Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Jimmie And Vella Cameron - Be Fair To Me

Excellent Soul Duo that I've followed from their earliest release up until their 'Song Painters' LP in 1981. Partly my interest in them stemmed from them having killer looking covers. From the late 60's and early 70's mod look on the cover of 1968's 'Heartbeat' LP to the afro's and dashikis of 1971's self titled 'Jimmie And Vella' they've looked cool as ice. Then in 1981, none other than Barry White produced and arranged, and released on his own label 'Unlimited Gold' another marvelous soul LP. So, the other part of interest in initially picking them up was 'whoa, who are these two?'. Unfortunately, with three albums from three separate decades I'm still asking that same question. Not much is known about this husband and wife duo and they have had a ghost like career floating about through several decades with no real huge success. But, their legacy is deep and such a talented duo they are indeed.

Success might have eluded them, but milestones are what they left us on all three of these LP's. They bounced around on a different label for each decade. 'Heartbeat' is a quality straight soul LP with stunning production but it most known for the tune 'Hey Boy Over There' which was also flipped by DJ Premier. It's a great soul LP produced in a very typical style for 68-71 in Los Angeles. Released on the Imperial label.

In 1971 Jimmie and Vella expanded and deepened their sound with 'Jimmie And Vella' released on Atlantic Records. They turned away from commercial stresses, explored more folky grooves and wrote about social issues and injustice. In 'Lord Abide With Me' they came with a heavy gospel and revolutionary feel. This 'self-titled' LP is a fine crafting and example of 'hippie soul' or 'folk funk'. At times laid back and delicate and at other times empowering, passionate and furious. Just a well rounded work.

They spent some time laying low and dabbling in various studio projects, writing a few things here and there but, mostly went unheard from. Back and ready for more in 1981 they had a fresh new sound and another attempt at a hit. Taking a chance with one of the biggest hit makers of the late 70's they recorded 'Song Painters'.  There are several good tunes on here, but by far 'Be Fair To Me' is the best. With Barry White at the controls, the hit from the LP was no doubt going to be a disco tune. But, with the interesting disco arrangements Barry was trying with his late 70's Love Unlimited records it could be something really different. Indeed it was, hard to tell if that helped our happy couple out or not. The intro is so far from typical that it makes the main parts of the song stand out with their genius  and diverse syncopation. The amazing strings and that use of multiple guitars! Dang, what is that? Acoustic, two on rhythm, one on the upbeat? It's pretty crazy, such a full and intricate production.But, a marvelous and somewhat rare song.

I will definitely get around to posting tracks from the first two LP's. But, for now I wanted to share this fine tune 'Be Fair To Me' (also, I couldn't find my copy of the 1971 LP) and the others will come soon. One of these days when I'm more organized you'll see a more complete exposure of an artist like Jimmie and Vella and that'll be sweet, but for now you'll have to track them down on your own.
Just maybe you'd never heard of Jimmie and Vella before?
Happy hunting!

'Jimmie And Vella Cameron - Be Fair To Me'

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