Over the years, Clarence Carter has cultivated cult fame for his not-entirely-subtly sexual single “Strokin’,” but he actually found his way into the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 a few times in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. His highest-charting hit was a little ditty called “Patches,” but his first Top 10 hit? Well, that’s what we’re here to chat about today.
Recorded at FAME Studios, produced by Rick Hall, and released on Atlantic Records in April 1968, “Slip Away” – a tune penned by the songwriting trio of William Armstrong, Marcus Daniel, and Wilbur Terrell, three musicians from Carter’s touring band – featured an impressive array of musicians. In addition to Carter himself on guitar, the lineup on the song includes Spooner Oldham on keyboards, bassist Tommy Cogbill, drummer Roger Hawkins, and on slide guitar you can hear a young buck by the name of Duane Allman.
Ironically, Hall didn’t think that “Slip Away” was the likely hit of the session and instead looked to a tune called “Funky Fever.” Per Carter, he was the one who suggested that “Slip Away” be assigned B-side status for the single, hoping that it would turn into a hit its own right. The odds might’ve been against such a thing happening, but damned if that wasn’t exactly how things went down: “Funky Fever” stalled at No. 44 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart and at No. 88 on the Hot 100, but after DJs started noticing the single’s flip side, “Slip Away” hit No. 6 on the Hot 100 and No. 2 on the R&B Singles chart.
When all was said and done, “Slip Away” would sell enough copies as a single to go gold, but if you’re looking for the album from which it originally hails, then seek out a copy of This is Clarence Carter and enjoy some of Carter’s other ‘60s R&B classics.