Once Is Just Not Enough: The Dynamic Superiors’ Motown Disco Classics Arrive on CD
The old adage that “good things come to those who wait” certainly applied to The Dynamic Superiors. Founded in Washington, DC in 1963, the vocal quintet didn’t receive their first major recording contract until 1974; their previous experience on record had been a lone single for New York’s Sue Records. That major contract was with Motown Records, no longer the Sound of Young America but still a vital force in popular music. SoulMusic Records reissued the first two albums by The Dynamic Superiors on CD in 2010, and has recently tackled the group’s third and fourth albums on the Motown label. The reissue of You Name It (1976) and Give and Take (1977) now means that The Dynamic Superiors’ entire Motown output is available on CD.
Tony Washington (lead vocal), George Spann (first tenor), George Peterback, Jr. (second tenor), Michael McCalpin (baritone), and Maurice Washington (bass) were spotted by Motown’s Ewart Abner following an Atlantic City concert. Once signed to Motown, the group was paired with Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, who produced The Dynamic Superiors in 1975 and wrote all but one of its tracks. That album yielded the hits “Shoe Shoe Shine” and “Leave It Alone,” and sophomore album Pure Pleasure included “Nobody’s Gonna Change Me” and “Deception.” Ashford and Simpson returned for Pure Pleasure, and even included a cover of their “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing.”
Hit the jump to explore the two recently-reissued long-players, plus complete track listings and order links!
For You Name It, the group enlisted a variety of producers from the Motown stable including Hal Davis and the “Love Hangover” team of Marilyn McLeod and Pam Sawyer, plus Don Daniels, Michael Sutton and Detroit legend Brian Holland. The recording sessions took place at Motown’s studios in Los Angeles, and arrangers including the great Gene Page contributed. The album had a dancefloor vibe that made it ready for the disco scene, and the group took pains to build on the album with a touring regime. New liner notes by Sharon Davis reveal that flamboyant frontman Tony Washington’s onstage antics were divisive in the eyes of the media, but a 1977 interview confirms that the openly gay singer was, in fact, warmly accepted by the Superiors’ audiences: “The way the world is today, people appreciate and accept you for being 100 percent real. We very seldom run into any kind of nut who says anything about it.” Publications such as The Advocate covered this truly ahead-of-his-time vocalist who was known to sing “Me and Mr. Jones” onstage in full makeup! SoulMusic’s expanded edition offers two bonus tracks, both sides of the album’s single: the Don Daniels production “I Can’t Stay Away (From Someone I Love)” with its flipside, the Hal Davis-produced “Supersensuoussensation (Try Some Love).” Say that one three times fast!
Brian Holland took the reins for Give and Take, the group’s fourth and final Motown album, with his brother Eddie Holland taking an executive producer credit. They hoped to reinvigorate the Superiors’ chart-making potential with a revival of their own “Nowhere to Run,” a 1965 hit for Martha and the Vandellas. The album was promoted as a disco release, with “Nowhere to Run” extended to 9+ minutes in length! Brian and Eddie also contributed “Give It All Up” and “Here Comes That Feeling Again” while Brian teamed with other songwriters for “All You Can Do with Love” and “Once Is Just Not Enough.” The rich Motown songbook was tapped for a second cover version, of Stevie Wonder’s 1973 “All in Love is Fair.” McKinley Jackson and Gene Page both returned to arrange the LP, but sales weren’t nearly as strong as Motown had hoped. SoulMusic’s reissue includes three bonus tracks: both sides of the album’s lead-off single, “Nowhere to Run” Pts. 1 and 2, and the single version of “You’re What I Need” which followed it. The B-side of this single was the album’s “Here Comes That Feeling Again.” That track hasn’t been included other than in its LP version; the newly-penned liner notes don’t indicate why it was omitted.
A 1980 album on Venture Records rescued some sessions previously unreleased by Motown, but the group disbanded shortly thereafter. Tony Washington retreated from the spotlight and died of AIDS-related complications. The other members of the group went their separate ways. First tenor George Spann recently formed a new group under the Dynamic Superiors’ name, and they continue to tour and occasionally record. Now, thanks to SoulMusic Records, the original recorded legacy of this groundbreaking dance/funk/soul/disco group is back on CD. Both You Name It and Give and Take are available now and can be ordered below!
The Dynamic Superiors, You Name It (Motown LP M6-875SI, 1976 – reissued SoulMusic Records SMCR 5051, 2012)
- Stay Away
- Looking Away
- Many Many Changes
- Before The Street Lights Come On
- I Can’t Stay Away (From Someone I Love)
- Supersensuoussensation (Try Some Love)
- If I Could Meet You
- I Can’t Afford to Be Poor
- I Can’t Stay Away (From Someone I Love) (Motown single 45-1413F-A, 1976)
- Supersensuoussensation (Try Some Love) (Motown single 45-1413F-B, 1976)
The Dynamic Superiors, Give and Take (Motown LP M6-879SI,1977 – reissued SoulMusic Records SMCR 5052, 2012)
- Happy Song
- Give It All Up
- Nowhere to Run
- You’re What I Need
- All in Love is Fair
- All You Can Do with Love
- Here Comes That Feeling Again
- Once Is Just Not Enough
- Nowhere to Run, Pt. 1 (Motown single 45-1419F-A, 1977)
- Nowhere to Run, Pt. 2 (Motown single 45-1419F-B, 1977)
- You’re What I Need (Motown single 45-1428F, 1977)