David Porter

Band members                             Related acts

- David Porter -- vocals


  backing musicians (1973)

- Michael Allen -- keyboards 

- Robert Coleman -- trumpet 

- Ray Griffin -- bass 

- Terry Johnson -- drums, percussion

- Robert Thomas -- guitar 

- Chico Winston -- sax 




- Kenny Cain

- Little David





Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Groovy, Gritty, & Gettin' It

Company: Enterprise

Catalog: ENS-1009

Year: 1971

Country/State: Memphis, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2813

Price: $20.00


One of America's best know songwriters, but an overlooked performer, David Porter recorded his first single in 1965:





- 1965's 'Can't See You When I Want To' b/w 'Win You Over' (Stax catalog number S-163) 






It only took him another five years to get around to recording a solo album.  Co-produced by longtime writing partner Isaac Hayes and Dale Warren, 1970's "Groovy, Gritty & Gettin' It On" was interesting on a couple of levels.  Released on Stax's Enterprise affiliated label, the biggest surprise came in the fact the album found Porter all but ignoring original material in favor of  cover tunes.  Here's a guy know for penning dozens of hits and he goes with outside covers ...  In fact, the only original tune was a remake of his original '65 single 'Can't See You When I Want To'.  Even though Porter had a killer voice that was more than capable of handling a wide range of genres, the results were mixed.  As you'd expect from an album of covers, the results were dependent on the caliber of the material Porter selected.  Side one was particularly disjointed, starting out with an MOR-ish remake of the jazz standard 'I Only Have Eyes for You'.  In contrast, the four songs on side two were uniformly good with the highlights including a remake of the earlier 'Can't See You When I Want To', a rollicking remake of Dee Ervin's 'One Part - Two Parts', and best of all, a totally unique arrangement of Stevie Wonder's 'I Don't Know Why I Love You'.

"Gritty, Groovy & Gettin' It" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I Only Have Eyes for You (Harry Warren - Al Dubin) - 2:59   rating: ** stars

Hum, for a guy who's reputation came as a songwriter, I've always wondered why Porter decided to open this album with a distinctively MOR--ish cover of this jazz and doo-wop standard. There certainly wasn't anything wrong with the arrangement and Porter had a surprisingly sweet voice, but ...   just a weird cover tune.

2.) Guess Who  (Jesse Belvin - Jo Ann Belvin) - 4:33   rating: ** stars

The 1959 Jesse Belvin original was pretty good.  Porter's cover gave the song an updated sheen (complete with strings and chirpring backing singers), while showcasing a nice "love man" edge.   On the other hand, why not listen to the original ?  

3.) I'm a-Tellin' You (Jerry Butler - Curtis Mayfield) - 3:04   rating: **** stars

Hard to go wrong with a Butler-Mayfield composition and adding that unique Stax sound (check out the horns and the Steve Cropper guitar licks), just made this song better.   Always wondered who the backing vocalist was - Isaac Hayes ?    One of the album standout performances. 

4.) Just Be True  (Curtis Mayfield) - 3:04   rating: *** stars

You're also hard pressed to go wrong with a Curtis Mayfield cover and as good as Porter's performance was on this heartbreak ballad, the heavy orchestration and backing singers came close to undermining the effect.   


(side 2)
1.) The Way You Do the Things You Do (Smokey Robinson - Bobby Rogers) - 3:45
   rating: **** stars

Having heard so many covers of this classic Miracles tune, my expectations were pretty low.  And naturally Porter surprised me , throwing out the original's pop orientation in favor of upping the tune's soul and funk quotas.   Awesome performance and one of the album highlights.

2.) Can't See You When I Want To (Ed Lee - David Porter) - 7:49   rating: **** stars

Co-written by Hayes under the alias Ed Lee,  the '65 original had a raw, slinky, bluesy feel.  The remake retained the slinky and bluesy moves, but added a certain amount of polish and via an extend vocal vamp, extended  the arrangement to almost twice the original song's length.  Regardless of which version you prefer, it was a classic Stax cheatin' song.   Porter sure could wail !!!   Enterprise also elected to release an edited version as a single:





- 1970's 'Can't See You When I Want To' b/w 'One Part Two Part' (Enterprise ENA 9014)








3.) One Part - Two Parts (Dee Ervin) - 3:08   rating: **** stars

The rollicking remake of Dee Ervin's 'One Part - Two Part' was easily one of the album's most Stax-ish arrangements.   Kudos to Stax for releasing it as a single in the UK, though you had to wonder why the label didn't cull it as a US release.






