Young Holt Unlimited: Wack Wack (LP)
Around 1965 bassist Eldee Young, and drummer Isaac 'Red• Holt split from their pianist and trio leader Ramsey Levvis after twelve largely successful years. The group had enjoyed success with jazz-soul instrumentals of current chart hits such as 'The In-Crowd' and 'Hang On Sloopy' and Ramsey's own classic 'Wade In The Water'. But this distinguished rhythm section preferred to be their own bosses and starting out as the Young Holt Trio moved across Chicago from Chess to Brunswick Rocords and recorded 'Wack Wack'. As a single on Brunswick 55305 it made No 12 on the R & B charts, No 40 on the Hot 100 Billboard chart and was title track for a well-received debut LP (Brunswick 54121). Twenty years on, and it's getting, very popular in England's jazz, soul and mod discos; dance grooves like this one are timeless. Also from this album -You Know That I Love You" shows Young Holt's natural direction - jazz meets soul and we all have a good time. By the second album -On Stage- (Brunswick 54125) the group found they needed to use additional musicians on certain numbers and changed their name to Young-Holt Unlimited.
This also came across as hipper than a stuffy old jazz trio (soul was flavour of the month) and for that album was rather an ironic time to change names, as the live recording meant it was tho original group in any case. Showing their sense of humour in a club context they sing a super-cool version of Donovan, 'Mellow Yellow' giving the song a whole new perspective with chants of "he's mellow and he's yellow". This track was issuod as a single (55317) coupled with my personal favourite, the self- penned 'Ain't There Something That Money Can't Buy'. The version we use on this LP comes from the "On Stage" album, where it is sung as the finale of a medley beginning with their two biggest Ramsey Lewis hits, 'The In-Crowd' and 'Wade In The Water'. We took the liberty of splitting the songs across the two sides of this LP to show 'Money' off to best advantage and to use its cool rap intro. In the process a couple of hip jokes that hadn't weathered the passage of time too well ended up on the cutting room floor. The next US album was "'The Beat Goes On" (54128), which was also the next single (55338). However in my opinion, tho following, single (55356) had the two choice tracks from the record. 'Dig Her Walk' is a wild and very funky chant while the flip 'Yon Gimmie Thum' is a great jazz jam which had previously been featured in a much longer version on "On Stage". Mongo Santamaria's influence was felt on the next single, 'Give It Up' (55374) in the Latin boogaloo-style currently in vogue, but the song keeps a healthy jazz, quotient. Then came the Big One!
Often used as house musicians in Brunswick's Chicago studios, Young- Holt laid down many backing tracks, one of which was earmarked for Barbara Acklin: 'Am I The Same Girl'. However the resulting music proved to be so effortlessly catchy that the record company decided to put it out as a single 155391), 'Soulful Strut', and within weeks it had rocketed to number 3 in Billboard's Hot 100 chart. The popularity of 'Soulful Strut' ensured a similar approach to the next few releases. As in the old days with Ramsey, hits of the time were given the Young-Holt treatment; 'Who's Making, Love', 'Gotta Find Me A Lover', 'Love Makes A Woman' etc. The music had gone full circle. Often the songs come off, with the group's special 'fool' for the music, as with Barbara Acklin's 'Just Ain't No Love'; but at other times the end product was merely rnuzak. It is debatable whether the jazz sides were more soulful than the soul ones. There were four more singles released, each with diminishing success. In the search for a new sound, even film themes were thought to be suitable rnaterial as with 'Californian Montage' (55417). The last desperate attempt to recapture the commercial success of 'Soulful Strut' was 'Soulful Samba' 155420). It was probably better for all concerned that the boys went off to pastures new. Subsequent recordings at Cotillion and Isaac's solo efforts at Ronn/Paula were better, when the frantic search for a hit became secondary to the love of the music again. These are the cream of the Brunswick tracks covering the best aspects of Young-Holt's career. At all times the musicianship is exemplary and often inspired. This LP splits neatly into the 60s soul dominated first side, while the jazz influence comes out more on side two. , As far as I'm concerned, anyone who can make 'What Now My Love' sound fresh and cool earns my deepest respect. Jazz or Soul, I dig 'em the most
Article properties: Young Holt Unlimited: Wack Wack (LP)
|Young Holt Trio - Unlimited - Wack Wack (LP) LP 1|
|02||Give It Up|
|03||Gotta Find Me A Lover (24 Hours A Day)|
|04||Jist Ain't No Love|
|06||Who's Makin' Love|
|08||The In-Crowd - Wade In The Water|
|09||Ain't There Something - Money Can't Buy|
|10||You Know That I Love You|
|11||You Gimmie Thum|
|12||What Now My Love (A Maintenant)|
|13||Dig Her Walk|
|14||Baby Your Light Is Out|
Neither bassist Eldee Young nor drummer Isaac 'Red' Holt were anywhere near the recording studio that Soulful Strut was recorded at. It was actually the backing track to Chicago soulstress Barbara Acklin's Am I The Same Girl. But Brunswick Records producer Carl Davis wasn't altogether satisfied with Barbara's performance and wiped her off it. He instructed studio pianist Floyd Morris to play its melody over the track (bassist Bernard Reed and drummer Quinton Joseph were probably the actual rhythm section on the song).
The resulting instrumental was a mid-tempo gem, flowing and atmospheric with delicious horns. Morris preferred to keep his contribution secret. "He said, "No, don't put my name on that bubblegum stuff!'" says Carl, who then turned to Young and Holt to see if they'd lend their shared moniker to what looked like a surefire hit. They'd been two-thirds of jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis' trio for a decade after first playing with him in a local dance septet, The Cleffs. The three made a slew of albums for Chess' Argo imprint that included several uncommonly accessible hit instrumentals, notably The 'In' Crowd and Hang On Sloopy in 1965, before going their separate ways.
"Success spoiled the trio," says Ramsey. "By Christmas of '65, we were not buddies anymore." In 1966, Eldee (born January 7, 1936 in Chicago) and Red (born May 16, 1932 in Rosedale, Mississippi) added pianist Hysear Don Walker and formed their own trio, signing with Brunswick. Wack Wack, The Young-Holt Trio's first hit, sounded a lot like what they'd been up to with Ramsey.
Young and Holt had the same negative reaction to Soulful Strut that Morris had. Davis was seriously mulling releasing the song under his own name when Red gave him a late-night call. "He said, "Man, we didn't particularly care for it, but we played it for my son. My son really liked it, so we want you to put our name on it.'" Any embarrassment they may have felt dissipated when Soulful Strut rocketed to #3 pop and R&B, going gold under their new handle, Young-Holt Unlimited. Acklin's Am I The Same Girl did see belated light of day in 1969, doing fairly well itself.
Young-Holt stayed with Brunswick to the end of the decade without seeing the same exalted heights that Soulful Strut achieved without them. They made more records for Cotillion and Paula before splitting around 1974. Happily, there was an eventual reunion with Ramsey. Eldee died of a February 13, 2007 heart attack in Thailand.
- Bill Dahl -
Various - Sweet Soul Music
Various - Sweet Soul Music 29 Scorching Classics From 1968
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