Originally from Elba, Louisiana the Simms (or Sims) family moved to LA in 1948, some 11 years after twins Bobbie and Kenny were born. They were part of the Simms Sextet family gospel group from an early age, but branched out into secular music, catching the ear of Sam Cooke in 1961. Their sound was based on those fine West Coast double acts Marvin & Johnny and especially the raucous Don & Dewey, but their vocals dripped of their church background - maybe the first duo to claim that territory. Their first release, the infectious melodic “Soothe Me” was a huge hit of course and set a new standard, and even style, of male duo singing that other pairs like Sam & Dave and everybody who wanted to be Sam & Dave were influenced by. All of their Sar 45s are of the highest quality, with memorable songs like the excellent “That’s Where It’s At”, taken at a lovely slow pace, the bouncy “Right To Love” and the Latin tinged “I’ll Never Come Running Back To You”. My favourite of these early sounds is the bluesy deep I Gopher You which also appeared on Omen a few years later.
After Sam Cooke’s tragic death and the ending of Sar, the Twins moved to Omen under the direction of Cooke’s partner and friend J W Alexander. It's possible that the tracks on the label were recorded during the Sar years - certainly "I Go-Fer You" is exactly the same cut as the origianl release. You’ve Got To Do The Best You Can, first written and performed by Carl Walden, was a highly effective initial release. Great testifying and some fine horn charts make this the best cut of this excellent number. The flip “Thankful” was another tasteful slice of gospel soul. Their second Omen 45 had a version of Johnny Adams’ evergreen New Orleans deep “A Losing Battle” which in the hands of Alexander and arranger became a romping rhythm and blues workout - and highly enjoyable it is too.
Their only Parkway 45 is a real beauty. Baby It's Is Real is an absolute stunner of a deep soul ballad. Wonderful harmonies on a song that has some lovely church based chord changes, and an arrangement which features a great big horn section. This is arguably their very best track. Sadly the Convoy release isn’t quite up to this standard despite the appeal of the blues ballad “It’s a Sad Thing”, but their Kent recordings were certainly a step up. The lively “Bring It On Home Where You Belong” has echoes of those glory days of Sar in its title, and the tasteful “I’ve Got To Win Your Love” is well worth seeking out.
The sole 45 for Specialty was produced by Dillard Crume and the uptempo “Shake It On Up” is in its own way as impressive – certainly the vocals are as fiery as usual and the song is enormously infectious, despite the duff title.The Twins final release came in 1974, and fortunately they left the recording scene on a high. It’s All Over for Ray Charles’ Crossover label is a wonderful deep soul ballad, full of those blues touches that all their very best tracks had. And Charles’ arrangement and production is just about perfect.
I’m a big fan of male duo singing, other fine examples of this rather odd genre are scattered through the pages of this website, but I don’t think there’s one who doesn’t owe a debt of gratitude to the pioneering gospel style of the Simms Twins. The first and one of the very best.
UPDATE ~ Winnie has written with the sad news that both the Sims Twins have passed on in LA. She gives the full dates as born 29 November 1937 with Bobby dying on 8 August 2006 and Kenneth dying on 12 July 2007. Sad.
Soothe me / Don't fight it feel it ~ SAR 117 (1961)
Right to love / The smile ~ SAR 125 (1962)
Double portion of love / You're picking in the right cotton patch ~ SAR 130 (1962)
I gofer you / Good good lovin' ~ SAR 136 (1963)
That's where it's at / Moovin' and a-groovin' ~ SAR 138 (1963)
You've got to do the best you can / Thankful ~ OMEN 8 (1966)
A losing battle / I go-fer you ~ OMEN 17 (1966)
Baby it's real / Together ~ PARKWAY 6002 (1968)
It's a sad thing / Where can I find love ~ CONVOY 518 (late 60s)
I've got to win your love (for me) / Bring it on home where you belong ~ KENT 4556 (1971)
Shake it on up / Something hanging on your mind ~ SPECIALTY 731 (1972)
It's all over / Talking about my baby ~ CROSSOVER 975 (1974)
Note ~ SAR 117 was issued a second time with "I'll Never Come Running Back To You" as the flip.
Note ~ "I've got to win your love (for me)" can be found on the Ace UK CD "For Connoisseurs Only" and "Bring It On Home Where You Belong" on the same company's "Pounds Of Soul" CD.