Perhaps the closest thing to an anthem that the people of Greensboro had in the early ‘70s was “The Real Thing,” by the Electric Express. A demo version of “The Real Thing” made its Triad debut on WQMG’s “Make It, Break It,” a call-in show where listeners determined the fate of any given record. “The station lit up that night!” recalled Hudson during a recent interview. The quartet pooled their weekend wages, and headed to local funk foundry Crescent City Sound Studios, enlisting local tastemaker and radio jock Wayman “Slack” Johnson as producer.
“Slack had a lot to do with cutting it like it was,” Hudson declared. “He wanted it relaxed, and as real sounding as it could be. He told Walt (Copeland, studio owner) what he wanted—although I don’t know how you’re going to tell somebody what you want when you only got one take.”
Although Hudson had written a set of socially conscious lyrics while serving in Vietnam, label owner Walter Grady thought “The Real Thing” may perform better as an instrumental, banishing Hudson’s political prose to the single’s B-side. “The Real Thing” would soon get picked up for distribution by Atlantic, selling over 800,000 copies. The two songs serve two entirely different purposes, and although history has favored the instrumental version, you can decide for yourself which is the realest.
“Although people deserve to be free, sometimes they need a helping hand.”
The rarely mentioned significance of WQMG’s call letters says something about the Greensboro of yesteryear. After a week in the Gate City, I’m here to tell you that my article on Standing in the Shadows of Greensboro for next Thursday’s edition of Go Triad will give only a preliminary reading on the depth of Greensboro’s musical roots. Hopefully we’ll be able to offer plenty of supplemental information right here at Carolina Soul to help fill in the gaps.
The man pictured above is Curt Moore of Curt’s Records and Gifts, formerly of 2031 E. Market Street. Curt was a guiding light for this article. His pleasantly off-topic tales of characters like Jinxy Red and One-Armed Israel were a delightful diversion while traversing a half century of Greensboro history. Moore has a love and admiration for women that is unrivaled; his Wonderful World of Beautiful People and Miss Black Universe pageants provided a progressive resource for generations of young Black women. “See back in those days, the girls couldn’t go to the White pageants, so we gathered ideas,” explained Moore. “You know, why not give them scholarships? Why not try and create something empowering so they care about themselves? Nobody had ever tried it before, but it was pretty successful.”
“A Salute to Black Women,” released on Moore’s Tina imprint, was a ceremonious ballad that would play at each pageant’s closing. It’s pretty moving, and we’re offering it here to set the mood for a time-machine tour of Greensboro, North Carolina.
Welcome everyone to the new Carolina Soul website. I first launched this website in the Fall of 2005, at which time it served only as a discography, listing 45-rpm soul records released in the Carolinas back in the day, as well as soul artists from the Carolinas and their records that came out on labels from other parts of the country. Thanks to collectors and musicians who have shared information plus dumb luck on my own part in trawling the internet and the real world, this reference has grown since the initial launch, and the process of discovery tells me that there’s more to come, and that the listings will continue to grow. Now, almost five years later, we are re-formatting the discography to make it more browsable, so stay tuned, and in the meantime, please keep viewing the old discography here.
I’m also happy to say that the Carolina Soul website now serves a second purpose, to share news, articles, interviews, media, mysteries, etc. of Carolina Soul via our new blog. Many thanks to my friend Jonathan Kirby for encouraging me to add this exciting feature, and for signing on as a partner in its maintenance. We hope that it will be a means for us to share our passion for this region and its musical output, and also a forum for you, the audience, to help us learn more. We will be delighted to hear from collectors, musicians, and fans who can shed light on the music and turn us on to new stuff. Please feel free to comment on our posts and/or email us about contributing through guest posts. Thanks.
Posted on Wednesday, January 20, 2010
by Jason at 04:03 PM.
The Carolina Soul website serves as a living encyclopedia of soul music made in North and South Carolina. We strive to share Carolinian songs and stories of the last half century, and we invite the input of musicians and fans. We hope you will contact us if you have information on bands or recordings from the region.