This chugging waltz is the only secular disc I know on the New Orleans based Cross label. But It's So Wonderful is a real grower. The horns and tack piano are classic Crescent City fare and Ruffin’s vocals are right there. The feel is straight from the church of course which makes it just fine for me. Funky flip has some fans on that scene.
UPDATE ~ Thanks to Terry Patterson I've now found a second 45 by Mr Ruffin. The details are in the discography below - but it is very pleasing to know that his name was Lionel. The 45 itself, which as the name suggests , is from Houma, LA, contains more fine music - Never Leave Me is another very fine ballad, complete with a great Louisiana horn section, and some strong emotional singing from Lionel. One to watch out for as it is very rare.
UPDATE ~ My great friend Greg Burgess writes with some more info on Lionel Ruffin - and has found the great pic of him as well.
"Lionel Ruffin was a native of Houma, graduate of once all black Southdown High School (now Southdown Elementary School), accomplished musician and retired educator. He resisted going on the record while talking about experiences of mistreatment due to racial discrimination, choosing instead to comment on how some of the clubs on the old chitlin’ circuit, that included clubs in Thibodaux and Houma, were proving grounds for performers like Sam Cooke, Ike and Tina Turner, Ray Charles and other eventual big name entertainers. "We didn’t have segregation among musicians,” Ruffin said. “We played with white as well as black performers and never thought anything about it, because we were there for the music.” Ruffin admitted that discrimination still exists, although it is not as blatant in terms of segregated restaurants, restricted job opportunities, and hostile belittlement of blacks as in the past. “At the time we really didn’t know it could be any different,” he said. “That’s just the way it was, but there is a big difference now, man, a big difference.”
I'm grateful to Greg as ever for his very diligent research.
It’s so wonderful / This stuff just kills me ~ CROSS 1013 (mid 60s)
As LIONEL RUFFIN & THE PHAROAHS
Never leave me / Humpin to please you - HOUMA 1005 (mid 60s)