Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1968-70)
- G.C. Coleman (aka Gregory Sylvester Coleman) (RIP 2006) --
- Ray Maritano -- vocals, sax
- Quincy Mattison (RIP) -- vocals, lead guitar
- Sonny Peckrol -- vocals, bass
- Richard Spencer -- lead vocals, sax
- Phil Tolotta -- vocals, keyboards
- Hillow Hammet (G.C. Coleman)
- Leroy Taylor & The Four Keys (Richard Spencer)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Color Him Father
Catalog: MD 1010
Country/State: Washington, D.C.
Grade (cover/record): VG+/ VG+
Comments: minor ring wear
Catalog ID: 5011
This short-lived Washington, D.C. based outfit deserves to be recognized, if only for being a rare example of a racially integrated, mid-'60s unit and for having recorded one of soul's forgotten classics - 'Color Him Father'.
top right to left: Richard Spencer - G.C. Colrman
middle: Sonny Peckrol - Quincy Mattison
bottom: Phil Tolotta - Ray Maritano
Drummer G.C. Coleman had been a Motown sessions player and along with guitarist Quincy Mattison, and singer/sax player Richard Spencer worked for awhile as a member of Otis Redding's band. By the late-1960s all three were living and working in Washington, D.C. With the addition of sax player Ray Maritano, bassist Sonny Peckrol and keyboardist Phil Tolotta they started playing local clubs as The Winstons. The group's first break came when Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions spotted them in a club, hiring them as their backing band. The working relationship saw them debut on their own with a 1968 single for Mayfield's Curtom label:
'AIn't Nothing Like a Little Lovin' b/w 'Need a Replacement' (Curtom catalog number CR-8546).
Unfortunately, Curtom quickly dropped them, though the following year the reappeared on the New York-based Metromedia label.
Any song with a title like 'Color Him Father' should be a thoroughly cloying piece of cheese. That said, this Spencer-penned number somehow managed to avoid that fate. Part of the explanation may have to do with the fact both the melody and lyric recalled something out of Curtis Mayfield's catalog. Released as a single the result was a massive R&B and pop hit and a Grammy for Best R&B Song
- 1969's 'Color Him Father' b/w 'Amen Brother' (Metromedia catalog number MMS-117).
As was standard marketing procedure the group was rushed back into the studio to record a supporting album. Produced by Don Carroll, 1969's "Color Him Father" simply served to showcase the fact these guys had talent, but really weren't ready for prime time. With the title track standing as the only original song, the rest of the album was a distinctly mixed bag. Showcasing a weird mixture of popular hits and show tunes, Spencer and company did their best to make it sound cool and happening, but there were simply limits on what you could do with something as MOR-ish as 'I've Gotta Be Me' and 'The Days of Sand and Shovels'. Mind you most of the performances weren't half bad. Spencer had a voice that was simultaneously kind of gruff, but still quite commercial and when the band stuck with soul and numbers like 'The Chokin' Kind', their Sly and the Family Stone cover 'Everyday People' and the funky instrumental 'Amen Brother' (showcasing Coleman's famous 'Amen Break'), they were killer. A little more time; a better set of material and they could have been killer.
Father" track listing:
1.) Color Him Father (Richard Spencer) - 3:06 rating: **** stars
There are clearly worse things in life than being branded a one trick pony ... The album's only original tune and easily the standout performance, the title track was the kind of song that many group's would have killed to be able to call their signature song. Add to that it was a message song that delivered the goods without getting all holier-than-thou.
2.) I've Gotta Be Me (W. Marks) - 2:33 rating: * star
I can't say I really enjoyed the Sinatra version and this take adds nothing to improve the tune ... MOR lounge act.
3.) The Chokin' Kind (H. Howard) - 2:25 rating: *** stars
Their cover wasn't going to make you forget Joe Simon's version, but it was certainly a competent take on the soul classic.
4.) The Greatest Love (Allen Toussaint) - 3:47 rating: *** stars
Pleasant, but another cover that didn't come close to the original, or many of the subsequent takes (check out the Judy Clay, or ZZ Hill versions).
5.) A Handful of Friends (Don Carroll) - 3:05 rating: *** stars
Spencer's dry, raspy voice was nicely spotlighted on this Don Carroll tune. The track would have been even better had Carroll cut back on some of the orchestration.
6.) Everyday People (Sly Stewart) - 2:08 rating: *** stars
wouldn't have expected The Winstons to turn in a very good version of this
Sly Stone classic. So much for expectation. The arrangement was
almost exactly like the original, down to the female backing singers, but
they handled the performance with class. Nice ...
The sax opening sounded like something borrowed from a Classics IV tune and from their this went into MOR territory. Pass, pass, pass ...
2.) Birds of a Feather (Joe South) - 2:44 rating: *** stars
Darn if this one didn't sound a lot like the Joe South original.
3.) Only the Strong Survive (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff - Jerry Butler) - 3:00 rating: *** stars
I'm kind of at a loss why you'd cover a tune like this Jerry Butler hit and not bother trying to put your personalized stamp on it. The song's a classic. but my suggestion would be to pick up the Butler original.
4.) Traces (Buddy Buie - J.R. Cobb - E. Gordy) - 2:35 rating: ** stars
It's funny that I mentioned The Classics IV earlier since this was a cover of one of their mid-'60s hits. Blue-eyed soul from a soul act ...
5.) Amen, Brother (instrumental) (arranged by the Winstons) - 2:35 rating: **** stars
With the exception of the title track, this instrumental stands as their greatest claim to fame - Gregory Sylvester Coleman's famous "Amen Break" has been sampled hundreds of times over the years (including N.W.A.'s classic 'Straight Outta Compton') - the famous break kicks in at the 1:26 mark. The combination of Quincy Mattison's guitar licksand Phil Tolotta's organ fills gave the song a very Booker T. and the M.G.'s vibe ... Naturally Coleman never received a dime from the song, reportedly dying homeless in April, 2006.
In spite of the hit title track the parent album did little commercially and Metromedia subsequently dropped the band. A couple of non-LP singles and they were history by 1970.
- 1970's 'Love of the Common People' b/w 'Wheel of Fortune' (Metromedia catalog number MMS-142)
- 1970's 'Birds of a Feather' b/w 'The Greatest Love' (Metromedia catalog number MMS-151
Credited to 'Richard Spencer and the Winstons:
- 1970's 'Say Goodbye to Daddy' b/w 'Mama's Song' (Metromedia catalog MMS-166)
Coleman went on to record with the rock band Hillow Hammet, The Georgia Power Band and numerous other outfits. He died in September 2006.
A couple of years ago I got a call from Spencer who was kind enough to tell
me that after his stint with the group he went back to school, eventually working for Washington's Metropolitan Transit Authority for some 30 years. After retiring he moved to North Carolina and taught high school social studies and published a novel in 2003: The Molasses Tree: A Southern Love Story (Lulu Press ISBN: 978-1-4116-0192-5)
Tolotta lives in Southern Florida and apparently still plays bass locally.
A gentleman by the name of Joe Phillips now owns The Winstons trademark. In 1996 he reactivated the group. While there are no original members involved in the band, the Joe Philips a version of The Winstons (The Winstons Orchestra) continues to record and tour. Here's a link to their website:
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