Charmels – Sea Shell

Download or Listen to Charmels – Sea Shell from the Volt Records 45

Here’s an October Holiday edition of Flea Market Funk for you. Some of you may have off, others have to keep pressing on here in the daily drudgery. Whatever the case is, I have some Monday morning Soul for your ears, plus a little record dealer news that some may find a bit interesting. This is from a reliable source, and when I get some more details, I will for sure fill you all in. Apparently, Stinkie Steve has once again wore out his welcome at another prominent digging spot. The story goes that he pissed another vendor off (imagine that), said vendor called the 5-0 on him, and the Powers that Be that control the spot thought it might be best if Steve was no longer a member of that establishment. This could explain a Restricted phone call I got on my cell phone a few weeks back from a caller who did not identify himself asking if I had 45’s to sell. I immediately recognized his voice and when I said I was a buyer, not a seller, he said he would contact me when he was in the area. I never got a call again, perhaps this was the calm before the storm. Mind you, I gave him my number 2 Summers ago, and he said: “I was going through my Rolodex, and I found your number.” I wrote the damn thing on a napkin. Such is the saga on the Stinkie One, moving from flea market to flea market, successfully getting kicked out due to his crazy and sometimes sociopathic ways. At any rate, I’ve got some all girl Soul for you today. This weekend was gorgeous, and it inspired me to try and get a bit more beach time in, walking along the shore near my house and a small road trip to another beach town resort to get my fill of a true Jersey boardwalk. It didn’t help that I walked smack dab in the middle of a Columbus Day parade, which just added to the chaos. Here are the Charmels with “Sea Shell” on the Volt Records 45.

Starting out as the Dixiebelles in the early 1960’s, this trio of ladies put out sides on Sound Stage 7, and also as the Tonettes. The group was comprised of Shirley Thomas, Mary Hunt and Mildred Pratchett. The Tonettes really weren’t making much noise, dropping a few singles on Volt: “Please Don’t Go” and “Stolen Angel” and various early sides on Ace Records. However, it wasn’t until 1966, when Black Moses himself, Isaac Hayes would take the band under his wing. He did add another member, Barbara McCoy, which I’m sure didn’t matter, I mean look who was going to make them stars. Now at the time, I’m sure these three ladies we thrilled to say the least, when Ike was willing to put them to work, so to speak. The result was four sides, which included this 7 incher and the now $100 plus 45 that RZA used to make Wu Tang’s anthem C.R.E.A.M., “As Long As I’ve Got You”. That is a song I can not get enough of, or work doubles to at live gigs.

This side is some really Sweet Soul, with some great back up harmonies. Produced of course by Hayes and David Porter, I feel this is an under appreciated side IMHO. I particularly like the back up horn section, who just add this great element to the already perfect piano, drum beat, and bass line. Listen a little deeper though, and you can picture this being recorded: Maybe Isaac Hayes at the piano directing the band, the ladies giving this record their all, and the rest of the players recording this at 926 East McLemore Avenue while civil unrest was unfolding around Memphis. Perhaps this side was more about their record careers than it was about a woman trying to figure out whether she is the only girl in a guy’s life. I’d like to think a little bit of both. This was the last side released by the Charmels according to the Stax discography. Here’s to enjoying and savoring a bit of the Summer in October, and listening to what the future predicts through a sea shell. It worked for the Charmels. Keep Diggin’!


Is this the end of Stinkie Steve? We shall see.

4 responses to “Charmels – Sea Shell

  1. Lovely. I first discovered this when Sarah Cracknell covered it on her Kelly’s Locker cd. Hers is nice, but the original is where it’s at!

  2. hey FMF – thanks for posting this great treasure. can you tell me the flip side title please? i want to add this release to RYM. thanks!

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