Macon, GA native Arthur Ponder first came to prominence when he took over singing duties with the excellent Johnny Jenkins’ Pinetoppers once Otis Redding left to pursue his solo career. But even though the group were regulars on the local club and frat scenes in the 60s, recording activity for both Jenkins and Ponder was slow. The former’s few discs were all instrumentals and it wasn’t until 1969 or 1970 that the latter got his name onto a 45 – but it was well worth the wait.
Although Flaming Arrow / Crow owner Eugene Davis is usually thought of as a Detroit music man, he had very good connections in Georgia as his association with such artists as Nancy Butts and Gloria Walker showed. Davis took Ponder into a Detroit studio to cut his enduring Dr Strangelove. The song had nothing to do with Stanley Kubrick’s superb movie but it is a fine piece of stripped down soul, with a decidedly southern feel. No strings or horns - just Arthur singing over a small rhythm section but his super vocal performance shows quite clearly that a gritty singer of his calibre doesn’t need any help. Davis put it out on his own Crow label for local sales, and took the master to Phil Walden in Macon who put it out on his Capricorn imprint, pretty much at the same time.
It is so disappointing that this fine track wasn’t followed by many more but it wasn’t until the 80s that Ponder appeared on vinyl again as the vocalist for local group Side Show. Their two 45s were pretty good indie soul of that period, and all the tracks come to life thanks to Ponder’s beautifully modulated vocal – so soulful. The mid paced “Lonely Girl” is probably the pick of the bunch but the modern soul dancers seem to prefer “You Are The One For Me.”
Ponder is still out there doing it in Macon as you can read in the local newspaper here. Long may he continue.
Dr Stangelove / Pt 2 ~ CAPRICORN 8004 / CROW 41 (1970)
.Let's get together for the wrong we have done / Oh baby why you want to make me cry ~ CROW 60/61 (early 70s?)
You talk too much / Same ~ SKY HAWK (1988)
As SIDE SHOW
Lonely girl / You are the one for me ~ TREY (1985)
Sexy lady / My love ~ MUSCADINE (1985)
Note ~ You can also read more about Arthur Ponder on Brian Poust’s always excellent Georgia Soul blog here. Thanks to Mr Fine Wine and Bob McGrath for extra discographical info - there are two new 45s in the box above thanks to their knowledge.