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During my research on all things Mingering Mike, I found my way to this CD compilation—Washington Lost Soul—Carl ‘Maxx’ Kidd Singles Collection Vol. 1. The compilation, released in April 2007, is an amazing document of what the District sounded like circa ’69-75. Sure, our city will be forever known for its inventing go-go, hardcore, and all those Revolution Summer(s). But the truth is D.C. had a huge soul scene—one that feels a bit ignored.
This compilation, produced and compiled by Iley Brown, II for his Stride Records, present a strong case that D.C. produced some killer Soul—majestic harmonies, deep singing, inventive beats, and really crazy-ass melodies (see The Fawns‘ “I Like What Your Doing”). You can buy the comp here.
The comp includes one song that may be more than just a forgotten track—its a possible milestone in music history. The Acoustics‘ “Plane Down Over Mobile,” recorded in 1969, may just be the first modern-era song to include beat-boxing. I think Mingering Mike has the Acoustics beat by a year. But then again Mike didn’t release his stuff.
That’s a debate for another day. You can listen to the Acoustics’ “Plane Down Over Mobile.”
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In the last few days, I conducted an e-mail interview with Brown.
Who is Carl Maxx Kidd?
Brown: “In addition to recording, promoting, distributing and securing the only major distribution deal go-go has ever had he recorded go-go in top studios in Philadelphia and New York. Launched the career of comedienne Tommy Davidson, got MC Hammer his first distribution deal. Many of the artist and producers central to go-go have maintained that Maxx did not pay sufficient advances and royalties for releasing their music.
Carl Maxx Kidd, key songwriter producer vocalist of Shrine records (google or wiki wiki it) started by Barry Gordy’s ex wife Raynoma and late songwriter Eddie Singleton one of first record labels founded in DC 1964-65 with a regional national profile.
After Shrine folded, Max wrote, produced, sang and collaborated on 45 singles releases for some of the most prolific indie soul labels around the country during 60’s and early 70’s incl. Curtom, Calla, ABC Paramount, DOT, Buddah, Sussex and many others maybe 50 releases total.
Maxx teamed with top black broadcasters and record execs around the country and later execs with the major labels in helping to bring LP not just singles deals to R&B and soul acts recording around the country. He championed the first and only film Good to Go or Short Fuse, as it was called on video (a disaster according to critics)featuring Chuck Brown, Trouble Funk and others. Got go-go songs onto the popular show Miami Vice and other media placements. Kidd established connections with Japan, the UK, Holland and Canada. See link to web site I set up here: http://www.tted.net/mkidd.html
What was your role in producing the compilation?
Selecting songs, finding background info, digitally mastering takes from quarter inch tapes.
How did you select the songs?
Just whatever Carl Kidd and I piled through in maybe 2004, and then we compiled the final list.
Are all of the songs Carl Maxx Kidd productions?
How did you find some of the songs? Like the Acoustics’ stuff? Or the Fawns?
Those were groups I knew of from local DC radio and shows and concerts from the 70’s.
Do you have any cool stories about how you found the songs?
Yeah, two stores that are no longer around Wax Unlimited and Sam K’s had many D.C. based 7” vinyl laying around in the 90’s. I brought as many of them as I could. Also the Salvation Army record fair also used to have a nice stock around. But those sources have all but dried up. Other collectors locally, nationally and internationally have discovered the DC sound and I suspect they are sitting on their collections, or selling them on eBay as “Northern Soul”. LOL.
Why did you want to put this out?
Well, I have sought to identify as many of the artists as I can from that era, and solicit them for including their music for commercial release since many of the labels that released their music originally paid them very little then and/or nothing since. And many of the artists released their music as a labor of love and earned nothing or very little from it therefore, there were no current contacts for other acts that we could not include.
Do you think the Acoustics’ can lay claim to the first beat-boxing ever put on a song?
If they are not the first, they should get honorable mention! Honestly, throughout history the anatomy of some doo-wop groups consisted of vocalists, hand clappers (soul clap), foot stompers and beat boxers. Hip-hop lifted one facet of that anatomy and ran with it.
What do you think makes these songs standout among the songs of that era?
Well, sadly, although there were no major labels, publications, booking agents and publicists in and around D.C. in the golden soul era in the mid 60’s to late 70’s, the aspirations, competitiveness, innovation and drive to be heard and be successful still existed, and it rivals any other musical movement anywhere during that time.