Time Ole Story
Gary "U.S." Bonds Time Ole Story 45 (Legrand, 1961)
My first exposure to Gary "U.S." Bonds was when I in my early teens. Bruce Springstein had covered Quarter to Three and then produced Out of Work, pushing Bonds from the State Fair circuit to the limelight. The Northern Soul craze in the UK meant that "has beens" such as Bonds could hop across the pond and make some real money. His name started appearing in Sounds, NME, and even Creem. I was at the age where I would buy, read AND believe music rag hype, at least believe it enough to go down to the record shop and buy the brand new Gary "U.S." Bond release, which in the late Seventies meant taking a five dollar bill and setting flame to it.
Perhaps had I grabbed a Best of... or Greatest Hits collection I would have dug Bonds. Perhaps not. I am not going to lie to you and write that at 13 years old my musical palette was seasoned enough to appreciate Bonds or even get what the hell he was doing. Nah, at 13 my ears were tuned to Black Sabbath and in search of one thing: Something more extreme than Sabbath. I had no older brother or even a friend's older brother to lay a copy of Fun House or Maggot Brain on me. Hell, I never saw a god damn copy of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida in anyone's record collection until one found its way into mine years later. And besides, Bonds is Black and in my White working/middle class neighborhood the only Black men whose music you listened to was Jimi Hendrix and Phil Lynott. So I had to wait til I was in my twenties and freed of prejudice-formed ignorant notions about what was rock and roll and what was not for me to turn on to early R&B.
As I am sure I've blabbed before, in my mid-twenties I started actively...nay...agressively buying R&B 45s. I'd hit thrift stores, salvage yards, garage sales, wherever 45s might be. Of course, I would come across Gary "U.S." Bonds records. How could I not: In two years the guy had seven Top 40 hits. Quarter to Three hit number one in the White charts, which meant it sold a hell of a lot of copies. So the records are out there.
Quarter to Three. It was the hit. It is an okay song but it is not why we are here. Once again, we are gathered to flip the son of a bitch over and play Time Ole Story.
Time Ole Story is one of my favorite songs. It has almost everything I require and more. First off the little strummed guitar intro is simple and has a nice layer of reverb on it. The rhythm track eases into a very cool (and I mean cool like a mean lean, impenetrable black sunglasses, and a flick knife) funky jungle shamble. The main vocal line comes in and the melody is a straight steal of Summertime, one of my top five favorite songs. The vocal is answered by a subdued sax. The male backing vocals are zombie-like and the female backing is a Yma Sumac meets Town Without Pity haunted wail. The lyrics are about a Bad Woman who scorned Bonds and to show so how bad she is, he pulls out the Bible and proceeds to use Eve and the Queen of Sheba as examples of how his woman is so damn wretched. SOLD!
This is an extremely easy record to find. I would advise picking it up when you see it.