Wax Museum: MP3s from Allison & South Funk Blvd., the Royal Masters and the Chocolate Glass
Sometimes history is a funny thing. You look back and all of a sudden there’s something in the past you don’t remember happening. One case in point would be this Allison & South Funk Blvd. single.
When the TSU Toronadoes finally reached their breaking point in the early '70s, the group split into two factions. Half the group, including Leroy Lewis, Nelson Mills and Jerry Jenkins, formed South Funk Boulevard, while Cal Thomas took the Toronados name and briefly attempted to keep things going. (Last fall, Chris Gray and I managed to track down and interview numerous members of both groups and Ovide label owner, Skipper Lee Frazier.)
When we asked, “Did Allison & South Funk Blvd. ever record anything for Ovide?”, everyone soundly answered with a simple 'no.' So a few weeks ago while hunting for records at Sound Exchange, imagine my surprise when store owner Kevin Bakos offered this gem up for sale - a record that, according to band members and the label owner alike, doesn’t exist.
Memories can falter over time, of course, or maybe this was an odd promo-only thing. There doesn't seem to be a simple answer to why this single exists, but I’m damn glad I own it now.
Allison & South Funk Blvd. recorded a few other singles throughout the '70s. They signed to with Huey Meaux, who ended sitting on their recordings while they were under contract. In the late '70s, Meaux released a compiled album of the group's previous works as a tax scam along with tons of other local artists on his Crazy Cajun label.
Before the days of “Tighten Up” or “Treat Her Right,” Houston had its good foot planted in the sounds of doo-wop. Local group the Royal Masters not only recorded some rather fine doo-wop, but managed to garner some national attention doing it.
Masters leader Fred Kibble Jr. recorded this sweet number for Huey Meaux in the early '60s, and Meaux shopped it to New York's Guyden label. The band changed with the times, becoming a full-blown soul machine and changing its name to Masters of Soul. In a previous Wax Museum, I wrote about one of their last singles one of the nicest psychedelic soul tracks to ever come out of Houston.
Unfortunately, like many bands on George Nelson’s Judnell label, exactly who was in the Chocolate Glass remains shrouded in a humid Houston fog. Not even the group's labelmate Bubbha Thomas (the Lightmen, Ronnie & Hubert Laws) knew the guys.
The group recorded two nice instrumental funk workouts on the jazzier side of the spectrum, both on Judnell, sometime in the early '70s. It’s sad that some of the tightest drumming ever laid down in our fair city has to go uncredited. But even if we never find out who they are, Chocolate Glass was a damn good group that deserves some shine. - Brett Koshkin