EDDY GILES-SOUTHERN SOUL BROTHER-THE MURCO RECORDINGS 1967-1969.

EDDY GILES-SOUTHERN SOUL BROTHER-THE MURCO RECORDINGS 1967-1969.

For the last sixty years, Eddy Giles has been a regular on KOKA, a Shreveport based radio station. Originally, Eddy was a guitarist in various local groups. Then between 1967 and 1969, Eddy Giles was signed to Murco Records. His singles, which feature on Southern Soul Brother-The Murco Recordings 1967-1969, which was released on Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records, were a staple of KOKA’s playlist. Eddy was the local boy made good. KOKA was playing an important part in his career.

Fast forward twenty years, and Eddy was a DJ on KOKA. Eddy was behind the wheels of steel, spinning the latest hits. That was the latest incarnation of Eddy Giles. Another thirty years have passed. Now Eddy Giles is the Reverend Eddy Giles, who preaches on KOKA. An ordained pastor, this is just the latest  in a long line of career changes for Eddy Giles. His story began seventy-six years ago.

It was in 1938, that Eddy Giles was born in Frierson, a country town in Minnesota. Frierson was home to Eddy until the fifties. That’s where he first picked up a guitar. Unlike many musicians, the guitar didn’t come easy to Eddy. No wonder. There were only two strings on Eddy’s guitar. However, Eddy persisted. He was determined to play the guitar. Then he caught a break.

Eddy saw an advert in a magazine in a cowboy magazine. If he could sell 300 packets of seed, he could win a prize. One of the prizes was an acoustic guitar. So, having sold 300 packets of seeds, Eddy sent away a money order and waited. Eventually, an acoustic guitar wound its way back to Eddy. This was the start of Eddy’s nascent career.

With nobody to teach him the basics, Eddy had to rely upon an instruction manual that came with the guitar. Tuning the guitar was problematic. It was a case of trial and error. Eventually, Eddy’s patience paid off. He was able to play his new guitar. Soon, the first chapter in Eddy’s musical career began.

Now able to play guitar, Eddy and three friends formed a group. They appeared at talent shows in the local area, where they covered songs by Elvis and Chuck Berry. This was how Eddy spent the new few years. Then in 1958, Eddy headed to Shreveport.

Originally, Eddy headed to Shreveport to attend Booker T. Washington high school. He was determined to graduate high school. Fortunately, Eddy’s aunt and uncle lived in Shreveport, and he was able to stay with them. For Eddy, an eduction was important. Eddy wasn’t interested in returning to the family farm. So, he attended high school, worked as a bell boy in a local hotel and played in talent shows. After a year, Eddy graduated. As a reward, his aunt and uncle bought Eddy his first electric guitar.

Having graduated, Eddy headed home to the family farm. Along came his new electric guitar. This caused problems for Johnny. His mother couldn’t stand the noise. Luckily, he was able to practice at a friend house. Gradually, Eddy mastered the electric guitar. When he did, he was able to join a local gospel group The Humming Bees.

Joining The Humming Bees looked like the break Eddy had been looking for. However, there was a problem. Churches didn’t allow electric guitars. For Eddy, this was frustrating. Then he caught a break.

KOKA, a Shreveport based radio station gave local groups fifteen minute slots to showcase their talent. Eddy was many of these groups go-to guitarist. This lead to Eddy joining the Chicago based group, The Pilgrim Jubilees.

Although Eddy was The Pilgrim Jubilees guitarist, he was to all intents and purposes, their bassist. He had to convert his guitar to a bass. For the next couple of years, Eddy was on the road nonstop with The Pilgrim Jubilees. Then his new wife told Eddy it was either The Pilgrim Jubilees, or her. Eddy chose his wife.

Ironically, his relationship with his wife didn’t last. They eventually split-up. During this period, Eddy was working in a restaurant. At one point, he began taking his guitar to work. On his break, he would go downstairs and play his guitar. It was at this point Eddy met drummer Willie “Caveman” Harris and a bassist. They formed The 3 Corners.

