Bill Brandon

R&B Vocals, Drums Trumpet,

Born: 1944 Huntsville, AL

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

There is no doubt that Bill Brandon was a great vocalist. His strong gospel baritone, at times pleading, at times compelling, has been undervalued for years.  He was born on October 7, 1943 in Huntsville, Alabama and was raised in a very musical environment. Brandon started his career with Quin Ivy cutting some very superior southern soul.  Self Preservation” is a deep soul classic, a beautifully realised country ballad, superbly produced by Spooner Oldham.  Percy Sledge paid the song the compliment of a cover.  The flip is the rip-roaring “Full Grown Lovin’ Man”, a real groover which should be as big a dancefloor favourite as Don Varner’s “Tear Stained Face”.

Brandon cut many more songs at the Quinvy studios, even though only two more 45s, on Tower and Quinvy, were issued. Rainbow Road” is one of the most sought after of all deep soul tracks – and what a masterpiece it is.  According to Southern Soul folklore Dan Penn and Donnie Fritts (the Elegant Alabama Leaning Man) wrote this sad story for Arthur Alexander, from whose life they obtained some of the details.  But Brandon’s version predates Alexander’s Warner Bros rendition by some 4 Self preservation - SOUTH CAMP 7006years and, with its meandering trombone and superb rhythm work, is sure the preferred one.  This is one occasion when a record’s scarcity is matched by its quality.  The cut was leased to New York based Tower records as a one-off, and the B side “You’ve Got That Something Wonderful” is a cracking 1960s dance track propelled by driving horns and intricate piano.

After Quin Ivy stopped issuing records Brandon recorded five high quality singles for Clinton Moon’s Moonsong label in the then thriving soul city of Birmingham, Alabama, under the production of genius Sam Dees and Frederick “Witness” Knight.  Of these the gospel drenched“I’m A Believer Now” and his anquished version of the stalwart “It’s All Wrong” are probably the best.  The rhythm track for the former was cut at MSS and the class shows. A brilliant one-off “Tag Tag” for the Nashville based Piedmont label followed in 1976. This lovely melodic ballad with it’s lovely Dees lyric and subtle arrangement was recorded as part of his Moonsong material and totally overshadows the rather overblown but considerably more famous “Street Got My Lady”.

Brandon then signed for producers Moses Dillard and Jesse Boyce who had a licence deal with Prelude.  They took AdBrandon back to Muscle Shoals to the Wishbone studios where he cut three 45s for the New York label and his only LP to date.  By this time, even the southern soul production values were much smoother and more fully orchestrated: in keeping with the times Brandon’s vocals are somewhat restrained and throttled back.  However some good sides appeared, particularly “Can’t We Just Sit Down” (Prelude 71098) and “Special Occasion” (71105).  The album gives more than a nod to the disco scene but is well worth searching out.  The last Prelude single came out in 1978 and since then no further Brandon recordings have surfaced.

Since leaving the music business in 1987 Brandon has earnt a living as a long distance truck driver, and has no regrets over his career choices. My only regret is that the only people who hear him sing these days are the other members of the congregation of his church in Harvest, Alabama.


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