Saturday Single No. 248

Odd and interesting – and occasionally listenable – things surface from time to time when I dip into the box of 45s that sits in one of the marginal spaces of the study. Sometime last year, I spent most of a day ripping records from that box and filing the results away in cyberlimbo, as most of them were unlisted in the references I had at the time.

I realized this week, though, that the additions to my reference library I featured in a post last winter might pull some of those records from the utterly obscure portion of my files to the portion reserved for records that ended up somewhere between No. 41 and the Bubbling Under section of the weekly Billboard Hot 100. And as I dipped into those cyber files this morning, I found one of those records.

Alvin Cash was, Joel Whitburn informs us in Top Pop Singles, a soul/funk singer and dancer from St. Louis. He formed a group there with three of his brothers called Alvin Cash and the Crawlers, and the four of them made their way to Chicago in the mid-1960s. There, says Wikipedia, they were noticed by R&B singer and producer Andre Williams, who encouraged Cash to perform and record a rewrite of his 1957 hit “Bacon Fat” as an instrumental called “Twine Time.”

The record, released on the Mar-V-Lus label in early 1965, went to No. 14 (No. 3 on the R&B chart), and was credited to Alvin Cash & The Crawlers. But Cash’s three brothers – who’d been the Crawlers when they came from St. Louis – did not perform on the record. They were replaced as a backing band by a group from Louisville, Kentucky, called the Nightlighters, says Whitburn. That same Louisville group called itself the Crawlers for Cash’s next record, a dance record called “The Barracuda,” released early in the spring of 1965.

That second record didn’t do quite as well on the charts (No. 59, No. 29 R&B), but Cash kept putting out records with his new group, which – after “The Barracuda” – changed its name to the Registers. “Un-Wind The Twine” bubbled under the pop chart during the summer of 1965, and in the summer of 1966, “The Philly Freeze” (which I wrote about briefly nearly a year ago) went to No. 49 on the pop chart and to No. 12 on the RB chart.

But “Un-Wind The Twine,” “The Philly Freeze” and two other charting singles come later in Alvin Cash’s story than the record that interest us this morning. The Alvin Cash record I pulled from the mystery box sometime last year was “The Barracuda,” released as Mar-V-Lus 6005. (I’m not sure why I didn’t rip the B side, “Do It One More Time [The Twine],” and as I can’t lay my hands on the record this morning, all I can guess is that the flipside was in bad shape; sometime this week, I’ll dig deeper into that disorganized box of singles and find the record again.)

And with that disorganized and rambling (and – one hopes –  informative) introduction, here’s “The Barracuda” by Alvin Cash & The Crawlers, today’s Saturday Single.

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