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Soul Cop - Too Many Nites

Soul Cop - Too Many Nites

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Genre: soul
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title:  To Many Nites
Company: Norfolk International
Catalog: NIS 317
Year: 1976
Country/State: Norfolk, Virginia
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: --
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 327
Price: $50.00

Best time to play: Seldom.

I have to admit I don't know a great deal about Oliver Christian (aka The Soul Cop) other than his musical mentor was the late Frank Guida. I can't even tell you where The Soul Cop nameplate came from ... was Christian a policeman at one time ? Somebody out there knows.

Produced by Guida,1976's "Too Many Nites" was recorded in Norfolk and released by Guida's Norfolk International label (they somehow managed to mis-spell the company name on the back cover). From a technical perspective the album was a perfect reflection of Guida's highly compressed sound. Hard to adequately describe, but the record literally sounded like the hyperactive grooves were going to explode. With Guida credited with writing, or co-writing all eleven songs, musically the album was kind of a stylistic hodgepodge including love man ballads ('Too Many Nites'), blues (I'll Keep Coming Back for More''), dance numbers ('One Million Tears'), and a couple of goofy, borderline comedy numbers ('Go Way Christina'). Judging by the '70s instrumentation, material like the title track, and 'Romeo and Juliet' seem to have been newly recorded numbers. In contrast 'Dance To the Music' and the pseudo-commercial ad 'Frankies Got It' had a wonderful '60s sound. As for Christian, he wasn't the most distinctive singer you've ever heard. His penchant for lurching into upper registers didn't do him any favors since those performances frequently turned sharp and brittle. His stabs at love man ballads were simply painful. That said, given quality material the man could sing - witness the wonderful '60s styled Motown number 'Dance To the Music''. Unfortunately, as a non-writer Christian was completely at the mercy of Guida and company which meant a great deal of this set was pedestrian, or worse. By the way, the Kojack-styled cover art (Christian holding a lollipop and looking irritated), was hysterical.

"To Many Nites" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Too Many Nites (Frank Guida - Lenis Guess) - 3:18
The synthesizer washes gave this mid-tempo ballad a distinctively cheesy '70s feel which was only underscored by Oliver's relatively weak voice ... Yeah, he clearly had dreams of being one of those Luther Vandross-styled crooners, but just didn't have the chops to pull if off on this one... On the other hand, the song had more than its share of lounge act drama. The song was also tapped as the album's second single. rating: *** stars
2.) Dance To the Music (Frank Guida - Lenis Guess) - 3:21
In contrast to the debut, 'Dance To the Music' (not the Sly Stone song), reflected a distinctive mid-'60s Motown groove, serving to underscore Christian's true strengths. Built on a pounding lets-dance-and-have-fun lyric, this one was fun from star to finish, even if the female backing singer threatened to overwhelm Christian. rating: **** stars
3.) Romeo and Juliet (Frank Guida) - 2:07
Wow, if you want to hear a weird song, then check out 'Romeo and Juliet'. Attempting to bolt the bard's words to a cheesy '70s melody was hysterical inept. Forcing Christian to sing in an uncomfortable falsetto certainly didn't help. rating: *** stars
4.) If You Wanna Be Happy (Frank Guida - C.Guida - Joseph Royster) - 2:24
Maybe I'm being cynical here, but I'm assuming the decision to cover 'If You Wanna Be Happy' was strictly based on an attempt to generate revenue for songwriter/producer Guida. Complete with Caribbean lilt and party sounds, musically Christian's version wasn't much different than Jimmy Soul's version. rating: ** stars
5.) Frankies Got It (Frank Guida - Peele) - 2:43
'Frankies Got It' set a stunning standard in terms of product placement - in this case the song was inspired by and served as advertisement for Guida's Norfolk record store - Frankies Got It. The driving psychedelic melody and freak-out lyrics were simply fantastic. rating: **** stars

(side 2)
1.) Go Way Christina (Frank Guida - Joseph Royster) - 2:54
Remember The Jimmy Castor Bunch and songs like 'Troglodyte' and 'The Bertha Butt Boogie' ? Well, 'Go Way Christina' had a similar goofy theme and structure. Built on a light Caribbean rhythm, the song itself sounded like a drunken studio chant with Christian and a dozen friends singing/shouting the title over and over. rating: ** stars
2.) Me and My Lay-Dee (Frank Guida - Lenis Guess) - 3:25
'Me and My Lady' found Christian taking another stab at love ballads. Bad move since this bluesy number served to underscore the worst attributes of his voice as well as Guida's songwriting. Christian again sounded painfully out of place trying to fight his way through the tune in an uncomfortable falsetto and the song lacked a single original note, or thought. rating: *** stars
3.) I'll Keep Coming Back for More (Lenis Guess - Williams) - 2:58
With the exception of some ill advised synthesizers ,'I'll Keep Coming Back for More' was a likable '60s flavored blues number. In spite of the title, the lyric sure sounds like Christian was singing "I keep coming back for more ..." With a slightly revamped title (I Keep Coming Back for More'), the track was also tapped as a single. rating: *** stars
4.) One Million Tears (Frank Guida - Royster) - 2:54
Always loved the "burp bass" that kicked 'One Million Tears' along ... And the song was actually pretty good with a stomping melody and a nice Christian performance. This was probably the one track where his fragile falsetto wasn't a major distraction, though you couldn't say the same thing about the crying sound effects. rating: *** stars
5.) Lovers Moon (Frank Guida - Matthews) - 2:41
Geez, 'Lovers Moon' was a textbook example of how to write a lounge act song. This was literally something you'd expect to hear at a bar in a Holiday Inn. So bad you actually found yourself humming along, but ultimately it was bad in a bad way. rating: ** stars
6.) Just Ask Me (Frank Guida - Lenis Guess) - 2:29
Ah, Christian back to his love man roots; albeit this time with some punchy backing horns and lots of percussion. Hum ... now that I hear it again it reminds me a bit of a sub par Curtis Mayfield number. rating: *** stars

As mentioned, the album spun off a paid of singles in the form of:

- 1976's 'I Keep Coming Back' b/w 'Tribute To Girls' (Norfolk International catalog 10,001)
- 1976's 'Too Many Nites' b/w 'If You Wanna Be Happy' (Norfolk International catalog 10,003)

Interestingly, the non-LP flip side 'Tribute To Girls' (which Christian co-wrote with Guida), is the track that seems to capture the most attention among collectors. Easy to see why since it's the best ballad Christian ever recorded. Should have been tapped as the 'A' side ...

Is it a great album? Nah. Not by a long shot. Is it worth looking for ? Marginally. Especially if you're interested in Virginia soul.
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