Mr. Maurice Williams
Listen/Download -Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs – My Reason For Livin’
I hope that the middle of the week finds you well.
The tune I bring you today was one of those bonus beats, in that I picked up the 45 for the funky A-side and got a nice, sweet soul surprise when I flipped it over.
I doubt that there are many among you that haven’t heard of Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, mainly by virtue of the omnipresence of their 1960 Number One hit ‘Stay’, which is as close to a rock/soul standard as there is.
However, I’d be willing to wager that a lot of you didn’t know that Williams and the Zodiacs kept recording through the 60s and 70s for labels like Vee-Jay, Deesu, Sea-Horn, Scepter and Atlantic.
Williams got his start in South Carolina* as a member of the Gladiolas, who recorded the original version of ‘Little Darlin’ (later a hit for the white, Canadian group the Diamonds) in 1957. The Gladiolas broke up and Williams formed the Zodiacs, recording ‘Stay’ and hitting the top of the charts in 1960 for the Herald label.
They eventually ended up in New Orleans, recording a couple of singles with Allen Toussaint and Marshal Sehorn, including ‘May I’ which eventually became a minor hit in a version by Bill Deal and the Rhondels.
Williams and the Zodiacs recorded only one 45 for the Veep label, 1969s ‘Four Corners’ (featured in Funky16Corners Radio v.71).
Today’s selection, ‘My Reason For Livin’ appeared on the B-side of that record. A wonderful, melodic slice of sweet, group soul, ‘My Reason For Livin’ was written by producer/arranger Horace Ott and Randy Evretts**. The lead vocal (I’m assuming it’s Williams, but can’t be sure) has touches of Levi Stubbs and the arrangement, with a pulsing bass, understated strings and touches of vibes is really nice.
As far as I can tell this cut hasn’t been comped (the mid-to-late 60s Zodiacs sides don’t ever seem to show up on their ‘Greatest Hits’ comps), so check it out here, and get the other side in the F16 Radio mix referenced above.
I hope you dig it and I’ll be back on Friday with yet another guest mix.
*Williams and the Zodiacs have been longtime fixtures on the Beach Music scene in the Carolinas
**Ott and Evretts composed at least one other song together, Aretha Franklin’s ‘Prove It’ (also recorded by Pat Lundy on Deluxe)
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