It’s been way too long since I’ve posted on this blog, but there’s no better return than writing about the greatest Soul singer you’ve never heard of. Ted Taylor was chronically unappreciated throughout his career. He had a fairly large hit with the amazing track “Be Ever Wonderful” and found success amongst Southern Black audiences. Somehow most serious record collectors these days don’t even know about Ted Taylor, but to me the guy is a King.
Ted Taylor grew up in Oklahoma, where he mostly listened to Country & Gospel music. The amazing R.H. Harris, the original lead vocalist of the Soul Stirrers, was a particularly strong influence. And the Country influence somehow makes sense. Taylor’s vocal delivery is always tense, with frequent vibrato and extreme ups & downs. Emotions always running wild. This combined with his extreme, one of a kind falsetto, makes for a damn fine recipe of Southern Soul.
Taylor’s career traversed many different eras: childhood Gospel, teenage Doo-Wop, the golden age of Soul, 70’s Funk, Disco and the 1980’s Blues revival circuit. Ted did it all. He moved to L.A. in his teens and joined the Santa Monica Soul Seekers. This band soon became the well known Doo-Wop group The Cadets (a.k.a. The Jacks), who put out some killer sides on the Modern & RPM labels. Ted was with them from 1955-1957, where they had pretty big hits with “Why Don’t You Write Me” & “Stranded In The Jungle”. By 1958 Taylor decided to embark on his solo career. Makes a whole lot of sense considering his remarkable talent.
It’s a shame that Ted Taylor is so unknown. But he was definitely a staple on the jukebox in the Jukes & Lounges of the South. This is the stuff that makes you immediately say, “Who is this?”. The guy could rock the house like none other, and he also had a voice that could make you cry. If you’re ever looking for some sensational slow dance music, this is it. Deep Soul mixed with this falsetto, yes please.
Why am I even selling this stuff? What the hell is wrong with me?
Ted Taylor- Somebody’s Always Trying (Mr. R&B Records, 1985) is available at Folk Arts for $17. This consists of his killer recordings from 1958 to 1966. I also have a Charly R&B LP of Ted’s stuff from the late 60’s & early 70’s. That LP is a mere $10. You’d be smart to pick up both.