"What Our Love Needs" b/w "Groove Me" 45 RPM single
Many people have heard of the late great King Floyd, and most of those people remember his Top 10 hit from 1970, “Groove Me”. But how many people know that “Groove Me” was actually the B-side of his first Chimneyville Records single, “What Our Love Needs”? And that single is today’s featured single: “What Our Love Needs” b/w “Groove Me”.
King Floyd was born in 1945 and began performing in public at the Sho-Bar as a singer as early as 1961, but his fledgling music career was soon put on hold by a stint in the military. Following his discharge from the army in late 1963, he migrated to New York City, performing for about a year before moving to California. Through composer/arranger Harold Battiste, he met DJ Buddy Keleen, who in turn brought him to the Original Sound label, which issued his first single in 1965. This was followed by the Battiste-arranged album “King Floyd: A Man In Love”, issued by the Mercury subsidiary Pulsar in 1967, and featuring songs co-written by Dr. John. The album failed to make an impact, and King Floyd returned to New Orleans in 1969 to work for the post office.
In 1970, Wardell Quezergue, a composer of R&B scores, persuaded Floyd to record a single for Malaco Records in Jackson, Mississippi. “What Our Love Needs” was issued on Malaco’s Chimneyville subsidiary, with “Groove Me” on the flipside. The single did not start to take off, however, until a George Vinnett, a New Orleans DJ, flipped over the record and started to play “Groove Me”. The record became a local smash, and Atlantic Records scooped up national distribution rights; eventually the song reached #6 on the Billboard singles chart. King Floyd quit his post office gig and embarked on a national tour. The follow-up to “Groove Me”, “Got To Have Your Love” (taken from Floyd’s self-titled Atlantic album) also reached the Top 10.
“What Our Love Needs” has a laid-back funkiness to it that one would expect from a mainstream soul track circa 1970. For a pop record released by a relatively small record label, it has a pretty full sound; it starts off with drums and a lightly strummed lead guitar; there’s horns and a flute on the track, as well as a string section, the drum track and bass guitar give the song a sense of meter without overpowering the rest of the music. The lyrics, in which the protagonist argues the case to his significant other that they shouldn’t fight so much (“Our love needs more kissing/And not so much hitting”) are delivered with a tender-laden reverence. Some of the analogies are a bit corny (“‘Cause when two people are in love/They stick together like a hand inside a glove”), but Floyd sounds so sincere that it’s pretty easy to forgive him.
There’s no question that “What Our Love Needs” is a good song, but it’s easy to see how the quirky playfulness of “Groove Me” won in the court of public opinion. Artists often took more chances on the B-sides of singles, being bolder and more experimental, and arguably, that is the case here. In some ways, the sound is similar to “What Our Love Needs”: we still get the lightly-strummed guitar, the solid but not overpowering drums, and of course the horns, but from the opening seconds of the song, when Floyd greets us with a “Uh! Awww! Sookie, Sookie now”, we get the idea that this song is a little different. Supposedly, Floyd’s original inspiration came from a love letter he wrote to a college girl who was a co-worker at a box factory he was working at in California; the girl quit and he never delivered the letter. In 1970, Floyd re-worked the words in the letter into funky, percolating jam. And there are some great lines here, too: “You’ve become a sweet taste in my mouth, now/And I want you to be my spouse/So that we can live happily, nah-nah,/In a great big ol’ roomy house”. The song has almost a proto-reggae sound to it, although Floyd’s sound might more accurately be described as southern soul. The horns punctuate the sound more noticeably that on the A-side, and they are the real difference-maker here.
The single (catalog #: Chimneyville 435) was issued nationally on the Chimneyville label; the top half of the label looked like a brick wall and the lower half was orange. When Atlantic picked up the national distribution rights, they added (“Distributed by Cotillion Div. of Atlantic Recording Corp.”) to the bottom edge. However, the single was later re-issued as part of Atlantic Records’ Oldies Series (Atlantic OS-13104), with a green Atlantic label (it looked similar to the classic red Atlantic label with the Atlantic logo across the top, only it was a lime-green label).