A huge and talented contributor (probably the biggest as well) to the Norfolk Sound was Lenis Guess. A singer, songwriter, and arranger, Guess was an vital part of the music being made in that period. An early participant on the talent show circuit, Guess had much success which led him to choose a career in music. He would pair up with the Godfather of Norfolk music, Frank Guida to release “Working For My Baby” on S.P.Q.R. in 1966. This got Guess noticed (and how could you not forget his voice paired with that haunting organ), and would go on to release more sides on Guida’s various labels up until 1969. At that time he founded D.P.G. Records with Kenneth Deal and George Perkins. Unfortunately, Deal would be killed tragically in a car accident after releasing a banger of a record under the name Terry Sinclair. D.P.G. moved on with Guess and Perkins at the helm. They put out various local sides, including Sir Guy & His Rocking Cavaliers, which garnished attention. The label was short lived, and Guess soon parted ways with Perkins to move into a recording studio partnership with Dorsey “Brock” Brockington. Their house band, Raw Soul would go on to back many of Virginia’s best vocalists, which included Barbara Stant, Lee Fields, Debbie Taylor, Shirley Johnson, and many more. The studio put out music just under a decade, and after Guess had done some major label releases with Polydor and Brunswick, he moved on to New York City to work, as he exhausted his musical time in Virginia. In NYC he ran his own studio, which he continues to do today.
Tramp Records has put together a great retrospective of the career of Guess as a performer and producer. Tracks by Guess, Terry Sinclair, Sir Guy (in many incarnations), Dorsey Brockingham, Barbara Stant, and Shirley Johnson, among others are featured. One track that is on blast here at the FMF studios is Alvin Delk & Rocking Cavaliers “Ain’t Nothin’ Shakin’ “, a fireball of Funk that will have you pressing repeat again and again. For those just introduced to Guess, here’s a look at a career that may have gone unnoticed by most of the record buying public for decades. It’s now is the public’s eye, preserved and presented by the good people at Tramp. Available on July 7th, this one is as funky and soulful as you can get. Virginia please stand up, you and Lenis Guess deserve this recognition.
More info on the release here.