Sunday, April 20, 2008

Cliff Nobles & Co. - The Horse

Nobles grew up in Mobile, Alabama, and began singing in high school as a member of a local group, The Delroys. He moved to Philadelphia and recorded three singles for Atlantic Records, none of which charted. While living in a commune in Norristown, Pennsylvania, he formed a group, Cliff Nobles & Co., with bassist Benny Williams, guitarist Bobby Tucker, and drummer Tommy Soul. They recorded demos and, with the help of songwriter/record producer Jesse James, landed a recording contract with the Jamie/Guyden Records subsidiary label, Phil-L.a. of Soul.

Unfortunately, the band's first release bombed but their second single, "Love Is All Right" b/w "The Horse" made the public sit-up and take notice. The platter featured a group of session players that would later go on to develop into MFSB. The flip side, "The Horse", was simply an instrumental version of the A-side, and lead singer Nobles didn't actually appear on the track at all. Nevertheless, it caught fire at radio stations and became a hit, peaking at #2 for three weeks on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1968, as well as #2 on the Black Singles chart. It was held out of the #1 spot by Hugh Masekela's "Grazin' in the Grass", on the week of 29 July 1968 - resulting in the extremely rare occurrence of instrumentals occupying both the #1 and #2 slots of the pop charts in the same week. With the song being a hit, Cliff had developed a dance, and traveled around the country making TV appearances on various shows demonstrating how to do the horse.

Later that year, Cliff's label issued an album entitled The Horse that consisted of mostly instrumentals and dance tunes like "The Mule," "The Camel," and "Judge Baby I'm Back."

Like the title track, there were quite a few other songs on the LP that were actually just instrumental versions of hits by other Jamie/Guyden acts such as The Fantastic Johnny C's "Boogaloo Down Broadway", Barbara Mason's "Yes, I'm Ready", and Brenda & The Tabulations' 1967 smash, "Dry Your Eyes."

[Sidebar: If you listen closely to Cliff's version of "Dry Your Eyes", you can hear Brenda Payton's lead vocals bleeding through.]

One year later, Cliff left the Phil-L.a. of Soul label and signed with Moon Shot Records to release his follow-up album, Pony the Horse.

In 1973, Nobles signed to Roulette Records and recorded his sole single for the label, "Feeling of Loneliness" b/w "We Got Our Thing Together". The track peaked at #42 on the R&B charts in June of that year.

Although Jamie/Guyden Records is still active, they haven't gotten around to reissuing The Horse on CD. The good news is you can still find a copy of the original LP here or here.

Featured cut: "The Horse"


the rapper said...

Looks really interesting, thanks for posting!

Anonymous said...

wahhhhhhh big up big thnx for this

Anonymous said...

Thanks A lot your sharing Sir! ^^

vitoko said...


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info.. Has anyone besides me noticed "HORSE" by Cliff Nobles & Co. & "25 or 6 to 4" by Chicago are the same sound...

Anonymous said...

Woo! this was my daddy's song!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this

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