The D.C. Playboys
Van McCoy is famous these days for "The Hustle," a fun chunk of Latin disco from 1975. But for 15 years up to that left-field hit, he'd been at the helm of some of the best soul music ever made.
McCoy was soul music's triple threat: a terrific producer, songwriter, and singer. He wrote and produced "Baby I'm Yours" for Barbara Lewis (and sang the backup vocals), "Getting Mighty Crowded" for Betty Everett (ditto), Chris Bartley's "The Sweetest Thing This Side of Heaven," David Ruffin's "Walk Away From Love," and "Right on The Tip of My Tongue," an especially sweet joint from Brenda & the Tabulations.
He also ran several record labels of his own, including Vando, Maxx, Share, and Arock. On the last-named label he recorded The Diplomats' "Here's a Heart" as well as today's selection, The D.C. Playboys' "You Were All I Needed."
This lovely little teen R&B 45 most likely dates from 1965 or 1966. It is believed that most, if not all, the voices on this record are McCoy's.
Not only is this a terrific piece of 60s black pop, it's also one of the first, if not the first, bubblegum records ever.
Some state that Jay & the Techniques' "Keep the Ball Rolling," from 1967, deserves this honor. Others have argued in favor of The Monkees or The Music Explosion.
But McCoy's product here predates them all, and the imaginative use of handclaps, tinkling celeste, and interweaving backing vocals spells bubblegum to me. See what you think.
This record is well known to big-time soul obsessives, but the rest of us ought to hear it, too. Thanks to Ben Pirani for turning me on to it.