The 1970s was a Golden Age for black falsettos. Guys like Russell Thompkins, Jr., William Hart and Philip Bailey took soul music to some amazing places.
(Has anybody come along since Prince to carry on that tradition of the mannish falsetto?)
After putting this list together, I want to see if we can get a little listening party happening in the comments section. If you can stream music (or email me an MP3 attachment so I can stream it), or if you just want to request a particular song, let me hear from you. Let’s groove on some great falsetto singing for a while.
Click the song titles below to hear the music on my Vox blog.
1. “Heavy Fallin’ Out” – The Stylistics
After giving it some thought, I’ll proclaim Russell Thompkins my all-time favorite falsetto singer. His voice was so rich and strong.
Until a week ago, I wouldn’t have recognized Mr. Thompkins if we were riding the same elevator. (It can be like that with vocal groups.) Well, here’s what the man looks like. And he’s still singing.
“Heavy Fallin’ Out” was one of the Stylistics’ few up-tempo hits; I always liked it.
2. “Ms.” – David Oliver
David Oliver was a one-hit wonder... but it was a real nice hit. This one takes me back to high school.
3. “Ain’t No Need Of Crying” – The Rance Allen Group
Rance Allen never had a big hit single. But among musicians he has a huge rep. Legend says he possesses a four-octave range.
This single came out in ’75, but I only found it a few years ago.
4. “Shoe Shoe Shine” – The Dynamic Superiors
A nice Ashford & Simpson tune. And a tasty lead vocal by Tony Washington, who was openly gay.
(How openly gay? Well, Jena6 pointed to this faaabulous “Soul Train” clip on YouTube. Thanks, Jena6!)
This song was remade by a Minneapolis group in the ’80s, back when every Negro in Minneapolis had a major-label record deal. (It was the law.) But to me, “Shoe Shoe Shine” is totally 1974.
5. “I Gave To You” – The Delfonics
William Hart was monstrously good. Wrote his own hits, too. But when producer Thom Bell moved on to the Stylistics and the Spinners, the Delfonics couldn’t keep the hits coming.
This song – like damn-near every track on the 1970 “Delfonics” LP – will be remembered for as long as human beings dig soul music.