Skip Jackson - whose real name was Tommy Brown - started singing in New Jersey in the doo-wop era with his group the Shantons. They cut a few discs for John Matucci’s Jay-Mar concern but for soul fans their first 45 of note was for his later Dot-Mar concern.
“I’m On To You Girl” has many admirers on the Northern soul scene but the flip, as is so often the case, is far superior. Promise That You’ll Wait is a great group ballad with fine horn support – one of those “Soul from Vietnam” songs that are now getting the recognition they deserve. The best part of the track though is Jackson’s hoarse lead, full of true grit.
This feature of his music is also evident on the obscure 45 he cut at Fame early in the 70s. Peace Of Mind is very strong southern soul, love that gospel opening and the keyboard fills from Barry Becket. Production is by Eric Malamud with help from Skip and David Dashev. Dashev and Malamud should be very familiar to soul fans for their great work with the Persuasions over so many years.
His final discs were for accapella producer Stan Krause – and were a pretty mixed bunch. “Microwave Boogie” is as bad a piece of disco as the title might suggest, but “I Know My Baby Cares For Me” is a pretty strong 70s ballad on which Jackson provides the music and most of the voices. The flip is an update of a Frankie Lymon tune.
Jackson sadly passed away in 1982.
UPDATE ~ My friend John Lias has reminded me that the Players did a really sweet version of "Peace Of Mind" as well o0n thier Minit LP "He'll Be Back". And it is really recommended to vocal group freaks unreservedly. And in view of the date of their recording it must have been the first cut of this fine song.
FURTHER UPDATE ~ Davie Gordon has kindly supplied the issue numbers for Skip's early doo-wop sides and corrected a typo in the first para - both issues now amended. Davie goes on to say that " "Peace of Mind" was written by Dave Bupp and Adrian "Buddy" King of the Magnificent Men - it was the MM's first single (Capitol 5806, March 1966)so their's is the original version. For a song that didn't chart there is a surprising number of versions. The Players is, I think, the first cover. Next is Jerry Butler's version on the 1967 "Soul Artistry" album, then there's a 1971 version on Arctic by The Royal Five - one of the last releases on Arctic."
Pete Nickols has also kindly written with details of a very rare red vinyl issue of "Microwave Boogie" - looks lovely but the music is truly awful sadly! He has also supplied the interesting news snippet about Skip's involvment with 14 Karat Soul.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE ~ Mr Michael W Wells, an original member of the Shantons, has very kindly been in touch with some excellent info and lovely pictures of the group and Skip Jackson. He writes:-
From our email communication I will give you a little history of The Shantons. We were all neighborhood friends with Johnny and Dotty Martucci from Jersey City, New Jersey. We began singing together in the basement of our homes and eventually it led to our singing at parties and local dances. The original Shantons were
Thomas Brown (Skipper)
William (Billy) McCoy
Over the years we have had several substitute singers for one reason or another. Guys such as Walter (Mittsy) Mays, Christopher Cole, Sonny Prince and a young man we called, Smoothie (Bobby Crawford). We all performed well together and our group appeared on many stages with well known popular superstars.
A little about Skip Jackson.
Skip learned to play piano as a young boy on a discarded instrument in a coal bin where his father worked as the building manager. He become so good that he was a guest performer on a popular New York City TV Show called “The Gary Moore Show,” billed as The Kid From Boys Town.
I was his best man at his wedding to Betty. Throughout the years Skip and I always remained close friends until he passed. After the Shantons were disbanded, Skip continued his musical pursuits and went on to work with other groups.
Mr Wells finshes by adding:-
I am currently retired from industry, but continue to sing with my wife, Sandy in our church choir. Music is still in my heart.
I'm really grateful to him for taking the time and trouble to send me all this fine info.
As THE SHANTONS
Triangle love / Lover’s march ~ JAY-MAR 164/5 (1959?)
As SKIP & THE SHANTONS
The Christmas song / Santa Claus is coming to town ~ JAY-MAR 181/2 (1960) (re-released on DOT-MAR)
As THE SHANTONS
Lucille / To be in love with you ~ JAY-MAR 241/2 (1960?)
As SKIP JACKSON & THE SHANTONS
I’m on to you girl / Promise that you’ll wait ~ DOT-MAR 324/5 (1967?)
As SKIP JACKSON
Peace of mind / Don’t go to strangers ~ CAPITOL 3397 (1972)
As CALVIN & THE CATAMOUNTS
Creation of love / I know my baby cares for me ~ CATAMOUNT 131 (1976)
As SKIP JACKSON & NATURAL EXPERIENCE
Microwave boogie ~ CATAMOUNT 736 (1977?)
Thanks to John Lias, Davie Gordon and Pete Nickols for the extra info. And especially to Mr Michael W Wells.