Goin' Away" b/w "Do You Wanna Dance", which came out on Royal Shield 102 in 1979. I got that single a while back and will try to get to another post on Baton Rogue artists one of these days....]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant and all new to me.Thanks

2:21 PM, March 19, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dan,

just want to say HELLO to you.
It's been a while. Some time ago I followed all your posts. Couldnt find time for that in the younger past.
I just remembered your blog and wanted to check out if you're still out there. You are. Great.
Listening right now to your radio (cool thing!).
Just listened to NIGHT PEOPLE by Mr. Dorsey. I went to your blog and found coincidentally my last comment on your blog (
Cool that you're still doing what you're doing.
Hats off!

Greetings, Dominik

2:55 PM, March 20, 2008  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Welcome back, Dominik! Yep, I'm still here by reason of insanity, I guess. So many records - so little time. Glad you dig the radio concept - getting close to 24 hours worth of tunes in the stream before it repeats. Hope to hear from you again.

4:26 PM, March 20, 2008  
Blogger whiteray said...

Great stuff, Dan -- Thanks for keeping it going, and for the great posts!

7:17 PM, March 21, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Job! :)

12:32 PM, June 07, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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11:13 AM, August 04, 2008  

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