Introducing the Whatnauts is the kind of hard-to-find album that makes you pee in your pants when you uncover a copy dusting away at some Goodwill, yard sale, or flea market. Scavenging for their recordings is what you had to do until the late ‘90s when no fewer than three CDs of the Whatnauts’ music finally hit the streets. Obscure beyond reason, the Whatnauts were comprised of Garnett Jones, Billy Herndon, Gerald “Chunky” Pinckney, and a guy identified only as Ray, who disappeared after this album. They were masterful purveyors of heartache-soul.

But the LP’s main theme is pain, pain and more pain. Garnett wails like he’s being tortured on “What’s Left To Give (After Giving It All)”; you can’t help but empathize with him as he sob-sings Wesaline Kerr’s heartbreaking lyrics. As pitifully poignant is the stark, wistful “I Just Can’t Lose Your Love.” And “She’s Gone to Another” is the mother of pain; the 2:11 tear-jerker floats precariously on a gloomy rhythm bed topped by morose harmonies and a wretched lead vocal—it’s probably so short because Garnett broke down in the studio (if he didn’t, he sure sounds like he did). Songs like this make Introducing the Whatnauts a must hear for falsetto lovers and smooth harmony aficionados.

Since they didn’t write their own songs, studio skills and a hot live act were essential in getting others to craft material for them. Michael Watson (guitar), Curtis McTeer (bass) and Donald McCoy (drums) buoyed a sizzling Whatnauts’ band that was more advanced than All Platinum’s original house band. George Kerr used them in the studio on the Whatnauts’ and his own recordings (remember “3 Minutes 2 Hey Girl”); which is why the Whatnauts’ recordings are more polished than early tracks of their label mates, the Moments.

Of their three albums (and 10 singles) on Stang Records from 1970 to 1974, Introducing the Whatnauts is the creamiest. All three albums plus six bonus tracks, two versions of their number 25 R&B hit with the Moments, “Girls” (English and French), and a 1982 single “Help Is On the Way” that sold 90,000 copies are now available on The Definitive Whatnauts Collection on Deep Beats Records. For smaller doses of their unique heartfelt soul check out either of their two Collectables Records’ CDs: Message From a Blackman or I’ll Erase Your Pain.

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Comment by Edie Antoinette on January 17, 2008 at 3:11pm
Well, I tried to put a song up but it insists on starting auto-play so I'll put it up in the forum for you...
Comment by Shelley "SoleMann" King on January 17, 2008 at 2:43pm
Thank you Mama Edie....You know me, i wanna know what happened to him.....LOL
Comment by Edie Antoinette on January 17, 2008 at 2:32pm

Po Ray..lost in obscurity...The blog and new diggs are off the chain!!!
Comment by Shelley "SoleMann" King on January 17, 2008 at 11:22am
What the hell happened to Ray....HMMMMM/ROFLMBO

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  1. play Norman Brown — Night Drive
  2. play Norman Brown — Feeling
  3. play Norman Brown — Still
  4. play Miles Davis — miles 1
  5. play miles 2
  6. play miles 3
  7. play miles 4
  8. play miles 5
  9. play Marvin Gaye — I Met A Little Girl
  10. play Santana — 01 Singing Winds, Crying Beasts
  11. play Santana — 02 Black Magic Woman-Gypsy Queen
  12. play Mongo — 02. Afro Blue

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) 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.
:: Funkinsoulman ::

Power...Through Simplicity ♪♫♪



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