Hearts of Stone


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1965-66) as The Larks

- Clemon Davis -- vocals (bass)

- Lindsay Griffin -- vocals (tenor and baritone)

- Rudolph Hill -- vocals (tenor)

- Floyd Lawson -- lead vocals

- John J. Myers -- vocals (baritone)

 

  line up 2 (1966-70) as The 4 Pennies

NEW - Carl Cutler -- vocals (lead tenor)

- Lindsay Griffin -- vocals (tenor and baritone)

- Floyd Lawson -- lead vocals

- John J. Myers -- vocals (baritone)

 

  line up 3 (1970) as The Hearts of Stone

- Carl Cutler -- vocals (lead tenor)

- Lindsay Griffin -- vocals (tenor and baritone)

- Floyd Lawson -- lead vocals

- John J. Myers -- vocals (baritone)

 

  line up 4 (1976) as Floyd Lawson & the Hearts of Stone

NEW - John Bird -- lead and rhythm guitar, flute, backing vocals

NEW - Richard Carter -- bass

NEW - Robert Cherry -- sax, percussion, backing vocals

NEW - David Donais -- percussion, backing vocals

NEW - Lloyd Harris -- horns, percussion, backing vocals

NEW - Dennis Joyner -- keyboards, backing vocals

- Floyd Lawson -- lead vocals

NEW - Billy Moore -- drums

 

 

 

 

 

- The Chimes (John J. Myers)

- The Four Pennies  (John J. Myers)

- The Five Pennies (John J. Myers)

- The Four Jokers (John J. Myers)

- Floyd Lawson & The Hearts Of Stone

- John Myers  Band 

 

 

 


 

Genre: soul

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Stop the World - We Wanna Get On

Company: VIP

Catalog: VS404
Year:
 1970

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG+

Comments: cut lower right corner; minor ring and edge wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2258

Price: $80.00

 

Anyone who has poked around the BadCatRecords website will realize I'm a big Motown fan.  That said, Hearts of Stone were one of those groups I knew existed, but I had never stumbled across any of their releases.   Imagine my heart of joy when I scored a copy of their obscure 1970 album.

 

Hearts of Soul trace their roots back to the early 1950s when teenager John Myers and his brothers formed The Echoes. Still in high school, by 1955 The Echoes were veterans of the touring circuit, as well as having recorded some unreleased material and done backing vocals for a number of artists.   Their manager Fred Logan arranged for an audition with Atlantic Records, but they ended up signed to Savoy Records, which promptly insisted on renaming the group The 5 Pennies (a curious choice given there were six members).   With various line-up changes, Myers and The 5 Pennies also recorded material as The Chimes,  and The 4 Jokers.

 

By the mid-'60s Myers was living in Tampa, Florida where he formed The Larks.  The original line-up featured Myers, Clemon Davis (bass), Lindsey Griffin (tenor and baritone), Rudolph Hill (tenor), lead singer Floyd Lawson.  By 1966 the group was known as The 4 Pennies, featuring lead tenor Carl Cutler. 

 

Signed by Brunswick, over the next year the group released a pair of  singles:

- 1966's 'You Have No Time To Lose' b/w 'You're A Gas With Your Trash' (Brunswick catalog number 55304)

- 1967's 'Shake A Hand'  b/w 'Tis The Season'  (Brunswick catalog number 55324)

 

By 1970 they were performing as Hearts of Stone, which led to a recording contract with Motown's V.I.P. subsidiary.  Teamed with producer/arranger/writer Henry Cosby, all hyperbole aside,1970's "Stop the World - We Wanna Get On" stands as one of the most overlooked albums on the Motown imprint.  Featuring a mixture of group originals (several co-written by Cosby) and an eclectic mix of covers, these guys were simply stunning.  Lawson may have been the lead singer, but the other three members were equally talented and their group harmonies were equally impressive.  Original tunes like 'It's a Lonesome Road' and 'One Day' were uniformly impressive; even more so given Motown wasn't known as a label that gave much credence to allowing groups to record their own material.  In fact, the only flaws on the album came in the form of a couple of needless covers that appear to have been forced on the group.    

