The Orlons - Rules of Love
Philadelphia – at least in my opinion – produced more great soul/R&B 45’s in the 1960’s than just about any city outside of Detroit. Boasting a host of prolific local record labels and tons of local talent, there end result was inevitably a surplus of high quality music. One such talented group was the Orlons. Formed in the 50’s the group underwent a few membership changes before auditioning for Cameo/Parkway records in 1961 (apparently at the suggestion of schoolmate Len Barry, of the Dovells and later solo success). The group’s early 45s were unsuccessful – their first taste of success was as backing vocalists on Dee Dee Sharp’s hit ‘Mashed Potato Time’ in 1962. Later that year they made the charts with ‘Wah Watusi’, followed soon by ‘Don’t Hang Up’, ‘South Street’ and ‘Crossfire’, all top 20 hits. The group – featuring lead vocals by Rosetta Hightower - managed to create a vibe that had all the successful aspects of the popular girl group sound and gave it an energetic, soulful twist (the fact that they had a male vocalist in their ranks gave them a slightly different vocal sound). ‘The Rules of Love’ was a top 50 hit in the summer of 1964 (one would imagine it charting higher if not for the huge influx of British Invasion material at the time). “Written” by Cameo/Parkway bigwigs Kal Mann and Dave Appell – I place the word written in quotes since the tune is basically a shameless lift of Ray Charles ‘What’d I Say’, in both style and substance – ‘Rules of Love’ includes fake crowd noise, ringing electric piano, and a fantastic vocal by Hightower, with a rougher sound unlike much of their other work. It’s not hard to imagine this record hitting it big on the dance floors in Philly and down the shore at Wildwood. The Orlons recorded 5 more 45s for Cameo – but nothing better than this - before some more personnel changes and a move to Calla records in 1965. It was for Calla that they would record what I (and almost everyone on the Northern Soul scene) consider their best record, the storming ‘Spinning Top’. Rosetta Hightower moved to the UK in the late 60’s and appeared as a backing vocalist on Joe Cocker’s ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’ in 1969 and later on the ‘London Muddy Waters Sessions’.