Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Eric Mercury

I was originally going to put this album on The Thrifty Digger. But after a bit of searching I discovered that soul/r&b singer Eric Mercury was born here in Toronto, so I'm posting it here instead. Born into a musically-inclined family, Mercury was singing in school and church choirs by the age of five. Towards the end of the '50s, Eric was bitten by the rock 'n' roll bug and sang with bands like The Pharaohs (which also included Jay Jackson, future lead singer with The Majestics) and his own group, Eric Mercury and The Soul Searchers (who toured in a revue with Dianne Brooks).

In 1968 Mercury moved to Chicago to start a solo career and kicked things off by recording a single named "Lonely Girl". Between '69 and '81 he recorded five LPs, including the one I'm posting here, 1972's Funky Sounds Nurtured In The Fertile Soil Of Memphis That Smell Of Rock, plus the odd single here and there. Throughout the '70s he also appeared in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar and wrote songs, sang backup and produced work for Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway. In 1986, Mercury moved back to Toronto and managed a group named Age Of Reason for a while, before returning to work as a writer and producer in Canada and the U.S.

Aside from Mercury, there isn't much about Funky Sounds... that's Canadian. It was produced and arranged for Enterprise Records by Steve Cropper at TMI Sound Studios in Memphis and engineered by Ron Capone and Jim Gaines, with string arrangements by Dale Warren. Mercury's musical accompaniment on the album was Jim Johnson on bass, Richie Simpson on drums, Cropper and Paul Cannon on guitar, Jay Spell on piano and organ and William "Smitty" Smith also on organ, with The Memphis Horns rounding things out. "I Can Smell That Funky Music," the album's leadoff track, is a driving r&b number written by Cropper, Eddie Floyd and Mack Rice, while "Stop Looking Down," by Cropper and Mary Williams, is a bumpin' funk tune with nice horn arrangements. And "It's Time For Me To Love You," at 9:23 by far the longest track on the album, is an unstoppable groovy jam credited to Cropper, Mercury and "Smitty" Smith.

I Can Smell That Funky Music
Stop Looking Down
It's Time For Me To Love You

Note: These songs have been archived at It Came From Canada.


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