Freddie Hughes: Send My Baby Back
What Am I Gonna Do Without Your Sweet Lovin’
He’s No Good
From Send My Baby Back (Scepter, 1965). Available from DG and AMZ.

I first saw this LP at Good Records in NYC and since it was on Scepter, I just assumed Hughes was out of New York but when I flipped it around, what caught my eye was that the LP was produced by Lonnie Hewitt, the great Bay Area talent (and founder of Wee Records). When I dug around, I realized that Hughes was out of the Bay – a Berkeley native no less – and his career really blew up on the strength of “Send My Baby Back,” originally a Wee release, then picked up for greater distro on Scepter/Wand.

Hughes has a glorious instrument here – you can certainly hear it on “Send My Baby Back” but it really shines on “What Am I Gonna Do Without Your Sweet Lovin'” which tends to keep the arrangement on the sparser side but Hughes fills in all the pockets of space with that soaring tenor. Not to be crass but he sings the sh– out of this song. (Love the use of accenting horns and background singers too).

What struck me the first time I heard “He’s No Good” is the subtle Latin percussion on here, a nod to Hewitt’s wide range of stylistic skills. The use of guiro is especially good. This is another powerful ballad that keeps the music deceptively simple while Hughes gets to let loose on the vocals.

All said, an astounding soul LP. OG copies are on the pricier side but justifiably so.

The Mighty Marvelows: I Do
I’m Without a Girl
In the Morning
From S/T (ABC, 1968). Available from AMZ.

Picked this one up at the Groove Merchant; if Hewitt’s name caught my eye with Hughes, on this LP, it was the big “arranged and produced by Johnny Pate” tag on the bottom of the group photo that drew my attention. The Marvelows themselves were a relatively short-lived sweet harmony group out of Chicago that had a modest hit with the Northern-y “I Do” but was mostly drawn to the slow jams on the album, especially the feathery beauty of “In the Morning” which has that super-laid back, Sunday night groove made for lowrider cruisin’. When the multi-harmonized falsettos kicks in on the chorus is simply awesome. “In the Morning” is more of the same (Pate really likes the flute on this album!) and to my ears, is classic Chicago sweetness. Seriously, I could listen to tracks like this for hours (and usually do). Sadly, the group disbanded right around the time ABC put this album out.