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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Jan Bradley - Your Kind of Lovin'


Here's a Chicago soul track by Jan Bradley, a talented singer mostly forgotten today despite enjoying a big hit ("Mama Didn't Lie") in 1963.

Ms. Bradley, from the south suburbs of Chicago, hooked up with local powerhouse Chess Records at age 19 in the early sixties. Working with Curtis Mayfield, who was already building a stable of talented local singers and groups, she had access to good material and excellent backing musicians.

"Mama Didn't Lie," a sprightly slice of poppy rhythm and blues, took off in 1963, racing up the charts, eventually made the national pop top 20 and the R&B top 10.

Unfortunately, Mayfield and Leonard Chess fell out over a royalties dispute concerning the song, and Jan Bradley was denied the ability to again work with Mayfield. Her manager, Don Talty, took over as producer. Never again would Jan Bradley enjoy a major hit.

She did, however, write many of her own singles from this point forward, ensuring that she at least picked up a few extra bucks in royalties.

My favorite Jan Bradley recording of all is "Your Kind of Lovin'," an unsuccessful 1967 single release on Chess. It was her second-to-last outing for the label.

Soul expert Robert Pruter, in his book Chicago Soul, doesn't even note this song; it may be too strange and indebted to rock for his tastes. (He does mention the pleasant but inconsequential flip, "It's Just Your Way.")

From the very opening--stomping drums and guitar with blaring horns--"Your Kind of Lovin'" has that classic Northern dance beat typical of so much Chicago soul of the period. Vibes, piano, and congas add to the sonic palette.

The song itself, co-written by Bradley and Talty, is very unusual, with a snaky, almost Eastern, melody that Ms. Bradley works around in a sultry, playful fashion. The lyrics are tough and imaginative, conveying quite clearly that this affair is over.

While a strong soul underpinning is present, this 45 also sports quite a few odd touches. Following an odd, choppy guitar solo (I wonder if Chess session ace Phil Upchurch played it), Talty brings a melodica into the arrangement. And instead of resolving to a major chord out of the last chorus, "Your Kind of Lovin'" fades on a repeating, almost trance-inducing minor-key phrase. The effect is dizzying.

This works well both as uptempo, danceable urban pop and as a sort of psychedelic soul, but it's certainly understandable why the 45 didn't sell at the time. It's not particularly commercial, but the whole 2:32 package impresses the heck out of me. It doesn't remind me of anything else ever recorded.

Jan Bradley quit the music-go-round in the 70s and moved into social work. One assumes she's better compensated for her hard work.

Hope you enjoy this.

4 Comments:

Blogger Derek See said...

Gorgeous song, great arrangement! Never heard this one before THANKS!!!

8:44 AM, November 21, 2008

 
Anonymous Dan E said...

Yeah, great arrangement, and thanks for the history lesson - I'd always wondered why Curtis and Jan didn't work together more...

Oh yeah — Happy Thanksgiving!

11:28 AM, November 27, 2008

 
Blogger larryepke said...

Terrific stuff! You don't happen to know what town she was from, do you?

Mr. South Suburbs

12:21 PM, December 01, 2008

 
Blogger Stuart Shea said...

According to Robert Pruter, Jan Bradley moved, at age 4, from Mississippi to Robbins, IL, a south suburb of Chicago. So you can claim her!

12:29 PM, December 01, 2008

 

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