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rev willingham, crescent, thats the spirit

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Also released on Crescent # 5180 (1966), leased from James Brown on 4th May 1966.
BB June 4, 1966 (p. 18).
"Try Me Father" is an adaptation of James Brown's "Try Me".


Artist: Rev. Willingham And His Swanees  (View 1 More)
Label: us.gif  Federal  (View 327 More)
Country: USA
Catalogue: 45-12542
Date: May 1966
Format: 7"


Artist: The Swanee Quintet
Label: us.gif  Crescent [Nashville 1960s]
Country: USA
Catalogue: 5180
Date: 1966
Format: 7"
Collection:   I Own It     I Want It 
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the-swanee-quintet-thats-the-spirit-cres ♫ Listen

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I've always believed the Crescent release to be a reissue.  The Federal release is 1966 and Crescent records (later rebranded as Creed) was not formed until 1967.  Initially, it does seem odd for the Swanee Quintet who historically recorded on Nashboro, to switch to a King related label for a one-off release and then switch back to the Nashboro subsidiary Crescent.  Around this time the Swanee Quintet were on a bit of a low ebb and as they were important to James Brown musically, he included them on his touring revue as a pay-back for the inspiration he got from them as a young man.  It's produced by James Brown and the writing credits are James Brown related, so I believe this was his way of him giving them back some dues.  The record failed to re-spark interest in the group and Ruben Willingham left the quintet soon after, which is why I think his name is missing from the later Crescent release.  Crescent's first LP release in 1967 was Step By Strep by the Swanee Quintet and both sides of the single are included on it.

Edited by John Reed

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Tribute to the Godfather: The Swanees' Soul!
The Swanee Quintet - Try Me Father

The Swanee Quintet, anchored by the leads of Rev. Reuben Willingham and Johnny Jones, were one of Nashboro Records' most popular acts. James Brown was one of their biggest fans and he took them on tour with him in the '60s. When I did the "Sunday Gospel Time" post this week I was negligent in not noting today's selection. "Try Me Father" is often referred to merely as a gospel version of Brown's 1958 hit "Try Me," which is a pretty unfair description. Over a sterling arrangement, Johnny Jones rarely swoops into his more customary falsetto (in my opinion, there are a lot of places in the song where it almost sounds like Wilson Pickett is leading the song) but instead captures the intensity of the lyrics. In the Swanees' hands this is not just a doo-wop-styled ballad, but rather a serious soul meditation which, although somewhat an anomaly in their discography (their sound was usually much more down-home), is one of the strongest records they released during their prime. The flip of the 45 (which was released on the Nashboro subsidiary Crescent in 1966), "That's the Spirit," finds Rev. Willingham fronting the group in a rollicking gospel version of Brown's "Ain't That a Groove," which, although good, is certainly more deserving of the assessment usually given to "Try Me Father."

(POSTSCRIPT - The Swanees are still doing their thing, and they performed at JB's funeral in Augusta on December 30. The Electrophonic Brian Phillips attended the funeral.
although it states 66, the label it was started in 67.

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