My Obsession With The Preview Label - A Feast Of Teri's

My Obsession With The Preview Label - A Feast Of Teri's magazine cover

It all started back in 2011 I got a phone call from Nige Brown telling me he heard a sound bite on ebay of a record he thought had something special and he would like my opinion on it before he set his bid . The record was Teri Mathews "round and Round" on the Preview label.

Nige valued my thoughts on the subject as he knew my opinion would be an honest one , I don't suffer records that don't hit the mark and I say if I think they are not very good. Anyway I heard this sound bite and I was just blown away by the artists voice , the tempo and the words . It ticked all the boxes for me . I expressed much joy in my response , in fact so much so I think Nige thought I was taking the Micky I instantly loved the record with a passion and showed my excitement with squeals of you must get this ! It had magical lyrics for anyone that spins on the floor , just the right amount of breaks and a great build up quality....Thankfully he won the bid.

When it arrived the first thing we wanted to do was find out if it was known , so I asked Dave Flynn in an email message. Dave told me he had done much research into the "Preview" label , he went on to say that there was a hell of a lot of nursery rhyme type stuff on this label to be honest absolute rubbish and lots of it. Knowing the anorak he is It quite amused me the thought of Dave with headphones combing through tons of stuff that made his ears scream with distaste and his mouth curl wincing in the attempt of finding a soulful gem. He mentioned the name Rod Kieth and the one success he had on the rare soul scene which was called "Like The Lord said"

The Preview label was starting to get under my skin , also the personality who was very much involved with running the label sounded such an extrovert . I did much research and found quite a bit of information on Rodd Keith and the Preview operation.

Basically Rodd Keith may have been thought of an extortionist he managed to secure the general publics works of art , their song poetry by placing advertisements in magazines and use them as lyrics to the musical arrangements he and his musicians created. Quite often they paid him to put their poems onto his records. he was in a win win situation basically the public helping to fund his attempt at fame.

Keith could play many of the instruments that formed the backing tracks and quite often sang on the recording , his voice wasn't too appealing hence his lack of success .The operation quite often used the same backing track and applied it to different lyrics . They also used a pool of recording artists who quite often were the same recording artist used many times but disguising them with a different name so that it appeared that that it was a different artist singing. The give away was that the artist would still retain their christian name and change the surname. Quite often the A and B side would be a different artist , Rod appearing on the A and the others promoted on the B side. Also sometimes the recording was quite short.

This story was getting more and more intriguing to me personally ,I was a developing a "Teri" obsession so I went about tracking down the label discography and tried to see how many Teri type records I could find. I found that there were numbers missing in the sequence which added to the mystery Teri Mathews Round and Round was a missing number which made it even more obscure.

In the research I realized that there was a 99% probability that Teri Mathews was in fact Teri Thornton and I found data to back this up on the internet. Thornton was an up and coming Jazz vocalist who had fallen on hard times , she performed initially in the Detroit clubs in the late 50's , she moved to New York in the 60's to find work and got some work in singing on television advertisements and making recordings for labels based in New York. It was later discovered that she had sung on various song poems for the Preview label which were recorded in LA. It is recorded that she also sang as Teri Summers. she eventually returned to New York in 83 and by th 90's revived her jazz career. In 1998 she was at the top of her game and won the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz vocal completion in Washington DC. Teri died in 2000 with bladder cancer.

Teri had a very special voice in my view , her range could be soulfully sweet and haunting in

Round and Round , yet you compare it to another well known song that is Molly Marlene you would not recognise the artist because she had the ability to manipulate her vocal chords into a jazz style and make her voice to appear totally different , to be hard and strong.

We felt that it would be a good idea to sound out who we see as the oracle in record selling/collecting and decided the thing to do was to let John Manship hear the sound .We knew John was spinning locally so we took the record to where he was playing and in record room in Warrington he listened to it for the first time . He didn't know it and agreed it was something very special, something he could if fact sell to a specific person in the states who would love this record , this was the type of record his customer favored in style and obscurity. Nige decided he wanted to keep the record longer and wanted to give it a few spins himself.In the meantime we would try and source as many Teri type sounds as we could find in order to see if she had any further valuable contributions for the soulful ear.

We have collected a further two which were slow and not really appealing however having discussed the Preview label further in my own internet yahoo group my friend Alex turned up a sound bite off u-tube of and other preview Teri being ,Teri North "You mention my name" we instantly fell in love with this sound the dream to own one and one day perhaps double deck and play both Teri's was very appealing. So the hunt was on.

