Long, Shorty


Band members               Related acts

- Shorty Long (aka Frederick Earl Long) (RIP 1969) - vocals,

  guitar, keyboards, drums 
   

 

 

- none known

 

 


 

Genre: soul

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Here Comes the Judge

Company: Soul

Catalog: SS709

Year: 1968

Country/State: Birmingham, Alabama

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: 'Pat' written in blue ink on front cover under 'the' part of title

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 5766

Price: $40.00

 

I've always been surprised to see the late Shorty Long labeled as a novelty act. Most folks remember him for the instantly likeable 'Here Comes the Judge' in the process overlooking the fact that Long was a gifted singer, writer, keyboardist and producer.

 

The late 1950s found Long living and working in Detroit where he attracted the attention of Harvey Fuqua who eventually signed him to his newly established Tri-Phi Records.  Over the next two years Long released three 45s for the label:

 

  

 

- 1962's 'I'll Be Here' b/w 'Bad Willie (Tri-Phi catalog number TP-1006)

- 1962's 'I'll Be Here' b/w 'Too Smart' (Tri-Phi catalog number TP-1015)

- 1963's 'What's The Matter' b/w 'Going Away' (Tri-Phi catalog number TP-1021)

 

In 1964 Fuqua decided to get out of the ownership/management part of the business.  He promptly soul his entire operation to Berry Gordy Jr.  Finding himself 'sold' to Motown, Long was one of the first acts assigned to Motown's Soul subsidiary.  Unfortunately, his Motown releases were far and few between.  His debut came with the classic (if poor selling) 'Devil In the Blue Dress' b/w 'Wind It Up' (Soul catalog S-35001).  While Long's version did little commercially, fellow Detroiter Mitch Ryder enjoyed a massive pop hit with his raunchy cover.  Long's next four releases proved equally unsuccessful:

 

                        

- 'It's a Crying Shame' b/w 'Out To Get Me' (Soul catalog number S-35005)

- 'Function At the Junction' b/w 'Call On Me' (Soul catalog number S-35021)  # 97 pop; # 42 R&B

- 'Chantilly Lace' b/w 'Your Love Is Amazing' (Soul catalog number S-35031)

- 'Night Fo' Last' (vocal & instrumental versions) (Soul catalog number S-35040) # 75 pop; # 42 R&B

 

Long's fourth single for Soul proved to be the magic bullet. Based on a Pigmeat Markum catch phrase (see separate entry), 1968's 'Here Comes the Judge' b/w 'Sing What You Wanna' (Soul catalog number S-35044) provided Long with an unexpected top-10 pop and soul hit.  

 

 

As was standard marketing procedure Soul rushed Long back into the studio to cut a supporting album.  Released as the cleverly titled "Here Comes the Judge" the album featured a mixture of earlier singles, the hit title track and new studio material.  What made it different from your standard rush job was the fact there were very few throwaway tracks.  Co-written by Long, tracks such as 'Don't Mess with My Weekend', 'Night Fo' Last' and 'People Sure Act Funny' stood as first-rate mid-1960s soul that should have torn up the charts.  Even filler material such as the Stax-styled instrumental 'Night Fo' Last' and 'Ain't No Justice' was worth hearing.  

 

- Most novelty songs don't do much for me, but 'Here Comes the Judge' was one of those rare exceptions - funny and funky at the same time !  As mentioned above, I always thought the song was inspired by black comedian Pigmeat Markum, but another reference I stumbled across said it was inspired by an ongoing gag in the Rowan and Martin Laugh-In Comedy Hour.  Beats me.    rating ***** 5 stars

- The instrumental 'Night Fo' Last' was about as far from the standard Motown sound as you could imagine.  Fantastic slice of Stax-styled soul, complete with keyboards that would have made Booker T. Smile and a slashing guitar that sounded like Steve Cropper was on the payroll.    rating **** 4 stars

- Technically I guess you could label 'Function At the Junction' another novelty song, but it was actually strong enough to qualify as a straightforward soul effort - which is probably why it had previous been tapped as a single.  Great lyric.   rating **** 4 stars

