Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Grooms "I Deserve A Little Bit More" (Shiptown)

When it comes to the Tidewater music scene of the 60's & 70's, there were few figures more important or better regarded than Shiptown Records founder Noah Biggs. Ever the dapper gentleman, Mr. Biggs, always attired in a fine suit and matching brimmed hat, was nearly as famous around Norfolk for his sharp fashion sense as his business savvy. In the early 60's he managed the local group Norman Johnson and Showmen and succeeded in getting them signed to New Orleans label Minit. With their name simplified to The Showmen, the group immediately achieved huge national success with "It Will Stand". Building on this triumph, Mr. Biggs soon opened the record store Nimrod (named for the Biblical great-grandson of Noah) on Church Street in Norfolk. Nimrod soon became an epicenter for youngsters with an interest in music. There was a booking agency based out of the store, and even a make shift recording studio in back with The Positive Sounds serving as the house band.
By the second half of the 60's, Noah Biggs had christened new record labels including How Big, Gregory and Shiptown to serve as outlets for the talent he had been discovering and developing. With a roster boasting the likes of Ida Sands, Barbara Stant,and The Soul Duo, Biggs's family of labels had achieved quite a reputation regionally.
Constantly aspiring to utilize his extensive connections to get his artists to the next level, Mr. Biggs viewed many of the releases on his local labels as demos to showcase songs and performers and create a buzz in order to get them placed with larger national companies. As a result, some Shiptown releases can be hard to track down because they had very limited pressing runs (sometimes 200 or less).

One of the last releases on Shiptown, the lone 45 by The Grooms, came in the mid 70's, only a few years before the passing of Noah Biggs in late 1978. The single's A-side, "Slow Down", is phenomenal mid tempo funk with amazing vocals and a killer horn arrangement. Please check out Brent Hosier's Ol' Virginia Soul: Encore! CD for "Slow Down" as well as more information about The Grooms and selections from some of the group's Shiptown labelmates.

The devastating B-side "I Deserve A Little Bit More" is a nearly five and a half minute beat ballad that slowly builds to a spine tingling crescendo. This is raw group soul at its best, with a wonderfully gritty mix of tight harmonies and nearly unhinged emotion. You can feel the longing, as the lead's voice cracks a little bit at the very end. If this one doesn't move you, check your pulse.

Please visit Shiptown Records, recently relaunched by the new Mr. Biggs, Noah's son Howard, for an amazing collection of sounds, video and photos of artists past and present. The tradition continues!

Special thanks to group harmony advocate and unwavering champion of the ballad, Kym Fuller.

The Grooms "I Deserve A Little Bit More"


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JRS said...

Have you any idea if Noah Biggs also ran the Luray label (which put out the Ida Sands 45 "Darling I Understand") ???
I guess this would have been a mid 60's release & probably pre-dated the 1st Shiptown 45.

Funky Virginia said...

Hi John,

The publishing company on the Ida Sands record on Luray indeed traces back to Noah Biggs, but we're not 100% sure if Luray Records was owned by him. We are unfamiliar with the distribution company, Commonwealth Productions, but it was out of Norfolk. So it very well could have been owned by Mr. Biggs.

As far as the time line for the record, it was recorded at Alpha Audio in Richmond which really wasn't in full swing until around 1972 or so. So this release would not predate the first Shiptown release which seems to have been 1969.

Hope this sheds some light. We definitely need to check further into the Luray label. We'll post anything further we might discover. Thanks!

chef monroe said...

regarding luray records it was owned by jonas walker,whom iworked for on the road with ida,i never got to record on that glover..til the end of time

Funky Virginia said...

Thank you for the information, Mr. Glover. "Til The End of Time" is an all-time classic. What a beautiful record! We are honored that you would take the time to contribute to our blog. Much respect!