JOHN ELLISON is a bona-fide soul survivor. Born in Rochester NY in 1943, he’s best remembered as the distinctive voice in THE SOUL BROTHERS SIX. The band debuted in 1965 on Fine Records with ‘Stop Hurting Me’ but when a friend introduced them to JERRY WEXLER, they were quickly signed to Atlantic where they enjoyed a minor hit with the ELLISON-penned ‘She’s Some Kind Of Wonderful’. Four more Atlantic singles followed but sadly they all flopped and WEXLER, albeit reluctantly, let them go.
With a new group of “soul brothers” around him, JOHN signed to Phil-LA of Soul in 1972 and they cut three singles… again with little success. ELLISON, though, did enjoy success with his writing. ‘Wonderful’ was released again –first by THE FANTASTIC JOHNNY C an then (more successfully) by GRAND FUNK RAILROAD. The royalties from these recordings encouraged JOHN to write more songs which were recorded by groups working the Carolinas beach circuit .
As is often the way, ELLISON is revered by the underground soul scene in the UK and Europe. ‘She’s Some Kind Of Wonderful’ has always been a favourite on the soul scene, though the beaty flip – ‘I’ll Be Loving You’ is even more popular.
ELLISON followers will be delighted to know that the man’s still active and he’s just released a double CD. The set’s called ‘Up From Funk ‘ and it features remixes and new recordings of all his best known songs including, of course, ‘She’s Some Kind Of Wonderful’ and ‘I’ll Be Loving You’ .
Sadly sleeve notes are sketchy and it’s not too clear where and when the different tracks were recorded -some are labelled ‘Then’, some ‘Now’ while some are labelled ‘re-recorded’ and others ‘Remix’. Confusing? Yes… but throughout JOHN ELLISON is in fine form. Rustic and tough, this is proper old fashioned soul music of this sort that some believe is no longer being made. What it proves too is that JOHN ELLISON is a survivor – a soul survivor.
JOHN ELLISON’S ‘UP FROM FUNK’ is out now on Jamie/Guyden records… find our more @ www.jamguy.com