Turley Richards


Band members                             Related acts

- Turley Richards -- vocals, guitar (1959-)

 

  backing musicians (1971)

- Brian Garofalo - bass (1971)

- Jim Horn -- flute (1971)

- Danny Kortchmar --- lead guitar (1971)

- Russ Kunkel -- drums (1971)

- Lee Sklar -- bass (1971)

 

 

 

- The Five Pearls

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Turley Richards

Company: Warner Brothers

Catalog: WS 1870

Year: 1970

Country/State: Charleston, West Virginia

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: signed copy; signature on back panel

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 324

Price: $20.00

 

Geez, almighty did this one ever hit me like a ton of bricks.  Where in the world did a guy like Turley Richards get a voice that sounded like some grizzly old soulster?   

 

Blind since the age of four (an older brother accidentally shot him in the eye with a bow and arrow and poor medical treatment resulted in the loss of sight in both eyes)       Gifted with an amazing voice, by the time he was in his teens Turley was fronting the integrated R&B group The Five Pearls.  Featured on the Dick Reid Record Hop (imagine a West Virginia version of Dick Clark's American Bandstand), the group became quite popular throughout West Virginia.  That success led to a 1959 recording contract with Harry Carlon's Cincinnati, Ohio-based Fraternity label and the release of a pair of  singles 'All About Ann' b/w 'Making' Love with My Baby' (Fraternity catalog number F-845) and 'I Wanna Dance' b/w 'Since I Met You' (Fraternity catalog number F-862).  Dot Records subsequently acquired national distribution rights reissuing the single 'I Wanna Dance' b/w 'Since I Met You' (Dot catalog number 45-16231) with a credit to Richard Turley With Gary Hawks And The Travelers. 

 

 

While the singles did little commercially, it was enough for Richards and two musician friends to buy a PA system, a Ford station wagon and set of for California in pursuit of the big time.  Within a matter of months a broke Richards had taken the train back to West Virginia.

 

A couple of years later Richards headed for New York.  Within a matter of weeks he was broke, reduced to living in Central Park, trying to sell his blood, while singing in local pubs.  One of those pub jobs proved his lucky break.  A woman he met introduced Richards to Norman Schwartz.  At the time Schwartz was responsible for managing a host of jazz acts like Stan Getz and Gary McFarland however he was sufficiently impressed with Richards to help him score a contract with MGM/Verve.  That was followed by a string of releases for a variety of labels.  I've tried to find a complete discography without much luck so here's what I've managed to stitch together:

 

- 'Since You Been Gone' b/w 'Whatís Your Name (MGM catalog number K-13297)

- 'I Need To Fall In Love' b/w '' (20th Century Fox catalog number 608)

- 'This Is My Woman' b/w 'Everything's Goon' (Kapp catalog 906)

- 'Crazy Arms' b/w 'I Just Can't Take It Any Longer' (Columbia catalog number 4-43667)

- 'I Feel Alright' b/w 'I Can't Get Back Home To My Baby' (Columbia catalog number 4-43837)

- 'I'm a Lonely Man' b/w 'I Can't Get Back Home To My Baby' (Columbia catalog number 4-44079)

 

 

Switching to Warner Brothers, Turley debuted with the single 'Freedom Mountain' b/w 'Tomorrow Will Never Come'' (Warner Brothers catalog number 7306).  The single did little commercially, but Warner Brothers management agreed to finance an album.

Produced by Lewis Merenstein, 1970's cleverly titled "Turley Richards" was a mixed success.  On the positive side, Richards had a great voice - very commercial and likeable.  Imagine a tougher Glen Campbell, or a West Virginia-born and raised Jose Feliciano and you'd be in the right aural neighborhood.  The album didn't draw much attention to it, but Richards was also a very capable guitar player.  Check out his work on the opening ballad 'But Came The Dawn And Then Goodbye', or the brief solo on his Dylan cover 'One Too Many Mornings'.   He also had a knack for memorable melodies ('I'm Not Sayin' and 'Then Iíll Go Away').  The downside was  the album did all it could to bury those artistic strengths under a sheen of mindless MOR moves (blame arranger Al Gorgoni who did the same thing to those Glenn Campbell albums).  This was seriously middle class pop meant to appeal to mom and dad, rather than the kids.  The saddest part of it was the fact Richards had rock potential - checkout the bass driven 'Maybe I Can Change My Mind'.  Had he been paired with a more conventional rock producer this could have been one dynamite album.

