DIAMONDS IN THE SHADE (Soul Brothers Six Up)

“Some Kind of Wonderful”
Soul Brothers Six (1967)
Billboard: #91
Recommended source: In Yo’ Face Vol 1/2 (Okay, this set is great beyond belief. But, unless you’ve got something juicy on Donald Trump you can sell to the former FBI director of your choice, I’m not recommending you pay the $172.00 it’s going for on Amazon right now!…It’s one I’ve got, though, and I do hope you can find it cheap some day.)

They were the Soul Brothers Five at first. Five actual brothers out of Rochester, New York, trying to do an Isleys sort of thing in the mid-sixties. They didn’t have a Ronnie Isley in the family so, soon enough, they had to hook up with a lead singer, which was how they came to be fronted by the great John Ellison.

And the rest was history!

Well, except they didn’t have too much success, not even after Jerry Wexler ran across them in Buffalo and was impressed enough to bring them down state to Atlantic records. They were a band, not just a vocal group–though I haven’t found a yay or nay on whether they played the rock steady soul riffs Ellison wrote for them in the spring of 1967.

He definitely sang the words, a kind of pastiche of R&B titles and catchphrases that, strung together just so, added up to one of the deepest soul cuts ever.

Too deep, as it happened, to do more than scrape the pop chart, miss the soul chart altogether, and then lay in the rough dirt of the underground (you know, “diamond…in the shade”), waiting for Grand Funk to dig it out, cover it note for note, scream for scream, and ride it to #3 Pop in the mid-seventies, with a record that was about half as good….and still plenty fine.

Because half of this is twice of almost anything you want to throw it up against it…

2 thoughts on “DIAMONDS IN THE SHADE (Soul Brothers Six Up)

  1. Great, l can’t remember anyone bothering to write about the Soul Brothers 6 before. Their classic Some kind of Wonderful sounds like a rough and ready Atlantic demo. I never knew they were an actual band.

    • Thanks for commenting Mike! I admit I had to look them up on the net, but the info seemed solid (there are also some later solo performances by Ellison where he talks about being the band and writing the song). You make a good point about the “rough” sound….that’s a strong indicator the band actually played on the record–it doesn’t sound like the work of smoothly operating pros. One never knows, though. I’d be fascinated to learn more!

Leave a Reply