Tag Archives: Five Stairsteps

That ’70s song, Vols. 25 and 26

Amazing Records, our local used vinyl record emporium, is all but gone now. Jim thought he’d close the store at the end of April. That became the end of May, and then the end of June.

They were lugging the big wooden bins out the door as I drove past yesterday. But the “Open” sign was still on, as it was today. Jim said as long as it was on, it was OK to stop in.

Jim wasn’t there today, but Bruce was. Bruce helps out on weekends. He was throwing vinyl into boxes bound for California. I explained that Jim had said it was OK to stop in, so Bruce pointed me to three small stacks of LPs. Nope. Nothing there.

If you live near Cotati, California, near Sonoma State University, go visit Jim when he reopens Amazing Records later this summer. He’ll have a bunch of nice records.

Two of the records that kept tempting me during Amazing Records’ last days were albums with tunes from the charts in June 1970.

I thought about getting “Are You Ready,” the Pacific Gas & Electric LP with the hit single of the same name. It was the real thing from 1970.

I thought about getting “Just A Stone’s Throw Away,” the 1977 debut album by singer Valerie Carter. I bought it in 1977 only because it had a nice cover of “O-o-h Child,” the great single by the Five Stairsteps.

But I got neither.

As for PG&E, I just wasn’t in the mood for old West Coast blues-rock jams. I should have bought it for the album art alone.

As for Valerie Carter, I’d be buying it for the same reason I bought it in 1977 — for one song. That I rarely otherwise listened to the rest of it is why it went out in the Great Album Purge of 1989.

But I still dig those tunes from the summer of 1970.

“Are You Ready,” Pacific Gas & Electric, from “Are You Ready,” 1970. It’s out of print, but is available on this double CD with the group’s first Columbia album from 1969. This is the longer album version.

PG&E was that rare group, at least for the time, with black and white musicians. I always thought they were from San Francisco. Nope. They came together in Los Angeles in 1967 and lasted until 1972.

“O-o-h Child,” the Five Stairsteps, 1970, from “The Stairsteps,” 1970. It’s out of print. I have it on “The Best of Buddah,” a 1976 LP. It’s also available on “First Family of Soul: The Best of the Five Stairsteps,” a best-of CD.

The Five Stairsteps was made up of five kids — four boys and a girl — from the Burke family of Chicago. They recorded first on Curtis Mayfield’s Windy City and Curtom labels before moving to Buddah. They later became the Stairsteps and broke up in the late ’70s.


Filed under July 2010, Sounds

Overheard while crate-digging

When DJ Pres goes crate-digging on the East Coast, he encounters some fairly curious characters almost every week.

Our opportunities for crate-digging are few and far between in our corner of Wisconsin, but we enjoyed one today. And sure enough, there were a few characters. None like the ones DJ Pres runs across — this is the mild-mannered Midwest, after all — but characters by our standards.

There was Price Guide Guy, his book neatly marked up with the records he already had. There was Clipboard Man, working from what appeared to be an extensive and lovingly prepared want list. There was The Loner, a guy carrying on a conversation with himself as he went through the crates.

Then there was Don Quixote.

A short, older guy in his late 50s or early 60s, Don sidled up next to me as I went through some crates. He’d brought an album to the show.

“Were you here two years ago?” he asked the guy behind the table. The dealer said he had been.

Don pulled the LP from the jacket and pointed out a flaw — a nick, a chip, a scratch, something. Don gently but persistently pointed out that flaw.

“I’d never sell a record that looked like that,” the dealer said.

That sorta took the wind out of Don’s sails. He gave it one last, feeble try, then moved on. He was almost out of earshot, but then I heard, from a couple of tables over …

“Were you here two years ago?”

I never did get a good look at Don’s album. I was too busy looking for us.

Here are some of the LPs in today’s haul. If you see something you might want to hear, drop me a note. After all, we take requests at AM, Then FM.

  • Jimmy Smith, “The Best of Jimmy Smith,” 1968.
  • King Curtis, “Instant Groove,” 1969.
  • Ike and Tina Turner, “Too Hot to Hold,” 1969, and “Workin’ Together,” 1971.
  • R. Dean Taylor, “I Think, Therefore I Am,” 1970.
  • Shuggie Otis, “Freedom Flight,” 1971.
  • Dennis Coffey, “Goin’ for Myself,” 1972.

Here’s another part of today’s haul. A couple of selections from “The Best of Buddah,” a two-record compilation set from 1976 that covers about a decade of hit singles.

“Somebody’s Been Sleeping,” 100 Proof (Aged in Soul), a 1970 single. Long one of my faves.

“O-o-h Child,” The Five Stairsteps, also a 1970 single. I’ve written before about how much I like this tune.

One more thing: We surpassed 100,000 visitors on Friday morning. Thanks, everyone. More to come!


Filed under April 2008, Sounds