Friday, 20 February 2015

A Soul Poet: William E. DeVaughn - Be Thankful For What You Got (Roxbury Rec., 1974)

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William E. DeVaughn

Singer, songwriter and guitarist, born 1948 in Washington, D.C.
DeVaughn is best known for his 1974 hit song ''Be Thankful For What You Got''.

Biography by Ed Hogan (AMG):
Singer/songwriter/guitarist William DeVaughn had a million-seller the first time out with his inspiring "Be Thankful for What You Got." Those who first heard the smooth track thought it was a new record from Curtis Mayfield. DeVaughn's high tenor does bear some resemblance to Mayfield's and the simple, encouraging lyrics were similar to the kind found in the catalog of the Impressions leader. "Be Thankful for What You Got" also found its way onto the playlist of some gospel radio programs. One of the lyrics: "Diamond in the back / sunroof top / digging the scene with a gangster lean" became a catchphrase and appeared in numerous rap/hip hop records of the '90s.
The Washington, D.C. native was working for the government when he paid $900 for a recording session at Philadelphia's Omega Sound Inc. (basically a "vanity record" operation). Usually the results of such efforts are anything but star-making, but Omega featured the services of MFSB's main rhythm section (guitarist Norman Harris, drummer Earl Young, bassist Ron Baker, and vibist Vince Montana). Omega vice-president Frank Fioravanti was impressed with the record and began shopping it around to various labels.
Finally issued on Wes Farrell's Roxbury imprint and produced by Frank Fioravanti and arranger John Davis, "Be Thankful for What You Got" sold nearly two million copies, gliding up to the top of the R&B charts and number four pop in spring 1974. The album of the same name had an almost religious tone (DeVaughn was a Jehovah's Witness) and yielded several radio-aired LP tracks: "Give the Little Man a Great Big Hand" (the third single), "We Are His Children," "Sing a Love Song," and "You Can Do It." The second single, "Blood Is Thicker Than Water," made it to number ten R&B and number 43 pop in summer 1974. Akin to the post-heyday performances of a converted Al Green, DeVaughn preached to and admonished his audience from the stage. He lost interest in the music business not long after, though hed did remake "Be Thankful for What You Got" for TEC and charted again with the Top 40 R&B hit "Figures Can't Calculate" in summer 1980 for the label.

William DeVaughn lp
''Be Thankful For What You Got''
( LP Roxbury Records, 1974 )
Catalog # RLX 100


Tracklisting & Hide Credits:
A1 Give The Little Man A Great Big Hand
Guitar – Pal Rakes
Engineer, Mixed By – Carl Paruolo
Bass – Hugh McDonald
Drums – Al Price
Written-By – William Devaughn 5:35
A2 We Are His Children
Mixed By – Doug Fern
Bass – Hugh McDonald
Written-By – William Devaughn
Guitar – Pal Rakes
Drums – Al Price
Engineer – Carl Paruolo 5:14
A3 Blood Is Thicker Than Water
Guitar – Pal Rakes
Engineer, Mixed By – Carl Paruolo
Bass – Hugh McDonald
Drums – Al Price
Written-By – Pal Rakes, Russ Faith 7:19
A4 Kiss And Make Up
Mixed By – Doug Fern
Bass – Hugh McDonald
Written-By – William Devaughn
Guitar – Pal Rakes
Drums – Al Price
Engineer – Carl Paruolo 2:48
B1 Be Thankful For What You Got
Arranged By [Arranging Assistance] – Allan Felder
Bass – Rusty Jackman
Written-By – William Devaughn
Guitar – Bobby Eli, Norman Harris
Engineer, Mixed By – Joe Tarsia
Drums – Earl Young 7:12
B2 Sing A Love Song
Guitar – Pal Rakes
Engineer, Mixed By – Carl Paruolo
Bass – Hugh McDonald
Drums – Al Price
Written-By – Frank Fiorvanti , William Devaughn 3:26
B3 You Can Do It
Guitar – Pal Rakes
Engineer, Mixed By – Carl Paruolo
Bass – Hugh McDonald
Drums – Al Price
Written-By – William Devaughn 3:38
B4 Something's Being Done
Mixed By – Doug Fern
Bass – Hugh McDonald
Written-By – William Devaughn
Guitar – Pal Rakes
Drums – Al Price
Engineer – Carl Paruolo 3:44

