The Icemen comprised James Stokes and Gino Armstrong and a more righteous pair of soulmen it's hard to imagine. Although they only cut a small handful of New York 45s each of them features their heavy duty gospel drenched vocals. Their discs for Johnny Brantley (My Girl) She's A Fox and Only Time Will Tell are ballads of the highest order. The latter may just take preference for the stronger meoldy and the fine horn and string sections. Gino Stokes had the higher baritone and most of the lead action but the interplay of their voices is simply wonderful. The first Samar 45 is famous for being one of those tracks that Jimi Hendrix played on when he was learning his trade. And while I bow to nobody in my dislike of his own name recordings, while he was playing within the discipline of a session framework he used to turn in more than adequate guitar fills as here.
The duo's ABC 45 is another super performance. How Can I Get Over A Fox Like You is a plodding deep ballad of great power, written like many of their tracks by the Poindexter Brothers and given a first class production by the great George Kerr. It grows on you like a creeper round a vine - you find yourself humming the hook long after the cut is over. Perhaps even better than this was their rare Ole-9 release. This sounds so much like the ABC 45 it must have been recorded at the same session. It's Gonna Take A Lot makes use of similar chord changes as well and arranger Richard Tee is credited on both 45s. I love the strong horn charts here and the guys vocals are just sensational. When the story of soul duos is finally written the Icemen should feature pretty near the top of the pile.
UPDATE ~ Timothy Leonard has been in touch concerning his research into the relationship between the Poindexter Brothers, Richard Tee and George Kerr jointvenrtures with the themes of "It won't take much to bring me back" by the Mamselles and Linda Jones & the "It's gonna take a lot to bring me back" by the Icemen and the Manhattans. He is of the be;ief that the Icemen's Ole-9 45 may just their first release. I've amended the discography accordingly - can anybody add any info to the date for this reelase?
It's gonna take a lot to bring me back baby / It's time you knew ~ OLE-9 1007/8 (mid 60s?)
(You've got a) style of your own / Let that song play ~ Vest 8008 (1965)
(My girl) she's a fox / (I wonder) what it takes ~ SAMAR 111 (1966)
Sugar baby / Only time will tell ~ SAMAR 117 (1966)
How can I get over a fox like you / Loogaboo (the choice is yours) ~ ABC 11038 (1968)
Thanks to Timothy Leonard for sharing his research and discographical info.