Roy C Roy-C
Roy Hammond, aka "Roy-C", got his start back in 1958. He sang in a vocal group called The Genies and scored a minor hit with "Who's That Knocking" (#72 pop). He lead a vocal group called Mark 4. He had huge hit with "Shotgun Wedding" (#14 R & B) and released his first album in 1966, "That Shotgun Wedding Man". He's been on labels including Smash, Black Hawk, Shout, Alaga, Mercury, and 3 Gems. He even recorded a single called "I Want To Marry You" as "Little Frankie". In 1973 Roy tasted some more commercial success when his Mercury album "Sex & Soul" charted at #56 (R & B) and the follow up "Something Nice" spawned three minor hit singles. In the early 80s he started his own label, Three Grems, and began releasing albums for the label. He enjoys a faithful following in the South.
"That Shotgun Wedding Man" (Ember 1966)
1.There Goes That Train
"Sex & Soul" (Mercury 1973)
1. Got to Get Enough (Of Your
Sweet Love Stuff)
****Hit album is a perfect snapshot of what Southern Soul is all about- the subject matter, the rhythm, the colorful lyrics, the aching vocals. The minor hit "Don't Blame The Man" (#56 R & B) is notable for an interesting take on cheating. Roy says "a man can't get your woman's love unless your woman let him" so "don't blame the man"! More songs about cheating can be found with "I Found A Man In My Bed" and "I'm Gonna Love Somebody Else's Woman (Somebody Lovin' Mine)". But for me the highlight is the deep, empathetic "I Wasn't There (But I Can Feel The Pain)". Here Roy acknowledges he wasn't there during the dark era of cruel slavery of "African Americans" (why do we never say "Italian Americans" or "Irish Americans"???) here in the USA, but he can still feel the pain. Meanwhile, "Open Letter To The President" recalls Curtis Mayfield where Roy talks about a future time (from 1973) when everybody gonna be free- that includes Vietnam, Georgia, Southern Africa, New York City.....
"Something Nice" (Mercury 1975)
***1/2Two more minor hits grace this strong follow up. "Loneliness Has Got A Hold On Me" (#48 R & B) & "Love Me 'Til Tomorrow Comes" (#46 R & B). Roy C is a Loverman as evidenced on the boastful "Second Time Around" where he discusses his, ahem, stamina. (hey Roy you got me beat!) and "Don't Stop Short Of Satisfaction". A footnote: The title "Something Nice" and the innocuous subject matter of the songs were a deliberate (and sarcastic) response to record label Mercury's complaints Roy C was too "controversial" on his previous albums with songs like "Open Letter To A President".
"More Sex & Soul" (Mercury 1977)
1. From the Outside Looking in (He
Used to Be My Friend)
****The title says it all. The great "From The Outside Looking In" has Roy catchin' his woman in the act and it's a fitting sequel to "Don't Blame The Man". Especially noteworthy is how Roy slides into falsetto during the refrain! I can't get it outta my head and that's what a hook is suppose to do. I dare you to try not moving something on your body when you hear the galloping melody of "You Got Everything I Need". The best, however, is a poignant follow up to "I Wasn't There" in "Great, Great Grandson Of A Slave" where Roy has dreams of a slave ship. The midtempo, horn-backed melody is bittersweet considering the subject matter.
"I Want To Be Where You Are (All Night Long)" (Three Gems 1984)
1.I Want To Be Where
You Are (All Night Long)
***1/2After various single releases on Three Gems the first Long Player came collecting some of those singles and more. It establishes Roy as a real soul man in a decade of formulaic pabulum. Deep Southern Soul wasn't exactly what the kiddies were buying but Roy didn't follow the trends. He made the music he always makes. Honest-to-goodness SOUL music. On "A Woman Needs A Whole Lot More" he says a woman needs more than just a warm body to hold way before it became a cliché'. "Tonight You Don't Have To Be Lonely" has a gorgeous melody and "Leaving On The Morning Train" is one of the best soul songs of the 80s (it was covered rather well by Darrell Nullisch recently).
"The Best Of Collection" (Three Gems 1986)
***Being that it leaves out classics like "Don't Blame The Man" and "Open Letter To The President" the title isn't really accurate. Nevertheless the music here is great.
