Miss Fontella Bass
“Listen -Fontella Bass & Bobby McClure – Don’t Mess Up a Good Thing – MP3″
I hope the dawning of a new week finds you well, at least well enough for some groovy soul music.
Today’s selection is an example of an absolutely fantastic record that I was utterly and completely ignorant of for year, until I saw a clip of it being performed on (get ready, hear it comes…no seriously) VH-1 Soul. That’s right.
Any remaining scrap of respectability I had just flew out the window into the dark recessed of the interwebs.
I mean, one might be inclined to argue that there are only so many hours in the day, and it’s just not possible to hear every cool record (especially ones on labels with a R&B/soul discography of some size, like Checker), but I know you. You, reader are exacting fans of soul and funk, anoraks one and all, now crestfallen that I have been shown to have feet of clay….
You just might be willing to overlook a gaping hole in my expertise when you realize the exceedingly high quality of the record I bring you today.
The record in question, “Don’t Mess Up a Good Thing” by Fontella Bass and Bobby McClure, no doubt remained unknown to me due to my well developed ‘Fontella Bass Blind Spot’, a kind of psychic callous developed over the years as a response to the unrelenting repetition of ‘Rescue Me’ as a staple of oldies radio. Much like the Youngbloods ‘Get Together’ or ‘White Rabbit’ by the Jefferson Airplane, songs which have become shorthand for the Summer of Love, ‘Rescue Me’ (especially it’s opening bass/drums line) has become a similar signifier for “soul music”, at least as it’s come to be known on mainstream radio and late night Time-Life CD commercials. I’ve heard this song so many times, that like the Supremes’ ‘Baby Love’, ‘Rescue Me’ has become a Pavlovian signal for me to turn the channel.
As a result, I never explored the discography of Fontella Bass any further (yes, I know, my bad). Thusly, when the clip of Bass and McClure came on during some documentary it was completely new to me, and as the kids are wont to say, I flipped my lid.
It was but a short time before I secured myself a copy of the 45, digi-ma-tized it and placed it into the to-be-blogged folder.
‘Don’t Mess Up a Good Thing’ – from 1965 – was the first of two duet 45s with Bobby McClure. It was released twice, once with the instrumental ‘Jerk Loose’ by Oliver Sain (who Bass had worked with in her native St. Louis) on the flip (the one I have) and again with the song ‘Baby What You Want Me To Do’.
The tune is a killer with a driving dance beat and great vocals by both singers.
Bass recorded ‘Rescue Me’ later the same year, and the rest as they say, is history. Bass went onto marry Lester Bowie, and record with his group the Art Ensemble of Chicago. She eventually returned to her roots as a Gospel singer (her mother Martha Bass also recorded for Checker as a gospel artist).
I hope you dig the tune.