Popcorn Wylie

Band members                             Related acts

- Richard "Popcorn" Wylie (RIP 2008) -- vocals, keyboards




- Pop Corn and the Mohawks

- Richard Wylie (solo efforts)




Genre: soul

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Extraordinary Perception

Company: ABC

Catalog: ABCD 834

Country/State: Detroit, Michigan

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: promo sticker on cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 16

Price: $50.00


I'm not sure why, maybe it has something to do with his funny nickname (he supposedly acquired it as a result of his high school football achievements), but I have clear recollections of hearing Richard "Popcorn" Wylie on mid-1970s radio. It's funny since he never had a major hit, but I can clearly remember hearing 'Trust In Me' played by my local top-40 station. The song wasn't anything all that special, but the guy's  name ...   Its one of those musical memories that has stuck with me for some forty years ...


So Wylie's one of those guys who over a thirty year timeframe carved out an extensive musical career including successes conductor, producer, sessions player, touring musician, writer and even performer.  The thing is that with the exception of one or two brushes with popular success, Wylie was largely relegated to the background.  


Wylie was born and raised in Detroit and started his first band (Pop Corn & the Mohawks), while in still high school.  In spite of their young ages, Wylie and company managed to get booked into local Detroit clubs.  Only 21, Wylie signed a contract with the small local Northern label, recording a 1960 single:


- 'Pretty Girl' b/w 'You're the One' (Northern catalog number C 3732)

His solo single didn't do a great deal, but brought him into contact with recording engineer Robert Bateman who brought him to the attention of Berry Gordy's newly formed Motown label.  Signed by Motown, Popcorn and the Mohawks released a series of three singles:


- 1960's 'Custer's Last Man' b/w 'Shimmy Gully' (Motown catalog number M 1002)

- 1961's 'Money (That's What I Want)' b/w 'I'll Still Be Around' (Motown catalog number M 1009)

- 1961's 'Real Good Lovin'' b/w ''Have I the Right' (Motown catalog number M 1019)


At that point Wylie's focus turned  to the business side of the house.  He began playing keyboards on a wide array of early Motown sessions, served as musical leader of Motown's touring band, and was tapped as the head of Motown's A&R department.  By 1962 he parted ways with Berry Gordy and Motown, moving on to Epic where he recorded a series of four singles over the next two years:


- 1962's 'Come To Me' b/w 'Weddin' Bells'' (Epic catalog number 5-9543)

- 1962's 'Brand New Man' b/w 'So Much Love In My Heart'  (Epic catalog number 5-9575)

- 1963's 'Head Over Heels In Love' b/w  Greater Than Anything' (Epic catalog number 5-9611)

- 1963's 'Do You Still Care For Me' b/w 'Marlene' (Epic catalog number 5-9663)


Dropped by Epic Wylie became a journeyman musician worked as a producer, sessions player, label owner (Pameline and SoulHawk), and songwriter for a string of labels.  He also occasionally released material on his own, including a brief 1968 return to Motown:


   with Stewart Ames 

- 1964's ' King For A Day' b/w 'Angelina Oh Angelina' (J & W catalog number 1000)  

- 1966's 'Rosemary, What Happened ' b/w 'Rosemary, What Happened' (instrumental) (Karen catalog number 45-1542)

- 1968's 'Move Over Babe (Here Comes Henry)' b/w 'Move Over Baby (Here Comes Henry' (Carla catalog number K-715)

- 1968's 'Funky Rubber Band' b/w 'Funky Rubber Band' (instrumental) (Soul catalog number S 35087F)



1974 found Wylie signing with ABC with the label finally financing a Wylie LP.  It only took 15 years for the public to see a Wylie album - 1975's "Extrasensory Perception".  Produced by McKinley Jackson, the album was interesting on a number of levels.  For Motown fans, the performance credits read like a who's-who reunion of Motown sessions players.  Ollie Brown, Dennis Coffey, James Jamerson, Dean Parks,  Melvin Ragin ...  they were all here.  That gave parts of the album an irresistible sense of groove.  The same thing was true in the writing department where all eight tracks saw Wylie collaborating with former Motown alumnus Lamont Dozier.  For his part Wylie displayed a great voice that was capable of handling the entire musical spectrum ranging from love man-styled ballads like 'Trust in Me' to raging funk ('Georgia's After Hours' ).  And that diversity was part of the problem.  Given a shot at the big time Wylie seemed determined to show he could handle it all.   Clearly channeling some of the timeframe's more popular musical genres in search of popular recognition, that meant material like 'Lost Time' (shades of Isaac Hayes) and 'Both Ends Against the Middle' (shades of Rufus Thomas) wasn't the most original stuff you've ever heard.  I guess the bottom line is you wouldn't blame Wylie for trying to appeal to a wider audience and there was no denying that he acquitted himself well leaving you to wonder why if too fifteen years for him to be given an opportunity to release an album.  