"She's A Lady" (Three Gems 1986)
1.She's A Lady
***"Somebody's Right Somebody's Wrong" is an interesting take on relationships that admits that partners do have an obligation to each other. For example: if a woman wants to make love and the man won't she's right and he's wrong. This is wise advice because if he doesn't take care of his homework Jody would be happy to help. Strings grace the country soul "Heart Of Stone" and it's one of many highlights. "Pick Up The Pieces" begins with a soulful sax and features a great vocal from our man. "Peepin In The Window" is another one of Roy's legendary tales about infidelity.
"Let Me Take You To Paradise" (Three Gems 1987)
1.I'm Not Going To Eat
***Another modern soul platter features the clever answer to "Candy Licker" Marvin Sease called "I'm Not Gonna Eat A Thing". See, the only candy Roy will eat has a wrapper and if you can't put it in a frying pan it ain't gonna be near his mouth. "Heaven Must Have Sent Her" is another sweeping Southern Soul gem with a chorus you can't help but sing along with. "Down To Jamaica" is a rare foray into reggae that's as good as Jimmy Cliff's 80s output. "Let Me Take You To Paradise" is loverman Roy and "If I Had My Life To Live Over" is a lovely romantic piece with a yearning vocal.
"Rock Me All Night" (Three Gems 1989)
1. Rock Me All Night
**** Roy-C has been fiercely independent and defiant ever since he first appeared on the radar. His career stretches back to 1958 where as a member of the Genies he scored a minor hit single with "Who's That Knocking" (#72 Pop). His first triumph under his own stage name came courtesy of "Shotgun Wedding", which stormed the U.K. Top 10 (#6) and was a Top 20 R&B (#14) hit stateside. Later Roy recorded three albums for Mercury including "Sex & Soul" before getting fed up with labels and going independent with his own Three Gems imprint commencing in 1984. It was in 1989 when Roy recorded this modern Soul classic. The record contains the 8 minute epic "Saved By The Bell (Infidelity, Georgia"), a humorous and at times absurd tale of adultery.
"Call Me 634-5789" (Three Gems 1993)
1. I'm Still in
Love With You
**Rather short album (8 songs) consisting of one of his very best songs, "I'm Still In Love With You" and a few numbers from his 70s period ("Love Me 'Til Tomorrow", "Virgin Girl" & "Second Time Around"), which may be a tad frustrating for those who have the originals. There's also a decent version of the Wilson Pickett classic "634-5789".
The Genies "Who's That Knocking?" (Point 1994)
1-Who's That Knocking
1. I'm Working Hard
for You Baby
"Stella Lost Her Groove Again" (Three Gems 1998)
1. Stella Lost
Her Groove Again
***The funky title cut is an allusion to the movie "How Stella Got Her Groove Back". Allegedly one of the songs from the movie soundtrack sampled a Roy C song but failed to give credit to Hammond. The title song features wicked bass and in-the-pocket drums. Stella gets married to a 20-year old man and she lost it all- even her Mercedes Benz, house..everything. Some other good'uns are his take on "Change is Gonna Come", "I Found A Love" and his classic "I Wasn't There".
"Roy C & Friends" (Three Gems 2000)
(1)Roy C - You Don't Know What it's Like to be
**A compilation containing some previously released Roy tracks-("Saved By The Bell", "Peeping In The Window", "You And I") plus a duet with Linda Caver ("Lonely I Was"), a great song by the vocal group Mark 4 ("Honey I Love You") and more (Dennis Edward's "My Girl Medley"), Chuck Roberson ("Hurt Keeps Getting Stronger"), Jim Bennett & Lady Mary ("Just One Chance") and Roy's band Touch ("I Been Down So Long"). A better deal would've been a straight compilation of associated artists instead of the bait of a new Roy track ("You Don't Know What It's Like To Be Black")
"Slippin & Slidin" (Three Gems 2003)
1.Slippin & Slidin
***1/2Another Southern Soul treasure features 10 new Roy C gems beginning with the swaying sing-a-long soul of the title track, where he says you can't even trust the preacher in your church when it comes to cheating! He revisits this theme later with the funky "Everybody Is Cheating" featuring a phat bassline and greasy organ fills. He gives the warning: "Watch out for the one that calls you a brother/What he really means is you're a mutha!". The comical album cover says it all. Roy does his own version of the now classic "Slow Roll It" (a hit for The Love Doctor & Sheba Potts-Wright). The song is now his as far as I'm concerned. Anyone that loves soul music will find sweet midtempo tracks like "I Feel Like Making Love" and "We Going To Make Love All Night" extreme honey. Meanwhile, one of the more provocative selections on "Slippin & Slidin" is the Afro-centric "Something Is Wrong With Us". Here he says God created the first man and woman black and exhorts all races to get the 411 from historian Ashra Kwesi. You gotta love Roy C- he's a serious soulman.
