Oliver Cheatham, vocalist from Mad Dog and the Pups
It’s no secret that Detroit (and Michigan itself) had a thriving music community other than Hitsville USA. Labels like Mutt, Diamond Jim, Mojo, and Soul Beat among others would be appreciated much later and reissued by labels like Stones Throw and Ubiquity either as singles or on compilations. It seems like a lot of records that are always in my “go to” box are from Detroit. This record is one of them. Here’s Mad Dog and the Pups with “Bring it To the Light” on Magic City Records.
Magic City the studio and label was located at 8912 Grand River, Detroit, Michigan. Ernest and Barbara Burt bought the Grand River studio (Correc-Tone Records) from Wilbert Golden in 1965. Magic City was busy releasing sides from The Soul Tornadoes, Leah Dawson (or Horace Campbell) & The Choker Campbell Orchestra, The Versatones, The Young Sirs, Sweet Geraldine, Cynthia And The Imaginations, and Bonnie Brisker to name a few. There had been a controversy in regards to George Clinton recording the Parliaments there, and in the Michigan Chronicle on April 19th, 1969 Burt went on to say that the following non-Magic City artists were recorded there:
A New Day Begins – The Parliament (Revilot + Atco)
We Shall Overcome – The Magic Tones (MAH’S)
I Love You Madly – Fantastic 4 (Ric-Tic + Soul)
Talking About My Baby – Gloria Walker (Flaming Arrow)
“Taking their vocal cue from the West Coast, MD&TP combines their Midwest sweetness with a Sly Stoneish singing by Cheatham, a string section that could have been lifted from Wayne State, a great bass line, and a groove that takes you back to a simpler time.”
Now we all know that Burt had his hands full with The Soul Tornadoes, but what of this band today, Mad Dog and the Pups? Writing credits go to Ernest and Barbara Burt, as well as their son Ernest Burt, Jr., and the most notable person in the band was Oliver Cheatham. Cheatham had been a member of The Young Sirs, Mad Dog and the Pups, and Gaslight. He would go on as a solo artist and release some eighties Soul, a duet with Jocelyn Brown, more records in the two thousands, and then relocate to England. There is also a band that was on Epic Records called The Livin Inn, that released a few sides. Most notably the Soul crossover “It’s Hard To Stop”, released in 1975. It’s rumored that this band was just the reincarnation of Mad Dog and the Pups with the addition of Magic City’s own Sweet Geraldine. MD&TP had a few sides:”Hep (Hip) Squeeze”, “Come Into My Love Shop”, “Why Did You Leave Me Girl”, “Bring It To the Light” (flip side “Funky Monkey is a burner too). Magic City released records until the mid 70’s.
“Bring It To the Light” is a soulful treat that parallels it’s major league neighbor Motown. Taking their cue from the West Coast, MD&TP combines their Midwest sweetness with Sly Stoneish vocals by Cheatham, a string section that could have been lifted from Wayne State, a great bass line, and a groove that takes you back to a simpler time. This side could easily have fit in over in Chicago as well, and I can see Curtis covering this with ease (although with a bit more falsetto). The heavier side on this two sider is definitely “Funkey Monkey”, but I figured I’d give the A-Side some shine and go the Soul route today. The D is in the building once again. Keep Diggin’!