The C.O.D.’s: Pretty Baby
From 7″ (Kellmac, 1965)

Ann Sexton: Have A Little Mercy
From 7″ (Seventy-Seven, 1973). Also on Anthology.

Lionel Robinson: Steppin’ Out (8-Bar Intro Edit)
Steppin’ Out (instrumental)
From 7″ (Knight, 1971)

The T.S.U. Tornadoes: Got To Get Through To You
From 7″ (Atlantic, 1969). Also on One Flight Too Many.

A few recent 7″s that have stuck in heavy rotation for me…

I first heard “Pretty Baby” by the C.O.D.’s on a deep soul mix years ago but had largely forgotten about it until recently, when I was hanging at my man Hua’s crib in BK and this was in his stack of new arrivals. So good. Seriously, this absolutely hits that sweet spot for me with the falsetto harmonies and the backing track. Love, love, love this. 1 Best yet: this is a stupendously cheap 7″; you can get a mint copy for $10-15 which is an insane steal for a song this good.

Speaking of deep soul, Ann Sexton’s cover of Jean Wells’s “Have a Little Mercy On Me” is also on my current list of “best things ever.” I don’t want to start a fight in saying that I actually prefer Sexton’s version over Wells’s, even though I think the horns are pretty killer on the OG. But Sexton sells the anguish on this version better for me and both songs make strong use of a bassline that drags you into the emotional murk.

On a slightly more uptempo note, we have Lionel Robinson’s rare-ish first single, “Steppin’ Out.” Super-solid early ’70s gutbucket funk with an opening breakbeat (extended into 8 bars for DJing purposes; the original is just 1 bar) and slick bass work before the chicken-scratch guitar and Robinson’s vocals drop in. The instrumental version replaces the vocals with some sizzling organ work.

Last, we have the killer crossover tune, “Got TO Get Through To You” by the TSU Tornadoes. I know the band is better known for their funkier stuff but this is, by far, the best thing I’ve yet heard from their catalog. It wields a lovely verve, doesn’t it? Not quite joyful but practically giddy in its energy.

  1. Larry Brownlee was the key guy in the group and it’s worth noting that he can also take credit for another deep soul masterpiece, the Lost Generation’s “Sly, Slick and Wicked.”