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A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:37 am

It's Valentine's Day, and in that spirit here's a nice look at some very talented ladies.

As far as female pop singers, Cissy Houston, Whitey's mom, who originally sang gospel with her sisters, later cut some superb R&B and gospel with her group, the Sweet Inspirations. The best was probably their first 1968 single:


680300_Atlantic 70269_Sweet Inspirations.JPG

L-R: Cissy Houston, Myrna Smith, Estelle Brown and Sylvia Shemwell.


Tommy Cogbill would produce some of the studio's finest work, not only on The Sweet Inspirations, but on King Curtis and Don Covay as well. As the story goes, Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham got up off the couch, wrote a song for The Sweets, and cut it themselves while Dowd and the rest of the Atlantic crew went to lunch.

Released as the first single from the album, that song, Sweet Inspiration, became a monster hit (top 5 R&B, top 20 Pop) in early 1968. Check out the ad that Atlantic ran in Billboard that March. Talk about cooking on all burners!


Billboard Mar 16 1968 p17.JPG



Note Sylvia's sister Judy Clay right there alongside her... very cool! ["I'm Blue"] was released as the flip of that single, and features some more 'in the pocket' work from the American Group behind their awesome vocal interplay. Written by Ike Turner, the original Ikettes version had been a hit for ATCO back in 1962. This one's better, I think... The Sweets would continue to chart that summer, covering hits like To Love Somebody and Unchained Melody, as well as singing on records by Aretha, Solomon Burke, and Billy Vera and Judy Clay.

http://redkelly.blogspot.com/2010/04/sweet-inspirations-im-blue-atlantic.html


Both sides are superb, and there is no way Elvis did not hear them.


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Sweet Inspirations, "Sweet Inspiration" (Atlantic 2476, February 1968)
This hit Billboard U.S. Pop #18 and R&B #5 in March-April 1968.


Billboard Feb 03 1968 p70.JPG

Billboard - February 3, 1968


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Sweet Inspirations, "I'm Blue" (Atlantic 2476, February 1968)
This B-side is a fantastic cover of "I'm Blue (The Gong-Gong Song)" by The Ikettes (1961); 21 year-old Tina Turner was a member.
It has even been sampled by acts like Ice Cube, featuring Das EFX ("Check Yo Self," 1992) and Salt-N-Pepa ("Shoop," 1993).
Click here for a SWF version (look for triangle and click it).



Billboard Feb 17 1968 p1.JPG

Billboard - February 17, 1968


Elvis even ran down the A-side at a 1970 concert:


Elvis Presley, w/the Sweet Inspirations, "Sweet Inspiration" (8-20-1970 MS, Las Vegas, NV)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pu5SqlpQ2HI&t=0m27s


Among other things, I recently learned the Sweets are the backup vocalists on Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl," a 1967 top ten hit that has literally never left pop radio. And, of course, they provided backing vocals for Elvis Presley in concert from 1969 to 1977. Cissy left the group at the end of 1969 to pursue a solo career.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_Inspirations

Happy Valentine's Day, everybody!
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Last edited by drjohncarpenter on Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:29 am

They are also doing the backup on Aretha's Think and Say A Little Prayer, IIRC.

One of the Sweet's biggest fans was young LMFP, who spent hours in their dressing room.

Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:37 am

Wow. they also appeared on Jimi hendrix's Electric ladyland album. Damn.:)

Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:55 am

Thanks Doc, loved it.

Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:26 am

Thanks for this posting Doc.
It's always refreshing to have these beautiful ladies in topic.

Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:27 am

Thanks, Doc. That was truly sweet. Especially now. :smt049

rjm
P.S. -- Life might be a heart-shaped "box of chocolates", but I kinda knew I was getting a new 7th gen IPod today! Wow! Black, sleek, cool, in color! The sound seems better, but that's probably my imagination. "Ear-Candy"!! Happy Valentine's day.

Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:21 am

Most enjoyable post Doc. Thanks for that!
Myrna looks fab with that short hair.

Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:04 am

Another Great Post Doc!

Never heard Elvis sing that song before. :)

What CD is that from?


::rocks

Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:39 am

elvisjock wrote:They are also doing the backup on Aretha's Think and Say A Little Prayer, IIRC.


This is way cool...

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Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:15 am

Mitch wrote:Another Great Post Doc!

Never heard Elvis sing that song before. :)

What CD is that from?


::rocks


Not only "what CD." Because I HAVE heard that before, I feel for sure, but a long, long, long time ago. So, my question is: what VINYL bootleg was that on? I swear I have heard it. Have no idea where, but it wasn't anytime recent. There's no way I imagined it; the tune is too memorable, and I remember him doing it. Well, obviously, he did, but . . . Any vinyl bootleg experts here? I'm too busy tonight what with everything, to look it up.

rjm

Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:25 am

Thanks for sharing, Doc. Beautiful ladies, beautiful singers. Sure am glad Elvis added them to his show. Myrna was my favorite, but they were all wonderful.

Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:42 am

Mitch wrote:Another Great Post Doc!

Never heard Elvis sing that song before. :)

What CD is that from?


::rocks

It's from the 8-20-1970 MS, a superb performance taped in stereo by the late Rick Rennie.

Get it from the master tape on this disc:

040000_Bright Midnight_Memory.JPG

A Bright Midnight With Elvis (Memory 2037, 2004)
http://home.online.no/~ov-egela/brightmidnightmr.html
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Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:35 pm

rjm wrote:
Mitch wrote:Another Great Post Doc!

Never heard Elvis sing that song before. :)

What CD is that from?


::rocks


Not only "what CD." Because I HAVE heard that before, I feel for sure, but a long, long, long time ago. So, my question is: what VINYL bootleg was that on? I swear I have heard it. Have no idea where, but it wasn't anytime recent. There's no way I imagined it; the tune is too memorable, and I remember him doing it. Well, obviously, he did, but . . . Any vinyl bootleg experts here? I'm too busy tonight what with everything, to look it up.

rjm


I believe it is on the " A dinner date with Elvis" LP although that is the August 20th dinner show i,m pretty sure they added this song in because of it`s rarity.

Alan.

Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:42 pm

Chad Gates wrote: I believe it is on the " A dinner date with Elvis" LP although that is the August 20th dinner show i,m pretty sure they added this song in because of it`s rarity.

http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=67459#p1003331

Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:51 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Chad Gates wrote: I believe it is on the " A dinner date with Elvis" LP although that is the August 20th dinner show i,m pretty sure they added this song in because of it`s rarity.

http://www.elvis-collectors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=67459#p1003331



I was answering the question asked by RJM

Not only "what CD." Because I HAVE heard that before, I feel for sure, but a long, long, long time ago. So, my question is: what VINYL bootleg was that on? I swear I have heard it. Have no idea where, but it wasn't anytime recent. There's no way I imagined it; the tune is too memorable, and I remember him doing it. Well, obviously, he did, but . . . Any vinyl bootleg experts here? I'm too busy tonight what with everything, to look it up.

rjm


Alan.

p.s it is also on the 1991 and 1997 cd releases of that album.

Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:16 pm

Chad Gates wrote:I was answering the question asked by RJM

Alan.

p.s it is also on the 1991 and 1997 cd releases of that album.

You are right about the specifics of her query, sorry 'bout that. "Sweet Inspiration" may have appeared on vinyl prior to A Dinner Date With Elvis (Live Archives), but in lesser quality if so. However, if you want the best audio version, the Memory disc is the one.

Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Thu Feb 16, 2012 12:01 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Chad Gates wrote:I was answering the question asked by RJM

Alan.

p.s it is also on the 1991 and 1997 cd releases of that album.