 

It's certainly hard to figure out why this one got lost in the shuffle, but speculating on it, I'd suggest some of it might have to do with the fact these guys didn't have your typical Motown sound.  They certainly weren't as smooth as you typical Motown group, but to my ears that was actually one of their strong points.  They also didn't conform to the standard Motown recording formula.  Responsible for writing much of the album, 'If I Could Give You the World' sounded more like a Carolina shag effort than a Motown song.   Similarly, their cover of 'What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)' just glistened with that unique beach music feel.   The fact these guys wrote much of their own material, probably made them less willing to bend to the desires of  Motown management.   In fact, apparently unwilling to sign a management contract with Motown, the label ultimately cut them lose, bringing their recording career to a close.  

back cover

 

"Stop the World - We Wanna Get On" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) It's a Lonesome Road   (Henry Cosby - John Myers - Floyd Lawson) - 2:34    rating: **** stars

About the only thing I can say is this is one of the most overlooked Motown singles out there.   Produced by Henry Cosby (who shared writing credits), 'It's a Lonesome Road' was a blistering slice of up-tempo soul that shared the same sparkle found on the material The Corporation put together for The Jackson Five.  You weren't going to mistake Floyd Lawson for a young Michael Jackson, but the Jackson Five comparison wasn't half bad.    VIP tapped it as the album's second single:

- 1970's 'It's A Lonesome Road' b/w 'Yesterday's Love Is Over' (V.I.P. catalog number 25058)  

2.) If I Could Give You the World   (Carl Cutler - John Myers - Lindsey Griffin - Floyd Lawson) - 2:57   rating: **** stars

I'll readily admit it didn't have that instantly identifiable Motown sound, but the breezy, mid-tempo 'If I Could Give You the World' was still a wonderful performance.   More shag, than Motown, it isn't hard to picture yourself dancing to this one on a summer evening at a beach.  Besides, how many Motown acts can you think of who wrote their own material?  How many wrote material as good as this one?

- 1970's 'If I Could Give You the World' b/w 'You Gotta Sacrifice (We Gotta Sacrifice)' (V.I.P. catalog number V.I.P. 25064)    

3.) Would You Take a Dime From a Poor Man   (Henry Cosby - John Myers - Floyd Lawson - Carl Cutler) - 2:33     rating: **** stars

Always loved the opening guitars ...  This one had a more Motown-ish feel with that unique "gimmicky title"  while showcasing their fantastic vocal interaction.   Another killer tune that could have been a massive hit had anyone at Motown been paying attention.   

4.) Rainy Night In Georgia   (Tony Joe White) - 4:05    rating: *** stars

It's hard to imagine anyone outdoing Brook Benton's hit version of this one.   This cover wasn't going to make you forget Benton's version, but it came close.   Myers turned in a sterling performance on this one. 

5.) You Gotta Sacrifice (We Gotta Sacrifice)   (John Myers -  Floyd Lawson - Henry Cosby) - 2:34    rating: **** stars

Opening up with some blazing fuzz guitar (Dennis Coffey?), 'You Gotta Sacrifice (We Gotta Sacrifice) ' sounded like something Norman Whitfield might have recorded with The Temptations.   With a slightly lysergic feel (back to Whitfield), this one gave each member a shot at the vocal spotlight (again recalling The Temptations).   Maybe not the most original tune on the album, but highly commercial and enjoyable. Should have been a single.   

6.) What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)   (Johnny Bristol - Harvey Fuqua - Vernon Bullock) - 2:59    rating: ***** stars

Yeah, Jr. Walker and the All Stars, Johnny Bristol, and even Kenny G. may have had the bigger hits with their versions of this song, but  Hearts of Stone recorded the definitive version.  Beach music at its best - one of those things I have never been able to shake out of my head.  They just sound like they're having so much fun on this one and their harmonies never sounded better.    

 

(side 2)
1.) Yesterday's Love Is Over  (Henry Cosby - Donna Sekulidis - Jim Hinton) - 2:54   
rating: **** stars

Not sure who handled the lead vocal, but 'Yesterday's Love Is Ove' was an awesome ballad that had a bit of Brooks Benton in the vibe.  

