Sammy Campbell/Tyrone Ashley: Alter Egos


Tyrone Ashley: Come On Home + Sing a Song Sister
From Funky Music Machine (Truth and Soul, 2007)

This is that promised follow-up to the Truth & Soul post I made last week. Today, we’re highlighting the latest release from T&S, Tyrone Ashely’s Funky Music Machine, a compilation which brings to light not just some of Ashley’s rare single sides but also never-heard-before tracks from lost tapes.

The liner notes for the album tell a fascinating tale of how Ashley was the creation of New Jersey soul journeyman Sammy Campbell. A member of the doo wop group, the Del Larks, Campbell fashioned Ashley as a way to explore other musical opportunities after knocking his head in vain to mint a hint. LIkewise, the group, the Funky Music Machine was an additional creation meant to more fully explore this alter ego and it helped Campbell land a deal with Philly’s Phil-L.A.-of Soul label in the late ’60s where he found some modest success with a single here and there but most of his material for the imprint ended up buried and forgotten until Truth & Soul came calling.

One of those songs, “Come On Home” definitely nods to Campbell’s roots in both doo wop and gospel. This is what some folks might call “old timey” – an early ’60s R&B vibe that wouldn’t have been out of place in a Memphis club from the era (the “pain in my heart” line feels like a direct nod – or bite – of Otis Redding’s song by the same name). I’m really feeling this even though it’s an earlier aesthetic than I typically get into. The harmonies are good and I like the slow sway of the rhythm and the rich, gospel overtones.

“Sing a Song Sister” is a funky instrumental track that I would guess came from the turn of the decade since it reminds me of any number of similar styled tunes from the likes of Kool and the Gang or JBs – the prototypical funk bands of the era. This is a slick little number though imagine if it had some harder drums behind it. (Reeeeeemix!).

Leon Michels was generous enough to donate a few CDs to Soul Sides for giveaways. To qualify, answer this question:

    What barbershop did the Del Larks and fellow Plainfield, NJ band, the Parliaments (yeah, as in P-Funk, Parliament) get their start at?

Send your answer to: here. Winners will be chosen from all the correct answers.

Contest is now closed. I’ll announce winners soon.

The correct answer was “Black Soap Palace.” I need to get a judge’s ruling on everyone who wrote in to say it was the Silk Palace.

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