Harvey Scales and the Seven Sounds Photo Courtesy of Wisonsinology
Fresh of some dance record company Funk, I bring you a record by a guy I never come across in the field. There is a good reason for that. Most of his records kill it. When they are that good, prices go sky high. That’s ok though, it’s a buyers market in today’s economy, and you can get some harder to find records at reasonable prices these days. Fortunately, I was able to dig this up in the field cheap, so that’s a bonus for me (and you). Here’s Harvey Scales with “I Wanna Do It” on Stax Records.
Born in Arkansas, but raised in Milwaukee, WI, Harvey Scales is a legend in the Badger State. He started in music at 15 at a school called North Division in Milwaukee. Scales performed in a group called the Playboys circa 1959-60 against future superstar Al Jarreau, who was in a similar Doo Wop group called the Sophisticants. Scales also performed in the Esquires (who would later record one of my fave 45’s “Get On Up”) and teamed up with pal Al Vance and formed The Seven Sounds in the early sixties. He put out records such as “The Clock” as Harvey (with another band backing him up and who he also sang with, Birdlegs) and “Glamour Girl” with the Seven Sounds. The Seven Sounds members included: Ben Petrie (Baritone Sax), Rollo Onstead (Tenor Sax) Monty Smith (trumpet/ keyboard), Al Vance (Bass), Rudy Jacobs (Guitar), Billy Stonewall (Drums) Lee Brown (Vocals). He also sang with Birdlegs (and Pauline) who put out records on Wisconsin Record label Cuca. Scales was the first Black R & B artist in Wisconsin (along with the Packers). Their main gigs were the many colleges of Wisconsin and clubs of Chicago, but eventually hit the East Coast college circuit as well. He’d play with (and as a rival of) Baby Huey and the Baby Sitters, Ike and Tina Turner, and Bobby Bland. From the Cuca label he moved to Magic Touch (which was originally an named after an upholstery place) with Lenny LeCour, where they would put out some really great sides: “Get Down/ Love-itis” (the latter rerecorded by J.Geils Band), and “Broadway Freeze” were two stand outs. He would go on to record for Chess (which he’d say were his greatest sessions). “The Yoke” and “The Funky Football” were on Chess, and a whole slew of stuff that supposedly didn’t get released. Meanwhile, he did some sides for Stax, and this was one of them. He also recorded for Cadet in the mid 70’s, “Leave It for the Trashmen”, and then moved on to Casablanca on the strength of his relationship with his Stax collaborator Johnny Taylor. This led to his hit “Disco Lady”, loosely based on a song called “Groove On Sexy Lady” written by Scales (and performed backed by the Seven Sounds). “Disco Lady” became a huge hit and the first ever platinum record. On that strength, his move to Casablanca churned out a few Lps, Confidential Affair and Hot Foot: A Funque Dizsco Opera. Scales continued to tour and also write for artists like Soul Children, Marilyn McCoo, Tyrone Davis, ZZ Hill, and the Dramatics among others. He was active in music in the 80’s and 90’s, and as of late played a Wax Poetic event at South Paw in Brooklyn, where he was rediscovered and appreciated by a whole new audience.
Scales would say that this record was the strongest side (the B Side) rather than the A side “What’s Good for You (Don’t Have to Be Good to You)”. This 45 I have has the flip on both. Whether it was or not, to me, it’s a stone cold groove. This wah wah guitar and drums that are unfuckable with (look that up internet junkies). Scales wants some of that Funky Thang, but when he asks the bass to funk up the place because it ain’t no disgrace, you know the man is serious as a heart attack. Shout out to Bob Abrahamian of Chicago’s WHPK 88.5FM Sittin’ In the Park radio show for a dope interview he did with Scales a while back. This record is a great side and I say find it, please! Keep Diggin’!
Here’s some video shot by a Cool Hands Luke @ the Five Spot of Harvey Scales live show: