Search This Blog

Friday, March 4, 2011

More underappreciated voices of Chicago soul......Barbara Acklin Part 1

Barbara Acklin

Barbara Acklin (February 28, 1943- November 27, 1998) was a soul singer of the 1960s and 1970s. Her biggest hit was "Love Makes a Woman" in 1968 which reached the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Born Barbara Jean Acklin in Oakland, California, was an only child of Herman and Hazel Acklin, she began singing in church and then as a teenager in nightclubs while attending Dunbar Vocational High school in Chicago. Upon graduation, she was hired as a secretary for a local record label by her cousin, saxophonist and producer Monk Higgins. Her first release was under the name Barbara Allen on his Special Agent label. Later, Higgins used Acklin as a background singer on his Chess Records sessions with artists like Etta James and Fontella Bass.

In 1966, Acklin began working as a receptionist for record producer Carl Davis at Brunswick Records in Chicago. She persistently asked Davis to record her. Davis finally agreed but encouraged her to keep writing songs. Cornering Brunswick star Jackie Wilson, Acklin had him listen to a tune that she co-wrote with David Scott (formerly of The Exciters Band and later to join the Chi-Lites for a time). Wilson liked it and passed it on to Davis. Released in September 1966, "Whispers (Gettin' Louder)" went to number 5 R&B and number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song helped to re-launch Wilson's career and, returning the favor, he helped Acklin to secure a recording contract with Brunswick.

Acklin's first chart success as a singer came with "Show Me the Way to Go," a duet with another Brunswick artist, Gene Chandler, which reached number 30 R&B in the spring of 1968. In July the same year, Acklin had a hit of her own with "Love Makes a Woman," which went to number three R&B and number 15 on the Hot 100. The song, co-written by producers Carl Davis and Eugene Record together with arranger Sonny Sanders and guitarist Gerald Sims, also won a BMI Award. Another Chandler/Acklin duet followed in October 1968. "From the Teacher to the Preacher" reached number 16 R&B and number 57 pop. Acklin's next charting singles were "Just Ain't No Love," "Am I The Same Girl" (covered by Dusty Springfield, Swing Out Sister and The Manhattan Transfer), "After You", "I Did It," "Lady Lady Lady," and "I Call It Trouble."

She was reportedly disappointed with Brunswick when, prior to releasing her version of "Am I the Same Girl", her voice on the track was replaced by the piano part and released as an instrumental. "Soulful Strut" became a massive hit for Young-Holt Unlimited, reaching the top 3 of both the Hot 100 and R&B charts. Unfortunately for Acklin, her release some months later in early 1969 did not enjoy the promotion or reaction of "Soulful Strut", managing only #33 R&B and #79 pop. However, Barbara was also proficient as a songwriter - in addition to "Whispers (Gettin' Louder)", she co-wrote "Have You Seen Her", a major hit for The Chi-Lites with the group's lead singer, Eugene Record, and several of their other biggest songs: "Oh Girl", "Stoned Out Of My Mind" and "Toby" as well as her own releases. Her distinctive voice also featured occasionally on background vocals on some of The Chi-Lites' records.

Acklin departed Brunswick in 1974 for Capitol Records. Her first single, "Raindrops," was an R&B hit (#14) in the summer of that year. The song and resulting album were produced by Willie Henderson, another Brunswick regular who had also just left the label. A few subsequent singles failed to register strongly and Acklin's recording career subsided.

Barbara Acklin died from pneumonia on November 27, 1998 while in Nebraska. She had lived for some years with Eugene Record and the two had a son. She also has a daughter who is an aspiring singer.

Got to thinking about Barbara again,  while I was doing the Gene Chandler list.........dug out all these titles for ya. Enjoy.

But first.........The oh, so much more "soulful strut" than the "other"  version, IMHO....

A note on "Am I the same girl":

"Am I the Same Girl" is a popular soul song written by Eugene Record and Sonny Sanders. First recorded in 1968 by Barbara Acklin, "Am I the Same Girl" was most successful as a 1992 release by Swing Out Sister. However the song had its greatest impact as a 1968-69 instrumental hit single by Young-Holt Unlimited under the title "Soulful Strut".