- Opening up with a great scratchy soul guitar segment, 'Singing About Me and You' served as a wonderful introduction to Wylie's surprisingly refined and light voice.   Yeah, the Gene Page and Paul Riser arrangements were a touch too bright, but the la-de-dah refrain was priceless and  this one would have made a dandy single.   rating: **** stars

- Built on a killer bass line, 'Georgia's After Hours' managed to out-Clarence Carter in the Southern soul story teller realm.  That bass line (James Jameson ?), coupled with a supremely funky melody and a raving vocal made this one of the album highlights.  Easy to see why ABC tapped it as a single, though you had to wonder how radio missed picking it up.   rating: **** stars

- A breezy, mid-tempo ballad, to my ears 'How Did I Lose You' replaced Wylie's Motown roots with a distinctive Philly International groove.  The funny thing is the results were equally impressive.  Another track that would have sounded wonderful on mid-1970s radio.   rating: *** stars

- Imagine a sequel to Isaac Hayes' classic 'Shaft', but done with a funky Dennis Coffey guitar powering the tune and you'd have a feel for what the instrumental 'Lost Time' sounded like.  Like the Isaac Hayes tune, this one wormed its way into your head and simply would not leave.   rating: **** stars

- With one of the album's best hooks (Wylie exhibited a light touch on harpsichord), 'E.S.P.' was another track that left you scratching your head wondering why didn't ABC tap it as an 'A' side.  A breezy tribute to the joys of a happy relationship, the song sported a nice Philly International-styled arrangement and really served to underscore what a great voice Wylie had.     rating: *** stars

- 'I Can Take the World on with You' was the album's first disappointment.  The breezy mid-tempo number wasn't half bad, with a nice melody, but it was simply a touch too MOR compared to everything else on the collection.      rating: *** stars

- 'Both Ends Against the Middle' found Wylie seemingly trying to borrow Rufus Thomas' shtick.  The song was quite funky and mildly cute, but ultimately didn't suite Wylie-style all that well.    rating: *** stars

- Picked as the lead off single, 'Trust in Me' was a big, adult contemporary ballad that had clearly been developed for radio exposure.  While the song clearly showcased Wylie's impressive vocal chops (very love man-esque), the results were just too polished and MOR to make much of an impressive.   rating: ** stars


As mentioned above, the album spun off a couple of singles:



- 1974's 'Trust In Me' b/w 'Lost Time'  (ABC catalog number ABC 12067)

- 1975's 'Georgia's After Hours' b/w 'E. S. P.' (ABC catalog number ABC12124)


Not perfect and not an overlooked classic, but still worth hunting down and probably one many Motown fans will fund intriguing.


"Extraordinary Perception" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Singing About Me and You   (Lamont Dozier - McKinley Jackson - Jackson - Popcorn Wylie) - 4:55

2.) Georgia's After Hours   (Lamont Dozier - McKinley Jackson - Jackson - Popcorn Wylie) - 5:00

3.) How Did I Lose You   (Lamont Dozier -  McKinley Jackson - Jackson - Jackson) - 5:22

4.) Lost Time (instrumental)   (Lamont Dozier - McKinley Jackson - Jackson - Jackson) - 3:58


(side 2)
ESP   (Lamont Dozier - McKinley Jackson -  Popcorn Wylie) -  4:49 

2.) I Can Take the World on with You   (Lamont Dozier - McKinley Jackson -  Popcorn Wylie) -  4:30 

3.) Both Ends Against the Middle   (Lamont Dozier - McKinley Jackson -  Popcorn Wylie) - 4:12 

4.) Trust in Me   (Lamont Dozier - Popcorn Wylie) - 4:53



The album did nothing commercially and Wylie subsequently returned to relative obscurity.  In the mid-1980s he began to receive some recognition; ironically from English soul fans.  That saw him tour the UK where he found a mentor in Ian Levine and the Motorcity label which revived his recording career with the release of a 1987 single:

- 1987's 'See This Man In Love' b/w 'See This Man In Love  (Motorcity catalog number MOTC 68)

- 1989' Love Is my Middle Name' b/w 'Love Is my Middle Name (Motor Town Dub Mix)' (Nightmare catalog number MARE 99)



The ensuing attention also led to a deal where 25 of Wylie independent efforts recorded and released on his mid-1969s Pameline and SoulHawk labels was reissued under the 2002 compilation "Popcorn's Detroit Soul Party" (Goldmine Soul Supply catalog number GSCD59).


Having suffered from congestive heart problems for years, Wylie died from the disease in September 2008.