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- Soulful Proclamation by Messengers Inc.
8/10 Andrew Customer review, 12th August 2014
Released as a companion to the Burton Inc 'L.A. Will Make You Pay $$$' LP Jazzman give us the Messengers Inc 'Soulful Proclamation'. The link? They are both the product of husband and wife Barbara & Charles Burton. Messesngers Inc self pressed their album as coming from Oklahoma they struggled to attract the interest their music deserved. In their own words they 'were the first black band to record an album, no one else was doing it...if we were living in LA or New York....we would probably have made it'. In those days only local radio was available as a means of promotion, so they hoped that by pressing their own album they could get the word out. The irony is it worked, one of the 1000 copies they issued found its way to a Starday-King who signed them and prepared to distribute their album nationally only to fold just before.
Its a shame it didn't work out because the ingredients were there. Soulful Proclamation and Frequency Response demonstrating a gift for funky soul as good as many who did make it, whilst their covers of Ain't No Mountain and He Ain't Heavy demonstrate their soul chops, comparably with Diana Ross, or the O'Jays. The fact that vocals are distributed between Barbara Burton as well as Charles and Sonny Morrisson and Maurice Love gives variety as well as strength to the tracks. The final track on side one, 24 Hours a day could be repackaged and sold as a Sharon Jones And the Dap-kings track without anyone noticing.
On the flip the grooves continue, If I'Da Club another funky vocal cut, followed by an instrumental take of Eleanor Rigby that sounds like the sort of jazz funker you'd find on the better Cadet LP's of the time, with the bluesey Rebecca and the yearning soul of Just Can't Run Away giving Barbara full reign to show her vocal talents to the full. Closer Rejoice ends things on a high with a funky jam that would have probably provided a raucous set ender.
A cracking 10 tracks that deserve a second chance to shine, but with the vinyl edition limited to 1000 (once again) you'd better be quick.
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