Jacques Johnson & Roy C "Roy C Meets The Root Doctor" (Jacques Johnson 2004)
1. Root Doctor
- Jacques Johnson
**Somewhat misleading title. There's three terrific songs by Roy ("I See Angels", "Coming From The Old School", "My Love Is Growing") BUT they all showed up on his masterful next disc, "In Too Deep". Jacques Johnson does a good version of Roy Hytower's "Root Doctor" but the tracks by various other artists here are mostly forgettable.
"In Too Deep" (Three Gems 2004)
1.If I Could Stop
****1/2 Don't even finish reading this review before you go buy yourself a copy of this generous 16 track (!) retro-soul clinic. When you mix that full-throated voice with gospel, doo-wop and blues-soaked soul songs you got something that is sorely missing in R & B today. Real soul music. There's no samples, no guest rappers, no processed beats- just soul songs by a soul singer. While the horn parts are synthetic most of this music is played by living, breathing humans. You actually grow to like the synth horns. Because it's all cream it's hard to single out the better tunes but "If I Could Love Your Forever" is one of those pretty, soul-aching cuts we have come to expect. "I'm In Too Deep" has an addictive refrain. I heard it this morning and I'm still singing it tonight. The romping "I'm Coming From The Old School" is another answer song to all those "candy lickers" out there. Roy C don't care what the kids are doing these days 'cuz he makes love the "old fashioned way". Ever keen to relationships, Roy speaks the truth on "If You Cheat On Him". In other words, if you cheat with him you probably will eventually cheat on him too. The hit "I See Angels" is simply gorgeous and one of his very best recordings. Roy's never afraid to speak his mind- on "Your Man Hooked On Another Man" he repeats "Shame Shame Shame", thus not cozying up to the Rainbow Coalition by any means. And "I Smell A Rat" continues the lineage of "I Found A Man In My Bed". This along with "Sex & Soul" should be your first purchases.
"Hey Mista Got Somethin' To Tell U" (Three Gems/Roya 2005)
Got Somethin' To Tell U
**1/2 This is now the 15th cd release by Roy C (Hammond) on his own Three Gems imprint. Once again he avoids the cost-cutting route of programming and uses actual musicians to back his brand of down home soul and Carolina beach music. While the "horns" are mostly synthesized they have become a signature element in C's music. It's impossible to tell, however, on the excellent "horns" and strings-laden "Tonight You Don't Have To Be Lonely". Elsewhere...the opening "Hey Mista" mines love triangle territory as Roy tells his woman's husband that the man's wife is "cheating on us", which may remind many of Denise LaSalle's "Your Husband Is Cheating On Us". The earnest, soulful "Ain't Nobody Here" describes one of those lonely nights in a big bed alone- something all men can relate to at some point in life. "A Woman Needs A Whole Lot More" is a reminder to men that women need more than good lovin' in a relationship. Most of the 15 tracks are compiled from previous albums, "Hey Mista" is really a sampler platter with a couple new cuts. Some of the material is decades old. "I'm Gonna Make It" sounds it was taken from one of Hammond's early 60s sessions- the B-Side to "Shotgun Wedding" (??). "Those Days Are Gone" is from his classic "Sex And Soul" album from 1973. That shaggin' beach rhythm (ala Sam Cooke) crops up on the sprite "Divorce Court", which I believe is the 1970 sequel to "Shotgun Wedding". Although the credits don't explain, the cut "No For An Answer" doesn't sound like Roy C singing (subsequent pressings remove this track). Several of the repeats are among his finest ("I'm Still In Love With You", "Living For The Weekend", "Neighborhood Scandal", "Slow Roll It", etc..) so you hardly notice this is a hodgepodge. Still, a proper "best of"-type anthology with the new tracks added on might have been preferred but newly-interested folks will find this a delight and longtime Roy C fans need the new tracks!
"Live" (HT Records 2009)
"Don't Let Our Love Die" (Three Gems 2009)
1.Good Ole' America
"Let's Go Back To God" (Three Gems 2012)
1. Where Did All the Love Go
"Give Me A Chance" (Three Gems 2014)
1 Give Me a Chance