2.) "Thank You" Falettinem Be Mice Elf Agin  (Sylvester Stewart) - 3:45   rating: *** stars

Interesting choice for a cover, but amazingly these guys had the chops to pull it off.  Again, you weren't going to forget Sly's original, but this was a more than credible cover.   

3.) He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother   (Bob Russell - Bobby Scott) - 4:05   rating: ** stars

I can't say I really liked The Hollies version.  Since the Hearts of Stone cover didn't stray far from the original arrangement, this one didn't do much for me.   

4.) You've Made Me So Very Happy   (Berry Gordy Jr. - Frank Wilson - Brenda Holloway) - 3:25    rating: *** stars

I'm guessing this was included to ensure Motown got some writing residuals off the album- decent enough cover, but again, it added little to the earlier versions.   

5.) One Day   (Carl Cutler - John Myers - Lindsey Griffin - Floyd Lawson) - 2:52    rating: **** stars

I've never been a big doo-wop fan, but there was something quite appealing on the '50s flavors the surrounded the sweet ballad 'One Day'.   if nothing else, the song was a nice reflection on their almost two decades of performing ... 

 

As mentioned, the group apparently refused to sign a management agreement with Motown, which spelled the end to their relationship with the label.  The group subsequently split up.

 

Postscript:

I stumbled across this on-line note from John Myers.  It was posted back in 2005 so I can only hope he is still doing well.

 

This is John Myers, one of the original Hearts of Stone... I am still writing, singing, and performing. The other members, Floyd Lawson, Lindsey Griffin, and Carl Cutler are all in good health and enjoying life... Floyd lives in Canada, Lindsey is in Mississippi, and Carl is in Philadelphia... I am in Knoxville, TN where my wife and I write and perform. We had a group reunion a few years ago, and plan on another one in the near future... Let me hear from you... Myers1977@bellsouth.net

 

I then found a December 2015 interview with Myers (now 80) in the Blount County, Tennessee Daily Times:  http://www.thedailytimes.com/entertainment/age-is-no-obstacle-for-r-b-

legend-folk-soul/article_b69c6c80-8ebb-5d8c-be30-3a1ef1b7e50f.html

 

Here's the 2005 solo album that the article referenced:

 

 

"I Ain't Going Nowhere" track listing:

1.) Counterfeit Love - 3:47

2.) Paradise - 2:50

3.) I Ain't Goin' Nowhere - 4:09

4.) Country Clown - 2:32

5.) Highway Rider - 4:04

6.) Don't make No Excuses For Me - 3:19

7.) It's Your Time To Fly - 4:25

8.) It's My Lazy Day - 2:25

9.) Season for Love - 3:16

10.) Liza Jane - 3:05

 

Yeah, the years have taken a little of his vocal range, but based on these YouTube clips, I'll let you judge for yourself, but I sure hope I age as well as Myers:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QN06JN6zVH0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HbcGvkgNbo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPJJXAAjAac

 


 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Comng Out

Company: FLO

Catalog: FLO 89
Year:
 1976

Country/State: Florida

Grade (cover/record): --

Comments: --

Available: --

Catalog ID: --

Price: --

 

I've never been able to track down a copy, but there's actually a second Hearts of Stone album - credited to Floyd Lawson & The Hearts Of Stone,.  Lawson was the only hold over from the original group and was apparently living in Canada at the time, explaining why1976's "Coming Out" was released on the small, Canadian FLO  label.

"Coming Out" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Theme from S.W.A.T (instrumental)   (Xlevozan) - 

2.) What's Come Over Me?  (Ted Mills) - 

3.) K. Gee   (Harvey Fuqua and the Nite Lighters) - 

4.) Sunshine   (Siegler P. Hartt) - 

5.) That's the Way I Like It   (Casey R. Funch) - 

 

(side 2)

1.) Oil In the Ground   (Stephen Kupka - Enel Castilo) - 

2.) Love Won't Let Me Wait   (Bobby Eli - V. Barnet) - 

3.) Rated "X"  (Billy Osborne) - 

4.) Air I Breath   (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff) - 

5.) Only Takes a Minute   (Dennis Lambert - David Porter) -  

 

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