The Souls of Unity: Reach Out and Touch
From It’s Getting Late In the Evening (Major, 197?)
Little did I realize that Noz – apart from his love for obscure rap – also scours the Maryland countryside for gospel LPs. A few months back, I discovered this album through him and in particular, heard this song and was instantly obsessed. Partially, it’s those muted horns and the deep bass lines – putting the soul in gospel soul – but it’s also teenager Angela Brown’s lead vocals, with her wavering tone and those piercing notes that, at times, recall Minnie Riperton or Linda Lewis. To be sure, I think Angela’s a little off-pitch at times but those imperfectionss help make the song all the more memorable.
I was so taken with the song, I dug around and managed to track down Ed Brown (Angela’s brother and the group’s bassist) and to make a long story short, Brown was gracious and generous enough to not only send me a copy of the LP but also share some of the history of the group and the recording.
The Souls of Unity hailed from Landover, Maryland, about ten miles northeast of Washington D.C. The group was founded by Bro. William Brown. As his son Ed puts it, “[we] practiced in our basement and eventually all the siblings took up an instrument or started singing…after a while my father took note of all the talent in the house and started the Souls of Unity.” William Sr. played rhythm guitar while his junior namesake was the group’s drummer; Ed played bass and his brother Daniel was on lead guitar. Rounding out the group was trumpeter Joe Wheeler and another vocalist, Reginald Mosley. Bro. William wrote most of the arrangements, with the kids lending input. According to the liner notes, this is the group’s second album, and they were a constant presence on “The Uplifting Hour,” a 15 minute radio show on Saturday mornings on WUST and hosted by Bro. Brown.
I also asked Ed about Angela’s singing style and he replied: “it’s not hard to hit high note when you’re a teenager…and now days she’s more like Pattie LaBelle.”
(My thanks to Ed Brown, Noz and Leo.)
I’m sorry, but no. I can kind of get it.. But, the female vocalist sounds like what I’d imagine the contestants that audition for American Idol for laughs and kicks. Awful.
Today her voice could have been edited down to a 3 sec bit that would eventually be the chorus to a ‘bitches and hoes’ thugganstarsuperstar track.
Again, sorry but I was a little disturbed by this track.
I think you made your point clear in the first comment; the second and third (which I redacted) were unnecessarily pouring it on. To each their own – I dig this a lot despite its shortcomings.
Unlike Whatever, I too am quite taken with this and appreciate the sincerity of the artists. Thanks for sharing!
i don’t know why i love this song, but i do. maybe its the sincerity, like holly said. cant get enough of this blog, keep up the good work.
I meant to comment on this earlier, but I got distracted. I just want to say that this is a gorgeous song. I listened to this obsessively while I was vacationing in Hawaii. The way her voice flutters reminds me of a flag blowing in the wind. There are some really interesting things going on in that composition, too. I love the way the two voices interact, completing the melody together. This is reflected further down the mix in the interaction of the guitar and trumpet, and again between the drums and bass. This is maybe one of my favorite tracks ever posted here.
Hi I used to play bass for the group..I went to high school with doc and penny…the band was me , rev. Brown, sis. brown, penny, doc, joe, reggie and fred! I love all of you…if you get this message email me ..God Bless!!! I’am on FB robert Baynes