My guess is that not too many soul folk will be familiar with the work and/or name of 60s Florida band, CLASSICS IV but I’m confident that they’ll know at least two of their songs… the wonderful ‘Spooky’ and the equally atmospheric ‘Stormy’. Both have almost become soul standards. The former has been covered by countless soul acts – most notably Dusty Springfield while the latter, when recorded by the Supremes, became an instant Motown favourite while Billy Eckstine’s Isaac Hayes produced, Stax version is well worth searching out.
To learn more about the Classics IV may we point you to a great new double CD pack that offers the group’s four key albums… ‘Spooky’, ‘Mamas And Papas /Soul Train’, ‘ Traces’ and ‘Song’. The credits to these long players give you a huge clue to the group’s evolution. You see when the foursome formed in 1965 their lead singer was big voiced Dennis Yoist. He was also the drummer and apparently he played and sang whilst standing up! The group worked in and around Florida playing mainly covers but after a dalliance with Capitol Records they signed to Imperial/Liberty where they scored with the wonderful ‘Spooky’. The parent album was moderately successful and for the follow up LP Classics IV suddenly became five bringing in drummer Kim Venables to allow Yoist to work out front.
The billing for the group’s third album was “Classics IV featuring Dennis Yoist” while for album four they were “Dennis Yoist and the Classics IV”. The name changing mirrored an evolution in the band’s sound and repertoire. Their first LP was a mix of covers and originals with the Classics VI veering between their take on blue-eyed soul and Merseybeat whilst their latter material was mainly original and more complex… whimsical even.
Amongst the highlights of the collection are a suitably lugubrious version of ‘By The Time I Get To Phoenix’, and odd take on ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ , the sweet ballad ‘Pick Up The Pieces’ and, of course, ‘Spooky’ and ‘Stormy’.
Concise and informative sleeve notes from SJF colleague Charles Waring add to the value of this 44 tracker which hopefully will recreate an interest in a long neglected ban. The collection is out now on BGO Records.