Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Brothers Unlimited
My sister’s musical tastes have been changing, and I know why. She has a new boyfriend: Chauncey, and he has a big Afro. She confided in me because Dad won’t like the fact that she dates a black dude, but I’m cool with it. I’m especially cool with his taste in music!
Chauncey is a disc jockey – his on-the-air name is Private Eye – and he loaned me this 8-track from his car. It’s called Who’s For The Young, and it’s by a group called Brothers Unlimited. It came out in 1970, and although it appears to a hip psychedelic-R&B album it’s really got a lot of nice Southern funk and soul tunes.
Brothers Unlimited was a 14-piece group from Memphis. The group came together in 1968, with a unique live sound blending funk, soul, rock and smooth vocals. The group was organized by John “Kousi” Harris, formerly of the group J Robinson and The Dynamics, and Memphis singer Jerry Jones. Curtis Johnson, and brother Harold “Quake” Johnson had formerly been members of The Chips/Astors, who recorded with Stax Records.
The musicians had been playing locally with several groups, when John and Jerry had an idea to join these different talents to create a new sound. In 1970, the group produced (with Fame Records) and recorded Who’s For the Young for Capitol Records. The group disbanded in 1972, and some members joined the “new” Bar-Kays when the group was re-organized following the death of Otis Redding and all but two members of the original Bar-Kays.
Who’s For The Young is a real rack-me-back experience. The title song is emblematic of that time in the early 1970s when rock and R&B styles merged – following the civil rights battles of the 1960s, it was a time youth of different colors sought to “check out” each others’ culture. Sadly this willingness to cross over didn’t last, and today music is as segregated as ever. “Got To Get Over” has a sweet soul sound, while the cover of Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful” has R&B elements psychedelicized with fuzz guitar and rock drumming. But most of this is a great example of Southern soul from the era.
This is a great album – it has all the earmarks of the early 1970s sound, but doesn’t sound dated at all. When I returned the 8-track back to Chauncey, he gave me a box of records from the rock radio station where he works. So in coming weeks, we’re going to spin the albums that spawned some of the most famous rock classics heard on the radio, and some forgotten records by famous artists!