The tiny Lynchburg, VA label Megatone is a treasury of obscure deep soul and Robert Tanner’s two 45s are amongst the most expensive due to Northern interest. But the uptempo sides can’t compare to the ballads – just no contest at all. The broody How I Feel is a case in point. Tanner’s introspective wondering is moody and magnificent over a pumping piano with a small horn section in support. Tanner recut this as a track on the New Sound’s hideously rare Turbo LP.
Be My Woman is even stronger as it has a better melody, and a fine “liquid” guitar accompaniment with a male chorus instead of the horns. It’s a fairly safe bet that these singers include fellow members of the Jivers Melvin Lewis and Jimmy Brown.
UPDATE ~ DJ Mad Lad Robert who comes from the Lynchburg, VA area has kindly written to me. He says that "the Jivers record on Megatone, and others, was recorded in Dawson Smiths basement! It was on a one-channel recorder! They had cardboard partitions to separate the instruments! He told me that only 500 records for each song were printed! I played them on WJJS when I worked there, but that was about it! The biggest break was Dawson's "I don't Know if I can Make it" on Sceptor records in 1974.....It got on Billboard!! Dawson tells me that he gets a royalty check of a few dollars every now and then for the record! He hasn't the slightest idea where it comes from? He thinks it's played overseas!" Robert also mentioned how the guys are doing now - "Dawson retired from B&W here....the nuclear reactor manufacturer.
Robert Tanner is unemployed, and lives with his Mom!" Robert also very kindly provided the photo of the group. His fascinating website on the musical history of the area can be found here.
I'm really grateful to DJ Mad Lad Robert for all the new info on the members of the Jivers and their recordings.