Originally, The 3 Corners were a covers band. They made just seventy-five cents each. Soon, they were getting bookings all over town. They became so popular, that The 3 Corners were being asked to enter the recording studio. There was a problem. The 3 Corners didn’t have any material. They were just a covers band. So, some new members joined The 3 Corners, who became The Jive 5. 

The 3 Corners then decided to add a vocalist, Dori Grayson. After that, James R. Steward and Earl Carter joined Dori, Eddy and Willie. They became The Jive 5. This new group quickly gelled. Soon, The Jive 5 became a popular group. Before long, the word was out about and The Jive 5 were attracting the attention of a local record company.

Dick Martin, cofounder of Murco Records got in touch with The Jive 5. He asked them if they’d considered recording some songs? However, The Jive 5 didn’t have any songs. Eddy told them this. Luckily, Dee Marais had got in touch with The Jive 5. He offered a song. Unfortunately, it wasn’t suitable for The Jive 5. So Eddy told Dee he was going to write a hit record. 

Eventually, after weeks of trying to write a song, Eddy came up with Losin’ Boy. It was cut by at the Robin Hood Studios in 1967.  The Robin Hood Studios were situated just across the state line in Tyler, Texas. This was where Eddy Giles cut his debut single.

Vocalist Dori Grayson wasn’t present when Losin’ Boy and the B-Side I Got The Blues, another Eddy Giles’ track were recorded. So, Eddy took charge of the lead vocal and played guitar. The other three members of The Jive 5, drummer Willie “Caveman” Harris, bassist Charles Lawrence and saxophonist James R. Steward. accompanied Eddy on what became his first hit single.

Murco Records picked up Losin’ Boy. When they released Losin’ Boy 1967, they had no idea how well the single would do. This tale of heartbreak from Eddy Giles sold 2,000 copies in Shreveport alone. For Murco Records, this gave  a hint of what was about to happen. Soon, Losin’ Boy was selling well. In the Dallas area, it sold 10,000 copies, and reached number one in the local charts. Losin’ Boy sold so well, that it crept into the US Billboard 100, where it spent five weeks. For Dick Martin, cofounder of Murco Records, Eddy Giles must have looked like the future of his label.

For the follow-up  to Losin’ Boy, Eddy wrote Don’t Let Me Suffer. The version of  Don’t Let Me Suffer on Southern Soul Brother-The Murco Recordings 1967-1969, is a previously unreleased extended version. It sees a heartbroken Eddy plea for his partner to return. The flip-side is While Im Away (Baby, Keep The Faith), a ballad that Eddy delivers from the perspective of a soldier heading to Vietnam. The song was inspired by saxophonist  James R. Steward, who’d just entered the US Army. Despite the quality of Don’t Let Me Suffer, it failed to chart. For Eddy Giles and Dick Martin of Murco Records, this was a disappointment.

Just a few months after the release of Don’t Let Me Suffer, Eddy returned with Eddy’s Go-Go Train. It’s a fusion of funk and soul, where Eddy appears to have been inspired by Otis Redding and James Brown. Sadly, lightning struck twice for Eddy. Eddy’s Go-Go Train failed to chart. Despite failing to chart, Eddy’s Go-Go Train proved a popular track in Eddy’s live sets. That was a small crumb of comfort. Eddy’s recording career had stalled.

So for Eddy’s fourth single, and first of 1968, he chose Happy Man, a beautiful ballad. This was the answer to Losin’ Man. Here, a contented Eddy lays bare his soul. This was Eddy finest hour. The quality continues on Music, B-Side. Just like Happy Man, it was the perfect showcase for Eddy’s talents. Sadly, Happy Man failed to chart. Eddy Giles looked like being a one-hit wonder.

This was despite Baby Be Mine, a heartfelt ballad, being chosen as Eddy’s next single. Released later in 1968, played to Eddy’s strengths. He was at his best delivering ballads. Eddy delivered lyrics like he’d lived them. The B-Side was the blues tinged Love With A Feeling on the B-Side. Despite Eddy’s fifth single oozing quality, his second hit single eluded him. Time was running out for Eddy.

