Friday creeps up on you so quickly, it’s hard to believe it’s here already. This will be a short post to kick the weekend off. I will be picking up the digging mobile this weekend, and hopefully if the weather is not too wet, will be doing some digging on Sunday morning. I also have another mix I need to put the finishing touches on, one for Vincent over at FuFu Stew, and a show for Matthew Fox’s Real Rillen radio program in Germany. In other words, FMF is a gonna be busy for a little bit. Let’s not go any further before we get into J.J. Barnes and “Chains of Love” on Groovesville Records.
Born in Detroit, MI in 1943, James Jay Barnes recorded great Soul and R & B music. He started off initially singing Gospel in the group The Halo Gospel Singers with his sister Ortheia Barnes. He soon would drift to secular music. His first offering was in 1960 on Kable, “My Love Came Tumbling Down”. Soon Barnes was getting respect as not only a singer, but also a song writer. He would go on to record sides on Mickays, Scepter, Ring, and Ric-Tic. Releasing a variety of songs, including a cover of the Beatles’ “Day Tripper”. When Berry Gordy brought Ric Tic under the Motown umbrella, he would use Barnes more as a song writer (The Vandells and The Marvelletes ) than a singer. This would result JJ shifting to Groovesville and teaming up with Don Davis on this record, which is the flip side of “Baby Please Come Back Home”. He would move around again from Revilot (and one of his biggest hits, a cover of Daryl Banks “Our Love Is In the Pocket) to Buddah to Volt to Leo to Magic Touch and to Invasion to Perception. Not getting much recognition in Detroit, he would then go on to team up with old friend Edwin Starr, who was doing well in the Northern Soul scene in England. This would prove to be a pivotal move, as Barnes and Starr would sign to Contempo and go on to release a lot more music, garnering much praise and recognition. Barnes is a Northern Soul favorite to this day.
This tune is a great piece of Soul. JJ Barnes is a great example of a hardworking singer, songwriter, and performer, who despite all his talents, had a hard time making it here in the Soul scene of the United States. He would be, however, embraced with open arms in the UK and Europe, and finally compensated for his talent. This is a tune I have no problem listening to over and over again. In fact, it’s one of the very few records I’d play twice in a row. The song has been covered a few times, but my most favorite version besides the JJ Barnes version is that by The Dirtbombs. It’s a dirty, gritty version of the side, and the band plays tribute to it’s Detroit brother in a big way. I’d urge everyone to check this side out as well. They have great originals as well as covers of Stevie, Curtis, and this record here. So whether it’s JJ Barnes or The Dirtbombs doing “Chains of Love”, Detroit is represented lovely. Have a great weekend. Keep Diggin’!