"Turley Richards" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) But Came The Dawn And Then Goodbye   (Turley Richards) - 3:16

To be honest, the first couple of times I heard this big, over-orchestrated ballad, I thought it was a Roy Orbison track.  Abandoning his normally rugged delivery, on this one he adopted Orbison's quivery delivery with mixed results.  Great if you liked Orbison.  Not so good if you weren't a fan, though the acoustic guitar solo was quite lovely.    rating: ** stars

2.) Maybe I Can Change My Mind   (Turley Richards) - 3:15

Propeled by some of the heaviest bass you'll ever hear (try listening to it on a quality pair of headphones), the original 'Maybe I Can Change My Mind' was the closest Richards came to rockin' out on this album.  The song was really good (love to know who played the bass), but Al Gorgoni's arrangement took the edge off the track.  Even with the heavy orchestration, this was the album's best performance and probably should have been tapped as the single.   rating: **** stars

3.) Softly   (Gordon Lightfoot) - 3:15

Thanks to some nice harmonica and a breezy delivery, Richards cover of Gordon Lightfield's 'Softly' was pleasant.  Not great, but listenable.   rating: *** stars

4.) Iím Not Sayiní   (Turley Richards) - 2:55

Built on an incideously catchy guitar riff, 'I'm Not Sayin' was a nice folk-rock tinged ballad that would have been even better without the orchestration.  Nice to hear Richards cut lose on electric guitar at the end of the song.    rating: *** stars

5.) Then Iíll Go Away   (Turley Richards) - 3:32

Showcasing the softer side of Richards voice, side one ended with a pretty, but ultimately forgettable ballad.  rating: *** stars

 

(side 2)

1.) I Heard The Voice Of Jesus   (Edwin Hawkins) - 7:05

Hard to believe I'm saying this, but Richards' cover of 'I Heard the Voice of Jesus' may be one of the best Gospel songs ever recorded by an American.  Even if you're not particularly religious, his delivery of this Edwin Hawkins song is near perfect.  Very impressive.    rating: **** stars

2.) One Too Many Mornings   (Bob Dylan) - 3:46

The first of two Dylan covers, Richards cover of 'One Too Many Mornings' was MOR-ish, but surprisingly likeable, underscoring what a great voice the man had.  Call it a guilty pleasure like one of those Glenn Campbell hits.  rating: *** stars

3.) Love Minus Zero Ė No Limit   (Bob Dylan) - 3:16

One of the album's biggest surprises, Richards' cover of this Dylan song was quite commercial without going The Byrds folk-rock route.  Warner Brothers released the track as a single and it briefly crept into the top-100.   YouTube has a clip of Richards performing the track solo at a small club in 2011.  Damn if the man doesn't still sound good.   rating: **** stars

4.) Gone From Yesterday   (Turley Richards) - 3:15

Very Jimmy Webb/Glenn Campbell-esque. 'Gone From Yesterday' was another track just a tad to MOR-ish for its own good.  Dropping some of the heavy orchestration would have definitely helped the track since the song had a nice enough melody and Richards vocal was quite attractive.  rating: *** stars

 

As mentioned, the album was tapped for a single:

- 1970's 'Love Minus Zero - No Limit' b/w 'Gone from Yesterday' (Warner Brothers catalog number 7376)  # 84 pop

 


 


Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Expressions

Company: Warner Brothers

Catalog: WS 1918

Year: 1971

Country/State: Charleston, West Virginia

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: was sealed; opened to hear and transfer to CD-R; still in shrink wrap

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5327

Price: $20.00

 

Produced by Paul Harris (former producer Lou Merentstein handing one track) and recorded in California with a first rate cast of sessions players, 1971's "Expressions" was an exceptionally diverse, but impressive sophomore set.  Showcasing Turley penned material (there were three outside covers, including a really good interpretation of Dylan's 'It's All Over Baby Blue'), the album served to spotlight Richards' almost chameleon-like character.  The lead off song 'Beautiful Country' could easily have been mistaken for something off of a Solomon Burke LP, while 'Train Back To Mama (Broken Dreams)' would have been perfect for Otis Redding. At the other end of the spectrum 'Child of Mine' bore more than a passing resemblance to the soft-rock sounds David Gates and company were churning out.  'Virginia Woman' was a conventional acoustic blues number, while 'Stoned On Love' captured that unique early-'70s soul-rock vibe that Delaney and Bonnie were making a killing on.   Ironically the song that made the biggest impression on me was his cover of the Motown classic 'My World Is Empty without You'.  Given the song's been recorded thousands of times, I remember seeing it on the track listing and simply yawning.  Wow was I wrong.  Richards' bluesy cover simply takes the song to a place its never been.  Killer blues-soul cover that should have made Holland-Dozier-Holland smile.  Mind you the album wasn't perfect. 'Place for My Mind' and The Last Day'' were pretty but kind of bland ballads and the set's sheer diversity made it hard to get a handle on what Richards was all about.  Those criticisms aside, there's something really charming about the collection and it's one of the few I've bothered to transfer to CD-R format for personnel use.  (Dedicated to Adrian, I'm assuming the attractive drawing on the back side cover was Turley's wife.)  Warner Brothers didn't do a great deal of promotion or marketing support, but did pull a couple of singles from the LP:

 

 

"Expressions" back cover

 

- 1970's 'Child of Mine' b/w 'Maybe I Can Change Your Mind' (Warner Brothers catalog number 7443)

