“Listen – Chris Bartley – The Sweetest Thing This Side of Heaven – MP3″
The end of the week is here and my poor, crater-marked brain is good and fried.
Pollen is kicking my ass like I owe it money.
I’ve been busy digi-ma-tizing, and subsequently mixing tracks for a couple of guest mixes that I was invited to do. The first, for the Right Side of Funky blog will be dropping on Monday. The second will be appearing later this month at my man DJ Prestige’s Fleamarket Funk blog.
All excuses aside, I’m physically (and mentally) tired, so I need to close out the week with one of my favorite slices of soothing, sweet soul.
I can’t remember when I first heard Chris Bartley’s ‘Sweetest Thing This Side of Heaven’, but I suspect that it was sometime in the last ten years in the early stages of my Philly soul obsession.
This is not to suggest that Bartley was from Philly (he hailed from New York City), but he did record for the Cameo-Parkway subsidiary Vando, which is why I picked up the record in the first place. I had never heard of Bartley before, and as this was in the rustic days when I ventured out into the field unarmed (i.e. no portable), I took a chance.
Good thing I did, because when I finally dropped the needle onto the record it was immediately obvious that my two dollars* had been (very) well spent.
The first thing that hit me about ‘The Sweetest Thing This Side of Heaven’ – aside from Bartley’s smooth voice- was the melody topped off by the wonderful hook that comes as the verse runs up against the chorus. Thanks for that go to the mighty Van McCoy, who wrote and produced the record in 1967. Interestingly enough, there’s a cool Hammond instrumental of the tune, on Truman Thomas’ Veep LP. I’ll have to post it here in the future.
McCoy discovered Bartley, who had been singing as part of group that started as the Soul Inspirations and eventually became the Mindbenders. Working with McCoy, Bartley recorded five singles and an LP for McCoy’s Vando label. He left Vando for Buddah in 1968, and recorded his last 45 for Musicor in 1971. ‘The Sweetest Thing This Side of Heaven’ hit the R&B Top 10 and the Pop Top 40 in 1967.
Bartley eventually surfaced in a later version of the Ad-Libs, re-recording ‘The Sweetest Thing This Side of Heaven’ in the 80’s.
I hope you dig the tune, and make sure you head over to the Right Side of Funky on Monday for that new mix.
*I only remember the price because I picked up the 45 in a store that marked the prices of all their old 45s in the run out grooves with grease pencil.