COLUMBIA 44096Curtis King

Trumpet player Curtis King made his living as a member of various bands gigging in and around New York, but I do hope he was able to take the main microphone from time to time because in the small number of 45s he released in the late 60s / early 70s he showed himself to be a really top quality singer with a full hoarse, gritty tone and  a fine sense of phrasing and dynamics. His initial 45 for Columbia featured a strong self penned, mid paced ListenSo Nice While It Lasted with a distinct “Stand By Me” feel.

His Mercury single ListenWeaker By The Moment was a fine funky little number with some uninhibited throat tearing vocals reminiscent of Wilson Pickett. King’s Dupree 45 was recorded under the direction of Roy C Hammond and turned out to be a strong double sider. “Guilty Of Adultery” used the same backing track as James Shaw’s 45 on Hammond’s Nationwide single – but Shaw can’t hold a candle to King’s intensity.

MERCURY 72947ListenI Feel Like Crying is one of Hammond’s easy paced numbers but there is nothing “easy” about Curtis’ strangled screams. They’re as tough as you could want – heavy soul.

But the rare and very expensive Ronze 45 was King’s undoubted masterpiece. The waltz time deep soul ballad ListenYou Took The Best Of Me is pretty much a perfect recording from the bluesy feel of the backing to the heavyweight vocal performance. The upfront drumming and excellent guitar fills are complemented by the lovely horn charts and King’s anguished phrases. Especially towards the run-out groove. This is what music should be about.

And that completes Curtis King’s recording history – how we could have done with more from him.



Bad habits / ListenSo nice while it lasted ~ COLUMBIA 44096 (1967)
ListenWeaker by the moment / Workin’ overtime ~ MERCURY 72947 (1969)
Guilty of adultery / ListenI feel like crying ~ DUPREE 100 (1970?)
ListenYou took the best of me / Good times ~ RONZE 114 (early 70s)

Thanks to Mr Finewine for kind help and the suggestion.

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