UNQUESTIONABLY, one of the most underrated talents around today is Mr. Eddie Kendricks, a gentleman who has consistently scored with hit singles and albums without having been accorded, by the masses, that superstar tag which he so richly deserves.
Certainly, Eddie's name is no stranger to the charts and when we enquired of the genial gent, he informed us that he now has "a platinum for 'Keep On Trucking'" — we got that a couple of months ago — and gold records for "Boogie Down" single and album and the "Truckin"' album".
But his records are still not automatic crossovers onto the pop listings and he still needs a good deal more media exposure — in terms of television particularly.
However, proverbially, Eddie just keeps on truckin' and his latest recording session was something of a departure in that he worked with Norman Harris at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadephia.
"After 15 years, we decided to venture out," Eddie explained. "Motown suggested that we should team up with Norman in Philly, because we all felt it was time to do something different. I must say I was very pleased with the results — there is no particular cut which I prefer — I think they're all good!"
The album, "He's A Friend" was in fact, finished in record time. "It took a total of 7½ hours for me to complete all the vocals. You see, I was mentally prepared for what we were doing. Plus, I had worked and rehearsed on the material beforehand so that when the time came for us to actually go in and record, I had it all ready. We had worked with Norman on the material for some three or four days in advance so that I was totally familiar with it."
In fact, the finished product is evidence that Eddie was totally at home with the material performed. "A lot of times in the past, with being out on the road for such long periods of time, I never got the opportunity to really get into all the material I recorded. Often, the tracks would be completely ready and I'd just go in and lay down my vocals — sometimes without having seen the material ahead of time. This way, I worked with the tracks before doing my final takes. And believe me, it helped!"
Eddie said that working with the Philly musicians presented no problem. "We all pitched in and got it done. I guess they saw me in another sense as an artist — but there was what you might call an automatic communication." There is a possibility that Eddie may work with Norman again but at the moment, he says, no decision has been made about his next album.
Over the years — firstly with The Temps and then as a solo performer — Eddie's name has been conspicious for its absence on his records where the writer's credits belong. "Well, I've written a few things but I really don't think I want to do anything with them. Plus, in a way, it's like taking money out of the writers' pockets. If someone has got a good tune, then I'll do it. But maybe one day, I'll go on and do some of my material."
Certainly, one of the most unique aspects of Mr. Kendricks' talent is his stunning vocal range but Eddie reveals: "It really was a gift — because I've never taken any lessons. So naturally, I'm truly grateful for it. It's like my career — I'm grateful for that, too. I have no regrets about anything that's gone down — leaving the Temps was just like starting out all over again, like going to school again. But, although I'm never satisfied entirely with what I'm doing, I always feel I could do more — I feel, like I'm biding my time until I get where I want to be."
A very confident and positive young man, Eddie is looking forward to a brief tour of Japan. "And I think there's a good possibility of us getting to Europe at last within the next year. The only reason we haven't been up until now is because we didn't feel the time was right."
No doubt all of Eddie's many loyal European fans will be glad to hear that the time will soon be right and perhaps we can look for the gentleman to reach those upper echelons in the very near future. A talented and warm human being, he certainly deserves far more recognition both at home and abroad.
About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of SoulMusic.com and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create SoulMusic.com Records as a leading reissue label.