Friday, October 24, 2008

Lenis Guess "Just Ask Me" (S.P.Q.R.)

Hot on the heels of the 1966 garage punk classic "Do You Have To Ask" by the Swinging Machine, Frank Guida released yet another two sided monster. "Working For My Baby" was an even bigger regional hit for the label, and would become the record that really launched the long career of Lenis Guess. The song was big enough to merit a re-release with a more uptempo b-side version on Guida's Legrand label. In fact, "Working For My Baby" possessed enough staying power that it was subsequently covered by Gary U.S. Bonds (with the exact same backing track, again on Legrand), as well as blue eyed soul rockers King Edward & His BD's (Roga). Then Lenis came back a couple years later to make another run at it on the New Faces '68 label.
Here we spotlight the flip side of the original S.P.Q.R. release. "Just Ask Me" has been getting attention overseas in Northern Soul circles for quite some time, and with good reason. Inspired by The Four Tops' "I Can't Help Myself", Guess enlisted veteran Tidewater band Charlie McClendon and The Magnificents to lay down the pounding back beat, accentuated to devastating effect by Frank Guida's trademark bottom heavy production, the legendarily huge "Norfolk Sound". Staccato horn lines build on the intensity. Lenis's excellent lead is supported beautifully with the soaring backing vocals of The Royal Robins to top off this heavenly soul stomper, a record that still packs dance floors to this day.
Lenis Guess went on to sing on a number of records, and more importantly, became a true force in the Tidewater music scene, writing, producing and releasing countless masterpieces (on his own local labels as well as nationally). Mr. Guess lives in New York now, and continues to work tirelessly in the entertainment business, and has even tried his hand in the movies. Check out his website, to see what this multifaceted artist, entrepreneur and ultimate producer is up to these days.

Lenis Guess "Just Ask Me"