Pearstine Badger? Perk Badger? Well take your pick. He’s best known as Perk but the Wax-Wel labels say Pearstine, a woman’s name usually. In any event he was well recognised in Miami in the 60s as “The Soul Percolator”, popular in the clubs and an owner of several record shops. Listening to his 45s now it’s easy to see why – for while his main influence in the highly regarded funk tracks he cut was Brother James, on his ballads and uptempo soul he came on like the Big O.
And despite the views of the funk contingent who adore “Do Your Stuff” and “Got A Thing For You Baby” it was on the ballads that Mr Badger really shone. In fact it’s hard to say which of the three deep gems is the best as they are all of the highest quality. I Need Your Love To See Me Through is a ballad with all the classic ingredients – arpeggio guitar, churchy organ, massed horns, 12/8 tempo and a vocalist desperately pleading his cause. The rap in the middle is very well judged too. The writer/producer, Willie Walters, was Perk’s manger and probably had a part in Wax-Wel as well.
The other superb deep disc on the label, Come On Back To Me, could have easily been recorded at the same session its so close in sound and feel. The vocals cover the same distraught territory and the backing is as sympathetic. The prominence of the baritone sax is a real bonus.
One Woman Man has a fine male chorus to make up for the lack of horns and a very good chord structure. The Percolator is not quite so anguished on this one but still generates a lot of emotional depth. After the release on Hit Sound – a label Badger owned with Willie Reynolds – the funk side came out on Arnold Albury’s Suncut.
All these tracks are undoubtedly from the mid 60s but the order they were recorded/released comes down to guess work sadly. My view is that the Wax-Wel 45s came first – but I’d welcome better info.
UPDATE ~ My friend Greg “Chief Detective” Burgess has written with some amazing info. Sadly Mr Percolator has passed on but Greg has been in contact with Valentina Badger, Perk’s widow who has beem kind enough to provide a lot of info. Perk Badger was born Pearlstine Badger in Allendale, South Carolina on February 12th 1940. He was the son of a sharecropper, an indentured farmer and Valentina believed that his early life was sometimes harsh. The gospel inflections in Perk’s voice are evident and for some years he was the baritone lead in a member of a gospel quartet in Jacksonville, Florida where he and his brother were living in the early 1960s. Perk Badger considered the notion of a life as a preacher man in Jacksonville but the lure of the music business was too strong for him and in 1966 he had moved to Miami at the behest of his long time friend and fellow gospel singer Willie Walters. Walters was from Jacksonville and appears to have been a dynamic individual with fingers in a fair few pies. He owned a number of shops including a wig shop on 7th Avenue in Miami and wanted a piece of the action in the thriving music industry of the Magic City. The result was the three 45s by Mr Percolator on Wax-Wel records a label owned by Walters and Badger. Perk Badger struggled on in the business for a number of years but the necessity to earn enough money to look after his family meant that he took a number of jobs including working in a library and around 1980 he bought a record shop on 79th Street in Miami. He remained close to Willie Reynolds and in the 1990s recorded some songs that were distributed amongst a few friends but were not released. He was unaware of the interest in his releases to the day he died in June 1996.
FURTHER UPDATE ~ Dave Turner has very kindly supplied the excellent pic of Mr Percolator at the top of the page.
And my friend Yass Yamaguchi has discovered an LP by Mr Percolator! He has very kindly sent a picture of this incredibly rare disc which - as you can see contains 10 tracks and from the track that Yass has sent me "Baby Don't Be No Fool" was probably recorded in the 80s judging by the synths and electronic instruments. But Mr Percolator's voice is as strong and soulful as ever. I'm really grateful to Yass for all this info - and to Dave Turner for the pic. I am hopeful that one day we will be able to tell the full story of this great musician.
I need your love to see me through / Burning up for your love ~ WAX-WEL 001
Got a thing for your baby / Pt 2 ~ WAX-WEL 002
Come on back to me / I can't get enough ~ WAX-WEL 003
Do your stuff / One woman man ~ HIT SOUND 1166/7 (mid 60s) (as PERK BADGER)
Do your stuff / Pt 2 ~ SUNCUT 1167 (as THE RISING SUNS feat PERK BADGER)
I'll take my chance with you / In my baby's arms ~ HIT SOUND 1008 (as PERK BADGER)
My girl's a waiting / Ain't no sun since you've been gone ~ CHESS 2039 (1969) (As FRISCO SINGERS w/FRANK WILLIAMS ORCH)
1. The silver and red issues of Wax-Wel 002 are of different lengths and slightly different mixes.
2. “Do Your Stuff” can be found on the Eceentric Soul CD “The Outskirts Of Deep City” (NUM 017).
3. Thanks once again to Dante Carfagno for info on the Chess 45.
4. Huge thanks to Greg Burgess for the detailed info on Perk Badger's life and to Valentina Badger for being so kind as to supply it.