‘In The Dark Hours Of The Night . . .’

Just like anyone else who shares the odd hobby of digging around in old record charts and the reference books that catalog them, every now and then I find a record that deserved a better fate. Usually, my judgment runs along the lines of “That should’ve made the Top 40” or even “Why wasn’t that a Top Ten record?”

But on rare occasion, I hear for the first time a record that languished in the bottom of the chart and wonder why it didn’t go to No. 1. That’s a heavy burden to lay on any record, especially one that bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100 for just two weeks, both spent at No. 124. From the first bar to the last, however, that’s what I was thinking this morning as I listened to Candi Staton’s “Never In Public,” which was in its second week among the Billboard bubblers on September 27, 1969, forty-three years ago today.

Maybe it’s the Muscle Shoals thing: Regular readers know that much of the music that came out of Rick Hall’s studio – “Never In Public” was released on Hall’s Fame label – and the Swampers’ Muscle Shoals Sound Studio tends to grab my collar and shake me all around. Maybe it’s my regard for Staton, who rises higher in my personal rankings every time I dig a little deeper into the stellar R&B she recorded from 1969 into the mid-1980s. (As much as I respect her gospel work from that point on, it doesn’t move me nearly as much.)

Why didn’t “Never In Public” do better? Dunno. Maybe it was the lack of a wider audience for deep southern soul/R&B at the time, although it seems to me that radio formats – and Top 40 listeners’ tastes – were about as elastic during the late 1960s as they ever have been. The record got a little more respect on the R&B chart, where it went to No. 22.

Whatever the reason for my admiration for it, and whatever the reason for its lack of success, as soon as “Never In Public” started coming out of my speakers this morning, I knew it was a gem that had been buried deep, and I was glad to have found it.

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3 Responses to “‘In The Dark Hours Of The Night . . .’”

  1. Yah Shure says:

    Ooo, that’s a good ‘un! Definitely flavored with heaping tablespoons of Ree Ree’s “Think.” Maybe Capitol didn’t put enough muscle into promoting it. Or perhaps the title might have been just a tad too off-putting to programmers. Hell, I don’t know.

    Definitely a candidate for the Coulda/Woulda/Shoulda jukebox.

  2. Alex says:

    Yeah, that’s a keeper! And worthwhile if only for the kicking horn parts.

  3. Paco Malo says:

    Great record! Love the vocals, that great Hammond B3 organ — everything!

    Thanks Whiteray.

    Many great R&B records — from FAME to Stax, from Criterion in Miami to Chess in Chicago — go unheard for lack of Top Forty radio exposure.

    Thank God for my cable Music Choice Blues Channel, YouTube, Vevo, and you.

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