Albums of Black History: 'The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend'

'The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend'
Photo Credit
Curtom/Rhino

Regrettably, The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend was a titular misnomer: months before its release, singer James Ramey had died of a heart attack at the tender age of 26. But what can't be argued was how this LP handily outlived the man who created it, more than a half-century later.

The Baby Huey Story, now available in a digital expanded edition with eight rare instrumentals as bonus tracks, remains a significant puzzle piece of the evolution of soul music's evolution as the '60s turned over into the '70s. Huey's extended, trippy instrumentation and larger-than-life stage presence recalled Sly and The Family Stone at their psychedelic peak. Its lead single, "Hard Times" became a cornerstone of hip-hop sampling in the early '90s, with acts like Ice Cube, A Tribe Called Quest and Ghostface Killah using its groove to propel rhymes.

Read More: February 1970: Sly & The Family Stone Says "Thank You" for a No. 1 Hit

Not to be ignored, either, are the presence of some giants of soul behind the scenes of the album. Curtis Mayfield, who signed Huey to his Curtom label at the insistence of a rising arranger named Donny Hathaway, penned three of the album's eight tracks, including "Hard Times" and "Running." Covers include an extended take on Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come" and an instrumental version of The Mamas and The Papas' "California Dreamin'" dominated by flute. All in all, they're much brassier, a touch more in-your-face than Mayfield's solo material.

Read More: Albums of Black History: Curtis Mayfield's Cinematic Soul

Perhaps what makes The Living Legend rise to its lofty title is the life present in these stunning songs. Listen closely and we think you'll agree.

Artist Name

Read More

Lionel Richie plays piano as he rehearses on stage at NBC Studios in Rockefeller Center for an appearance on the Saturday Night Live television show, New York, New York, December 10, 1982. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images)
The LP landed with #1 hit, "Truly."
article column overlay
Album cover art

 With the arrival of her self-titled debut album on Valentine's Day in 1985, 21-year-old Whitney Houston emerged into the spotlight with a ten-track ticket to stardom.

article column overlay
David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images
TikTok is putting the 1981 Top 5 hit back on the map.
article column overlay

Facebook Comments