Chancellor of Soul's Chronicles-Journals Dedicated To The
Historical Preservation Of R&B, Pop and It's Artists and Music


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CLIFF NOBLES    

 

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          Cliff Nobles     

 

In 1967, a number of fad dances came to prominence in various cities across the country. The Boogaloo, the James Brown, the Shing-a-ling, the Pearl and the Funky Broadway. In the genesis

of 1968, a new dance arrived that originally was born out of Chicago in 1960, called the Horse.  Basically, it was a short-lived dance that was done by kids in the black neighborhoods.

 

The Horse made its comeback in early 1968  through a local song recorded in New York on an independent label called  ‘Heart & Soul Records' entitled,  ‘Get-E-Up b/w ‘ It Won’t Be A Dance’ by the Preparations. The song written and produced by Cathy Lynn hit (No 30 R&B March 30, 1968).

 

It did well but it wasn’t until a young singer from Mobile, Alabama that would gallop into the spotlight and turn the Horse into a national dance craze. Mr. Cliff Nobles.

 

Born in 1944, Cliff became interested in music during

his years in high school. He joined a local singing group

called the Delrays and shortly afterwards, moved to

Philadelphia and lived in a section called, Norristown.

He stayed with some friends and formed a group called

Cliff Nobles & Co. The group signed with J-V Records

and recorded,  ‘Too Fond of You’ b/w  ‘My Love Is

Getting Stronger’. The song flop, so they signed with

Atlantic records and recorded a newer version of

‘Too Fond of You’   b/w  ‘My Love Is Getting Stronger’.

 

While working in various clubs in the city to promote the

song, a local producer Jimmy Rodgers heard a few tapes

of the group and turn them over to songwriter / producer,

Jesse James. Jesse was writing and producing for two

artists, Helene Smith (‘A Woman Will Do Wrong’) the first Phil La of Soul release and The Fantastic Johnny C's

(Corley) masterpiece 'Boogaloo Down Broadway' b/w

'Look What Love Can Make You Do'.

 

 

Jesse immediately signed the group to the Phil La of Soul label in 1968. With Bobby Martin as producer, Cliff entered Frank Virtue's studio in Philadelphia to record Jesse's composition of   'Love Is All Right' backed by the early MFSB session players who were regulars at his studio. They were dubbed as the Music Makers by Gamble & Huff who released two masterpiece instrumentals on the group,  '(We'll Be) United'  Pts 1&2 (Sept 1967) (recorded earlier in 1966 by The Intruders on Excel) and  ' Spring Fever' Pts 1&2  written by Bobby Robinson on the red Gamble label. In late 1968, the label released an LP entitled,  ' Music Makers'  featuring a swinging pendulum on the front cover which is a rare find in the record collecting community.

 

 

‘Love Is All Right' was backed by a jamming instrumental track called,  ‘The Horse’.  Released in May of 68’, ‘Love Is All Right’ took a death dive when a DJ in Tampa, Florida began to flip the record over and play ‘The Horse’. Afterwards, the Horse became the A-side and ‘ Love Is All Right' became the B-side. Credited as Cliff Nobles & Co,  ' The Horse' hit No 2 on the R&B singles

the week ending July 13, 1968 and No 2  Pop, the week

ending June 29.

 

 

‘The Horse’ would have climbed into No 1 position had it not been for another instrumental masterpiece entitled 'Grazing In The Grass' by trumpet great Hugh Masekela on Uni.  'The Horse' went on to sell two million copies.

 

Cliff later began a nationwide tour including television appearances, to demonstrate the new dance craze that was sweeping the country. One memorable television appearance was a local concert in Harlem, NY called the  ‘Harlem Cultural Festival’ at Mt. Morris Park on Sunday, June 30, 1968. Tony Lawrence, a local singer and late actress Ms. Diana Sands, hosted the show that featured such stars as the late Count Basie and his orchestra, the late Nipsey Russell, the Lou Parks

Dancers, Robert Hooks along with his son Kevin, the late Herbie Mann and his combo (featuring young vibe player Roy Ayers) legendary radio personality the late Eddie O’Jay of WLIB-AM radio and Cliff Nobles. 

 

The show ran Saturday evenings on Channel 5, an affiliated TV station in New York operated at the time by Metromedia Television. In this segment, Cliff along with two lady dancers, demonstrates the Horse while Eddie O’Jay afterwards, introduces him singing the vocal version of his B-side hit,  ‘Love Is All Right’. Meanwhile, as Cliff performs the song, a group of

kids from the neighborhood began to jump on the stage and dance to sound of the music. Some are doing the Horse, the Shing-a-ling and the Boogaloo. There is one particular young lady who receives the most attention by performing the James Brown.

 

Phil La of Soul would release 3 singles on Cliff. ‘Judge Baby, I’m Back’ (my personal favorite) ‘Horse Fever’ and  ‘ Switch It On’ (No 22 R&B the week ending March 1, 1969). To capitalize

on Cliff’s success, Moonshot (owned by Nate McCalla who worked for Cameo-Parkway) released ‘Little Claudie’  b/w  ‘ Pony The Horse’ (inst). Cliff also recorded a rare vocal version of  ‘The Horse’ also a find in the collectors’ community.

 

Phil La of Soul’s  ‘The Horse’ and ‘Pony The Horse’ on Moonshot were both release in late 1968.

 

 The Fantastic Johnny C. would jump on the bandwagon with his dance masterpiece, ‘Hitch It To The Horse’ (No 25 R&B the week ending Aug 17,1968).

 

Cliff would eventually leave Phi La of Soul and sign with Roulette Records in 1973 and record one single, ‘Feeling Of Loneliness’ (No 42 R&B June 1973). Cliff made his last television appearance on a local syndicated show entitled  ‘Soul Alive’ hosted by late radio personality, Jerry Bledsoe, broadcasted in

New York’s affiliated station Channel 11 in 1975.

 

Cliff Nobles is one of those underrated artists who’s unfortunate musical fate overshadowed his great talent. Regardless of his fate, he shouldn’t be forgotten for his contribution in bringing one of the funkiest instrumental tunes of music history.

 

 

 

 

 

                     Soulfully Yours,

                       Mike Boone

                 (Chancellor of Soul)

 

 

 

                        Nov 2005

 

 

 

Materials should not be used or altered without

expressed permission of the author, Mike Boone,

Chancellor of Soul.

 

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