Sunday, June 27, 2010

Soul Tracks

I was introduced to Baby Huey and The Babysitters a few days ago after discovering John Legend & The Roots have released a cover of the band's Curtis Mayfield penned 'Hard Times.' I had to dig a little deeper. Surprisingly, the short-lived band was signed to Curtis Mayfield's Curtom Records, thanks largely to Donny Hathaway. The band's 400 pound front-man James Ramey, also known as Baby Huey, died of a heart attack shortly before the release of the band's debut album, The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend, which somehow slipped through the cracks of soul music. (After Ramey's death, The Babysitters briefly employed a young Chaka Khan as their lead singer before disbanding). Following in the footsteps of Sly & The Family Stone, the band's sound was rooted in psychedelic soul. Baby Huey possessed a howling, wailing, voice that was as tender & sentimental as it was rough. The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend featured several Curtis Mayfield compositions, as well as a brilliant cover of Sam Cooke's 'A Change Is Gonna Come.' Baby Huey & The Babysitters turned Cooke's enduring anthem into a psychedelic fueled soul sermon that combined rock, soul & gospel. Nine minutes and thirty one seconds later, Baby Huey & The Babysitters turn you into a believer.