The Superlatives – I Don’t Know How (To Say I Love You) Don’t Walk Away


The Superlatives


Listen – I Don’t Know How (To Say I Love You) Don’t Walk Away MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope everyone has had as excellent a weekend as we did here at the Funky16Corners compound.
The whole shebang got off to an excellent start on Friday when I found out that my work situation was indeed headed for a positive change. Nothing drastic but a whole lot more intellect intensive, as well as a bit more secure than what I was doing, so that’s a load off my mind.
Then, on the recreational tip we got some superior outdoor time in, thanks in large part to that rarity, a better than expected weather report. A good time was had by all.
As a result, I come to this Sunday evening (Monday morning to those of you in the EU and east) well rested and a good deal happier than I’ve been in a while.
I spoke to my man DJ Prestige earlier in the day, and plans are in effect to get down with a podcast/mix collaboration in the very near future. It should be a gas.
One of the most excellent by-products of spinning with the crew at the Asbury Park 45 Sessions, is that I always walk away from these nights with a slightly longer want list. The resident selectors – and the guests of course – consistently bring the heat, and despite my many years of rooting around in dusty basements (not to mention the dark corners of the interwebs), they always spin something that is new to me, which I start digging for as soon as I can.
As a result, since the Sessions got underway, there have been several outstanding additions to the Funky16Corners archive that first found their way into my ears after they dropped from the DJs hands and slipped under the needles at the Asbury Lanes.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be mixing in some of these gems (full credit applied) here on yon blogspot, and with any luck, you’ll not only dig the sounds, but may be suitably inspired to make your way to Asbury Park on July 6th for the next edition of the Sessions.
Back during the March installment, guest DJ Sport Casual was in the midst of a very tasty set of laid back grooves when he brought up the volume on a record that I had never heard before, which promptly knocked me on my ass.
That record was today’s selection ‘I Don’t Know How (To Say I Love You) Don’t Walk Away’ by the Superlatives. Though I said that I had never heard the record before, as soon as the grooves started to release their magic, it was instantly apparent that almost every one of the other DJs had (heard it), and that they were clearly psyched to hear it again.
I stepped up onto the riser where Sport Casual was spinning, asked what the record was, and as soon as I checked out the label, I vowed that I’d have a copy of my own as soon as humanly possible.
I have to step back a second to tell you that I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of synchronicity, and what followed in the ensuing weeks made me more of a believer than ever.
I was able to track down a nice clean copy of the Superlatives 45 in a matter of a few weeks, after which I recorded and scanned it for the blog, uploaded it to the server (and placed on the iPod) and gave it many, many listens. Not too long after I placed it in the on deck circle, I was flipping through the blogroll, perusing what my fellow soul and funk bloggers were feeling, when I happened upon a post by Odub over at the mighty SoulSides blog, in which he told of hearing ‘I Don’t Know How (To Say I Love You) Don’t Walk Away’ spun at a DJ night where he was guesting in NYC, and how hearing the song played over a great sound system had reminded him of the records’ greatness (he also posted an MP3).
Not long after that, I saw the record written up, included in mixes or pop up on sale lists several times over the course of the next few weeks.
For some reason, there was a Superlatives “vibe” coursing through the blogosphere. I suppose it might have always been there, and I had just been missing the forest for the trees, but either way, the Superlatives and I suddenly found ourselves on the same wavelength, and I was digging it.
At first, I reconsidered posting the song here at Funky16Corners. Then I listened to it about a dozen more times, and decided that a record this amazing deserved all the exposure I (and anyone else) could give it.
I can’t tell you much about the group, aside from the fact that they hailed from Detroit, recorded a number of 45s for the Dynamics label (from which both sides of this 45 were licensed by Westbound) in the late 60’s.
The record itself is a marvel.
Opening with the isolated sound of an open hi-hat (also used to great effect on the Cooperettes ‘Shingaling’), it is soon joined by ringing vibes as the supertight harmony magic of the Superlatives themselves. The thing that really hits you (almost literally) is the hard, hard drumming providing the pulse of the record. Though the drums, voices and vibes are the most prominent elements, listen closely for some excellent guitar running in and out all through the song, as well as some tasteful horn work deep in the mix.
Though there are so many aspects of ‘I Don’t Know How (To Say I Love You) Don’t Walk Away’ to recommend it – including placing the parenthetic subtitle in the middle of a title so long it’s practically a work of art on it’s own – that I would normally hesitate to select just one.
There’s a breakdown in the middle of the record in which the arranger comes dangerously close to having his reach exceed his grasp, yet manages to pull off what amounts to a bit of pure magic. The entire band steps back, with the exception of the horns which lay down a little fanfare – trombones in harmony with muted trumpets – after which the lead singer drops a single, extended, soulful ‘BABY!’, that sends chills down my spine every time I hear it. Just beautiful…
So thanks to you Sport Casual for bringing the Superlatives and my ears into the same room for the first time.

PS Both outstanding side of this 45 have been comped on the ‘Westbound Sound of Detroit: Sensational Motor City Groups 1969-1975, though should you wish to procure your very own vinyl original, you can probably do so at a relatively affordable cost (especialy considering the greatness of the record).

18 Responses to “The Superlatives – I Don’t Know How (To Say I Love You) Don’t Walk Away”

  1. Jimi Hazel Says:

    Hi Larry! Question, did the Superlatives cut the original version of Don’t Walk Away or did Carl Carlton? I had the Carl Carlton version many years ago! This version has a little bit more fire to it!

