Tonight’s selection on The Midnight Tracker is one I’ve been seeking for some time. I found it last week in my local record dealer’s basement, filed with the jazz records.
But this isn’t a jazz record. Oh, no, no, it’s a delightful slice of Philly soul from 1972.
My search for this record began a year and a half ago, when my friend Larry over at the Funky 16 Corners blog dropped a tune from it. I’d never heard the tune, which really cooks, nor the story behind it.
After Billy Paul had a monster hit with “Me and Mrs. Jones” in 1972, producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff wanted to follow up with “Am I Black Enough For You,” which they also co-wrote. Paul thought it a bit strident, but Gamble and Huff prevailed. The follow-up stiffed. Paul has had a long career and at 74 is still going, but never really regained the lost momentum. For more, read Larry’s post. He’s much more knowledgeable about the matter than I am.
In any case, “Am I Black Enough For You,” with its sizzling vocals, horns, clavinet and percussion, has the feel of a lost classic. Please enjoy that cut and the rest of Side 2 of “360 Degrees of Billy Paul.”
“Am I Black Enough For You,” “Let’s Stay Together,” “Your Song” and “I’m Gonna Make It This Time,” Billy Paul, from “360 Degrees of Billy Paul,” 1972. It runs 22:20.
This side is further evidence of Paul’s greatness as a singer. Two of the four cuts are distinctive covers — Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” and Elton John’s “Your Song.” His upbeat take on “Your Song” is pretty sweet. The last cut, “I’m Gonna Make It This Time,” is another slice of smooth, slow soul in the same vein as “Me and Mrs. Jones.”