I had originally intended to use ‘Keep on Dancing’ as today’s choice, but Dj Prestige beat me out of the gate and included it on his Ease Back Guest Mix. It fitted in perfectly with his excellent selections, so no hard feelings!
So onto my joint favourite Alvin Cash 45, ‘Stone Thing’ on the very collectable Westbound Label.
This Alvin Cash And The Registers cut is from a haul a couple of years ago. I’d been after it for quite a while, so once a nice minty copy finally appeared up on ‘The Bay’ I waded in with a decent bid so as not to miss out on it. After a drawn out week spent patiently waiting for that joyous, welcoming thud of the mailer on the doormat, it was at last getting the deserved rotations on my turntable!
One of the many things I really love about Alvin Cash’s 45 releases are the raw production, and this side definitely doesn’t disappoint. Straight from the get-go the bass line drops in and Alvin Cash’s drawling intro, ”This is a Stone Thing…..OOOoooooooo WWWeeeeeeee!... Whip it now!” sets the mood of the track. Once the rolling drums kick in it takes no prisoners, it’s the musical equivalent of being slapped in the face, you weren’t expecting it, but you’re certainly taking notice now!!
Alvin Cash was born Alvin Welch in 1939 and grew up in a large family of 8 in St. Louis. At 21 he formed a dance troupe with 3 of his younger brothers, all were under the age of 10 at the time. They called themselves The Little Step Brothers and performed energetic and often acrobatic dance routines in the local cabaret clubs.
After moving to Chicago in 1963 seeking fame and fortune, they changed their name to Alvin Cash And The Crawlers. They we’re swiftly snapped up by Andre Williams, who took them to Mar-V-Lus Records to record ‘Twine Time’, a re-working of one of his old tracks which cashed (pardon the pun!) in on the ‘Twine’ dance craze at the time. He enlisted The NiteLiters as the backing band. They eventually changed their name to The Crawlers and went full time with Cash.
Alvin Cash had great success with Twine Time, selling close to a million copies, even though many radio stations refused to play it, banning it because of it’s suggestive intro. This didn’t stop it reaching number 13 in the pop and number 4 in the R&B charts at the time.
After his early bout of success, he ditched his siblings and changed the groups name again, this time to Alvin Cash And The Registers (they would also change it one final time to Alvin Cash And The Hundred Dollar Bills). Cash went on to record several 45’s, most were based around the latest dance craze at the time and seem to follow a formula - mainly Cash chanting or dropping vocal phrases over the top of an instrumental track. The majority were pretty unsuccessful, but some are viewed by collectors and fans as superior recordings, ‘Philly Freeze’ and ‘Keep On Dancing’ spring to mind.
Alvin Cash also made several nods to legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, even naming an album after him. This was due to his close friendship with Ali early in his career.
Alvin Cash also went on to act in a few ‘Blaxploitation’ action films, as well as playing the lead of The Five Satins in The Buddy Holly Movie.
He finished out his career as a blues club Emcee, occasionally performing alongside artists like Ruby Andrews.
Alvin Cash eventually died on November 21 1999 after suffering from stomach problems.
Alvin Cash was in my opinion, a hugely underrated influence on the funk and soul scene, inspiring others to innovate new dance crazes which helped push the scene along at the time.
I have included both parts of ‘Stone Thing’ for your listening pleasure, part 2 has a slightly different intro, guitar and horn arrangement. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which is the better side!