Although Barbara Acklin — who was married to Eugene Record — recorded the song first, producer Carl Davis removed her voice from the track, replaced it with a piano solo by Floyd Morris, and released the resultant track in November 1968 as "Soulful Strut" credited to Young-Holt Unlimited; it became a #3 hit in the United States and went to #1 in Canada. (In fact neither Eldee Young nor Red Holt is believed to have played on the track, which rather is the work of session players identified only as the Brunswick Studio Band.) Acklin's version was released in February 1969 and reached #33, R&B crossing over to #79 Pop .

Dusty Springfield, who had heard Acklin's version, recorded "Am I the Same Girl" at Philips Studios Marble Arch in August 1969; Bill Landis produced the session which was arranged by Keith Mansfield.  The track marked Springfield's last UK chart appearance of the 1960s but was not a major hit, stalling at #43. "Am I the Same Girl" also gave Springfield a minor hit in Australia (#75).

In 1976, Peruvian musician Otto de Rojas, with his Ultra 76 Orchestra, recorded a disco version of Young-Holt's "Soulful Strut": "Al Ritmo del Bump-Bump" ("Dancing to the Bump-Bump rhythm"), which gained a high profile in Peru via its use in a pop music TV show hosted by the Mexican comedian Rodolfo Rey "Cachirulo", aired through the local Panamericana Television station. Also in 1979, George Benson did a cover of "Soulful Strut" on his Livin' Inside Your Love album.

The vocal version "Am I the Same Girl" had its most successful incarnation via a 1992 remake by Swing Out Sister, whose lead vocalist Corinne Drewery has acknowledged Dusty Springfield as a major influence. Recorded for the Get in Touch with Yourself album and released as the lead single, "Am I the Same Girl" gave Swing Out Sister their highest UK chart ranking since their inaugural hits in 1986-87, the top ten "Breakout" and "Surrender"; however, it was a much more moderate success, with a #21 peak. The track did better internationally, peaking at #8 in Germany, #15 in the Netherlands and #13 in Italy, also giving Swing Out Sister their best ever chart showing in France at #54. "Am I the Same Girl" also represented a strong comeback for Swing Out Sister in the US, where it was released in September 1992 and reached #45 on the Billboard Hot 100 — the track's peak on the Cash Box Pop 100 was #32 — while reaching #1 on the A/C chart

In September 2005, Martha Stewart began to use the Swing Out Sister version in her promo commercials for her show Martha on NBC television in America and then as the opening introduction theme song of the show. Each show starts with the song playing over a montage of images and photos of Martha Stewart growing up.

Young-Holt Unlimited's "Soulful Strut" was featured on the soundtrack of the 1998 film The Parent Trap, subtly referencing how the plot revolves around twin girls secretly swapping places (the title of "Soulful Strut's vocal version being "Am I the Same Girl"). "Soulful Strut" was also used in the film's advertising.

In 1999 saxophonist Kim Waters recorded "Am I the Same Girl (Soulful Strut)" for his One Special Moment album; featuring vocalist Meli'sa Morgan, the track was a non-charting single release in February 2000.

In 2005 Joss Stone used the Young-Holt version as a starting point for her song "Don't Cha Wanna Ride" and accordingly credited the composers of "Am I the Same Girl" as co-composers of her song. In recent years, "Soulful Strut" has become one of the two most played songs at the Chicago Board Options Exchange along with "Dominic the Donkey". 

An apparently unique male version, "Am I the Same Guy", was cut by Tom Gaebel for his 2008 Don't Wanna Dance album.

Now...the songs.....

After you
Am I the same girl
Be by my side
Come and see me baby
Fire love
Fool fool fool (look in the mirror)
From the teacher to the preacher (w/ Gene Chandler)
Give me some of your sweet love
Give me, lend me
Go with love
Gonna make you wish
He's just a little guy
Here is a heart
How can you lose something you never had
I call it trouble
I can't do my thing
I did it
I like your love
I'll bake me a man
I'm living with a memory
I've got you baby
Is it me
It' a groovy idea
Just ain't no love
Lady lady lady
The look of love

No comments:

Post a Comment