One of my favorite audio blogs, Derek’s Daily 45, asked me to drop by a few weeks back. In fact, we ended up swapping posts. You can read (and listen) to Derek’s post HERE. Below is my quick contribution to his site. Thanks D!
“Dr. Strangelove” by Arthur Ponder
I first heard this on a mixtape years ago. “You know, that song where he says ‘Doctor Strangelove’ over and over in the chorus,” I’d ask people I knew. No one had info besides the occasional, “Does it have anything to do with the film?” “No,” I’d say.
This year I finally got it. I wish I could say I found it digging in Georgia somewhere, but it was Ebay. So here we are:
Arthur Ponder began his career singing with Johnny Jenkins, a left-handed guitarist and known influence on Jimi Hendrix who also played on Otis Redding’s early work. Not much info exists on Arthur himself, who recorded for Capricorn Records, a Georgian label founded in the late ‘60s known for spearheading Southern Rock led by their biggest signee, The Allman Brothers Band.
Arthur’s credited for additional vocals on other projects and also cut singles for Trey Records, another local Georgian label. He continually, albeit very quietly, put out material well into the ‘80s as far as I know.
I’ve since heard Arthur’s other work, but “Dr. Strangelove” is his defining opus: a song where he teeters on the verge of a nervous breakdown in the chorus, and where steady drums and a beautiful bassline propel the arrangement for roughly 3-minutes. The singing is so pained but the music’s so sunny. It was both written and produced by Eugene Davis. It’s killer Georgian soul, overtly filled with so many warm elements that can grab you. Hope you dig it.
Perhaps it’s all the winters and blazing hot summers that I spent near the windy city throughout my life that makes me feel such a strong bond with the sound of Chicago soul. Traits that records from the city by the lake have in common are grit, incredible voices, lyrics that are deep direct and heartfelt, and music that always rhythmically compels (no matter the tempo).
This record epitomizes everything I love about Chicago soul, and with its’ unusual chord progression, takes a hint from the psychedelic music that was also in full bloom at this time. From the incredible guitar and horn hooks on the intro followed by the powerful drum fill, it’s obvious from the first few seconds that this record is full of confidence, swagger and emotion. Lead singer (and songwriter) Bobby Newsome comes out swinging with his vocal which frames the record to keep shooting higher until the declaration of undying love in the chorus.
Things let up a little bit in the bridge (there was nowhere else to go but take it down a bit), exploding once again for a final chorus. And when that final chorus ends, all I wanna do is hear this song again. And again. The beauty of a perfect 45 RPM record. From 1967.
*Derek See is a DJ, musician, and writer who runs one of my favorite audio-blogs, Derek’s Daily 45. Please visit his band’s website for more info on him, his music, and whereabouts. Subscribe to his blog and dude will email you a track from his collection (almost) EVERY SINGLE DAY!