I contacted the source , the guy who had placed the sound bite was based in Spain , his name Alfonso . He was a lovely guy and so generous to actually place the sound bite for all to hear was a very unselfish act. Most had assumed that it was part of the record , being in a soul community that guards their treasures nobody thought Alfonso had actually offered the world the full soundbite of what was a recording of a sound that was gathering much attention from the soul community.

Alfonso who runs a club called "Double cookin" in Barcelona wasn't in the market to sell his copy , he is a DJ and is very much a notable collector , he wasn't prepared to let this copy go , but he offered assistance in helping to track one down, which was very nice of him. His said his intention is to play his copy in May at the Boiler club in Barcelona this year.

A week or so had lapsed and sometimes I do believe that fate hands you a really special hand. I was given a link to a wants appeal by Andy Garside where he too heard the Teri North sound bite and was also smitten with the need to obtain a copy. Surprisingly his request was answered by Kitch who had a copy for sale , however due to the records rarity and it being an unknown quantity he said it would be up for offers , no set price . I could see the soul sharks beginning to form a circle around the post and I thought do I have a dogs chance of getting this sound ? My head was telling me be realistic Carmen ... No

I kept a close eye on events and I could see that it was very much in the air , so I thought what the hell , threw caution to the wind and entered my plea that this record really needed to come to me and sent Kitch a bid . I felt if there was a fairness in this world after all the research surely it would end up in my hands , but reality told me it could not be the case , at the end of the day it will go to the highest bidder. And that wouldn't be me as I don't spend mega bucks on records , I can't afford to.

So I wrote a passionate plea to Kitch along with a reasonable offer in fact saying I know I don't stand a cat in hell's chance of getting this but I felt you should know about the preview research I had done, in fact I questioned why he would sell such a record , and asked him if he was really sure about selling it ? I guess the record had become personal to me , got under my skin . I could not understand why he would sell it ?

A day went by and I felt sure that it wasn't to be mine , I judged that money would win this record . How wrong can you be , Kitch let me have the record even though I wasn't the highest bidder . My research and plea "faith" in the sound won me that record , and his good nature as a collector appreciated that sometimes you give because you feel its the right thing to do. And that was the case . I really felt warm inside because it sort of makes you realize that there is good in this community of buying and selling. Its not all about making a fast buck.

So I too will play mine in May at Manchester's European Soul weekender , on the exact weekend as Teri gets played in Spain ... at last Teri Thornton gets the recognition she deserves. I still think Nige has the jewel in the Preview crown that is "Round and Round" but I am more than happy to have one of the Teri princesses. The question is , is there a third ?

I think the Rodd Keith story would make an excellent film , he was indeed an extraordinary character , unfortunately he met his death in 1974 by either suicide or accident falling from the Hollywood freeway plunging down onto the Santa Monica Blvd overpass onto the "north bound" freeway. He was a heavy drug user which prompted many to think it was a drug induced tragedy.

I do wonder what would have become of Teri if she remained in Detroit.

Carmen McCullough Feb 2013

Reference sites /links

http://wfmu.org/LCD/18/rodd.html

http://www.songpoemm...els/preview.htm


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Pete S profile photo

Posted

Carms there already is a film about Rodd Keith, or rather, he's mentioned in it big time and his son does a lot of interview stuff - "Off The Charts - The Song Poem Story" - I have it on dvd, or I did have, I might have chucked it last time I had a clear out. It was a one hour documentary film shown on US tv.

I used to have a site bookmarked which had sound samples of 90% of all the records released on Preview.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0443335/

Sebastian profile photo

Posted

Carms there already is a film about Rodd Keith, or rather, he's mentioned in it big time and his son does a lot of interview stuff - "Off The Charts - The Song Poem Story" - I have it on dvd, or I did have, I might have chucked it last time I had a clear out. It was a one hour documentary film shown on US tv.

I used to have a site bookmarked which had sound samples of 90% of all the records released on Preview.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0443335/

The movie is on YouTube as well:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOqn-I5u1MY&wide=1

Preview sure was an "interesting" label! :thumbsup:

Pete S profile photo

Posted

Quite good that "You mention my name" but suffering badly from under-production, think what it would be like with a big hammond organ behind it and some brass.

Amsterdam Russ profile photo

Posted

Carms, I can't add anything to the story of the Preview label or to the history of the personalities involved. Just wanted to say how absolutely fantastic it is to see such enthusiasm, passion and dedication for some music - and the background to it - that would otherwise remain consigned to history's musical land fill.

