Friday, 20 January 2012

James and Bobby Purify-I'm Your Puppet

Back when I was about 16 or 17 I discovered soul music, I had some knowledge of artists like Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and Sam and Dave because some of their big hits were played on some of the commercial stations. I gained a deeper appreciation and knowledge through listening to a program called Soul Time on PBS, it was during that period that the names Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham kept popping up, a lot of the releases that came from Muscle Shoals and the FAME studio had their songwriting imprint on them. When I was 18 the duo came out to Australia to perform, it was at a small long since defunct club called the Continental, I went with my Dad and was completely mesmerised by their performance so I went back and chased up some of the original recordings of some of their songs.

They opened that gig with I'm Your Puppet which I'm led to believe Dan had recorded and released as a single on the MGM label in 1965. The track came to greater attention when it was recorded the following year by a duo from Florida James and Bobby Purify. James Purify and Robert Lee Dickey had been playing in the Dothan Sextet around the Pensacola area since 1963 when they were discovered by DJ/Concert promoter Papa Don Schroeder whose early claim to fame was being the first white artist to record a single for Vee Jay records. Papa Don initially wanted to sign the band but they declined and so James and Bobby were initially signed as solo artists, it was only when they entered the studio that the idea came to record them as a duo. Papa Don chose I'm Your Puppet from a stack of demos at the FAME studios, with backing from the FAME house band which included Jimmy Johnson on guitar, Spooner on keyboards, Jerry Carrigan on drums and apparently David Hood is listed as playing trombone according to the liner notes from a reissued best of compilation. It's also possible that Barry Beckett played on the session as he came up with Papa Don to play at FAME.

I'm Your Puppet is a mid tempo soul groove that has a sharp cracking drum sound with a nice almost lazy beat, it has that farfisa styled organ sound that Spooner applied so successfully to Percy Sledges' When A Man Loves A Woman. The relaxed groove is also matched with the vocals of James and Bobby, it's evident that they had performed together for some time. I love the middle eight sections where James takes over the lead vocal, he has a similar style to that of Sam Cooke. When it was released in early 1966 the song reached #5 on the R&B chart and crossed over to the pop chart peaking at #6 and going on to sell a million copies. The duo were never able to match that success but they did put a total of 10 singles into the R&B charts of which 8 crossed over to the pop chart.

No comments:

Post a Comment