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.