This is what 'Northern Soul' is about! Forget all the bickering, nit-picking and so on that overshadows things from time to time. It's the music that counts - as it always should. I take my hat off to you and the others who got swept away by it all. :hatsoff2:

samplat profile photo

Posted

A great record to look for on preview is BONNIE GRAHAM - A FOOL AM I. Superb northern

tiberius profile photo

Posted

No doubt you will have seen label discogs on the net. It's fair to say you will wade through a large amount of dross on the label to pick up a few gems. There's several of these labels, MSR is another. I have an EP on another song poem label which has a reasonable track, (out of the 4 cuts,) but can't remember what it is & can't find it at the moment.

Anais nin Carms profile photo

Posted (edited)

Thanks for putting up the U-tube film re song Poems Seb . My goodness there were some desperate people out there wanting to get their work published . So much awful material too. Would this be the same DVD you talk of Pete ?

I still think an actual film portraying Rodd Keiths life story which also touches on the artists that tried to further their careers doing this stuff would be excellent viewing .I have just listened to Bonnie Grahams voice , and she has a great voice !

I can't begin to imagine how hard it must have been for a talented artist with a great voice reduced to singing some of this drivel , it must have been sou destroying for some. As stated in the film it felt like prostitution for Rodd Keith.

Yes this is a very Wacky label !

Nige also has a third single where two women sing , the backing track is fantastic almost Detroit sounding but the girls sing in a blusey style which comes over like crying cats on LSD :) if only those vocals were better we keep saying !

Nige mentioned a well known song which really does capture peoples hopes and dreams for fame and fortune in those times , a song that I had never actually listened to properly before which is Dionne Warwicks " do you know the way to San Jose " , she talks of in a week or maybe two they might make you as star ....weeks turn into years how quick they pass ..... all the stars that never were are parking cars and pumping gas ....

Sort of rounds the thread off nicely, and would make a superb soundtrack for a film :) on this topic .

Edited by Anais nin
Nige Brown profile photo

Posted

My Crying Cats,,, ( now its new C/U name) would go down a storm at the right All Nighter Mrs I reckon ,,,, N x ;-)

Pomonkey profile photo

Posted

I traded a Terri North last month, good little record that. Not as good as "Do the pig" by Rodd Keith of course :rofl: (don't go buy it, joking clearly!)

RealPeoplesMusic profile photo

Posted

Wow..a great read, pleased that I now have one in the playbox!

Callum

Garry Huxley profile photo

Posted

Just listened to terri north on youtube,

It's AWSOME

Garry

Manfromsoul45s profile photo

Posted

Thank you for your kind words Carmen. I liked your story and to be honest once someone had put it up as a want on FB there seemed a few on the "bandwagon" after it, but you really wanted it and i could see that so it was a pleasure to sell it to you. I have had 2 - 3 copies of this in the past and no one seemed that bothered about it. Not the best production out there but it has a "Northern" feel about it. Myself, Dean Anderson & Dave Taylor (Nottingam) did back in the late eighties find 3 or four different versions with the same backing as "Like the Lord said" all on one trip (not sure that was a good thing or not). A couple were'nt too bad but the others seemed to get more bizzare lyrically. Clearly he was just making it up as he went along!! Anyway Glad you finnaly got it and hope you enjoy it..

Pete S profile photo

Posted

A couple were'nt too bad but the others seemed to get more bizzare lyrically. Clearly he was just making it up as he went along!! Anyway Glad you finnaly got it and hope you enjoy it..

No he wasn't, honestly, people sent in their own lyrics and he put them to music and sent it them back as a record - that's how he (and the label) made money. So they had X amount of backing tracks, they advertised for 'lyrics wanted' and 'put your own voice on a record' and they would fit the lyrics to whatever backing track was suitable. They were a production line and didn't write any of the songs themselves, they were written by ordinary folk and nutters alike.

Alfie79 profile photo

Posted

sadly i didn't buy it from michael.....want a copy.... nice record but not essential!!!

John Parker profile photo

Posted

Got a couple of nice things on Preview that have had the odd outing

Bonnie Graham I Confess

Rodd Kieth Its Over and Done

JohnP

  • Up vote 1
fixedfortime profile photo

Posted

Great read. The only song poem recordings I've come across have been country, this is a real surprise.

Robbk profile photo

Posted

Very interesting. I always wondered about Preview Records. I listened to scores of their records and didn't like any. I don't really like The Terri North on You-Tube. But I couldn't find the Bonnie Graham. I'm really curious about that one.

Can anyone upload a sound file of the latter, or post a link to it?

Soul-Slider profile photo

Posted (edited)

This one sounds interesting....

Preview 1551 - Teri Mathews 'I'll Gather Happiness' / Dick Jones 'Sweet Soul Baby'

 

Edited by Soul-Slider


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