- 1970's 'One Part - Two Parts' b/w 'Can't See You When I Want' (Stax catalog number STAX 155)







4.) I Don't Know Why I Love You   (Stevie Wonder - Paul Riser - Don Hunter - Lula Hardaway) - 2:59  rating: **** stars

I'm usually not a big fan of songs with spoken word vamps, so the opening of his Stevie Wonder cover left me on edge.   Slowing the song down to a dirge also took a little getting use to.  The funny thing is that once you got over the drastic changes, Porter's version was good ...  really good.  Almost unrecognizable, but really good.




Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  ... Into a Real Thing

Company: Enterprise

Catalog: ENS-1012

Year: 1971

Country/State: Memphis, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $40.00


1971's " ... Into a Real Thing" was David Porter's second album for Stax's Enterprise subsidiary.  Co-produced by Porter and writing partner Ronnie Williams, the album offered up a mixed bag.  On the positive side, material like an extended cover of The McCoy's 'Hang On Sloopy', 'Too Real To Live A Lie' and 'Thirty Days' all demonstrated what a great soul voice Porter had.  Listening to these tracks you were left to wonder how Stax singers like William Bell, Eddie Floyd, Sam and Dave and Johnny Taylor scored major successes while Porter's fame was largely relegated to his work as a songwriter.  Porter's songwriter roots were on display given four of the six tunes were originals (all co-written with Ronnie Williams).  Judging by the ballad heavy track listing (four of six songs), Stax was clearly interested in marketing Porter as another entry in the "love man" category - if you had any doubt about it, check out the album's inner sleeve.  Porter clearly had the chops to handle that genre.  Check out the way he re-imagined 'Hang On Sloopy.'  To my ears he was far more interesting on the atypical funkier tunes.  In spite of the haphazard orchestration the raw 'Thirty Days' should have been a single.  Sure 'Grocery Man' was something that would not have been a surprise coming from Rufus Thomas, or  Clarence Carter.    Porter showed he was every but as capable of working in the genre.  Beside the over-abundance of ballads, the album's biggest drawback came in the form of those orchestral arrangements.  Exemplified by 'Hang On Sloppy', the old school ballad 'Ooo-Wee Girl' and 'Thirty Days', time after time the arrangements threatened to overwhelm Porter drawing one's attention away  from the melodies and Porter's vocals.

"... Into a Real Thing" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Hang On Sloopy   (Bert Russell - Wes Farrell) - 11:11   rating: **** stars

I remember picking up the album, looking at the track listing and wondering what in the world was Porter thinking trotting out a cover of The McCoys' 'Hang On Sloopy'?  Seriously, having grown up with The McCoys' garage rock version, I just couldn't imagine what Porter was thinking.  Well, he basically deconstructed the original, tossing aside all the garage rocker aspects and turning this into an extended soul power ballad.  The "goodbye fingers" narrative was just bizarre, but Porter managed to make this his song.  Yeah, clocking in at over ten minutes and including an extended spoken word vamp, it overstayed its welcome a bit, but it was certainly an interesting and unexpected reinterpretation.  An edited version of the song was released as a single throughout Europe:  The Belgian release featured a different "B" side than the rest of Europe.

- 1971's 'Hang On Sloopy' b/w 'Thirty Days Out' (Stax catalog number 2025 073)


- 1971's 'Hang On Sloopy' b/w 'Grocery Mant' (Stax catalog number 2025 064)

2.) Ooo-Wee Girl  (David Porter - Ronnie Williams) - 4:28   rating: *** stars

The ballad 'Ooo-Wee Girl' wasn't any great shakes.  The melody wasn't particularly memorable; the 'Ooo-We Girl' refrain quickly became ponderous and the heavy orchestration - strings, horns and chirping back singers threatened to drown Porter.  IN spite of all that, it made for a classic example of an old school "love man."  You had to wonder how Porter was overlooked as a singer.  


(side 2)
Too Real To Live A Lie  (David Porter - Ronnie Williams) - 6:02  rating: *** stars

The extended opening vamp went on a little too long and when it finally ended 'Too Real To Live A Lie' revealed itself as a bland '50s-styled ballad. Shame since Porter's vocals were sterling on this one..

2.) Grocery Man  (David Porter - Ronnie Williams) - 3:11  rating: **** stars

The down and dirty 'Grocery Man' has always reminded me of the classic soul material Porter and Issac Hayes crafted for their Stax partnership.  My only criticism is the heavy orchestration distracted from the song's funky groove.  Great bass line ...

3.) I Don't Wanna Cry (Chuck Jackson - Luther Dixon)  - 4:18  rating: ** stars

I guess it shows my age, but I have to admit I love the Chuck Jackson original ...  Given it was produced and arranged by former writing partner Issac Hayes, I'm guessing 'I Don't Want To Cry' was an older track.  Hayes' arrangement slowed the tune down, stripping off some of the orchestration and upping the pained "soul man" quotient.  The tune also spotlighted The Precious People - backing singers Telma Hopkins and sisters Joyce and Pam Vincent..

