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It Will Stand
The great majority of artists working with songwriter/producer/pianist Allen Toussaint at Joe Banashak and deejay Larry McKinley's Minit Records in New Orleans were Crescent City natives. Not The Showmen. They hailed from Norfolk, Virginia. Unlike the others, they didn't rely on Toussaint for material. It Will Stand, a celebration of rock and roll's endurance (a fairly shaky prediction at the time), was the work of the group's distinctive lead singer, General Norman Johnson.
Born May 23, 1941 in Norfolk, Johnson sang at age six in a gospel group called The Israelites headed by his dad, General Sr. The younger General formed his own Humdingers with tenors Gene and Dorsey Knight, baritone Leslie Felton, and bass Milton Wells. A 1956 session for Atlantic was shelved. But the membership hadn't changed by the time the quintet, now named The Showmen, journeyed to the Big Easy to record for Minit with Toussaint.
"They were great. They were from up on the East Coast," says McKinley. "They must have contacted Joe, because they weren't even in New Orleans. But our label was hot.”Minit was indeed riding high, thanks to hits by Jessie Hill and Ernie K-Doe.
At a May 18, 1961 session held at Cosimo Matassa's self-named studio, General and his Showmen rolled through It Will Stand and its melodramatic flip Country Fool, anchored by Toussaint's cascading 88s. Minit pressed it up that autumn, but not a lot happened. L.A.-based Imperial Records acquired Minit in 1963 and reissued It Will Stand the next year. This time America was better prepared for the General's powerful, quirky lead, the anthem rising to #80 pop in mid-'64.
The Showmen stayed with Minit for four more singles soaked in Toussaint's zesty Crescent City production technique. 1962's The Owl Sees You was a musical cousin to Country Fool, The Showmen engaging in synchronized barnyard calls, while 39-21-46, cut in April '62, became a beach music perennial. The Showmen gravitated next to Swan Records in Philly, where their innate soulfulness shimmered on the 1965 gems In Paradise and then Our Love Will Grow and its flip You're Everything. Their producer was none other than ex-Valentines lead Richard Barrett.
Johnson gravitated to Detroit in 1969 to participate in a unique experiment sponsored by Holland-Dozier-Holland that brought four previously unassociated singers together in a supergroup called Chairmen Of The Board. All four took their turns in the spotlight, but Johnson's quavering tenor was spotlighted on the quartet's top seller, Give Me Just A Little More Time, which went gold in 1970 on H-D-H's Invictus logo. Johnson was revered around the Carolinas as a beach music icon right up to his October 13, 2010 death. His legacy will stand.
Various Street Corner Symphonies 1961 Vol.13Read more at: https://www.bear-family.com/various-street-corner-symphonies-1961-vol.13.html
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