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No Sweeter Sound

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The Natural Four: Why Should We Stop Now, I Thought You Were Mine and Going In Circles
Taken from the album Good Vibes on ABC (1970)

Aah. Back in the blogosphere. It’s almost like coming home… Almost.

But being that I’m still in Mama Afreaka for another four and a bit months (zoinks), I finally decided to bite the bullet and start posting in absentia. With a little help from the worldwide web (emphasis on worldwide), an old friend named Ebay, and my dear brother–known to most as the good Captain–I should be able to lace y’all with the more-than-occasional assault of blazing fire. Which brings me to today…

I’ve been trying for almost a year to get my hands on this album, the first and only LP recorded by the seminal line-up of the Natural Four, before their reconstitution and move to Curtom. The year is 1970 and these are the glory days for N.F. They had a charted hit (“Why Should We Stop Now”), a killer lead tenor in Chris James and a group dymanic rich in harmony and orchestration. But beyond the first couple singles, the album flopped, and none of their future efforts (even with Leroy Hutson at the helm) could capture the start-to-finish glory of this first record. This is a truly wonderful soul album.

And the fact that I am now only able to appreciate it via digital proxy (African internet+Ebay dorking+shipping to the Captain’s Brooklyn digs=this post) makes it a bit of a tease. I mean, how much do you want to hold that turn-of-the-decade album art it your hands? How bad do you want to hear the needle drop on its Near Minty waxen surface? Watch the needle head undulate over the subtle imperfections waiting for that first rumble of a bass drum… Horns! Bass! Strings! PIANO!

Appreciation is the name of the game, friends. This is sweet sticky soul at its best. Live and direct from Africa.