KING FLOYD -I FEEL LIKE DYNAMITE-THE EARLY CHIMNEYVILLE SINGLES AND MORE 1970-1974.

KING FLOYD -I FEEL LIKE DYNAMITE-THE EARLY CHIMNEYVILLE SINGLES AND MORE 1970-1974.

For King Floyd, it was a case of second time around. After his debut career album A Man In Love, which was written by Dr. John, failed commercially, he joined the post office. Three years later, King Floyd made a comeback. He recorded a single What Our Love Needs which was released on Chimneyville Records in 1970. On the B-Side was Groove Me, which after some persuasion from arranger Wardell Quezergue, King Floyd had recorded. Soon, King Floyd would’ve cause to thank Wardell.

On the release of What Our Love Needs, on Chimneyville Records, some DJs in King Floyd’s hometown of New Orleans flipped the single over and played the B-Side Groove Me. Quickly, Groove Me gave King Floyd a local hit. Atlantic Records watching what was happening, secured the rights to distribute Groove Me across America. Soon, Groove Me was climbing the charts. It reached number one in the US R&B Charts and number six in the US Billboard 100. Having sold one-million copies, Groove Me was certified good. The other ramification was King Floyd quit his job with the post office.

Having franked his last letter, King Floyd headed out on an American tour. This was the start of King Floyd’s four-year stay at Chimneyville Records. The first four years of King Floyd’s time is documented on Kent Soul’s recent compilation King Floyd-I Feel Like Dynamite-The Early Chimneyville Singles and More 1970-1974. 

Featuring the twelve singles King Floyd released between 1970 and 1974, on Chimneyville Records, King Floyd-I Feel Like Dynamite-The Early Chimneyville Singles and More 1970-1974, brings some of these songs to CD for the first time. They’re also a welcome reminder of one of the most overlooked and underrated soul singers of the seventies. Versatile, he’s able to sing Southern Soul, deep soul and funk. King Floyd is one of soul’s best kept secrets. Before I tell you about the music on King Floyd-I Feel Like Dynamite-The Early Chimneyville Singles and More 1970-1974, I’ll tell you about King Floyd’s career.

King Floyd was born in New Orleans, in February 1945. During his childhood, he immersed himself in the city’s rich musical heritage. So, it’s no surprise that on leaving high school, King Floyd got a job singing in the Sho Bar on Bourbon Street. That was his introduction to music. Then in 1964, after spending time in the army, he followed the sun, all the way down to California.

In California, King Floyd gravitated to a group of New Orleans’ musicians. Mac Recenback, Jessie Hill, Alvin Robinson, Harold Battiste and Shirley Pixley of Shirley and Lee all called California their second home. Through this group of musicians, King Floyd made contacts within the Los Angeles music scene.

Over the next couple of years, King Floyd record singles for Original Sound and Uptown. Next stop for King Floyd was Irwin Garr’s Pulsar label. He recorded several singles, then with the New Orleans expats help, King Floyd recorded his debut career album A Man In Love. It featured songs written by Dr. John and was produced by Harold Battiste. On its release, A Man In Love was a commercial failure. That resulted in King Floyd quitting music and heading home to New Orleans, where he joined the post office to support his family.

Although King Floyd had quit music full time, he continued to perform in his spare time. This allowed him to hone his skills and stagecraft. It was also some extra money, that was welcome for a man with a young family. Then an opportunity arose that King Floyd couldn’t resist. He got the opportunity to record with Wardell Quezergue a veteran of the New Orleans’ music scene who’d formed a partnership with businessman Elijah Walker. They gathered a variety of local artists they wanted to record. Among them, were Jean Knight, Barons Ltd and Bonnie and Sheila. Wardell and Elijah borrowed a school bus and took them to Malaco Studios, in Jackson, Mississippi. 

Owned by Tommy Couch, Malaco Studios was gradually gaining a reputation as a studio with a good reputation. Essentially, it was a good room, where many legendary recordings would take place. This made it perfect place for Wardell and Elijah’s recording to take place. King Floyd arrived at the studios later in the day. He hadn’t been on the bus. Everyone had recorded two tracks. Now it was King Floyd’s turn. First up he recorded What Our Love Needs. Then after some persuasion from Wardell recorded a track entitled Groove Me. With each artist having recorded two songs, or a single each, they headed to New Orleans. Now all Wardell and Elijah needed was a label to release their singles.

