This weekend I did a small dig in Brooklyn. I have a spot that isn’t secret, but always comes through every time I go there. I was a bit concerned because I heard that it was recently taken over by the Brooklyn Flea (mostly because of the prices going up), but I was pleasantly surprised that the place stayed the way it was, and my record guy didn’t pump up his prices. Good sign, and an even better sign that the Brooklyn Flea name was making the spot more diverse. I dug through my usual crates and came up with a few gems. I had to push this one up, because it’s just that good from front to back. How about some Reggae Soul via the Bahamas? Here’s Wendell Stuart and the Downbeaters with “My World Is Empty Without You” on Elite Records.
One of the most beloved singer from the Bahamas, Wendell Stuart’s voice fits somewhere between Johnny Nash and Ken Boothe, a beautiful blend of Reggae, Calypso and Soul that soothes the ear. Backed by Solomon Frazier on guitar, Patrick Capron on bass, Erskine Bain on drums, and Alvin “Wong” Bullard on background vox, this entire record is a unique piece of vinyl. With covers of Burt Bacharach, The Beatles, Tom Paxton, and this Supremes side offered up today is mixed in with traditional Hatian songs adapted into English (“Yellow Bird”, done by a plethora of singers over the years), and other interesting tunes. The side featured today was highlighted on the West Indies Funk compilation put out by Trans Air in 2011. What’s cool about this record is that it probably gets passed over a lot because while it has the Reggae group name, it could be perceived as a Calypso record. That’s what I think happened when I picked this up, a bonus for me. It doesn’t hurt that it’s an autographed copy to boot. Maybe he sold these Lps when he was headlining at Junkanoo in Freeport, Grand Bahamas, or maybe he sold them here in the States. Whatever the case, we’ll never know. These autographed copies have fetched up to $100+, but quite honestly, I could care less about the autograph. It’s the music that really matters.
“My World Is Empty Without You” is a beautiful rendition of the Supremes. Mellow Soul out of the islands at its finest, the harmonies coupled with Stuart’s voice put this tune in a notch above a lot of renditions of this song. The beautiful guitar by Solomon Frazier keeps you floating along with the lyrics all the way through. When the song nears the end, the band really kicks in and funks it up a bit, ending in a bit of a pleading frenzy into the fade out. This one can be found cheap, and if you see it, pick it up and ask no questions.
Wendell Stuart and the Downbeaters – My World Is Empty Without You
Download the song here.