Good, Good Feeling

Posted: September 11, 2010 in Rhythm & Blues, Soul
Tags: ,

The Falcons

featuring

Sonny Munro

(Soul Junction SJCD5000)

Steeped in the history of Rhythm and Blues & Soul Music, Detroit (forget all about Motown for a while) has given us some of the finest purveyors of the music of our choice.  One of the groups that is rich in the history of Detroit Soul is the Falcons, who in turn has given Soul Music some of the finest luminaries in the field of Soul Music, Eddie Floyd & Wilson Pickett two of the most renown.

The Falcons were during their history two groups with the first group having two eras.  Coming together in the mid 50’s, with a mixed race line-up of Bob Manardo, Eddie Floyd, Ton Shelter and Arnett Robinson, with Willie Schofield joining soon after.  Eddie Floyds uncle Robert West became the groups manager.

Bob Manardo was soon drafted and Tom Shelter decided to enlist himself.  West held auditions which in turn lead to Joe Stubbs joining the ranks along with guitarist Lance Finnie, Mack Rice following not too long after replacing Arnett Robinson.

Without going into too much detail this was essentially the first era of the group, the second, after changes to the line up lead to Wilson Pickett joining the group to provide vocals.

Not long after signing for Atlantic and after just one session and one solitary release 1962, the group split, most of the group did have solo careers by this time as well as their time with the group.

This left West with just a name, a name he had no intention of seeing become history.  Early 1963 West saw a group play in Cleveland, The Fabulous Playboys, coincidentally one he managed.  After seeing their performances and eager to keeping the name the Falcons alive West asked the Fabulous Playboys to take over the name, something they eventually agreed to seeing a better financial future with the name The Falcons, the line-up of the second group being Sonny Monroe, James Gibson, Johnny Alvin & Alton “Bart” Hollowell.  This is the line-up and era of the group that this compact disc release deals with.

Sonny Monroe (lead), James Gibson (1st Tenor), Johnny Alvin (2nd Tenor), Alton “Bart” Hollowell (3rd Tenor, Baritone). Thanks to Fredrick Gibson (James’s son) and Colin Dilnot.

The first thing that had to be dealt with was the terms of the contract for Atlantic which lead to the second and final release for the label “Oh Baby b/w Fine Fine Girl, a 45 which went nowhere.   The following year the group moved onto West’s own label Lupine for the release Lonely Nights b/w Has It Happened To You Yet, the second track on this CD and a track which for many was the groups beginnings as not just an Rhythm and Blues group but a Soul group.  However time went by with virtually nothing from the group, until that is 1966 when their manager was shot, although not fatally but bad enough to force him from the music business for the foreseeable future.  This left the group with no label and no manager.  Along came Frank Kosian who after becoming the groups manager put the group with his label Big Wheel, a label that went onto become highly collectable on the UK Northern Soul scene with several releases fetching a sum well into three figures and the main focus of this cd.

All the sides recorded for Big Wheel (the first two Golden World and United Sound for the last two all under the guidance of Dale Warren) are included as is the Sandy Hollis release.  The cd kicks off with Good Good Feeling, with its unmistakeable intro and pounding beat ideal for the Northern Soul scene which also makes it highly collectable and a regular seller for three figures.  Following the Lupine release Has It Happened Too You Yet comes Standing On Guard, fabulous mid-tempo soul with great harmonies from the guys perfectly complimenting the lead of Sonny Monro.  Standing on Guard was not only a smash locally but went top 30 R&B.  This was reworked by the group in the 80s’ and features on this cd.  The flip I Can’t Help It is almost as good and a worthy inclusion on the CD.  Sonny Monro telling us he can’t help it falling in love complimented again by the superb harmonies of the group.

Sandy Hollis with the mid-tempo cut I’m Tempted is next up, why you ask?  Simple the Falcons provided the backing vocals.  Sonny’s vocals feature so much it’s fair to call it a duet, why the Falcons were not credited is a mystery to say the least.  Again the trademark harmonies of the Falcons also stand out.  The flip, Tables Will Turn, a fantastic moody mid-tempo number again with the Falcons providing backing is another worthy inclusion further down the cd playlist.

The flip to the cd opener, the mid-tempo Love Like You Never Been Loved Before comes next.  “You’re The One For Me” pleads Sonny and that all he wants to do is spend his life with her so all he can do is “Love You Like You Never Been Loved”. Again the harmonies are a prominent feature and it’s a side that deserves to see more exposure.

Next up comes the flip Love Look In Her Eyes, In Time For The Blues, Sonny telling us how late he is for everything but In Time For The Blues, great moody soul with again some fantastic harmonies.  One of my favourites from the group is up next.  I’m A Fool I Must Love You.  “I’ve been around but I’ve never found one that makes me feel like you do, I must love you”.  With this following the hit Standing On Guard it also sold well and it’s another the Northern Soul scene took to its heart and has gained plenty of turntable action over the years. Following I’m A Fool is its flip Love Love Love, a track I’ve not heard since I first bought the record so many years ago, it’s now had  plenty of plays to make up for it.  Set at a quicker pace than I’m A Fool again features the tight harmonies of Gibson, Alvin and Hollowell with Sonny pleading with presumably his lover “Love Look What You Made Me Do….You Made Me Leave My Happy Home.”

