What can we say about this record? Explosive drums? Check! Soulful female vocals soaring through the stratosphere? Check! Lyrics telling a story of lost love and heartache? Double Check! Usually we at Cultures of Soul release records geared towards the dancefloor but the Darling Dears were too damn amazing to pass up. So through our good friend and fellow deep funk and soul aficionado, PJ Gray, we hooked up with Alvin (Lawrence) Lofton and the four amazing voices of the Darling Dears that made this record what it is.
Alvin’s career encompasses years spent as a record promoter for artists such as Barbara Mason, Marva Josie, the Manhattans and Black Ivory and his relationship with the Darling Dears began in the early ’70s in Rochester, New York. At the time he was a budding record promoter as well as the President of the Carla Thomas International Fan Club, which is what led to the group’s manager, Mary Ann Bradford (who is also the sister of band member Kim McFadden), to contact him about her sibling’s rising act. Young and undeniably talented, the foursome featured the emotive vocals of McFadden, Beverly Howard, Salena Howard and Helen McGowen. Fellow Rochester band Funky Heavy, who was already well-known in the area, often rehearsed with the girls and served as backup for many of their live performances.
It wasn’t long before the Darling Dears began tearing it up around town, starting off each show with Billy Preston’s “Outa-Space.” Inspired by the likes of Al Green, Marvin Gaye, the Jackson 5 and James Brown, the girls also proved to be quite the dancers. The most notable mover of the bunch was undoubtedly Kim, who was able to work her gospel dance moves into almost every gig.
The story of how “And I Love You” came to be is certainly an interesting one. One day Alvin and the Darling Dears were rehearsing at a local church with Funky Heavy, and Funky Heavy came up with the melody. After penning the lyrics, Alvin hooked up with local music impresario and owner of Fine Recording Studio, Vince Jam, and scheduled some studio time. Two 4-hour sessions and a measly $200 later, with a local friend from high school playing the flute and Kim taking care of the spoken word at the end, the track was completed.
The idea for the A side came about when Alvin was completing some freelance promotional work with Cap City Records out of Washington D.C., where he met Joe Tate. Alvin mentioned to Joe that he was looking for a song to put on the single with “And I Love You” and Joe suggested a song he wrote for the group Rock Candy, which was “I Don’t Think I’ll Ever Love Another.” The track was recorded with the band performing behind Beverly’s lead vocals in one room and the other girls singing backup in another.
The recording was pressed up in a quantity of 1,000 and received airplay on local Rochester radio stations such as WCFM and WRUR. It was also sold on consignment to stores locally such as House of Guitars, Record Theater, and Record Archive. Unfortunately, the single didn’t sell too well, so it wasn’t long before the group broke up and each of the members gave up their dreams of becoming famous singers to start raising families. Little did they know that decades later, both songs would go on to become sought-after collectible records and undisputed hot tracks in revered soul music circles.
Cultures of Soul is proud to present a special limited edition issue of this 45 licensed courtesy of Alvin Lofton and the Darling Dears. Limited to 500 copies and fully remastered with a special replica label of the original issue. The first 50 pre-orders will also receive a reprinted photo of the group. Order here at our Bigcartel.com store for $9.99.
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(gracias a soul-sides.com)