Vera Carey from Camden, NJ, one of the original Persianettes, told the story of how the group got involved with Timothy Carstaphen, alias Timmy (Timothy) Carr:-
“It was Lucille (Dunbar) who brought Timmy Carr to my house. She knew Timmy through his family and the church. Timmy was starting a group and he wanted some female back-up singers. Lucille was one and, because we used to sing together, she came to my house with Timmy to get me involved….Timmy was a short guy, about five-five, but he was stocky. He was no little pushover. He was like a weight-lifter, muscles, all muscles.”
Timmy and the group recorded in Philly and New York. Perhaps the best coupling of his early years was the Phil Spectre influenced “Timmy Boy” and the lively “There Comes A Time” on both of which Carr’s high baritone vocal is tough and convincing.
Other tracks from this period in his career have surfaced on a Collectables CD from sessions he had for Ben-Lee in Philly. The track that got the Northern soul crowd going was the thumping “Got No Time” but the slower paced “I Want My Lovin’ From You” sounds as good to my ears. Two tracks which were recorded under the name Timmy & The Empires but despite Carr’s continuing vocal expertise neither “Do It Like You Mean It” nor “Do The Yo-Yo” are anything other than routine Philly dance soul. It’s not really a surprise they remained unissued at the time of recording.
Around 1964 Carr and the Persianettes went their separate ways and he continued as a solo act. The Kee 45 is an extremely rare Northern soul piece which leaves me stone cold, but his 45s for Hot Biscuit have much better production values. There are two upfront dancers in the famous “A Stop Along The Way” and “Love My Love” and the other tracks are both slower in tempo. “Gone” is very much in same vein as Ray Charles’ “Take These Chains From My Heart” and Carr even manages a Charles like “croak” in his vocal which tends to get a bit lost in the enormous orchestral arrangement conjured up by Jimmy Wisner.
The pick is undoubtedly Let’s Start All Over Again a pretty much perfect deep soul ballad. Carr’s singing is absolutely superb over a very “open” southern style arrangement from Wisner. The way the subdued organ holds it all together, and the combination of the guitar and vibes are delicious. You gotta love Carr’s testifying towards the conclusion – and his Joe Tex styled chuckle.
As TIMMY (Or TIMMY CARR) & THE PERSIANETTES
Timmy boy / There comes a time ~ OLYMPIA 100 (1963)
Only now and then / I could never stop crying ~ GUYDEN 2104 (1963)
As TIMOTHY CARR
Workin’ / I’m not lyin’ ~ KEE 1210 (mid 60s)
Let’s start all over again / A stop along the way ~ HOT BISCUIT 1454 (1968)
Gone / Love my love ~ HOT BISCUIT 1456 (1968)
1. You can find "Timmy Boy" on the Ace UK CD "Phil's Spectre Vol 2". “Got No Time” and “I Want My Lovin’ From You” are on the Ace UK CD “The Ben-Lee Philadelphia Story”. Both those tracks and “Do It Like You Mean It” and Do The Yo-Yo” are aslo on the Collectables CD “The Intruders & Friends Philly Soul Rarities Vol 1”.
2. There is a slightly longer version of “Got No Time” credited to “Timmy Carr feat. The Cooperettes” on the Best Of Lash Records CD.
3. You can read more about Vera Carey’s life and career here.