In his best track “Helping Hand” Genie Brooks says that he “was born on the South side of the city” – but was that Augusta where Leroy Lloyd started out? Or Nashville? Does anybody know?
Genie’s first record “The James Brown Bougeloo” was very much as the title says without in any way setting the house on fire. The instrumentation was provided by the excellent Leroy Lloyd and the “home made” low fi sound was no doubt due to the fat that it was recorded in a community centre rather than a professional studio. Nevertheless it got a release on Carol, which was distributed by Russell Sim’s eponymous concern.
Lloyd went to Finley Duncan’s Minaret concern a little later on in the decade, as did Brooks, but the latter didn’t record with the former. Instead Genie had sessions at Muscle Shoals which produced his two Minaret singles. The first coupled the loping beat of “Fine Time” with the more restrained “Juanita” – great to see Big John Hamilton’s name as co-writer of this one. Both sides of this 45 are prime southern soul with Brooks’ hoarse tone and easy delivery proving very attractive.
“South Side Of Soul Street” was even funkier than “Fine Time” but lacked the horn support of the first release. As indeed did the down beat Helping Hand but the hard times lyric, excellent chord structure of the song and Brooks’ really heartfelt delivery make this one the track to treasure.
UPDATE ~ Marion Red has very kindly been in touch with some more info on this fine singer. She says that Genie's real name was Eugene Brooks was his real name and he "was actually from Wrens GA which is about 30 Miles from Augusta." Marion also provided a link to articles in the Aigista Chronicle which mentions Brooks which you can find here and here.
The James Brown booglaoo / Party time ~ CAROL 105 (1965/6)
Fine time / Juanita ~ MINARET 130 (1967)
Helping hand / South side of soul street ~ MINARET 142 (1969)
Note ~ You can find versions of "Fine Time", "South Side Of Soul Street" and "Helping Hand" on the sundazed CD "A Fine Time".
Special thanks to the indefatigable Jim Lancaster whose efforts to bring the Minaret catalogue to the world's attention are simply amazing.