Beantown has soul…
The Skippy White Story (Boston Soul 1961-1967) – LP Compilation – Yep Roc Records – YEP 3029 – ***1/2
Soul music in the 1960s was mostly recognized and lauded, as coming primarily out of Detroit, Memphis, and Philadelphia. However, every major cosmopolitan city in the country had groups doing do-wop, rhythm and blues, soul,and gospel. Most of the time the output from the groups did not spread beyond the inner city of these metropolitan cities.
It was not unusual for record stores, and barber shops to lead the way, along with small AM stations to help locals find what was happening in the hood.
In Boston during this decade there was one man who had his pulse on both the underground African American music scene, and also promoted local artists whom he felt deserved recognition. Fred LeBlanc, a white entrepreneur (who became known as Skippy White, a take off on his French name), owned several record shops, promoted concerts for major out of town talent, and had a popular radio station DJ gig.
His store was frequented by a wide clientele, ranging from “straights” to a much rougher trade. Skippy had an encyclopedic knowledge of soul, gospel, and blues. His main store, Skippy White’s Mass Records, even drew Rod Stewart, Van Morrison, and Little Richard, when they were in town.
Skippy soon formed several record labels, with each having their own specialty. Soul and do-wop were featured on WILD and Stop, local blues artists on Bluestown, and Boston’s finest gospel groups found their way onto Silver Cross.
Yep Roc Records through Stoney Point, is releasing as an LP compilation music released in the 1960s by some of Skippy’s favorite artists, who made their home in Boston. It is a nostalgic mix, with its energy outpacing the bargain price production costs. None of the artists made headway out of the area, but there was talent that largely went unrecognized outside of town.
This new release gate fold LP, was curated by Eli Husock (AKA: Eli Paperboy Reed), the singer/song writer, and soul music aficionado. There are liner notes from Peter Wolf, Peter Guralnick, and Noah Schaffer. Each of them extol Skippy White as the man that gave 1960s Boston, soul, blues, and gospel street cred. White’s last record store just closed two years ago but Skippy White still has a weekend radio show in Boston.
The fifteen tracks on this compilation have four songs by The Precisions (led by James Washington), with winning soul arrangements. The Earl Lett Quartet contributes “Do The Thing,” which had resistance by radio stations due to its title (but in actuality the lyrics just cover a proposed “dance” style.)
Side two consists of two country blues guitar tracks from Guitar Nubbit and four energetic gospel songs from some of the best Beantown church talents.
Skippy White is probably unknown outside of Boston, but this sweet and nostalgic LP gives the man his due.
Junior Washington- Skippy White Theme (Part 1)
Sammy and the Del-Larks – Sleepwalk
The Precisions- What Would You Do
Earl Lett Quartet – Do the Thing
The Precisions- The Love I Found in You
The Precisions- Treason
Earl Lett Quartet – Now is the Time
The Precisions- Me and My Gal
Junior Washington- Skippy White Theme (Part 2)
Guitar Nubbit- Georgia Chain Gang
Guitar Nubbit- Evil Woman Blues
Crayton Singers- Master on High
The Lord’s Messengers- Holy Ghost and Fire
Sons of David- I’ve Been Lifted Out of Sin
Lynn Harmonizers- I Was Standing
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