The Mad Lads - The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Lads (Great R&B US 1969)

Rabu, 16 Januari 2013

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The Mad Lads were an American rhythm and blues vocal group, who recorded on the Stax subsidiary label Volt in the 1960s. Their biggest hits were "Don't Have To Shop Around" (1965) and "I Want Someone" (1966).

The group was formed at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tennessee. The original line-up comprised John Gary Williams, Julius Green, William Brown and Robert Phillips. They were originally called The Emeralds, but changed their name because there was another group of that name; the name "Mad Lads" was suggested by Stax employee Deanie Parker in response to the group's behavior and also in recognition of local disc jockey Reuben "Mad Lad" Washington. They first recorded for Stax in 1964, releasing "The Sidewalk Surf", co-written by Isaac Hayes under the name Ed Lee, which was not a hit. However, their second record, "Don't Have To Shop Around", rose to no. 11 on the Billboard R&B chart, and no. 93 on the pop chart. Featuring organ by Hayes and piano by Booker T. Jones, it has nonetheless been described as "curiously anachronistic, owing more to doo-wop than southern soul," and featured "the high, innocent tenor of John Gary Williams."

They followed up with "I Want Someone", "I Want A Girl" and "Patch My Heart", which were all R&B hits in 1966. However, towards the end of the year Williams and Brown were drafted. The group continued to make live appearances with the pair being replaced by Sam Nelson and Quincy Billups Jr., but the new line-up's recordings were not as successful. After Williams returned from military service, he was reinstated in the group, over other members' protests, at the insistence of record company co-owner Jim Stewart. The group continued to have R&B chart hits through to 1969, their final hit being a version of "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" which also reached the pop chart. After Julius Green was imprisoned for cheque fraud, the group continued for a while but finally split up in 1972.

Williams recorded a solo album, The Whole Damn World Is Going Crazy, at Stax in 1973. He later worked outside the music business in Iowa and Los Angeles, before forming a new touring version of the Mad Lads in 1984. The new group recorded an album, Madder Than Ever, in 1990.

The opening harmony notes of "So Nice" will hook you for the rest of this sweet Southern soul collection. I rank this higher than their debut, which had two songs enter the R&B Top 20 (none of these did). These are love songs sung by the exciting, emotional lead tenor of John Gary Williams. Williams is known for his heart-stopping, dramatic slides from natural to falsetto. "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" is given a bouncy treatment, a 360-degree difference from labelmate Isaac Hayes' elongated, slower reading; some pretty strumming by a lead guitarist lays the foundation. Despite its brilliance, "Phoenix" stalled at #28 R&B and #84 pop. Stax gives them a slicker, less Southern sound on "Love Is Here Today and Gone Tomorrow," and it suffers from the tinkering. They stamp "Cry Baby" as their own, giving the soul standard an extraordinary treatment. "Did My Baby Call" is a Steve Mancha composition that the Lads tear up, yet it fail to chart. You'll never mistake the Mad Lads for anything but Southern dudes. Not for one minute will you think they're from Philly, New York, Detroit, Chicago or L.A. 

One of the few vocal groups on the Stax roster during the '60s, the Mad Lads' doo wop-influenced harmonies -- featuring the high, innocent tenor of John Gary Williams -- were more akin to what you might find in Philadelphia soul acts than those of their native Memphis. The group members were still in high school when the Mad Lads were signed to Stax in late 1964. In the mid-'60s, they enjoyed solid R&B hits with "Don't Have to Shop Around," "I Want Someone," and "I Want a Girl," although they never would cross over to the pop audience. Williams and fellow Mad Lad William Brown were drafted in 1966, and their recording career was suspended while they were in the service (although they carried on live with replacements). After their discharge, Williams and Brown were told by fellow original members Julius Green and Robert Philips that they didn't want Brown in the group; Brown and Stax co-owner Jim Stewart forced them to reinstate Williams, but their subsequent efforts were more in the Stax soul/funk formula, and not as memorable as their more atypical mid-'60s singles. They did return to the R&B Top 30 in 1968 with "Whatever Hurts You." 

01. So Nice
02. Make Room (In Your Heart)
03. Cry Baby
04. I Just Can't Forget
05. These Old Memories
06. By The Time I Get To Phoenix
07. No Strings Attached
08. Its Loving Time
09. Love Is Here Today And Gone Tomorrow
10. Make This Young Lady Mine
11. I've Never Found A Girl
12. Monkey Time '69

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