New Audio: Nature Sounds Re-Issues a Late and Under-Appreciated Soul Classic

The Exciters were a Queens, NY-based R&B and soul quartet that could actually trace their origins to when its founding members Brenda Reid (lead vocals), Carolyn “Carol” Johnson (vocals), Lillian Walker (vocals) and Sylvia Wilbur (voclas) formed an all-girl vocal act, The Masterettes as a sister group to another local act The Masters in 1961. As The Masterettes, Reid, Johnson, Walker and Wilbur released their first single “Follow the Leader” in early 1962; however, Wilbur left shortly after the single’s release and was replaced with Penny Carter. And with their new member The Masterettes auditioned for renowned songwriting and production duo Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, eventually winning a recording contract. Shortly after the contract was signed Carter left and was replaced by The Masters’ Herb Rooney, who later married Reid, and of course with the addition of Rooney, the quartet officially changed their name to The Exciters.

As The Exciters, the Queens-based R&B/soul quartet rose to national prominence with their 1962 smash hit “Tell Him,” which landed at number 4 on the US pop charts. The act continued to release well-regarded music for several years, including 1969’s Caviar and Chitlins through RCA Records, during what may be one of the most important, influential and commercially successful periods of the genre’s history. Coincidentally, some years later The Exciters’ Rooney would go on to write and produce Melvin Bliss’ Synthetic Substitution, which is arguably one of the more sampled albums in hip-hop.

Despite The Exciters’ relative success, Caviar and Chitlins had been out of print for several decades, until Brooklyn-based label Nature Sounds, a label that has released works from J. Dilla, Doom, Camp Lo and Masta Killa, recently released a vinyl re-issue, as well as the first digital release of the material ever. The re-issue’s first single is the sensual “Fight That Feelin,'” a song in which its narrator expresses that her desire for her lover has become insatiable, that her lover is much like a drug she can’t quit. And my goodness, this track should remind you of your parents soul collection and old episodes of Soul Train.