By Bob “The Record Guy” Paxon
We’re returning to Donnie Elbert for one last time. Because he’s that important, and he’s that great!
Donnie spend the end of the 1960s in England, where he issued records, produced other artists, and found a wife. He returned to the USA in 1970 and cut a record for the Rare Bullet label – the first release on that imprint (Rare Bullet 101). I Can’t Get Over Losing You was the top side and I Got To Get Myself Together was the flip.
This became his first chart hit in over a decade, in the USA anyway (he’d had chart hits in England). I Can’t Get Over Losing You reached the number 26 spot on the R&B charts.
Rare Bullet was an affiliate of Sylvia Robinson’s All Platinum label. Sylvia was the female half of Mickey & Sylvia with guitarist Mickey Baker. She would later hit with Pillow Talk, and Shame Shame Shame which ended up in court, the subject of a battle over composing credits with Donnie, which Donnie lost. Shirley later founded the Sugar Hill label which made many millions as the king of the Rap / Hip Hop labels.
The plot thickened when soon after when the two sides were issued again, this time with I Got To Get Myself Together as the A-side. This was on Donnie’s own Elbert label. Soon after the Elbert label released it’s second and last 45, with I Can’t Get Over Losing You AGAIN, this time as the B-side to a new track, Sweet Baby.
What was the Elbert label, and why was he re-releasing his own work while it was still in ‘hit’ status? It doesn’t appear to be a local (Buffalo) label, the address appears to be in New Jersey the home of Rare Bullet and All-Platinum. Was it approved by the folks at All-Platinum?
We can only guess. I Got To Get Myself Together was the more popular side of Rare Bullet 101 in England. Maybe Donnie wanted to prove a point, that they’d got the sides promoted wrong. It seems to be in keeping with his maverick, rebellious (some say paranoid) nature.
I Got To Get Myself Together is today considered a Northern Soul classic, and if you search YouTube you’ll find there’s at least a dozen uploads for it. I chose this one because it’s the only one showing the scarcer “Elbert” version. He achieves a real Curtis Mayfield sound on this one!
If these releases were known to the honchos at All-Platinum it must not have bothered them, because soon after he was on the parent label itself. 1970’s All-Platinum 2330, a cover of the Supremes’ Where Did Our Love Go, hit number two on the R&B charts, number 15 on pop charts and number 8 in the UK. Interestingly, Where Did Our Love Go had actually been recorded two years earlier in England.
Donnie had more hits at All-Platinum, then left in a disagreement and headed to Avco. He soon left Avco in a disagreement and went back to All-Platinum, where he stayed until the aforementioned lawsuit over Shame Shame Shame.
Speaking of copyright controversies, next week we’ll look at the copyright argument between Donnie and another Buffalo soulster over another hit R&B record.