Classics: Carol Williams – Love Is You (Salsoul Records)
The Trammps used to sing “Disco, that’s where happy people go!”. And we can pretty much understand why whenever listening to gems such as ‘Love Is You’. From Carol Williams‘s unique singin’ style. To the theme of this song. Not to mention its stellar arrangements, with The Salsoul Orchestra in the background. And the whole under the direction of Vincent Montana, Jr.
Although more than 40 years have gone since its release, ‘Love Is You’ keeps on shining along with time. Meanwhile pretty much explaining in itself the huge impact the Salsoul sound had back at the time. And most definitely keeps on havin’ nowadays.
– Monclair, NJ native Carol Williams first sang as a member of female threesome The Geminis in the mid-60’s. She would make her name into history as the first female artist who signed a record deal with Salsoul Records 10 years later. She first came to fame back in 1976 with ‘More’ which she recorded along with producer Vincent Montana, Jr. Surprisingly enough, ‘More’ was not an original song. But a cover version of a famous Italian instrumental, ‘Ti guarderò nel cuore’. Marcello Ciorciolini comin’ up with lyrics later on, which Norman Newell eventually adapted into English. The success of Williams‘s version leading her to record ‘Lectric Lady’ the year after. An album which spanned classics such as ‘Come Back’ and ‘Love Is You’ which Italian DJ Spiller sampled 22 years after on ‘Groove Jet’.
Williams parted ways with Salsoul not long after the release of her album though. Eventually switching to Canadian label Quality Records the year after. There, she delivered her second and final album, ‘Reflections Of Carol Williams’, teamin’ up with producer Tony Valor.
Carol Williams turned down Darryl Payne‘s classic ‘Over Like A Fat Rat’ and passed it to Fonda Rae. But she would work with Pandy as a producer on both ‘Can’t Get Away From Your Love’ and ‘You’ve Reached The Bottom Line’ on Vanguard, respectively in 1982 and 1983. She also appeared as a member of the transient Komiko on their one and only single – ‘Feel Alright’ – back in 1982.
– A native of South Philaldelphia, PA, Vincent Montana, Jr. grew up in an Italo-American neighborhood. He first began playin’ drums as a child before venturing into other percussion instruments such as the marmimba and the glockenspiel. By the late 40’s, one would find him playing in clubs with Jazz luminaries such as Charlie Parker or Sarah Vaughan. Soon after, he went to perform in various hotels in Las Vegas, NV, accompanying artists such as Harry Belafonte and Louis Prima. Then he returned to Philadelphia by the late 50’s, eventually playin’ vibraphone on Frankie Avalon‘s 1959 smash hit ‘Venus’.
As a matter of fact, Vincent Montana, Jr.‘s contribution to the maturation of contemporary music has simply no equal. From setting up the legendary Sigma Sound Studio with Joseph Tarsia in Philadelphia, PA. Which is how he met Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. To his position as a major actor in the establishment of the Philadelphia Sound. Meanwhile gathering people from all origins/ethnics. Be they Blacks, Jewishes, Italians or Rednecks. And by that, embodying beforehand what Indamixworldwide is about…
All in all, the list of artists he arranged music for stands as a who’s who of the groove. Jamming along with The Intruders for instance. But also The O’Jays, The Trammps, William DeVaughn and Lou Rawls. Not to mention The Stylistics and Teddy Pendergrass to name but a very few. This in addition to being one of the founding members of MFSB with whom he recorded an impressive series of classics. From ‘Love Is The Message’ to ‘TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)’ to name a few.
Although promised to reach the upper heights, his partnership with Gamble & Huff brutally came to and end in 1974. And this, after financial issues. Hopefully, the wait didn’t last before Joe Bataan gave him the opportunity to jump on the next wagon. This while introducing him to the Cayre brothers. Three guys who were the owners of a NYC distributor of Latin Music whom he helped setting up Salsoul Records.
By that time, several members of MFSB had left for the same reasons. From John Davis who soon after formed John Davis & The Monster Orchestra to others who joined Ritchie Family. Not to mention Ronnie Baker, Bobby Eli, Norman Harris and Early Young who regularly joined Montana for recording sessions.
Montana put together The Salsoul Orchestra and soon after delivered the first release – ‘Salsoul Hustle’ for the label. An instant success, it opened the path to a string of 6 albums. Including classics such as ‘Getaway’ and ‘Ooh I Love It (Love Break)’ to name a few. But also collaborations with Carol Williams and Loleatta Holloway. This resulting in extra gems such as ‘Love Is You’ and ‘Run Away’.
By 1978, Montana left Salsoul Records and joined Atlantic. There, he put together Goody Goody along with his daughter, Denise, on vocals. Releasing one album – ‘Goody Goody’ – which spanned memorable cuts such as ‘#1 Deejay’ and ‘It Looks Like Love’.
Another 4 years on and Montana launched his own Philly Sound Works label. And then again, he would add a couple of goodies to his impressive collection. Beginning with ‘Who Needs Enemies (With A Friend Like You)’ and the infectious ‘Heavy Vibes’.
Last but not least, one might also remember him for his collaboration with Louie Vega and Kenny Dope back in 1996. The latter resulting in the release of their Nuyorican Soul album concept. A package which saw them comin’ up with a cover version of ‘Run Away’ with La India on vocals. And also span extra classics such as ‘I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun’, ‘It’s Alright, I Feel It’ and ‘Sweet Tears’ among others.
He sadly died at Cherry Hill, NJ, on Apr. 13, 2013, at the age of 85.