IF YOU DON’T KNOW HER BY NOW


Lyn Collins: Think (About It)
From Think (About It) (People, 1972)

Lyn Collins: Mama Feelgood
From Black Caesar (Polygram, 1973)

Lyn Collins: Put It On the Line
From Check Me Out If You Don’t Know Me By Now (People, 1975)

I received some troubling news through the Soul Sides grapevine (thanks to Matt R.) that Lyn Collins had passed away over the weekend. This is one of those “I heard it from someone who heard it from someone” rumors so I’m hoping it’s not actually true, especially since Collins was only 57 years old. So, therefore, let’s not consider this post an homage to the passed, but rather a tribute to the living memory of Collins – whom we hope is alive and healthy.

Of the various female voices who helped front for Brown over the years, Collins was part of the most important triumvirate that includes Marva Whitney and Vicki Anderson. Collins hails from Abeline, TX which is where she first met up with JB, having sent the star a demo tape in the late ’60s. At the time, Whitney was still Brown’s main divbut when she left the group (supposedly for both personal and career reasons), Collins was brought into the fold but couldn’t step up as the first lady in the crew until Anderson, in 1971, also took leave of the group.

It’s arguable who among the three was the best singer but Collins was the indisputable hit-maker among them. She only released two albums (plus a string of 7″s) but they were enough to cement Collins as one of the top female funkateers of the ’70s. Her biggest hit – for today’s audiences – was from 1972, the ultra-super-duper-funky “Think.” Let’s just put aside the fact that it became the (initially uncleared) sample behind Rob Base and DJ E.Z. Rock’s huuuuuuge 1988 smash, “It Takes Two.” “Think” is as definitive a funk bomb as you could hope to engineer – from the opening monologue, to the righteous rhythm the JBs lay down, to that sublime chorus and subsequent bridge – there’s just no way this song wasn’t going to blow people’s heads in 1972, 1992, or 2052.

“Mama Feelgood,” an apt description for Collins herself, came off the Black Caeser soundtrack and it’s another uptempo cooker – check how the horns go one-on-one with Collins’ own blaring vocals. However, Collins could do more than just screech on cue – “Put It On the Line” showcases her more sultry side (is it me or does this song sound a lot like Moses Dillard’s “I’ve Got to Find a Way”).

In any case, Soul Sides sends their best to Collins and her family, hoping that rumors are just…rumors.

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