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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

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.


Blogger Derek See said...

This is a GREAT record and when i first got it i couldn't find much info. Very happy to read your blurb and find out that Van is singing on it. All hail bubblegum soul!!!!

5:34 PM, November 18, 2008

Blogger larryepke said...

Nice! I'm reminded a little of "Backfield in Motion" by Mel and Tim.

8:03 AM, November 19, 2008

Blogger IncaRoads said...

Thanks for offering up the pre-"Hustle" Van, Stu! I never would have imagined...

One of the first bubblegummy releases I remember hearing, thanks in large part to my older brother singing it AND acting it out incessantly, was "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron." Broke into the Billboard 100 in late 1966. It is too bad that bubblegum as a genre oftentimes gets a bad rap. "Indian Giver" has always been one of my fav songs ever, PERIOD. *blushes*

11:42 AM, November 19, 2008

Blogger Stuart Shea said...

Thanks for offering up the vision of your brother acting out "Snoopy." That's got to be an early contender for first bubblegum record too.

I love "Indian Giver," but you'll NEVER hear it on the radio for obvious reasons.

11:57 AM, November 20, 2008


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