Friday, March 18, 2005

Presidents - 5 - 10 -15- 20 - 25 - 30 years of love

Digging through the crates, or in my case the boxes, I pulled up a disc by the Presidents on Sussex to share with y'all. I initially picked this up in some dusty thrift store cuz i recognized the name Van McCoy on the label. Van was raised in Washington D.C, and of course was a serious producer cat back in the day, whose main immortal work "The Hustle" is no stranger to dance floor warriors. The Presidents were a somewhat obscure DC vocal trio and as far as I know most of their stuff is out of print, despite hitting #11 on the charts with this infectious cut "5-10-15-20-25-30 (Years of Love)". A full album on Clarence Avant's Sussex label with the same title emerged in 1971, fellow labelmates at the time included Willie Bobo & Bill Withers who were among the first 5 artists on the imprint.

The tune was a real family values type thang composed by members Tony Boyd and Archie Powell joined by the third member Billy Shorter who completed the trio. Similar to the Impressions or even the Philly Soul sound, just check out the lovely soaring three-part harmony.

sample lyrics:

Look at the little kids playing
And having fun
Don't they remind you of us
When we were young
5 -10 -15 - 20 (25 - 30 years ago)
Weren't we happy

And we have so much to be thankful for
We've got
5 -10 -15 - 20 (25 - 30 Years Of Love)
Holding hands and talking
Walking in the park
Aren't we happy

Watching the kids play
Girl, brings memories to our hearts
Aren't we happy
And here I cry out
Thank you for giving me
5 -10 -15 - 20 (25 - 30 Years Of Love)

In 1970, when the 7" was released the group were on the Hollywood based Sussex label, which was briefly affiliated with the Buddah bumblegum rock empire until 1973, (later on in the mid 70's the label folded & the only other notable artist on the imprint at the time was Bill Withers who moved to CBS). Other than a few subsequent singles, The Presidents mostly dropped outta sight. I found some historical footnotes about them changing their name to Anacostia at one point, and anyone whose been to Anacostia will tell ya that prolly wasn't the greatest career move. Anacostia, aside from being a nasty river running alongside a large low-income Bronx like industrial wastelandia in south east D.C. isn't exactly a tourist attraction. I've read Anacostia recorded for numerous labels like Clarence Avant's Tabu label as well as Columbia, MCA, and Morris Levy's notorious Roulette racket, well into the 1980s. The pic below is from a 1977 Tabu release I've never heard.

This track I 've featured, "5-10-15-20-25-30 (Years of Love)" was the group at their early peak as The Presidents. The damn thing is so sweet, it just tugs at your heart strings with the over saturated strings and supple drum breaks. You can hear some of the techniques at work that Van employed a year later when he started to work with the Stylistics ("You Are Everything," "Betcha By Golly, Wow"). Van, who went on to produce ex-Temptation David Ruffins' last charting hit, was also a hustling bustling creature of the 70's disco era, and permanently left the soul scene in 1979, after a heart attack that took his life in his mid 30's.

I took the cut off an old 7" single I had, so excuse the lo-fi quality, as it's about 35 years old, and I had no other way to share it but jacking it into the laptop without a decent preamp. I tried to clean up the background noise a bit, but lost bass signal using some demo software. I decided to just leave the groovy crackles & hums in, otherwise the whole thing sounded a wee bit too filtered...anyhow, you just gotta ..uh, Deal With It & Dig It Baby!

Checkout a free sample of a classic track from The Presidents

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