QUESTION FIVE - THE TRUTHS INC.
Over the last couple of years, Lancaster has gotten the place up and running again and great new records by folks like The WaCo Ramblers and Wiley & The Checkmates have restored Playground's reputation as a cutting edge facility. In addition to all of that, Jim has also been sifting through hours and hours of tape that Duncan left behind (much of it in crumbling water damaged boxes) and finding some absolutely incredible stuff. Last year's fantastic Soul Resurrection Volume One was the first installment of the results of all that hard work, and one of my favorite CDs in recent memory.
Well, the digging continues, and the Chief has been kind enough to let us all in on it:
Lancaster said he came across a couple of boxes labeled 'The Dudes', and put off listening to them as he figured they were a 'white group' (surfer types, no doubt). On further inspection, though, he found some references on the boxes to 'The Truths Inc.', which may or may not be the name of the band but, at this point, it's the one Jim's decided to go with. If you look at the photo of the tape box label above, it appears to be an already sequenced (Quad!) mix of 'The Dudes (Side One)'... do you think it's possible that 'The Dudes' was going to be the name of the album? Hmmm...
Here's a cut from side one:
Beautiful stuff, it puts me in mind of The Masqueraders in a 1973 sort of way. I'll let Jim take up the story:
"Gabby Bruce (ex-local DJ and Playground Participant) claims to have produced the records, Which I do believe he was sitting in the chair. The Candymen, including David Adkins, were on the road with BJ Thomas and could only come down on Sundays... So David and John Rainey Adkins were playing guitars and keys. David was probably playing the drums. Bobby Sexton played flute and sax... Not sure who the horns were. The group was actually brought into Playground as a result of Phyliss Hasty who was married to Jimmy Louis. Jimmy was a country Playground artist who had a couple of records on the Plantation label. Phyliss was teaching elementary school with Venetia Jones. Venetia had a group that later recorded here called 'Crescendo' haven't gotten to their tapes yet... BUT she was married to Paul Jones of Montgomery. Paul was the leader of the Truths Inc. Paul Jones is the only name anyone can come up with for The Truths Inc. members."
Up in the right hand corner of this 'Track Sheet' it reads "TRUTH" (JOHN, PAUL JONES, & ARCHIE), so there's at least two more members of the group... here's an even better cut from Side Two (the multi-track master of which was found unexpectedly on another reel of tape entirely!):
This one is just money, man! A 'message song', it could hang with some of the best from that era like Hercules, or Freddie's Dead, or the Masqueraders' Love, Peace & Understanding. So why wasn't it a hit? Check this out:
"Following the completion of the tracks, Finley took the stuff to Neil Bogart of Buddha Records. Buddha loved the material and was scheduled to sign them based on what happened with their newly signed artists in which they already had a substantial investment and a release was scheduled. As it turned out the release was 'Midnight Train to Georgia' by Gladys Knight and the Pips... and the rest is history... and the Dudes disappeared."
Bogart (pictured here with the 1910 Fruitgum Company), was the man behind the 'bubblegum' sound at Buddah (which was apparently purposely mis-spelled) Records. He had come up through the ranks at MGM and Cameo-Parkway, and found himself at the right place at the right time. A true legend of the music business, he was involved with an incredible number of hit records at the label on everyone from Sha Na Na and The Brooklyn Bridge to Melanie and The Edwin Hawkins Singers. In addition to their own soul records (like the Five Stairsteps 'Ooh Child'), Buddah also became the distributor for Sussex (with hits by Bill Withers and Dennis Coffey), Holland-Dozier-Holland's Hot Wax and Invictus labels (think Flaming Ember, Laura Lee, and The Chairmen of the Board), as well as Curtis Mayfield's Curtom imprint, which broke out in a big way with the aforementioned Freddie's Dead and Superfly in the early seventies.
According to both Wikipedia and the incredibly in-depth article on Both Sides Now, Bogart's leaving the label coincided with Buddah's signing of Gladys Knight, which may be why the Truth/Dudes masters never saw the light of day. Bogart's partner, Art Kass, was the prime mover behind the Knight deal, and he probably didn't want anything to do with a group he viewed as Bogart's. When Bogart started up his own Casablanca label later that year, he remained a major player in the industry with Disco superstars like Donna Summer and Rock bad boys like Kiss making him millions. I'm sure he forgot all about those tapes ol' Finley Duncan had brought him...
Anyway, we're looking here for any information we can find about whatever became of these Dudes who sang The Truth. Jim Lancaster has "done checks on Venetia Jones in the Montgomery county school system to no avail..."