Friday, 26 June 2020

Come Closer To Me

Moving a little westerly to Memphis, Tennessee where we'll wrap this month of vocal groups up with The Mad Lads! Certainly not the most notable collective in the Stax stable, however, I feel they deserved a better fate than what was afforded them. Like many of artists, their greatest success came early on and the pressure to repeat it, took a terrible toll on the groups members. Personnel changes further compounded the challenges facing the Lads. Much of their careers was in a sense, spent playing catch-up, holding them back from truly hitting their stride. They did manage to eke out a few albums before calling it a day, and despite the lack of continuity or chart success, all three are fairly decent in my opinion. As is John Gary Williams' solo album.


The group was formed at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tennessee, USA. The original line-up comprised John Gary Williams, Julius E. Green, William Brown and Robert Phillips. They were originally called The Emeralds, but changed their name because there was another group of that name; the name "Mad Lads" was suggested by Stax employee Deanie Parker in response to the group's behavior and also in recognition of local disc jockey Reuben "Mad Lad" Washington. They first recorded for Stax in 1964, releasing novelty single, "The Sidewalk Surf", co-written by Isaac Hayes (under the name Ed Lee). It was not a hit. However, their second record, "Don't Have To Shop Around", rose to no. 11 on the Billboard R&B chart, and no. 93 on the pop chart. Featuring organ by Hayes and piano by Booker T. Jones, and featured "the high, innocent tenor of John Gary Williams." They followed up with "I Want Someone", "I Want A Girl" and "Patch My Heart", which were all R&B hits in 1966. However, towards the end of the year Williams and Brown were drafted. The group continued to make live appearances with the pair being replaced by Sam Nelson and Quincy Billups Jr., but the new line-up's recordings were not as successful. After Williams returned from military service, he was reinstated in the group at the insistence of record company co-owner Jim Stewart. The other members were not keen on this but they powered through and continued to have R&B chart hits through to 1969 together, their final hit being a version of "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" which also reached the pop chart. Sessions and subsequent singles got fewer and further between moving into the 70s. By 1972 things were looking pretty bleak, then with a final album and less than a handful of live performances, the group called it quits in 1973. Williams recorded a self-titled solo album at Stax in 1973. He later worked outside the music business in Iowa and Los Angeles, before forming a new touring version of The Mad Lads in 1984. The new group recorded an album, Madder Than Ever, in 1990. Julius E. Green died on January 14, 2013. William C. Brown III died on July 24, 2015, aged 69. John Gary Williams died in May 2019, aged 73.

Come Closer To Me collects the near complete classic recordings of The Mad Lads. The 3 full length albums, a complete singles collection (less 1 side) with a few unissued cuts and I've included John Gary Williams' album and 3 singles cut for Stax. All files chronicled, cleanly tagged and mp3 @ 320kbs. Thanks to original uploaders, enjoy!

*missing
The Mad Lads - 1964 - Surf Jerk (Stax 160)

8 comments:

richsoul said...

thank you so much, I followed the Mad Lads as a youngster and enjoy all their music. I liked Michael the Love, which was uptempo and cheerful. Thank so much.

JTF said...

Thanks for this madness!

Little Bill said...

Nice collection S13, many thanks

Anonymous said...

One of the truly great soul harmony groups. Thanks for compiling their excellent recordings.

Anonymous said...

Thank you my friend, you have done a fantastic job again!!

BillyMac said...

This is great, s13!

drhepcat said...

Surf Jerk is an isntrumental but here it tis......https://www87.zippyshare.com/v/CRFu3FTt/file.html

dkuk73 said...

Thank you