=Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Philly Barracuda pt. 1 - Holly Maxwell

Hello again. Most of the regulars in these parts probably noticed that there wasn't much action around here last week. The onslaught of dirty diapers coupled with getting back to the daily grind full time left me wiped out to the point that it felt like I couldn't keep my thoughts straight, let alone write anything worth reading. Luckily things have been a sailing a bit more smoothly over the last few days, so I figured it was high time to get back here and provide you with a nice slice of dance craze 45 action...

Philly Barracuda pt. 1 - Holly Maxwell - Star

Interestingly, despite the reference to Philly in the title, this single was actually a Windy City product, as publication and production credits are given to Monk Higgins' Special Agent company, which he started during his time working in Chicago. Higgins, who shares writing credits with Holly Maxwell for this single, was a staple in the Chicago R&B and soul scene throughout the 1960s*. Despite the absence of a date on the 45 label, it's safe to assume that this single was recorded during or before 1969, as Higgins left Chicago for L.A. in that year to begin working with a number of west coast labels, including United Artists. Holly Maxwell was born and raised in Chicago, spending a significant part of her life trying to break into the music scene there. She got her start in the music business singing with the group the Tourjourettes during her high school years. She later attended Chicago Musical College in 1965, where she pursued studies in classical music. Her collegiate career ended early, however, after signing a deal with Constellation records, where she would record two singles that sold well locally, but never really picked up steam regionally or nationally. At least two more singles were recorded for the Star label in the mid- to late-60s, including today's selection. In 1969, Maxwell landed a deal with Curtom records that resulted in the release of one single, while in 1970 she cut a single for Smit-Whit records. With only limited success achieved in Chicago, Maxwell headed west for L.A. sometime in the early 1970s. During her time in L.A. she was managed by Monk Higgins' cousin Barbara Acklin who landed her a gig working with Ike Turner as Tina Turner's fill-in. Holly remained in L.A. until 1985, at which point she relocated back to Chicago. Despite never really amassing a level of critical acclaim in the states, Holly had/has a steady gig at Maxwell's Cafe (which is of no relation to her) in Paris, France.

With fingers crossed, but no promises, I hope to be back in a few days with the next volume in the Trunk of F.U.N.K. mix series.

*Monk Higgins is also credited with a single entitled "Barracuda" that was recorded by Alvin Cash and the Registers for the Mar-V-Lus label sometime during the 1960s. Despite the similar name, the two singles share very little, if any, musical qualities in common.