3.) Thirty Days  (David Porter - Ronnie Williams) - 3:30  rating: **** stars

Showcasing Porter's voice at its grittiest, 'Thirty Days' was another strong soul tune that would have been even better had the clumsy orchestration been stripped away.





Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Victim of the Joke! - An Opera

Company: Enterprise

Catalog: ENS-1019

Year: 1971

Country/State: Memphis, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original press with die cut cover; white label promo copy

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 4385

Price: SOLD $100.00

Cost: $66.00


Even if you don't recognize David Porter's name, chanced are that you're familiar with some of the material he's written.  Working as a staff writer for Stax Records, Porter and long time partner Isaac Hayes penned some of the label's biggest hits ...  hell they wrote some of the 1960s' biggest hits.  What's interesting is that while most folks are aware of Hayes' solo career, few people know that Porter also recorded a series of LPs.  


Anyone expecting a standard set of Stax-styled soul is in for a major shock with this one ...  Co-produced with Ronnie Williams, 1971's "Victim of the Joke! - An Opera" was clearly envisioned as a concept piece with the mixture of spoken word segments and songs spinning out a rather vague plotline that had something to do with starting a romance with someone off limits.  While the album may have been groundbreaking for Stax, today it's rather mundane.  Porter's voice is at best professional and his usual gift for crafting memorable hooks is largely absent.  Adding to the problem, to my ears the extended narrative segments and the accompanying sound effects are a major source of irritation.  Whoever played the female love interest was hysterically inept in that they apparently could only speak in hushed, conspiratorial tones (or they were constipated).  Love the fact Stax felt the need to bleep out the nasty words ...  Perhaps the most interesting item here was an unexpected cover of The Beatles 'Help'.  It's one of the few tracks Porter sounded enthused on.

"Victim of the Joke! - An Opera" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) If I Give It Up, I Want It Back (David Porter - Ronnie Williams) - 2;36

2.) When You Have To Sneak (You Have To Sneak) (David Porter - Ronnie Williams) - 3:29

3.) Help (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 3:37

4.) I'm Afraid the Masquerade Is Over - 9:43


(side 2)
1.) Storm In the Summertime (David Porter - Ronnie Williams) - 5:45

2.) Pretty Inside (David Porter - Ronnie Williams) - 3:33

3.) Scene 3 Human (Luther Dixon) - 3:48

4.) Airplane Ticket, Bus Ride, Can I Borrow Your Car (David Porter - Ronnie Williams) -  3:46





Genre: soul

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Sweat and Love

Company: Enterprise

Catalog: ENS-1026

Year: 1972

Country/State: Memphis, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2428

Price: $20.00

Cost: $66.00


Co-produced by Porter and Ronnie Williams, 1973's "Sweat & Love" was Porter's fourth and final release for Stax (well in this case actually the Stax affiliated Enterprise label).  Musically the set wasn't a major departure from his earlier releases.  Once again Porter's voice proved surprisingly good (he easily outclassed Isaac Hayes' growl).  Largely written in collaboration with Hayes, the LP offered up a mixture of taunt ballads ('Didn't Know Love was So Good' and 'Falling Out, Falling In'), slow funk grinders ('Somebody Owns a Piece of My Rock' and 'Funny Money'), and more commercial radio-friendly soul ('(Seems Like) The One You Can't Have All By Yourself').  All told, it made for a great package that should have been a major hit.  Unfortunately, the LP was released just as popular tastes began to shift towards lighter disco material.  Adding to the problem, parent label Stax was rapidly collapsing, ensuring the LP got minimal promotional support.  (Dock it a star for Porter's horrific fashion sense.  C'mon guy what were you thinking wearing that pink silk shirt and hat combination?)


"Sweat & Love" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Didn't Know Love was So Good   (Isaac Hayes - David Porter - Ronnie Williams) - 5:09

2.) Somebody Owns a Piece of My Rock   (David Porter - Ronnie Williams - Joann Bullard) - 4:10

3.) (Seems Like) The One You Can't Have All By Yourself    (Isaac Hayes - David Porter)- 6:10

4.) All the Way   (Kahn - Van Hausen) - 4:34


(side 2)

1.) Funny Money   (David Porter - Ronnie Williams) - 4:20

2.) I Can Live with My Conscience   (David Porter - Ronnie Williams) - 3:50

3.) This Song Has No Title   (David Porter - Ronnie Williams) - 5:10

4.) Long As You're the One Somebody In the World   (David Porter - Ronnie Williams) - 2:40

5.) Falling Out, Falling In   (David Porter - Ronnie Williams) - 5:00