Latest 7” release from SOUL JUNCTION RECORDS features soul vocal group, THE PETERSONS. Hailing from Georgia, they were a trio – lead vocalist and drummer Kenneth Peterson, keyboard player Salem Chatman and vocalist/bassist Johnny Members. They were active in the early 70s and we’re told that after a 1973 gig in Philadelphia, they were attracted by a music biz ad from Omega Sound Productions who were looking for new acts to work with.
Anoraks might know that Omega Sound were a company run by Frank Fioravanti. Frank hustled by day – selling Encyclopaedia Britannicas but in his down time he harboured ambitions to break into the music biz as a song writer and contractor for musicians in the Philadelphia Orchestra who were always looking for extra work.
Frank and the Petersons hooked up and the band were soon in the famed studios of Frank Virtue where they cut two songs – ‘What’s It Gonna Be’ and ‘Just What I’ve Been Looking For’ which was duly released on 45 on the Mel Omega label.
Sadly, it made little impact so the disillusioned threesome retuned back down south, changing their name to Toll Darkness and working local bars and juke joints. That seemed to be that, till that old familiar story kicked in! Yes, in the early noughties a couple of copies of the disc appeared in the UK courtesy of Soul Bowl’s John Anderson. The 45 was championed by DJ Steve Guarnori who flipped it to give the original B side ‘Just What I’ve Been Looking For’ maximum exposure. Both Anderson and Guarnori, however, thought the band name was Toll Darkness – the 45s had a sticker with that name on it. A little research eventually revealed that, yes, the actual credit was “ The Petersons”. It seems that leader Ken Peterson had stuck the “Toll Darkness” name on the 45s he’d salvaged from Mel Omega to flog at the Toll Darkness shows – the name change on the label was needed to avoid confusion!
Of course, that doesn’t really matter. What matters is the music and here, as Soul Junction reissue ‘What’s It Gonna Be’ and ‘Just What I’ve Been Looking For’, you’ll discover two quality, but very different 70s soul sides. Like Steve Guarnori, the Soul Junction team have chosen ‘Just What I’ve Been Looking For’ as their A side. This is a lovely tight, mid-tempo chugger with a sweet melody and assuaging harmonics – perfect for the more sedate/sophisticated soul dancers. The original A side ‘What’s It Gonna Be’ is a different animal! It’s frantic with a pounding bass line, urgent brass stabs and an impassioned vocal. Collectors might recognize the actual backing track . Typical of Frank Virtue, it’s been used on cuts by people like Fred Mark, Liza Mae, Michael Christian and Cody Michaels.
As a footnote, you might want to know that Frank Fioravanti went on to set up the Sound Gems label while, of course, Omega Sound’s most notable achievement is William DeVaughn’s 1974 hit “Be Thankful For What You Got”.
In the meantime, the Petersons 45 will be released on April 24th . Learn more @ https://souljunctionrecords.co.uk/SJ550.html