That was easier said than done. Labels were approached about releasing the eight tracks. Each liked the music, but said the same thing, thanks, but no thanks. Then Wardell and Elijah’s luck changed. Bonnie and Sheila were signed to King Records. There was still no luck with any of the other three artists. So, Wardell and Elijah decided to release King Floyd’s single What Our Love Need on their own label, Chimneyville Records.

Founded in 1969, Wardell was a legend of the New Orleans music scene. Elijah was the money man. He was an important figure in the New Orleans’ Teamsters, so could raise capital for business ventures easily. This is how Chimneyville Records, which was about to release its biggest single, came about.

On the release of the impassioned, heartfelt, What Our Love Needs, on Chimneyville Records, some DJs in King Floyd’s hometown of New Orleans flipped the single over, and played the B-Side, the sensual, sultry Groove Me, where soul and funk unite. Quickly, Groove Me gave King Floyd a local hit. Atlantic Records watching what was happening, secured the rights to distribute Groove Me across America. Soon, Groove Me was climbing the charts. It reached number one in the US R&B Charts and number six in the US Billboard 100. Having sold one-million copies, Groove Me was certified gold. King Floyd quit the post office and embarked on an American tour. This was the start of a six year stay at Chimneyville Records,

Having just enjoyed a million-selling single, in some ways, the only way is down. After all, not many artists enjoy back-to-back million selling singles? Baby Let Me Kiss You, which King Floyd penned, reached number twenty-nine in the US Billboard 100 Charts. No wonder. Sounding like James Brown, he vamps his way through the track, mixing frustration, emotion and sadness, accompanied by stabs of blazing horns. As for the B-Side, Please Don’t Leave Me Lonely another King Floyd penned track, I much prefer it. With swathes of strings, soaring harmonies and braying horns, King Floyd’s vocal opus is a heartbreaking, outpouring of grief and pain.

Having released two hit singles, King Floyd released his eponymous sophomore album in 1971. Unfortunately, it failed to chart. Featuring his first two singles and his  third single, Got To Have Your Lovin,’ there was more to King Floyd than that. Messin’ Up My Mind was heart-wrenching, soulful plea. So Glad I Found You sees King Floyd find happiness at last, and showcases one of his best vocals. Then there’s A Day In The Life Of A Fool, which like Messin’ With My Mind was written by King Floyd and Joseph Broussard. It’s a tale of love gone wrong, brought to life by King Floyd. He breathes life and meaning into the lyrics. Just as he did on his next single.

Hot on its heels of King Floyd, was King Floyd’s third single, Got To Have Your Lovin.’ Written by Michael Adams and Joseph Broussard, it reached number 101 in the US Billboard 100 and number thirty-five in the US R&B Charts. There’s a change in direction for King Floyd. As he fuses elements of soul, funk and rock, this, a scorching, dramatic and timeless track unfolds. Feeding off his backing vocalists, King Floyd’s vocal is needy as he mixes power and passion. On the B-side, is Let Us Be, which is a real hidden gem. Again, the interplay between King Floyd pleading vocal and the harmonies is crucial to the song’s success. So are stabs of braying horns and the powerhouse of a rhythm section. So good is this track, it could’ve been a single.

When the King Floyd penned, Let Me See You Do That Thing was released in 1971, it was a first for King Floyd. Best described as funky and soulful, it was his single not to chart. Good as Let Me See You Do That Thing is, the joyous B-Side It’s Wonderful, which Wardell Quezergue wrote with Albert Savoy is better. It’s as if King Floyd can relate to the lyrics? As a result he breathes life and meaning into the lyrics.

Things weren’t looking good for King Floyd when Everybody Needs Somebody was released in 1972. It’s another funky track. Here, King Floyd becomes Dr. Funk, vamping his way through this fusion of funk and soul. DJs weren’t impressed. Mind you, King Floyd had set his standards high. Some DJs, remembering Groove Me, decided to see what delights were tucked away on the B-Side. What they found was Woman Don’t Go Astray, was another King Floyd composition. A needy, a desperate King Floyd lays bare his soul. DJs loved it and started playing it. History repeated itself as the track reached number fifty-three in the US Billboard 100 and number three in the US R&B Charts. However, behind the scenes, there were problems afoot.

Up until then, King Floyd and Wardell got on well. King Floyd was an easy going guy who was content to let Wardell arrange and produce his music. Then he started to suggest ideas when it came to arrangements and productions. For a while, Wardell put up with this. Then after Wardell’s third album and second for Chimneyville, Think About It, which was released in 1973. 

