When you’re out in the field digging, sometimes you just get a feeling. Not the feeling when you pick up a copy of Peter Brown’s ‘Do You want To Get Funky With Me?”, but looking at a record you never came across before, realizing there aren’t too many LP’s on the label that you have, then opening up the gate fold to see some great photos, as well as it being produced by Bob Shad (producer of one of my fave 45’s Sugar Billy’s “Super Duper Love”). The feeling of excitement I got before I even put it on the turntable, was one I hadn’t felt with an LP in a while. This record was special before the needle even dropped. Here is Alice Clark with “Don’t You Care” on Mainstream Records from 1972.
There really isn’t much information about Alice Clark’s career before her apparent three sessions that produced this gem of a Soul record. She had a few sides in the late 60’s released on Warner Brothers and Rainy Day labels before getting with Bob Shad and putting out a belter of a record. Often called “The Holy Grail of Modern Soul”, it has recently received much accolades along with a deluxe reissue treatment in various forms. Orchestrated and arranged by tenor saxophone player/ arranger Ernie Wilkins, the band backing up Clark is a perfect match with her. Jazzy, sometimes funky, but most of all full of Soul voice. The music arrangement on this LP is on point. Although all of the songs on this record weren’t written by Clark, she is a perfect conduit for song writers like Billy Vera, Bobby Hebb and Earl DeRouen (Donny Hathaway’s percussion player), among others. From start to finish, this record is pure gold. There isn’t one bad interpretation of any of these tunes by Clark and Wilkins. Picked up by both the Northern Soul and Acid Jazz set, Clark’s voice easily lends itself to the dance floor as easily as it does a dining room on a packed Saturday night. Most likely the best Soul record you have never heard of, Bob Shad production once again hits it out of the park with Alice Clark.
The song I chose from this record is “Don’t You Care”, a Bobby Hebb penned tune. An upbeat track with a great horn section intro, the organ work behind Clark’s siren like voice is so prominent as the groove is locked in tight and the horns fade in and out. Then it happens: a big drum break, and there is that electric piano and organ again adding more flavor to the tune. By the time the horns are taking you out, you’re getting up and picking up the needle to drop it on the cut again. The elements of Jazz, Funk, Soul, and R & B that Wilkins and Shad pepper in throughout this record is amazing. And for that matter, why wouldn’t they do it? Wilkins had enough experience as an arranger with Count Basie and sax player to lend his sound expertise. He also pulled double duty as an arranger on this record as well as the A & R man at Mainstream Records. Did he discover Clark? Shad’s resume is pretty impressive as well. From Charlie Parker to Max Roach to Janis Joplin and even Ted Nugent, Shad had enough experience and know how in the music business to put together and release a record like this. Here’s the question: where the hell did Alice Clark come from, and where did she go after this record? Another recording artist shrouded with mystery, but I guess that, along with the great music on this record makes it so good and sought after by lots of collectors. For me, it was $2 well spent.