Baby Huey was allegedly born James Ramey in Indiana in 1944 before moving to Chicago and singing with local bands. With a glandualr condition that made him a huge man he was nicknamed after a Paramount Pictures giant cartoon duck. Huey is one of the most interesting of the unknown Psychedelic Soul acts in that I read an article once that claimed that he didn’t exist. But legend has it that he and his band Baby Huey and The Babysitters released several singles (all unavailable anywhere) and made one Curtis Mayfield produced album before dying of a drug induced heart attack in the middle of recording – he was just 26.
The album was released in 1971 on Curtis Mayfield’s Curtom records after Baby Huey’s death, consequently instrumental tracks are included as he didn’t get to finish all the vocals. There’s an unlikely instrumental cover of The Mamas And The Papas California Dreaming with flute. The instrumental, Mama Get Yourself Together is written by Huey, perhaps there was supposed to be a vocal that never got recorded. The album also features three Mayfield compositions, the opening track Mighty Mighty, Running and Hard Times.
On release the album failed to attract much attention but latterly the single, Hard Times has attracted a lot of attention from samplers for its sound and groove. There’s a great guitar solo on the opening track and horns jump out at you throughout the whole album with a Soulful bluesy feel at times, especially on Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come, with monologue – “There’s three types of people in this world, there’s black people, there’s white people and then there’s my people”.
The album ends with another instrumental, One Dragon, Two Dragon that might refer to the heroin/alcohol cocktail that killed him. Again it’s written by Huey and was probably supposed to have vocals, although the track is another Columbo afternoon TV, easy listening flute ramble with congas and cheesy organ and I can’t quite imagine that this was a finished song, more an outtake. Mighty Mighty reappears at the end, probably, a big vibey jam that has been faded in and out of the album.
Huey has a great voice and an amazing scream and the album is worth having just for that – even if he doesn’t really exist.
You can listen to the whole album on You Tube or Spotify.
0:00 Listen To Me
6:40 Mama Get Yourself Together
12:52 A Change Is Gonna Come
22:18 Mighty, Mighty
25:06 Hard Times
28:27 California Dreamin’
36:53 One Dragon Two Dragon
41:00 Mighty, Mighty