Sunday, 13 May 2018

Wendell Stuart And The Downbeaters “Wendell Stuart And The Downbeaters"1969 Bahamas Soul


Wendell Stuart And The Downbeaters “Wendell Stuart And The Downbeaters"1969 Bahamas Soul
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A top-shelf serving of mellow early-70s Bahamaian soul. Wendell Stuart’s tenor tremelos are heartworn and intoxicating. I’d say he’s reminiscent of an early Johnny Nash. The backbeats are smoothly understated and Solomon Frazer’s sonorous lead guitar bounces and strums in a pleasingly Ranglin-esque mode. Plenty of winners here, with a charming bossa-like rendition of Sandie Shaw’s Always Something There to Remind Me (later a hit for Naked Eyes in 1982).
Stuart’s version of Tom Paxton’s The Last Thing on My Mind is also something else, but my real favorite might be this slowburning rendition of the Supreme’s "My World Is Empty Without You”, which was recently included on Trans Air’s excellent West Indies Funk compilation:….~



This weekend I did a small dig in Brooklyn. I have a spot that isn’t secret, but always comes through every time I go there. I was a bit concerned because I heard that it was recently taken over by the Brooklyn Flea (mostly because of the prices going up), but I was pleasantly surprised that the place stayed the way it was, and my record guy didn’t pump up his prices. Good sign, and an even better sign that the Brooklyn Flea name was making the spot more diverse. I dug through my usual crates and came up with a few gems. I had to push this one up, because it’s just that good from front to back. How about some Reggae Soul via the Bahamas? Here’s Wendell Stuart and the Downbeaters with “My World Is Empty Without You” on Elite Records. 

One of the most beloved singer from the Bahamas, Wendell Stuart’s voice fits somewhere between Johnny Nash and Ken Boothe, a beautiful blend of Reggae, Calypso and Soul that soothes the ear. Backed by Solomon Frazier on guitar, Patrick Capron on bass, Erskine Bain on drums, and Alvin “Wong” Bullard on background vox, this entire record is a unique piece of vinyl. With covers of Burt Bacharach, The Beatles, Tom Paxton, and this Supremes side offered up today is mixed in with traditional Hatian songs adapted into English (“Yellow Bird”, done by a plethora of singers over the years), and other interesting tunes. The side featured today was highlighted on the West Indies Funk compilation put out by Trans Air in 2011. What’s cool about this record is that it probably gets passed over a lot because while it has the Reggae group name, it could be perceived as a Calypso record. That’s what I think happened when I picked this up, a bonus for me. It doesn’t hurt that it’s an autographed copy to boot. Maybe he sold these Lps when he was headlining at Junkanoo in Freeport, Grand Bahamas, or maybe he sold them here in the States. Whatever the case, we’ll never know. These autographed copies have fetched up to $100+, but quite honestly, I could care less about the autograph. It’s the music that really matters. 
“My World Is Empty Without You” is a beautiful rendition of the Supremes. Mellow Soul out of the islands at its finest, the harmonies coupled with Stuart’s voice put this tune in a notch above a lot of renditions of this song. The beautiful guitar by Solomon Frazier keeps you floating along with the lyrics all the way through. When the song nears the end, the band really kicks in and funks it up a bit, ending in a bit of a pleading frenzy into the fade out. This one can be found cheap, and if you see it, pick it up and ask no questions……~




Credits 
Backing Vocals – Alvin “Wong” Bullard 
Bass Guitar – Patrick Capron 
Drums – Erskine Bain 
Lead Guitar – Solomon Frazer 
Vocals – Wendell Stuart




Tracklist 
A1 Jude 
A2 My World Is Empty Without You 
A3 The Last Thing On My Mind 
A4 Island Woman 
A5 Yellow Bird 
B1 Always Something There To Remind Me 
B2 Island In The Sun 
B3 Shame And Scandle In The Family 
B4 Delilah 
B5 From The Moment To Moment 
B6 Mary Ann 

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