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

'The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend'
Photo Credit

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

Keith Bernstein/Redferns
2021 Introduction: A semi-finalist for induction into The SoulMusic Hall Of Fame in the category ‘R&B Pioneer,’ Lenny Williams came to the attention of record buyers and audiences as the ‘voice’ behind hits by Tower Of Power such as “So Very Hard To Go” and “What Is Hip?” His solo career took a few years to jumpstart and by 1977, Lenny was riding a hit wave with “Choosing You” as he explained to David Nathan…
article column overlay
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
We mark the August 16, 2018 passing of Aretha Franklin, the undisputed ‘Queen Of Soul’ with this seldom-seen interview that occurred spontaneously and unexpectedly one summer evening in 1977 when Aretha called from Encino, California to share with David Nathan in New York about her then-new album “Sweet Passion” and more,…
article column overlay
Ross Marino/Getty Images
The singer made chart history on June 27, 1987.
article column overlay

Facebook Comments