Eddy only released three further singles on Murco Records. His sixth single was Soul Feeling Part 1, coupled with Soul Feeling Part 2. A driving, vampish slice of funky soul. Soul Feeling Part 1 sees Eddy pay homage to James Brown as he hollers, whoops and vamps his way through two minutes of uber funky music. Sadly, despite its undoubtable funkiness, Soul Feeling Part 1 didn’t trouble the charts. Neither did his next single.

Given Eddy had released five singles that failed to chart, there’s a certain irony that he chose Aint Gonna Worry No More as his next single. It was another ballad, where power and heartbreak are omnipresent. Tucked away on the B-Side was  Tingling, which Dick Martin cowrote with Eddy. Sadly, Aint Gonna Worry No More failed to chart and proved to be Eddy’s Murco Records. Eddy just couldn’t catch a break. How different things had looked back in 1967. Now Eddy was in the last chance saloon.

Although Eddy was still signed to Murco Records, So Deep In Love was licensed to Nashville based, Silver Fox Records. Shelby Singleton was a friend of Dee Marais, of Murco Records. They agreed that, in an attempt to revitalise Eddy’s career, Silver Fox Records would released So Deep In Love. So in 1969, So Deep In Love with Thats How Strong My Love Is on the B-Side, was released as a single. The change of label didn’t result in Eddy’s luck changing. The end was neigh for Eddy.

After So Deep In Love failed to chart, Eddy Giles met Dick Martin and Dee Marais of Murco Records. This was the end of the road. Eddy had never reached the heights of Losin’ Boy, his debut single. He’d released seven singles that failed to chart. This couldn’t go on. So Eddy and Murco Records went their separate ways.

For Eddy Giles, his time at Murco Records had been a case of what might have been? Eddy was a seriously talented singer.  That’s apparent on Southern Soul Brother-The Murco Recordings 1967-1969, which was recently released on Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records. On Southern Soul Brother-The Murco Recordings 1967-1969, we hear the different sides to Eddy Giles. 

On Southern Soul Brother-The Murco Recordings 1967-1969, Eddy veers between Southern Soul and funk. These tracks are a mixture of singles, B-Sides and previously unreleased tracks. They were recorded between 1967 and 1969, when anything looked possible for Eddy Giles. 

His career started so well. That was apparent on Losin’ Boy, his debut single. It showed that Eddy Giles was capable of bringing lyrics to life. The way he delivered lyrics, made you think he’d lived, loved and survived them. He’s at his best delivering Southern Soul ballads. Other times, he becomes a fully fledged funkateer.

When that happens, Eddy vamps his way through tracks, fusing funk and soul. Eddy’s reminiscent of James Brown, as he swaggers and struts his way through the funkier tracks on Southern Soul Brother-The Murco Recordings 1967-1969. This funkier side of Eddy Giles failed to attract the attention of record buyers.

Apart from Losin’ Boy, Eddie Giles’ debut single on Murco Records, commercial success eluded the man from Frierson, Minnesota. That became the story of Eddy Giles’ career in secular music. Belatedly, Eddy released his debut album I’m A Losing Boy in 1979. Still, commercial success eluded Eddy Giles. After that, Eddy returned to where it all began KOKA, a Shreveport based radio station in the eighties.

Rather than making records, Eddy was spinning them. Eddy Giles’ career had come full circle. There were still a few twists and turns still to come. 

Fast forward another thirty years, and Eddy Giles is now the Reverend Eddy Giles, who preaches on KOKA. Now aged seventy-six, Eddy Giles has come full circle. KOKA, was where he made his musical debut. Eddy Giles has packed a lot of living into the intervening sixty years, including recording the eighteen tracks on Southern Soul Brother-The Murco Recordings 1967-1969, which feature the best music of his career.

EDDY GILES-SOUTHERN SOUL BROTHER-THE MURCO RECORDINGS 1967-1969.

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