Personnel & Credits:
Art Direction – Wes Farrell
Backing Vocals – Gwen Oliver, Nadine Felder
Coordinator – Lou Saft, Nate Chacker
Design – Big Cigar
Executive Producer, Coordinator – Frank Fioravanti
Illustration – Richard Germinaro
Organ, Piano, Saxophone, Flute, Synthesizer – John Davis
Percussion – Larry Washington
Piano, Clavinet – Jerry Cohen
Producer, Arranged By, Conductor – John Davis
Strings, Horns – Don Renaldo
Vibraphone – Vince Montana

Notes:
Format:Vinyl, LP, Album
Country:US
Released:1974
Track listing sequence on sleeve differs from track listing sequence on lp.
Mixed at Sigma Sound Studios
Recorded at Sigma Sound Studios (tracks: A1, A3, B1, B2, B3)
Recorded by Veritible Recording (tracks: A2, A4, B4)
Mastered at Kendun Recorders
Barcode and Other Identifiers:
Matrix / Runout: RLX-100-AS K6737 B SON [Side A deadwax inscription]
Matrix / Runout: RLX-100-BS K6738 A SON [Side B deadwax inscription]
Other: KENDUN [Sides A & B deadwax stamp]

Review by Andrew Hamilton (AMG):
William DeVaughn, a native of Washington, D.C., beat the odds when "Be Thankful for What You Got," scaled the charts and sold a million copies. You see, DeVaughn paid for the session. All artists who signed with Omega Productions paid to record. The title track, with its cool, shuffling beat and Biblical-influenced lyrics, was the summer jam of 1974. "Diamond in the back, sunroof top, digging the scene with a gangster lean" was the buzz phrase. The rest of the songs are charming and have merit, but lack the impact and timing of the title track.

The title track of this album is one of the truly great soul songs of all time. Everyone has to know the chorus. That’s not the only good song on here though. Blood Is Thicker Than Water is just as good. Those are two classic songs that every music lover should own.
From Soul Strut

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''Blood Is Thicker Than Water''


''You Can Do It''

There is a load of great records by great artists over the years, but what about those who shined once in a lifetime and later on almost disappeared? Such is the story of this 1974 record by William DeVaughn. That and the thing that creativity is the mother of invention.
In 1972 William, a Washington D.C. native, was a salaried government employee, was 24 years old and the man could sing and more important could write songs. So, he entered Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, arranged a recording session and yes, even paid for it! But what a great session proved that to be. The core of TSOP was there, the great rhythm section of MFSB. in guitarist Norman Harris, drummer Earl Young, bassist Ron Baker, and vibist Vince Montana. Omega Sound Inc vice-president and Sigma Sound Studios president Frank Fioravanti was impressed with the record and began shopping it around to various labels. Finally the 45 produced by Fioravanti and arranged by John Davis was issued in Wes Farrell’s Roxbury label in 1974. Wes had started his Chelsea (remember New York City) and Roxbury labels with that in mind: To release great records by artists like William De Vaughn or New York City. Oh dear, lucky us.
The 45 sold over a million copies in the summer of 1974, and over the years it became something like a legend. It was that catchphrase: “Diamond in the back, sunroof top, digging the scene with a gangster lean” that set the pace in the years to come. Lyrics understood or misunderstood about those who actually had those “great, big Cadillacs”, William himself once said that he was talking to the ordinary working folks, the ones who “might not have a car at all.” After all brothers, just listen for yourselves! And enjoy.
Forgot to tell you the title of the 45! “Be Thankful For What You Got”, Roxbury Records BR B0-0236. reaching #1 on the U.S. R&B charts and #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, selling a million copies, with a sound and content influenced by Curtis Mayfield, its simple and encouraging lyrics hit home, to the extent that it became featured on gospel radio stations.
From The Central Shaft Blog

One of the undisputed masterpieces LPs of 70s soul! William De Vaughn may never be remembered for anything else – and the poor guy will always be mistaken for Curtis Mayfield by record shoppers everywhere – but he really out-Curtised Curtis on the super-dope original version of "Be Thankful For What You Got", one of those righteous soul tunes that everybody knows, everybody loves, but which was recorded by an artist that nobody can remember. Get this one, and you'll remember William De Vaughn as a genius for the rest of your life – not only for the full 7-minute version of "Be Thankful", which has a great conga breakdown in the middle, but also for other original tunes like "Blood is Thicker than Water", "You Can Do It", and "Give the Little Man a Great Big Hand". Very righteous, and with a deep soul groove that was hardly matched by other albums of the era!
From Dusty Groove America

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Original post: 22 Jan 2008

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