Every soul fan will be familiar with It’s A Shame, one of the most definitive 70s soul releases of all time, written and produced by Stevie Wonder – the first he’d produced for another group. How many realise though, that the song has two lead vocals – both by G.C. Cameron? Extraordinary vocal gymnastics for sure, and a performance that will cement his place in soul music history – he’d joined the group and suddenly was enjoying the benefits of their most successful record. Of the seven octaves, I am sure that G.C. goes through at least five of them on that song alone; a natural born singer – one of a kind.
Motown had picked up The Spinners by purchasing the Tri-Phi label in 1963, and it seemed to have been decided quite quickly that when their contract was finished, they would not be held back from moving on. However, by then Cameron had married Berry Gordy’s sister, Gwendolyn, and the couple were living it large in Beverly Hills. So he decided to stay with Motown whilst The Spinners moved to Atlantic in 1971 and went on to have 27 more Top 100 hits. He recorded a few singles on the subsidiary label MoWest plus 3 albums; G.C. Cameron, Love Songs & Other Tragedies and You’re What’s Missing In My Life, the latter being cited as one of Motown’s 10 best albums of all time;
By 1980, fed up with the decadence, G.C. Cameron went back to live in his parents’ trailer in McCall. He became more involved with the church and re-evaluated his life, but by 1983 he was at the Malaco studios in Jackson, MS, recording the album Give Me Your Love, which wasn’t a ground breaker but did contain the sublime title track, a mid-pacer that is so perfect for the Modern Soul scene. It was LP (or cassette!) only so really did get overlooked, but is now available on 7” vinyl for us all to enjoy – quite possibly one of George Curtis Cameron’s best recordings.
In 2000 he had a call to re-join The Spinners and spent 3 years touring with them as lead singer, after which he left to join The Temptations for another 4 years. In 2008 Cameron packed it all in, but does still occasionally performs for a Motown Review Special.
THE GREEN BROTHERS
Robert L. Green (Bobby) and younger brother Aaron Alexander (Al) were born in Fort Pierce, Florida, and raised by their pastor father and step-mother who also sang and preached in church. They relocated to Royal Oak, Michigan in the mid 60s and by 1968 had joined the gospel group The Violinaires (Wilson Pickett was a member in the late 50s) and headed out on the road. Bobby’s voice can be heard for the first time on a live album recorded in the early 70s but Al had left the group by then and his vocals would not appear on vinyl until 1974.
They started their own label Warfell Records at some time around 1967 but Bobby is quoted as saying that they didn’t release anything on it, yet Faith, a single by The Soul Superiors penned by Aaron & Bobby Green exists, presumably with Fred Burns on vocals? Warfell quickly folded, but other sources quote it as being a 70s label?
Two further releases exist as The Soul Superiors of Detroit Mich. for Designer Records, Style Wooten’s gospel imprint. Whatever You Do, Do Good / Great Day (1971) written by Aaron featuring Bobby on vocals (both tracks can also be found on a 4CD compilation released in 2014), and Up Above My Head / Amazing Grace (1973) with the top side written by Bobby and featured his vocals (the flip featured Fred Burns).
In April 1974, Stax producer Dave Clark saw the brothers perform in a gospel talent show at Ford Auditorium and was so impressed he got them to send a tape of a few songs for boss Jim Stewart to hear. They were signed to the prestigious label and managed to get some studio time a couple of months later with the intention of releasing an album, however, a single on subsidiary label Truth was finally released in 1975. One can only wonder if choosing the novelty A-side, Dy-No-Mite (Did You Say My Love), was a wrong decision by the label? The flip, If You Change Your Mind (I Can’t Love You Too Much), co-written by Bobby & Al and Bobby’s uncredited wife Virgie, was a much better vehicle to showcase their harmony style with Bobby hitting the most incredible high falsetto note just before the fade. A couple of cheques from Stax bounced, so the brothers knew the end was in sight.
After the fold, they hooked up with legendary ex-Stax producer Don Davis to record Lack Of Attention / Sweet Lovin’ Woman, a fabulous double-sider under his expert production (Tortoise International 1977). This was a much more credible release; the Ronnie McNeir penned Sweet Lovin’ Woman is a classic example of Southern Soul being given the kind of Detroit production skills that remind you of the way the Willie Henderson and Leo Graham gave Tyrone Davis that vintage Chicago feel. The flip, Lack Of Attention, just underlines their gritty vocal talents. My tip would be to get one of these under-played and under-priced beauties before the price rockets, as it will, after this Jai Alai release
After the unfortunate failure of the Tortoise release, Al moved back to Florida whilst Bobby remained in Detroit. Some 30 years later Bobby Manuel, who had played on the Stax recordings, contacted Bobby regarding the unreleased material and the result was amazing. The tracks were enhanced by live strings and horns and the 2009 CD Soulsville (LocoBop Records) featured these long lost tracks. By this time, Al had passed, and just a couple of months ago, Bobby sadly passed too, but the selection here on Jai Alai was from that fruitful session. Grab some serious soul history with a copy of this almighty gem now on vinyl for the first time.
IN STOCK NOW.
G.C. Cameron - Give Me Your Love
The Green Brothers - Your Love Lifted Me