- Anyone who thought Long was just a goofball need only check out this blazing mid-tempo number.  'Don't Mess with My Weekend' made it clear Long was as good as virtually anyone on the Motown recording roster !  Always loved the thunder sound effects. One of my favorite tracks on the album.    rating **** 4 stars

- Yeah it may have borrowed a little inspiration from the title track, but the pseudo-instrumental 'Ain't No Justice' had a nice melody and served to showcase Long's considerable skills and the keyboard.   rating *** 3 stars

- Another earlier single, Long's laidback version of 'Devil with the Blue Dress' was nice, but probably wouldn't make anyone forget the driving version Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels did.  Wonder how many folks realize Long wrote it ...  rating ** 2 stars

- Side two started with another earlier single - 'Night Fo' Last'.  To my ears this one always sounded like a work in progress.  Yeah it was moderately funky, but simply wasn't as good as other selections.  rating ** 2 stars

- 'Stranded In the Jungle' was the only real throwaway.  You can skip over it without any loss.  rating * 1 star

- As a child of the Fat Albert era I'll readily admit to being bias on this one - great song.  Another one that was funny and funky at the same time.  Hard to do one or the other, let alone both simultaneously.  rating *** 3 stars

- 'Sing What You Wanna' was another one where Long played it fairly straight.  Yeah, the spoken word segment was kind of irritating, but no more so than any Joe Tex releases.  Great pounding rhythm track.  rating *** 3 stars

- A pretty, but somewhat dated sounding ballad, 'Another Hurt Like This'  recalled an early Marvin Gaye effort.  rating ** 2 stars

- The album closed with 'People Sure Act Funny'.  Modestly funny, but clearly  another throwaway track.   rating ** 2 stars

 

Not perfect, but song for song one of the better (if overlooked) LPs to be found on any of the Motown labels ...

 

"Here Comes the Judge" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Here Comes the Judge   (Brown - DePasse - Shorty Long) - 2:37

2.) Night Fo' Last (instrumental)  (Shorty Long - Paul) - 2:34

3.) Function At the Junction   (Eddie Holland - Shorty Long) - 2:59

4.) Don't Mess with My Weekend   (Shorty Long - Sylvia Moy) - 2:17

5.) Ain't No Justice   (Brown - DePasse - Shorty Long - Frank Wilson) - 2:58

6.) Devil with the Blue Dress   (Shorty Long - William Stevenson) - 2:59

 

(side 2)

1.) Night Fo' Last   (Shorty Long - Paul) - 2:34

2.) Stranded In the Jungle   (Johnson - Smith) - 2:57

3.) Here Comes Fat Albert   (Shorty Long - Sylvia Moy - Edwin Starr) - 2:48

4.) Sing What You Wanna   (Dunbar - Shorty Long) - 2:21

5.) Another Hurt Like This   (Shorty Long) - 2:58

6.) People Sure Act Funny   (Titus Turner) - 2:06

 

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The Prime of Shorty Long

Company: Soul

Catalog: SS719

Year: 1969

Country/State: Birmingham, Alabama

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: minor ring wear;  promo, white label

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 5767

Price: $25.00

Cost: $1.00

 

Ironically titled "The Prime of Shorty Long" Shorty Long's sophomore release was a posthumous affair coming in the wake of his untimely June 1969 death in a boating accident on the Detroit River.  Seemingly largely salvaged from the Motown vaults, the collection was certainly diverse; Long taking shots at all sorts of genres including social commentary ('I Had a Dream'), love man ballads ('When You Are Available') and contemporary rock (a truly odd cover of Procol Harum's 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' - Long managing to sound remarkably like Gary Brooker).  Self-produced (Smokey Robinson being the only other Motown artist allowed such creative control), the set wasn't bad serving as a clear attempt to replicated Long's earlier success. Among the highlights were 'Lillie of the Valley', 'Baby Come on Home', 'The Deacon Work' and the fuzz-guitar propelled 'Little Bit of Air'. 

