Monday, July 26, 2010

July 26

Another request: Dobie Gray, who led me to a musical movement that wasn't created by the musicians, but by their fans.
In the late-60's UK, the Motown sound was making almost as big a splash over there as the Beatles were in the US. As the sounds of soul music began to evolve, a clear line was drawn between the early soul sound that was influencing the mods and the blue-eyed soul scene, and the soul music that was embracing funk, psychedelia, and the politics of the times. While the new soul music was changing, the mod scene wasn't ready to change with it.
That's where the Northern Soul scene comes in: fans of the early sound began scouring their old record collections for undercelebrated songs to celebrate anew. B-sides that came and went in their original release found a new lease on life.
And that's where we pick up the story of Dobie Gray, whose "Out on the Floor" was on his first full=length album in 1965. The song made the British charts in 1975, and it's considered among the top 10 Northern Soul songs.

That 1965 album was a singles collection, brought on by the success of his first hit single "The In Crowd". A Top 20 hit in the US, the song was also adopted in the Mod scene.

But Dobie would have his own musical evolution in the 60's. In the latter half of the 60's, he joined the cast of the Broadway musical 'Hair'. During that time, he was also the lead singer in the band Pollution, most remembered for being managed by the guy who played Jethro on the 'Beverly Hillbillies'.

In 1972, he moved to Nashville and recorded a solo album on the Decca label, working with Mentor Williams, brother of songwriter Paul Williams. From here on, he would perform songs like the soul ballads and gospel tunes that he preferred. These songs would be categorized as 'country rock'. The album's title track was the Mentor Williams written-and-produced track "Drift Away"

Far and away his biggest hit, "Drift Away" carried him to his record label when Decca was swallowed by MCA. He had several singles bubbling under the charts over the next few albums, but no more breakthroughs, and none at his next home, Capricorn Records. He began increasing his efforts at songwriting, penning tunes for George Jones and John Denver. He toured well, particularly in South Africa; he convinced the apartheid goverment to allow him to play for integrated crowds, which was unheard of at the time.

By the 80's, he was recording again - this time, for the country charts.

But "Drift Away" is still the song Dobie Gray's known for, and it's also a great encore. When he re-recorded it as a duet with Uncle Cracker, "Drift Away" did even better the second time around - finally becoming a number 1 hit (and for half a year!), on the AC charts.
So, let's end this with a reprise, because it's a Monday as I write this, and because we all need this feeling, even if we don't listen to the Beach Boys...

Uncle Kracker - Drift Away
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