You are right about the specifics of her query, sorry 'bout that. "Sweet Inspiration" may have appeared on vinyl prior to A Dinner Date With Elvis (Live Archives), but in lesser quality if so. However, if you want the best audio version, the Memory disc is the one.



Apology accepted and I have the Memory disc and yes the audio quality on that far surpasses the dinner date lp and cd,s..


Alan.

Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Thu Feb 16, 2012 1:17 am

intheghetto wrote:Never heard Elvis do 'Sweet Inspiration' with the Sweets. Very cool!


Neither did I!
Very nice.. thanks for posting..

Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:06 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
Mitch wrote:Another Great Post Doc!

Never heard Elvis sing that song before. :)

What CD is that from?


::rocks

It's from the 8-20-1970 MS, a superb performance taped in stereo by the late Rick Rennie.

Get it from the master tape on this disc:

040000_Bright Midnight_Memory.JPG

A Bright Midnight With Elvis (Memory 2037, 2004)
http://home.online.no/~ov-egela/brightmidnightmr.html


Thank you Doc. :)


::rocks

Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:14 am

Great post Doc...the Sweets were uber talented in their own right, and have played with numerous "big names" on "big" songs...how many people have heard their soulful backing vocals over the years without ever knowing who these ladies were? Or even giving it a second thought? The Sweets, like the Jords, and unlike IMO JD and the Stamps were never obtuse...they always added to the mix and never overpowered or took anything away from a tune. To top it off, they are among the classiest people to have any association with Elvis Presley's life...they always said good things about him without always sugar coating. Class, talent, skill, soul...what else could you want in a vocal group?

Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Thu Feb 16, 2012 4:01 am

bquick wrote:Great post Doc...the Sweets were uber talented in their own right, and have played with numerous "big names" on "big" songs...how many people have heard their soulful backing vocals over the years without ever knowing who these ladies were? Or even giving it a second thought? The Sweets, like the Jords, and unlike IMO JD and the Stamps were never obtuse...

Don't forget the sounds of the fabulous Imperials, who backed Elvis in concert from 7-31-1969 to 9-06-1971, save the short tour of 9-09 to 9-14-1970, which was covered by the Hugh Jarrett Singers.

A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:54 am

Thanks for the post Doc. I've always had a soft spot for the Sweets. Great ladies.

Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:11 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
bquick wrote:Great post Doc...the Sweets were uber talented in their own right, and have played with numerous "big names" on "big" songs...how many people have heard their soulful backing vocals over the years without ever knowing who these ladies were? Or even giving it a second thought? The Sweets, like the Jords, and unlike IMO JD and the Stamps were never obtuse...

Don't forget the sounds of the fabulous Imperials, who backed Elvis in concert from 7-31-1969 to 9-06-1971, save the short tour of 9-09 to 9-14-1970, which was covered by the Hugh Jarrett Singers.

Too true. I prefer the Imperials to JD and the Stamps as well, but that is just me. Don't get me started on having the sweets, JD and the Stamps, and Voice...

Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Sat Feb 18, 2012 2:21 am

bquick wrote:Too true. I prefer the Imperials to JD and the Stamps as well, but that is just me.

I totally agree that the Imperials were far superior to the Stamps as far as backing Presley in the '70s. Of course part of this was that Elvis let J.D. run vocally wild on stage with his bass slides, whereas the arrangements with the Imperials in 1969-71 were more precise.

Re: A "Sweet Inspiration" on Valentine's Day !

Sat Feb 18, 2012 8:42 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
bquick wrote:Too true. I prefer the Imperials to JD and the Stamps as well, but that is just me.

I totally agree that the Imperials were far superior to the Stamps as far as backing Presley in the '70s. Of course part of this was that Elvis let J.D. run vocally wild on stage with his bass slides, whereas the arrangements with the Imperials in 1969-71 were more precise.

It was an indulgence. Elvis got a "kick" out of it, I think. One more excess.