Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Volcanos - All Shucks

Photo courtesy Dave Brown/Philly Archives
Those of you that have heard of the Volcanos, probably know them for sweet, danceable, mid-60’s soul like the classic ‘Storm Warning’ or ‘It’s Against the Laws of Love’. Their recordings for Philadelphia’s Arctic label between 1964 and 1966 are some of the finest 45s of the era.
Led by vocalist Gene Faith (born Eugene Jones) and featuring Harold and Stanley Wade and Earl Young* (who would all go on to form the Trammps of ‘Disco Inferno’ fame) the Volcanos were signed to Arctic in 1964 by label co-owner (and Philly DJ) Jimmy Bishop. They would record six 45s for Arctic, with “Storm Warning” hitting the R&B top 40 in the summer of 1965. Their Arctic sides would feature tunes by the cream of the Philly songwriting community, including Gamble and Huff (together and separately), Eddie Holman, Johnny Styles and out-of-towner Carl Fisher of the Vibrations. At some point (my best guess has always been some time intersecting the release of the group’s last sides for Arctic, i.e. 1966 - 1967) the Volcanos had a pair of 45s released on Philly’s own Harthon records. Harthon, formed by Weldon McDougall, Luther Randolph and Johnny Styles (Stiles) was as formidable a regional soul production house as any in the 1960’s. Aside from releases on the Harthon label (by The Volcanos, Randolph & Styles, United Four, Preludes) there were numerous productions for other labels on records by the Cooperettes (Brunswick), Philly Four (Cobblestone), Larry Clinton (Dynamo), the Twilights (Cameo/Parkway), the Four Larks (Tower) and Eddie Holman (Cameo/Parkway). I should preface my statements about the Volcanos’ Harthon sides by mentioning that hard discographical info is nonexistent, and that some of the info is in dispute. My guess, that the Harthon sides are later than the majority of the Arctic tracks is based on the flip sides of both Harthon 45s being proto-funk. The first Volcanos 45 on Harthon, ‘It’s Gotta Be a False Alarm’ b/w ‘Movin’ and Groovin’ (Harthon 138) features an upbeat mover on the a-side and a funky instrumental on the flip. The second Harthon 45 ‘Take Me Back Again’ b/w ‘All Shucks’ (today’s selection) is a similar pairing. ‘Take Me Back Again’ is another upbeat dancer. ‘All Shucks’ is a raving slice of proto-funk with shout outs to the Shing-a-ling, the Funky Broadway, Boogaloo, Mashed Potato and the Jerk among others. The tune (written, as was the a-side by Faith/Jones) is a fast moving funk/soul vamp with a rousing horn chart and some high-pitched backing vocals. Stylistically it fits right in with material like Lou Courtney’s 45s on Riverside/Popside and Al James’ ‘Groove City USA’ on Big Beat (another Philly label). There are also Harthon 45’s that appear to be later reissues from the 1970’s. Most original Harthon issue 45s have a label design like the 45 above (though some of the earliest releases have a plainer label design). The later reissues (like the instro version of ‘It’s Gotta Be a False Alarm’ credited to the Body Motions) are on a lighter orange label with “Harthon” across the top in a plain black font. There are versions of this label on Volcanos, and Lee Garrett among others. Following their Harthon 45s, the Volcanos split into two factions. Gene Faith recorded a single as ‘The Volcanos” for the Virtue label, and went on to record several excellent 45s under his own name. The rest of the group went on to record 45s as the Moods (for Wand and Reddog) and as the Trammps (for Buddha, Golden Fleece and Atlantic). There has yet to be comprehensive reissue of the Volcanos material, and it’s long overdue. Some tracks have appeared on the comp ‘Storm Warning’ (which features a variety of Philly Northern Soul), various Goldmine Soul Supply comps and ‘Movin’ & Groovin’ was on one of the ‘Sound of Funk’ volumes. As far as I know, ‘All Shucks’ has yet to be compiled.

*Earl Young would also go on to be a crucial part of the MFSB rhythm section


Blogger manny dominguez said...

thanks for all this great info on the volcanos. i downloaded 'a lady's man' from a mp3 blog recently (cant remember which) and fell in love with their sound. this past weekend i even found the 'storm warning' 45 at a flea market here in philadelphia. thanks again for this gold mine of info on such a great group.

10/07/2005 02:38:00 PM  
Anonymous JC said...

The Volcanoes, especially their hit 'Storm Warning', bring back great memories of family times down at the Jersey Shore. I hope the group members are all healthy. Does anyone know if the lead singer, Gene Faith, ever makes appearances?

2/14/2007 10:43:00 PM  

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