Next comes arguably the most in demand of all the outing on Big Wheel from the Falcons, Love Look In Her Eyes.  Although not as upbeat as Good Good Feeling its a dancer none the less and one that features often amongst the playlist of the DJ’s around the world.  Again superb vocals from Sonny telling us how “Heartaches won’t leave you alone, when you find the girl you love has been some other place a hurting with some other guy giving him that love look in her eyes, what can you do, what can you say!!”  How true and soul music at its best.  Listening to this you can see why it is so in demand and commands a figure of £300 plus.  This brings to an end the Big Wheel era with Kosian bringing the curtains down on the label and disappearing from view after owing money to some guys you don’t argue with.

The cd is then made up of unreleased cuts kicking off from one recorded after leaving Big Wheel and getting involved with Ollie McLaughin, You’ve Got The Power, a ballad that actually features Deon Jackson on vocals pleading with his cheating lover to leave him alone. Great vocals from Deon but not much in the way of the harmonies from the others in the stly we became accustomed to on the big Wheel outings which makes you wonder if the Falcons featured at all on the track?

Next up are several solo outings from Sonny.  The Happiest Days Of My Life is the first, a nice enough mid tempo number, the first of several recorded for Epic.  It’s an easy going pleasant enough number cut in the early/mid 70’s.  Next up is a great ballad titled On The Other Side Of Town.  Don’t Leave Me Alone another soulful ballad with Sonny’s vocals pleading to be left alone by another cheating partner, seems to be a reoccurring theme.

Why Do I Let You Do The Things You Do, an upbeat mover followed by another ballad I’m Tired Of Being Your Plaything.  To quote John Ridley’s sleeve notes, “the lack of orchestration in these early versions of songs is a really good way to hear just how well Sonny could phrase a song”.  I’m Tired of Being Your Plaything “where he is accompanied by  just a piano and a tambourine-simply outstanding vocals.  Your Love Is Dy-No-Mite, a change from the heartbreak tells how his loves love is Dynomite!! An excellent ballad/mid tempo offering.  The upbeat dancer See The Finished Product brings the CD to a close, a CD that documents a period in history of one of Detroit’s finest vocal groups, maybe not the most prolific recording wise but the quality more than makes up for that.  The release does come with extensive liner notes courtesy of John Ridley which are worth the price alone.

1. Good Good Feeling – The Falcons

2. Has It Happened To You Yet – The Falcons

3. Standing On Guard -The Falcons

4. I’m Tempted – Sandy Hollis

5. Love You Like You Never Been Loved – The Falcons

6. I Can’t Help It -The Falcons

7. In Time For The Blues – The Falcons

8. I’m A Fool I Must Love You – The Falcons

9. Love, Love, Love – The Falcons

10. Love Look In Her Eyes – The Falcons

11. Tables Will Turn – Sandy Hollis

12. You’ve Got The Power – The Falcons

13. Happiest Days Of My Life – Sandy Munro

14. On The Other Side Of Pride -Sandy Munro

15. Don’t Leave Me Alone – Sandy Munro

16. Why Do I Let You Do The Things You Do – Sandy Munro

17. I’m Tired Of Being Your Play Thing – Sandy Munro

18. Standing On Guard – The Falcons

19. Your Love Is Dy-No-Mite – Sandy Munro

20. Finished Product – Sandy Munro /

Label – Soul Junction

Catalogue # Sjcd5000

Thanks to Dave Welding, John Ridley,

Marv Goldberg for some research help with the history.

Fredrick Gibson (James’s son) and Colin Dilnot for the photo.

Further reading at http://home.att.net/~uncamarvy/Falcons/falcons.html

Further information from souljunction@blueyonder.co.uk

Chalky (July 2008)

Rob Moss wrote……

Just received a copy of the fantastic Falcons cd from Sonny Munro. Spent a fascinating evening at his home revisiting past glories and reliving former triumphs. One of the things he did tell me was that the “You’ve got the power’ track that is credited to the group is definitely not them. It is, in fact, Deon Jackson and appeared on the second Hayley cd ‘Ain’t that something’ under its correct affiliation. Another conundrum that continues to astound many is the identity and lineage of ‘Doll Face’ on the Enterprise label out of Detroit. One side of the single is ‘Please return’ with songwriting credits to The Falcons (C.Munro, A. Halliwell, J.Alain and J. Gibson) yet Sonny has no memory of the song at all. Nothing is mentioned in the sleeve notes of the latest cd about it either – a real Poirot moment indeed. Can anyone help?

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