  2. lou Says:

    such a great great record. and continuously slept on for some strange reason. its really weird how this record just kind of comes and goes. classic tune, but dont sleep on the flip! “Lonely in a Crowd” is also stellar!

  3. funky16corners Says:

    I was unaware of the Carl Carlton version, but I believe that the tune was written by one of the Superlatives, so my assumption would be that they did it first. Anyone know for sure??

  4. Vincent Says:

    I don’t know which one came first, but I can say GOD BLESS DETROIT!!! To coin a famous catch phrase, this one is pure HEAT!!!

  5. slsmithsr Says:

    Speaking of Carl Carlton.
    His “Competion Ain’t Nothing” was a region hit when I was coming up. He was “Little Carl Carlton” then.
    Also, a friend inqiuired about Lewis Carr’s “A Toast to You.”

  6. Pete Gloria Says:

    For me The Superlatives did one of the almighty-greatest Northern Soul tracks of all time ‘I Still Love You’. It just flattens you and leaves you buzzing. Never heard this here one before – love it!

  7. Sport Casual Says:

    Hey Larry, I just clicked the mp3 link after reading this post and I am already on 3rd listen, such a perfect tune.

    Great story, let me add mine and keep the credits rolling. I first heard this track one time when Tommy from the Budos was spinning it at the Lucky Cat just as I happened to be taking a leak. The speakers are right on top of the bathroom thus creating what must be one of the best bathroom soundsystems around 🙂 So the drums and vocal melody jumped out at me and I knew I had to get back and find out what it was. I found out shortly after from Deepfunk connoisseur/curmudgeon Nick Cope that it was a cheapie and then got a copy from Nydia/Honeydripper within a few days. Props to everyone who’s shared and cared in this little scene here in the NY area.

    No, make that 4th listen.

  8. AntiDivas No. 4: Strong And Invincible « Fufu Stew Says:

    […] been totally immersed in this thing they call Northern Soul for the past couple of days since I found not one but TWO copies of the most amazing 45 I’ve heard in quite some time. I can’t thank you enough, […]

  9. Martez Thomas Jones Says:


    I am the youngest son of George Jones of the Superlatives. I just wanted to let everyone on this site know how much of an honor it is that people still remember and enjoy my fathers work. Thank You. I f anyone has any questions about any of the work of the superlatives email me at the below email address. We love you all.

    Martez T. Jones

  10. Martez Thomas Jones Says:

    My father, George Jones, has passed. He died October 10, 2007. He was a great man who made great music and had great love for people. He is truly missed.

  11. Vincent the Soul Chef Says:

    Martez, please accept my deepest sympathy for your loss. You are right in that he will be missed, but rest assured, the great music he left us will live on forever.

    Peace and blessings.

  12. funky16corners Says:

    That’s sad news. My sympathies to you and your family.

  13. Terry Says:

    where can I find a cd with this song by the Superlatives,when I was kid in middle school it was a favorite.I remeber seeing them sing it on the Swinging time show.Thanks terry

  14. Charlie O'Brien Says:

    I’ll be playing the Superlatives song this Sunday morning Dec 30 on AM580 CKWW Windsor / Detroit. I host the Sunday Morning Oldies Show and we like to get plenty of soul on here on the show. 10-noon eastern standard time.
    Also planned: Detroit’s “Tim Tam and The Turn-ons”, Brenda Holloway, Impressions, Intruders and a twin spin of “When You’re Young and In Love” – versions by Ruby and the Romantics and The Marvelettes.

    Yes, we have a webcast.

    Cheers from the Motor City – Hitsville USA!

  15. JR Dillard Says:

    I used to hang out at club in Pricedale, Pa. that had a slammin’ jukebox. The Superlatives were on it, and my buddies and I played the hell out of that jam! I had the 45 and have looked for another copy but found it on the CD you recommended. However, I have now become obsessed with the B side “Lonely In A Crowd”. I love the tight harmony, arrangement, the lyrics, and the overall jam. Back in the day, we gave it very little play; I don’t know how we missed the B side. What a recording! The Superlatives jam on both sides. It should have been a two-sided hit. You should see the reactions I get when I pull both sides up when I am having a party. It is ON!

  16. Marvin Abney Says:

    Hi All…. my name is Marvin Abney, and I know a whole lot about this group “The Superlatives” and records that they Recorded… I was in the Studio when the recorded these songs, some At: “United Sounds” in Detroit. It was my Father’s Company “Dynamics” that started the whole thing. “Butler Abney” He’s passed now…But I have to tell you all that he got “RIPED OFF” on this song “Don’t walk away” By “Westbound Records” They did the Distribution of the record… He did’nt get “A Dime” off of this Record and thats a shame becouse he tryed so hard to get a Hit Record out there for so long, and that”s what happen… R.I.P. Daddy I’ll always Love you….Anyone who want to know more here’s my E-Mail…

  17. Duane Duhart Says:

    I am the brother of (Darius Moore) who was the arranger of (I Don’t Know How To Say That I Love You) by The Superlatives (which was produced by Magic City). I was just wondering if it would be possible for me to get copies of this song.
    Please reply soon.
    You Can email me at
    Duane A. Duhart

  18. GRACE Says:


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