Friday, June 11, 2010

Soul Brothers Six: Some Kind of Wonderful

In the mid sixties, John Ellison joined the Rochester, NY based Soul Brothers Five. The addition of a new lead singer prompted the change of the band’s name to Soul Brothers Six – a name that continued until disbanding. Over the course of the next several years, some of the original members dropped out and the band had recorded several singles – but the singles were nothing of note. In 1967, a Philadelphia DJ introduced the band to Atlantic Records A&R (Artist and Repertoire) Director, producer, and corporate partner, Jerry Wexler.

Under his production arm, the Soul Brothers Six recorded their most famous song to date, “Some Kind of Wonderful” written by lead singer John Ellison. Wexler, who reportedly coined the term “Rhythm and Blues,” had been responsible for the chart successes of Ray Charles, Ruth Brown, Aretha Franklin, and Wilson Picket. Based on Dusty Springfield's recommendation, Wexler also signed to Atlantic Records, a little known act from England, Led Zeppelin.

The song never received the chart success it deserved only reaching #91 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Several other sides were recorded but success was not forthcoming and the band was dropped by Wexler and Atlantic. The next year, a cover by the Fantastic Johnny C. (of “Boogaloo down Broadway” fame) was released; however, his version only charted a little higher at #87.

John Ellison would eventually earn the revenue he deserved for penning this classic when Grand Funk Railroad recorded the song for their 1974 “All the Girls in the World Beware!!!” LP. The song was an instant hit and peaked at #3 in February 1975 and even 35 years later remains one of their more popular tunes.

As for Wexler, without whom this song may have never been heard, was reportedly asked in an interview several years before his 2008 death what he wanted on his tombstone. Without hesitation, he replied, “More bass.” Unfortunately this tongue in cheek declaration never came to fruition as his grave marker states simply, “He Changed the World” . . . and he did.

No comments:

Post a Comment