‘Good Times Bad Times’ is the A side of the latest release from the SOUL DIRECTION subsidiary label, ORIGINS. You may know that the Origins imprint’s mission statement is to focus on rare and obscure soul releases and  bring them to a wider audience  while, through proper licensing channels,  giving back to the writers and artists what they deserve. This new Origins releases fits those criteria perfectly. ‘Good Times Bad Times’ is very, very rare and the artists, THE VANGUARDS are a relatively obscure outfit.

The soul sleuths at Soul Direction have discovered that the Vanguards consisted of Paul Irvin, James Davis, Dickey Pierson, Von Wheeler, Elaine Livingston & Wilbur Winston. They were active in the 70s and were signed to Lamp Records.

Brought up in Indianapolis, Davis was the band’s main man who before joining the US military worked with different line ups of the Elgins and the Esquires. After demob, he formed the Vanguards, naming them after the US “Vanguard Rocket Ship” project. Teaming up with Herb Miller of Lamp Records, the group (with Von Wheeler on lead) recorded a lovely ballad ‘Somebody Please’. It was a local hit and after a deal with Atlantic it managed to hit #49 on the national R&B chart. The song has long been a favourite on the Lowrider scene and you can catch it on one of Ace/Kent’s lovely ‘Lowrider Soul’ compilations.

The Vanguards continued to record but never achieved  the same level of success. Amongst their rarest outings is the lovely, pacey, classic 70s harmony sound of ‘Good Times Bad Times’ which deservedly takes pride of place on this Soul Direction/Origins 7”. The B side is another in-demand rarity – an edgy ‘Man Without Knowledge’. Like the A side this one features classic 70s harmonies with various lead voices betraying Davis’ respect for groups like the Dells and the Temptations.

Realising that success was elusive, James Davis quit the music biz to train for the Christian ministry. He was formally ordained in 1981 and now devotes himself to the service of his church but we’re assured that he’s now delighted to have this chapter of his back story brought back to life!

The Vanguards ‘Good Times Bad Times’ / ‘Man Without Knowledge’ – 7” single released via Soul Direction Origins March 25th. Find out more @