Brooklyn-based Big Crown Records opened its doors a year ago and was founded by producer and multi-instrumentalist Leon Michels (El Michels Affair, The Arcs, Chicano Batman) and DJ Danny Akalepse. In celebration of their first year, Big Crown kicked off a monthly vinyl release series, which will culminate in a compilation album to be issued later this year.
Originally dubbed the Fabulous Furys, the Demands came out of Dallas, Texas, in 1969. While in South Carolina on a summer tour in 1973, the Demands booked a recording session with legendary North Texas engineer Phil York and recorded the singles “Say It Again” and “Let Me Be Myself,” which were released via Clem Records.
The A-side “Say It Again” is a sweet Southern soul jam led by frontman Melvin Clemmons’ smooth vocals, a rolling bass line, and jazzy guitar fills. The song brings images of summer parties, bell bottoms, and wide-collared shirts. The groove is infectious. The B-side, “Let Me Be Myself” charters different territory with the Hammond B3 leading the way and a slow back beat. The horns add a silky touch to the song, which borders on Sam Cooke’s classic “A Change Is Gonna Come.” The EP also features an alternate vocal outtake of the two singles plus an untitled instrumental jam and the rarity “Chickin’ Time.”
‘Let Me Be Myself’ is a lost treasure of a time in music that most people have overlooked. With the rise in “new soul” or “alt soul” these days, Big Crown has found a gem from the past.