I ended up finding this record in the freezing cold recently. When I got into the box, I thought I hit a gold mine. In it was some Latin heat, some Blue Note Jazz, and a Black Jazz record. Now anything on Black Jazz never, let me repeat, never turns up at the Spot. It just so happened to be the record Devil Dick scored on a Philly street corner recently, Doug Carn. Of course the Doug Carn was just a sleeve, the Latin heat was scratched due to having a pound of sand in the box, and the Blue Note Jazz got scooped up by another digger seconds before me. Everyone else kind of scattered (because of the coldness and because there really weren’t any records left), but I dug on in the 45s, and pulled this side out. I have a few of their Today Records sides, but they were always pretty beat to hell as it were. The Stereo side of this cut skips, so you’ll have to deal with the Mono version of Black Ivory and “What Goes Around (Comes Around)” on Kwanza Records from 1974.
Hailing from Harlem, NY, Black Ivory originally formed as The Mellow Souls somewhere around 1969. The original lineup was first founded by Lawrence Newkirk, Vito Ramirez and Michael Harris. Stuart Bascombe and Leroy Burgess would join later on. Michael and Vito would go on to leave, and Russell Patterson would come aboard Managed by Patrick Adams of Perception Records (Fatback Band, Wanda Robinson), they eventually moved over to Today Records, a subsidiary of Perception. The band did back Robinson up on her record, providing the music for her poetry, and Adams decided a name change was in order, and Black Ivory was born. They would release a Soul classic in Don’t Turn Around from 1971, which would garnish hits ” Find The One Who Loves You”, ” She Said That She’s Leaving” and ” If I Could Be A Mirror”. Touring ensued, and in 1973 they went on to release their second Lp Baby Won’t You Change Your Mind. However, the Today label would start to go down hill financially, and BI would move over to Warner subsidiary Kwanza for 1974, and release this record we have on rotation today. BI would go on to perform for Don Cornelius on Soul Train, but like so many other small labels, Kwanza couldn’t cut the mustard and would fold just like Today did. This would cause the band to move once again, this time to Buddah Records, where they would remain until 1977. They did manage to release one record on Buddah in 1975 called Feel It, before Burgess hit the road and went out on his own. The duo of Patterson and Bascomb would remain together, pumping out one last Disco hit “Mainline” (which I own, and is easily found), but couldn’t hold their own in that genre as a whole. The song was also written by Burgess, who was not even in the band at the time. Burgess would have some success as a songwriter in the 80’s, working with Fonda Rae and Aleem Twins. Black Ivory would reunite in the 90’s and go on to perform shows together once again. Currently, they’ve been sampled by bands like Brother Ali and 9th Wonder, which keeps bands like Black Ivory on the map for a new generation of fans, be it backpacker Hip Hop kids or producers looking to keep that BI feel in their music.
What Goes Around is a great piece of up tempo Soul, bordering on the Disco explosion that would just be getting ready to take off. I see (and hear) this on records I pick up all the time. My cutoff for decent Funk and Soul usually lies around 74/75 (there are exceptions) after, but those key years for me really stretch from like ’67-’74, and maybe dabble into ’75. I hate to generalize, but it just seems everyone really went Disco after that, or at least tried to. Plenty of wah wah, falsetto voice, and a driving beat on this side folks. I’m not mad at it either. Sitting here nodding my head (go ahead and laugh), and not caring who sees, I ride for Black Ivory any day. They came out close to home for me, and why not show some love to some NY brothers who knew how to do it to it? I’ll see you on Friday with another dusty find.
****Here’s an update about a record I posted a while back:
Steve Keith, a member of th Nite Liters, a band who did a cover of Harlem Shuffle contacted me this past week. The review of the record is here. Here’s what he had to say in regards to the 45:
I am one of the original Nite-Liters and played on the record above. The flip side is “Set Me Free” by our own Don Falk. The band started in Jr. High in 1964 for a talent show with me (guitar), Harrell Baker (guitar) and Tommy Ford (drums). Later, Bob Schnell replaced Tommy and Don Falk (bass) and Joe Fromal (keys) were added. In 1965, horns were added, George Resto and Danny Kelly (Trumpets) and Harrell with his sax. We played sets of current R and R and “soul” music. Yes, we are all white guys. The band dissolved in 1967 after HS graduation and we took different roads. Don continues in music, his work can be found on the internet. Harrell also plays in Hawaii and is on the internet.
I am curious where you got a copy of this record. Only 500 were pressed and we sold them around school to our “fans”. A rare find of local music.
Our contrempories included Bill Deal and the Rondels. We played in concerts with many top bands, the Animals, Yardbirds, Bobby Moore and the Rhythem Aces, Dovells, Jimmy Clanton and others.
I am retired, living in Hampton, Va, the home of the fabulous Nite-Liters!
Hope this info is useful to you.
Regards, Steve Keith