Like its predecessor, Think About failed to chart. That’s no reflection on the music. It’s crammed full of quality. There’s thoughtful cover of The Temptations’ My Girl. Then there’ the Wardell Quezergue penned It’s Not What You Say. Funky, soulful and accusing, King Floyd cuts loose. The same can be said of the James Brown-esque You’ve Got Me. As for Hard To Handle, it’s a sassy, strutting fusion of soul and funk. Two of the highlights are ballads. They’re Thank You, a soulful outpouring of appreciation, and You’ve Got Me is a heartfelt, reassuring ballad. It seemed singles not albums were King Floyd’s forte.

The title-track, which was a cover of an Otis Redding song, released after his death, was chosen as the lead single from Think About It. As if paying homage to Otis Redding, King Floyd rung every ounce of emotion from the song. Heart-wrenching, it reached a disappointing forty-nine in the US R&B Charts. Here It Is which was the B-Side, had a sixties soul sound. Written by King Floyd, John Terry and Theodore Royal, it’s a sultry, sensual hidden gem, that’s the perfect accompaniment to Think About It, which marked the end of an era for King Floyd.

Think About It was the last King Floyd single Atlantic Records distributed. They didn’t renew the deal. So Chimneywille were left without a distributor. During that time, So Chimneywille released So Much Confusion, a King Floyd penned track in 1973. Featuring socially conscious lyrics, it’s a track that sounds not unlike what Gamble and Huff were doing with The O’Jays. Sadly, without a distribution deal, the single failed to chart. Considering it’s one of the best songs King Floyd wrote, and features a really slick, contemporary arrangement, it was a lost opportunity. If it had garnered radio play, it could’ve transformed King Floyd’s career. Sadly, it didn’t. At least, Chimneywille had a new distributor. 

Eventually, Henry Stone’s T.K. Records agreed a deal with Chimneywille. Marking the start of this new era was the uber funky I Feel Like Dynamite, which reached number thirty-five in the US R&B Charts. Penned by Larry Hamilton, Albert Savoy and Elijah Walker, it’s an explosive slice of funky music. On the B-Side was the beautiful ballad Handle With Care. Written by King Floyd, it features a tender, impassioned, needy vocal. That’s the last single that features on King Floyd-I Feel Like Dynamite-The Early Chimneyville Singles and More 1970-1974. Ironically, the B-Side surpasses the quality of the single. That’s no surprise. After all, King Floyd was at his best laying bare his soul.

While King Floyd was comfortable with the funkier cuts on King Floyd-I Feel Like Dynamite-The Early Chimneyville Singles and More 1970-1974, he’s at his best when things get soulful. Especially when it comes to laying bare his soul. That’s when he’s at his very best. Songs like Please Don’t Leave Me Lonely, Woman Don’t Go Astray and Messin’ Up My Mind are akin to a cathartic outpouring of emotion. It’s not all sadness and regret from King Floyd. No. Far from it.

Happiness comes his way on Baby Let Me Kiss You, So Glad I Found You, Got To Have Your Lovin.’ My Girl and Thank You. Songs like this see King Floyd come alive. It’s meat and drink to him. He breathes life and meaning into the lyrics. So much so, you feel that he’s lived, loved and wants to tell the tale. A versatile, talented singer, he’s not unlike an old-fashioned storyteller. Many of these stories come from King Floyd’s pen. He’s not just a singer, but a singer-songwriter. With Wardell Quezergue guiding his career, he enjoyed a string of hit singles, including the million-selling Groove Me. Sadly, neither their relationship nor King Floyd’s time at Chimneyville had a happy ending.

When King Floyd started to suggest ideas about arrangements and productions, for a while, Wardell put up with this. Then after Wardell’s third album and second for Chimneyville, Think About It, released in 1973, Wardell called time on his partnership with King Floyd. As a result, some of the music released after 1974, doesn’t match the quality of music on King Floyd-I Feel Like Dynamite-The Early Chimneyville Singles and More 1970-1974 which was recently released by Kent Soul. That, quite simply, is the equivalent to The Best Of King Floyd, with some hidden gems added. Who knows what heights King Floyd might have reached with Walter by his side.

Indeed, if King Floyd had been signed to Atlantic Records, what heights could he have reached? Maybe then, King Floyd would’ve reached the heights his considerable talent deserved. Instead, King Floyd-I Feel Like Dynamite-The Early Chimneyville Singles and More 1970-1974 is a tantalizing taste of what King Floyd was capable of. Standout Tracks: Baby Let Me Kiss You, So Glad I Found You, Got To Have Your Lovin’ and Thank You.

 KING FLOYD -I FEEL LIKE DYNAMITE-THE EARLY CHIMNEYVILLE SINGLES AND MORE 1970-1974.

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