Despite appearances otherwise, I’m not much of a completionist. I may go through pet phases of interest in a particular artist or label but generally, I lack the time (or better said, focus) to dive into entire discographies (I mean, that’s what we have Numero for). One of the “drawbacks” to foregoing such an approach is that I’m continually rediscovering how good a catalog is even if I realize, in hindsight, “I should have known better.” Case in point: Ruby Andrews.
This Chicago singer, backed by the powerhouse writing of the Brothers of Soul, put together a stellar set of sides for Ric Williams’s Zodiac label beginning in the mid 1960s. The first track that most folks like me (read: hip-hop heads) will come across is likely this track:1
Ruby Andrews: You’ve Made a Believer Out of Me
From 7″ (Zodiac, 1969)
It’s still a perennial favorite of mine (I mean, for real); one of those ridiculously easy “go-to” cuts to slip into a mix. I can only assume it was a successful single for Andrews since it ended up on each of her two Zodiac LPs, the only track to span both.
From there, she has another two singles that should be relatively easy/cheap to come by. One of them is a “Part 1/2” single of the slow-burner “Whatever It Takes To Please You”:
Ruby Andrews: Whatever It Takes To Please You (Part 1)
From 7″ (Zodiac, 1971)
You can also find this song in its full form on the Black Ruby LP, her second long play for Zodiac but the one that contained several of Zodiac 7″ releases that came out prior to her first Zodiac album, Everybody Saw You (yeah, it gets confusing).
Then there’s this 7″ which I wrote about two years ago.
Both sides are great but “Come To Me” is an absolute gem of a production which gets the b-side ballad a slight nod over the excellent Northern flip side. This is 7″ only release; how it never made either Zodiac LP is beyond me. On the other hand, these last two songs are on Black Ruby but it’s worthy copping the 7″ on top of it; both sides are awesome:
“Just Loving You” is dazzling Northern stomper backed with an updated take on a doo-wop slow jam. Really killer two-sider though you’ll often pay for the privilege; if you’re being economical about it, just spend the loot for Black Ruby and you’ll get 2/3rds of this list in one fell swoop (or, for the digital minded, grab Just Loving You: The Zodiac Sessions.
For more on Andrews, Zodiac and the Brothers of Soul, read the essential background on the Soulful Detroit site.