As a response to Martin Luther King’s assassination, George Perkins and Frank Turner recorded Cryin’ In The Streets for Ebb Tide’s Golden Records of Baton Rouge, LA. The song resonated with black buyers, particularly in the South, and after it was leased out to Silver Fox it went national, reaching as high as no 12 on the Billboard charts. Another Golden record featuring a socially aware theme was Stanley Winston’s No More Ghettos In America which was leased out to Stan Lewis’ Jewel label. This too was a big local seller.
So with those two successes it was not surprising that Ted Harris (Ebb Tide) tried to build on it by releasing new versions of them back to back by the unknown Johnny Wonder. Wonder’s take on “Cryin’” is really good, and the falsetto voice behind him could well be Frank Turner himself. But “Ghettos” is even better, as he screams his way through the song like a man possessed. And indeed, since his gospel heritage is so pronounced on these tracks, possessed by the power of his God may just have been how he felt in the studio.
Thanks to my friend Matt Starr for the suggestion.