- 1970's 'Train Back To Mama' b/w 'The Last Day' (Warner Brothers catalog number 7458)

- 1970's 'It's All Over Now Baby Blue' b/w 'Virginia Woman' (Warner Brothers catalog number 7487)

 

 

"Expressions" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Beautiful Country   (Turley Richards) - 3:22

2.) Child of Mine   (Carole King - Gerry Goffin) - 3:25

3.) Stoned On Love    (Turley Richards) - 3:35

4.) Place for My Mind   (Turley Richards) - 4:34

5.) Nightmare   (Turley Richards) - 3:49

 

(side 2)
1.) The Last Day   (Turley Richards) - 2:36

2.) Train Back To Mama (Broken Dreams)   (Turley Richards) - 3:40

3.) It's All Over Now Baby Blue   (Bob Dylan) - 3:49

4.) Virginia Woman   (Turley Richards) - 4:44

5.) My World Is Empty without You   (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland) - 5:26

 

 

- 'One Too Many Mornings' b/w '' (Warner Brothers catalog number 7510)

- 'West Virginia Superstar' b/w '' (Epic catalog number 8-50279)

- 'Under The Boardwalk' b/w '' (Epic catalog number 8-50548)

- 'You Might Need Somebody' b/w 'It's All Up To You' (Atlantic catalog number 45-3645)

 

 

Richards has a nice website at:

 

http://www.turleyrichards.com/DesktopDefault.aspx

 

YouTube has a video clip showcasing Richards guesting with the Greg Foresman Band at a August 2007 performance at Louisville's Stevie Ray's Blues Bar.  The performance, the video and the sound quality are all a little rough, but even so, now in his late 60s (?), the man still has his chops and stage presence.  I'd pay to see him in concert.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkFwlsWdMpA

 

 

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Thurfu

Company: Atlantic

Catalog: SD 19260

Year: 1979

Country/State: Charleston, West Virginia

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: original lyric inner sleeve

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 5360

Price: $10.00

 

With Fleetwood Mac ruling the mid and late-1970s airwaves and consumer discretionary income, a collaboration with Turley Richards should have made for an interesting and successful product (I've always wondered how the collaboration came about).  Self-produced with Mick Fleetwood listed as executive producer (Lindsey Buckingham provided the cover art), 1979's "Thurfu" was a pleasant, if somewhat anonymous step into top-40ish AOR.  Turley's instantly recognizable voice remained a treat, though there seems to have been a concerted effort to smooth it out at the expense of his rougher R&B and soul edges.  To be honest, the results were somewhat mixed.  One of two non-original tracks, the opener 'You Might Need Somebody' was a great slice of top-40 West Coast pop and probably the best overall performance.  Tapped as a single b/w 'It's All Up To You' (Atlantic catalog number 45-3645) it was quickly forgotten.  While commercially oriented tracks like 'All Over the World' and his cover of the chestnut 'Stand By Me' were never less than pleasant, Richards was at his best on the  numbers that allowed him to showcase a little more of his soul roots like 'When I Lost My Way', the bluesy ballad 'Baby Please Don't Go' and 'There's Something Wrong'.  Initially not my favorite Richards release, it's an album that's grown on me over the years.

 

 

 

"Therfu" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) You Might Need Somebody   (Tom Snow - Nan O'Ryan) - 

2.) All Over the World   (Turley Richards) - 

3.) When I Lost My Way   (Turley Richards) - 

4.) Baby Please Don't Go   (Turley Richards) - 

5.) Climb Up the Steeple   (Turley Richards) - 

 

(side 2)
1.) Stand By Me   (Ben E. King - Mike Stoller - Jerry Leiber) - 

2.) I'm Comin' Back Home (With a Little Bit of Luck)   (Turley Richards) - 

3.) Can't You Hear Them Crying   (Turley Richards) - 

4.) It's All Up To You   (Turley Richards) - 

5.) There's Something Wrong   (Turley Richards) - 

 

 

By chance Richards happens to be a member of one of the email groups I belong to and he was courteous enough to provide a little insight to the Fleetwood Mac link:

 

"As for me collaborating with Mick Fleetwood - that never really happened.  I had already produced the album when I met Mick and his partners.  Mick and his management company became my managers in early 1979 and I took Mick into the studio and over-dubbed him on 3 songs:

 

1. You Might Need Somebody

2.  All Over The World

3.  Stand By Me

 

I thought it would look really good for me to have Mick Fleetwood listed not only as one of the musicians but, as the executive producer and he thought it would help too.  So I put him in that capacity and sure enough, it put me in a different light with the press and of course, with the public too.   Also, I had Lindsey to do the art work on the cover and I'm told he did a great cover.  I'm blind, so I never really got to enjoy it. 

 

We had a nice 2 years together and I truly enjoyed being around the group during that time. So, there you have it, my man.

 

Take care,

Turley Richards

February 2008

 

 

 

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