By ‘Bob The Record Guy’ Paxon
Merry Christmas! Here’s a Seasonal item – a little unwrapped gift from Buffalo’s cool low-budget but prolific (and musically tasty) 1970s Soul label Mo Do Records.
We covered Mo Do Records in the past somewhat, and some day we’ll do an in-depth feature on them. But here’s a little bit of background. William Nunn, Sr. (aka Billy Nunn) lived in Buffalo’s Fruit Belt neighborhood. In the late 1960s he decided to start a record label and put together his own recording studio. Thoughts of chart success didn’t really figure in the plan – it was mainly for fun and as a possible way to keep neighborhood youths off the streets.
Mo Do 101 came out in 1967. Bob & Gene’s You Gave Me Love/ Your Name was an effort by Billy’s son Bobby Nunn and his friend Eugene Coplin. In 1968 Mo Do 102 was issued – Hipper Than Me by The Four Andantes.
The label’s run of singles releases ended with Mo Do 128, the last of the six Bob & Gene 45s. If you’re keeping score that’s 28. But two of the catalog numbers are unaccounted for, either unused numbers or unknown releases. And Mo Do also released two LPs.
Even that isn’t entirely accurate though, because in the 2000s a collector tracked down Billy Sr. and gained access to his stock and masters. This led to the release of a ‘new’ Bob & Gene single followed by an album including their singles sides and previously unreleased material. Ultimately two of the Bob & Gene tracks found their way onto motion picture soundtracks.
A few of the people who got their start at Mo Do went onto to success in the R&B world. Levi Ruffin Jr, Bobby Nunn and Billy Nunn, Jr. all attained success in the music business.
Not so for Nancy Lee. In fact, I’m sorry to say I know nothing about her. No info has come to light and she seems to have disappeared completely (at least from the music world) following her two releases here. Sandwiched in between two Bob & Gene platters came Mo Do 126 (X-Mas Dream / X-Mas Commercial Blues, in 1971) and 127 (No Words For Love / In My Dreams, in 1972). Though that last Bob & Gene record has a later catalog number I have a feeling it was recorded earlier and Nancy’s records were the last two recorded at Mo Do.
X-Mas Commercial Blues is an uptempo Soul to Jazz track, lamenting the commercial side of Christmas. It doesn’t sound like the kind of thing that would likely make the charts in 1971. But in 2013 it was considered good enough to be reissued on a CD compilation (and corresponding digital download) titled “Santa’s Funk & Soul Christmas Party Vol 2”, on Germany’s Tramp Records.
X-Mas Dream – a Holiday ballad – has a timeless Soul sound with an unusual vocal approach. I certainly never could have pinned it down to 1971 just from listening.
Backing is by Al Johnson & The Soul-jers and their name is somewhat familiar but at the moment I’m drawing a blank on them too!
Maybe more will be revealed on Ms. Lee in the future. Meanwhile, here’s something to enjoy with your eggnog!