Save the Children [aka Brothers and Sisters in Concert] (1973) - Made originally as a documentary film based on the 1972 PUSH Expo theme. The 123-minute version goes into depth on the theme of black self-determination; contains footage of Reverend Jesse Jackson and Black Expo; shorter version places emphasis on the various artists' performances.
STAN LATHAN...THE DIRECTOR OF SAVE THE CHILDREN
Stan Lathan, who was already a veteran of directing multiple camera variety shows on network television in the early '70s, approached his landmark concert film, Save the Children, with the precision of a military campaign.
"Operation Push, which was a Jesse Jackson organization, was giving a huge exposition in Chicago in 1972 to encourage black-owned businesses," Lathan recalled. "It was always planned to have this gathering of black talent, and myself and a few other people including Quincy Jones and Matt Robbins, got together about six months before and came up with the idea of doing this film to help support the Black Expo. We raised $750,000 from the Ford Foundation as a grant and put it together."
At the time of Save the Children, Lathan was a director on Sesame Street and had done both dance and music specials for PBS, as well as multi-camera musical variety shows. "The big challenge for me was that we were shooting on film," Lathan noted, "and we were in this massive convention center with terrible acoustics. We used eight cameras, all shooting 16mm film, and I devised an elaborate communications setup with each camera. I took a bird's-eye position and directed as if it were a live TV show. The difference, of course, is that I had no video feed, so I tried to keep the coverage varied from camera-to-camera, and keep track of who was shooting what."
Lathan said that despite the technical challenges involved, shooting in the days before video assist, his team had the advantage of shooting for three days straight.
"We shot 28 groups," Lathan explained. "Everybody from Marvin Gaye to Gladys Knight and the Pips, to the Jackson 5, to the Rev. James Cleveland and a 100-boy choir. We spent a lot of time before the event with a chalkboard discussing camera coverage the way you'd talk about defenses for a football game. We knew which groups were going to be moving around a lot — Gladys Knight and the Pips were known for their dancing for example — so the key was to make sure each camera had assignments beforehand. What happens if you don't give assignments in a multiple camera concert shoot is that five cameras will shoot the same guy because he's the most interesting one on the stage at the time."
"Most of the cameramen I used for Save the Children were documentary filmmakers who were comfortable with just roving around and getting the stories beyond the music," he recalled. "I remember going to see Gimme Shelter and recognizing the advantage those filmmakers had because they essentially lived with the Rolling Stones and could come back with very personal stories. If there's anything that would distinguish a musical documentary it's the relationship between the audience and the artist and what's really going on inside the artist's head. With things like MTV, MP3, DVD, etc., we can already deliver musical recordings at a very high level. So, today's documentary filmmaker should bridge the gap between the artist's life and the music. I think you have to do that to stand apart."
MARVIN GAYE...1973 SAVE THE CHILDREN BENEFIT CONCERT
BILL WITHERS...1973 SAVE THE CHILDREN BENEFIT CONCERT
ISAAC HAYES...1973 SAVE THE CHILDREN BENEFIT CONCERT
CURTIS MAYFIELD...1973 SAVE THE CHILDREN BENEFIT CONCERT
REV. JAMES CLEVELAND FEATURING ALBERTINA WALKER...1973 SAVE THE CHILDREN BENEFIT CONCERT
THE TEMPTATIONS...1973 SAVE THE CHILDREN BENEFIT CONCERT
JACKSON 5...1973 SAVE THE CHILDREN BENEFIT CONCERT
The history of the Butlers/Raw Soul is dense, but for all of us music nerds, that's normal. It is not totally clear what year the Butlers actually formed but they released their first single in 1963 on Liberty Records. That single was "She Tried To Kiss Me" and another single followed on Guyden entitled "Lovable Girl." After the Guyden single the Butlers took a break not recording another record until the single "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" was released on the Phila label in 1966. The group also backed Charles Earland and Jean Wells on one Phila single ("I Know She Loves Me").
As you might be noticing, the Butlers were doing a fair amount of recording but not achieving much success. The group's recordings sold regionally but never had the promotion to make an impact on the national scene. After the single with Phila, the Butlers moved to the Fairmount label (part of the Cameo-Parkway family) and released a handful of singles, some being reissued singles of the past. The Butlers were with Fairmount for 1966-67 and then moved to Sassy Records. Sassy released the group's greatest single (in my opinion) "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" b/w "If That's What You Wanted." A copy of that 45 sold for just under $500 last summer on eBay. Even though that isn't that much in the world of record collecting--it's still a hefty sum. The Butlers released another single on Sassy ("She's Gone" b/w "Love Is Good") that appears to be even
harder to come by then the "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" single.
The true history become a bit blurred here as the AMG biography states that the Butlers last record was released on C.R.S. in 1974 (". However, between 1971 and that single, Frankie Beverly formed a group called Raw Soul and released a number of singles. Some of the songs recorded by Beverly during this period are "While I'm Alone," "Open Up Your Heart," (both on the Gregor label) and "Color Blind." "Color Blind" was released by the Eldorado label and rerecorded by Maze. Beverly's big break came when Marvin Gaye asked Raw Soul to back him on a tour. Gaye helped Beverly/Raw Soul get a contract at Capitol. Beverly decided to take the group in a different direction, a name change occurred, and Maze was created.
The above isn't the most complete history of Beverly but hopefully someone will know a way to get in touch with the man or his management because a comprehensive pre-Maze history needs to be done on Frankie Beverly (his real name is Howard, by the way). Below you'll find every Frankie Beverly (pre-Maze) song available to me right now ("Color Blind" will be up soon).
If you have a song that is not included below, shoot it over to funkinsoulman (at) yahoo.com and it will go up in the next Frankie Beverly post (later this week--highlighting Maze). Also, if you have any more information please share your knowledge. The Butlers material has been comp-ed sporadically (usually imports) but the entire Maze catalog has been reissued and is available.
Enjoy. "She Kissed Me" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967)
"I Want To Feel I'm Wanted" (not sure which label or year) "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" (Phila, 1966) "Because Of My Heart" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967)
"Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" (Sassy, 1967)
"If That's What You Wanted" (Sassy, 1967)
Frankie Beverly is one of those cats that has lasting power. He started in the music business doing a tour with doo wop group the Silhouettes and then formed his own group called the Blenders. The Blenders never recorded a single, Beverly wouldn't appear on wax until forming the Butlers a few years later. Along with Beverly, the Butlers included Jack "Sonny" Nicholson, Joe Collins, John Fitch, and Talmadge Conway.
Beverly would later enjoy great success fronting Maze and Conway would become a
well-known penning Double Exposure's
"Ten Percent" and the Intruders' "Memories Are Here To Stay."
While Maze is a phenomenal group, Beverly's work before that group will always stand out as his best (imo).
The Butlers produced tunes that most Northern Soul fans would kill for and Raw Soul gave the funksters something to pursue. If, by chance, you know of a way to get in touch with Frankie Beverly or his management, please drop me an e-mail. It would be absolutely great to do an interview with him about his pre-Maze work. He's still playing out, most recently doing a New Year's Eve show in Atlanta.