 

- Given Long's recent death, there was something poignant in hearing the opening ballad 'I Had a Dream'.  Yeah the angelic female backup chorus was a little over the top, but the result was easily one of Long's most impressive performances.  rating **** 4 stars

- Long's cover of 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' has always been a personal favorite - not that it was a particularly good cover, rather based on the fact he was willing to take on such an iconic song.  You can almost hear Long wondering what the hell the lyrics mean ("the room was humming harder as the ceiling flew away"), but that didn't stop him from trying to blow the song out of the water.    rating **** 4 stars

- In theory Long's cover f the sappy 'Memories are Made of This' shouldn't have had anything going for it.  That said he somehow managed to turn it into a catchy pop tune.  Very nice ...  rating *** 3 stars

- Bless his soul, but an enthusiastic performance couple with some nice fuzz guitar (Dennis Coffey?) saw Long similarly salvage a cover of Fats Domino's 'I', Walkin''.    rating **** 4 stars

- In contrast the harpsichord propelled 'I Cross My Heart' sounded distinctively old fashioned and dull.  The song also suffered from a strange echoy vocal (Long sounded like he was in a shower stall) and a hideously overblown string arrangement.   Yech.  rating * 1 star

- Pulling a page out of the Clarence Carter story teller catalog, 'Lillie of the Valley' was a cute track that was made even better by some tasty fuzz guitar.   rating ** 2 stars

- Side two opened with a nice, blues cover of another Fats Domino classic - 'Blue Monday'.  Decent enough performance, but why would you want to hear it versus the original classic?   rating ** 2 stars

- Judging by the classic Motown sound, 'Baby Come Home To Me' must have been a track Long recorded in the mid-1960s.  One of the standout performances, this one underscored the fact Long was more than just a novelty act.  The man had some impressive chops.  rating **** 4 stars

- Sounding like it had also been recorded in the mid-1960s, 'I Wish You Were Here' never quite came together.   The fragments of a really good song were there, but the end result was clunky with the ragged edges buried under the usual Motown production effects.  rating ** 2 stars

- The album's lone Long original (co-written with Marvin Gate), 'When You Are Available' was a pretty ballad that showcased a seldom heard rugged edge in Long's voice.  Anyone who enjoys mid-1960s Marvin Gaye would find this one irresistible.  rating *** 3 stars

- Reflecting a hard rock edge and some killer fuzz guitar, 'Give Me Some Air' sounded like Long had been hanging around with Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong.  Only complaint was that the song faded out just as it was picking up steam.  rating **** 4 stars

- The only true novelty song on the album, 'The Deacon Work' was surprisingly enjoyable.  Funky song made even better by one of Long's grittiest performance.  Should have been released as a single.  rating **** 4 stars

 

Ironically, normally shrewd when it came to picking hit singles, the Motown organization seemed clueless what to do with the album.  The album was tapped for a pair of singles:

 

                  

 

- 1969's 'I Had a Dream' b/w 'Ain't No Justice' (Soul catalog number S-35054)

- 1969's 'Whiter Shade of Pale' b/w 'When You Care Available' (Soul catalog number S-35064)

 

Naturally both proved hysterically inept choices as singles. Accordingly, both the singles and the album vanished without a trace. 

"The Prime of Shorty Long" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I Had a Dream   (F. Long - S. May) - 3:19
2.) A Whiter Shade of Pale    (Keith Reid - Gary Brooker) - 2:55
3.) Memories are Made of This   (Gilkyson - Dehr - Miller) - 2:57
4.) I'm Walkin'   (Fats Domino - Bartholomew) - 2:21
5.) I Cross My Heart   (Ivory Joe Hunter) - 3:06
6.) Lillie of the Valley   (F. Long - S. May)   - 2:45


(side 2)

1.) Blue Monday   (Fats Domino - Bartholomew) - 2:37
2.) Baby Come Home To Me   (C. Paul - L. Broadnax - R. Smith) - 2:21
3.) I Wish You Were Here   (William Stevenson - F. Long) - 2:34
4.) When You Are Available   (Shortly Long - Marvin Gaye) - 2:38
5.) Give Me Some Air   (F. Long) - 2:48

6.) The Deacon Work - 2:49

 

 

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