Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Major Lance - "Investigate"
There are a few artists whose records I just seem to have a knack for finding. By that, I mean not only running across their old 45's but also different titles nearly every time. Recently, Lavern Baker and Chuck Berry fall into that category. Over the past year plus, I've scored lots of records by each without lightening my wallet much at all.
Then, there are artists whose records I almost never see, even though they may have charted several discs. Major Lance is one of those. I can't even seem to find a clean copy of his big hit "The Monkey Time", let alone anything else by him. That is, until I recently picked up today's record, "Investigate". And, of course, it never charted at all, making me think that it might be a tougher find than the average Major Lance single.
"The Monkey Time" was Major Lance's first hit record, from the summer of 1963. Over the next couple of years, he'd have varying chart success with several more singles, all for the Okeh label. From 1966, "Investigate" was among his last releases on the imprint. He went on to record for several other labels, including Dakar, Curtom and Volt.
To tell you the truth, I'm not sure that "Investigate" was the intended a-side of today's disc but it sure should have been. Built on an irresistible hook, the song isn't quite as wild as many of the tunes featured on It's Great Shakes but is terrific nonetheless. It's upbeat, with a somewhat sweet sound. Indeed, I even detect a touch of bubblegum, before there was such a thing. The song has a very strong beat, plenty of backing vocals and a horn lead instrumental break. And, of course, the lead vocal is excellent. I can imagine this filling a few dance floors, especially among the northern soul set. The rest of you should enjoy it too. I certainly do.