Our pal Mr. Fine Wine continues to fight the good fight. We all know of his fine radio show on WFMU of course, and of his weekly display of soul records at the club Botanica every Wednesday night, plus other assorted record-playing carryings on. If you are a deep Fine Wine devotee—and you should be—you must know that over the last several years, he has been playing a song called “I’m Gonna Destroy That Boy” by an unknown female singer on his show and at his DJ gigs. The song originally existed only on a 10” acetatedisc that was given to him by his uncle (!) who apparently worked deep behind the scenes in the Detroit music business during the sixties. Fine Wine had it dubbed onto a 7” 45 RPM record so he can play it without causing damage to the fragile acetate. There are no credits on the label, only the song title: “I’m Gonna Destroy That Boy.”
The song is a great one, about a young woman’s desire to conquer her man with love. The rendition of “Destroy That Boy” on Mr. Fine Wine’s acetate is raw with sparse instrumentation—guitar, bass, drums and organ, with back-up singers and a tambourine—it is most likely a music publisher’s demonstration recording and, as often happens with a demo recording, it is arguably better than the versions of it that were actually released—two of which are known to the writers of the Boogaloo Bag: The Happy Cats and The What Four.
According to Fine Wine’s notes, the song came to his uncle, Morris Last, via the Detroit producer and songwriter Ollie McLaughlin (who was responsible for many great non-Motown Detroit soul records, including those by The Capitols, Deon Jackson and Barbara Lewis). The version by The Happy Cats bears this out, sort of. Not released when it was recorded—probably 1966 or so—but licensed by Ollie McLauglin to keen British Northern Soul reissue label called Grapevine and issued in 1978. The label notes McLauglin as being the copyright holder and the writer is listed as “Hampton”—most likely Riley Hampton, a talented and prolific arranger that McLauglin employed often.
However, the one version of “Destroy That Boy” that was actually issued during its time is the one by The What Four. It was issued on Columbia Records and produced by the respected Teo Macero (he produced just about all of Miles Davis’ recordings on Columbia). Also, it notes the writers as being A. Resnick, C. Resnick and R. Dante. For those who need a score card, that’s Artie Resnick (“Under the Boardwalk,” “Good Lovin’”), Kris Resnick (“Chewey Chewey”) and Ron Dante (voice of The Archies) who worked out of New York City.
So this is rather confusing.
However, The Boogaloo Bag is going to go out on a limb and present a theory as to how the recording came to be:
The likelihood is low that Columbia Records got the credits wrong. The song was written by the Resnicks and Ron Dante. Artie Resnick and his wife Kris were two thirds of a recording group called The Third Rail around this time, or soon after (third member was songwriter Joey Levine). The group’s “Run Run Run” is on the legendary Nuggets compilation. “Destroy” may have been written for The Third Rail to sing originally, but apparently was rejected. The group was signed to Epic Reords—a subsidiary of Columbia. It is not unheard of for a song to go from one floor of an office building to another. Or perhaps Macero asked the Resnicks to write a song for The What Four for their second single. At any rate, the song was written, a demo was recorded and a copy of it somehow found its way onto the producer’s desk.
It is also not unusual for a music publishing company to pitch a song to several artists, producers and/or record companies in order to get it recorded and released. Ollie McLaughlin, or one of his agents, may have picked it up in New York on a song-searching and/or record promotion trip. At any rate, McLaughlin cut it with a group called The Happy Cats, though it was not released. Thought to be a studio group, The Happy Cats did make a record: a cool version of “These Boots Are Made for Walking” that came out on the Omack label. (The B-side is “My Tune,” written by R. Hampton and published by McLaughlin.)
Fine Wine’s uncle, Morris Last, was an owner of Tuba Records and a friend of Ollie McLaughlin. Uncle Morris received the demo from his friend, McLaughlin, who probably thought Riley Hampton wrote it (maybe it was Hampton who found the song in New York). Ten or so years later, when the Brits came knocking on McLaughlin’s door, wanting to listen to his unreleased material to issue on Grapevine, he told them it was Hampton’s song because he didn’t know better. Most likely, it is Riley Hampton’s arrangement of the song that was recorded by The Happy Cats.
If you believe all of this—and it is credible—than perhaps it is not too far-fetched to believe that the singer of the Fine Wine demo is actually Kris Resnick! Songwriters often sang their own demos, and she was known to be a singer, as a member of The Third Rail.
The Boogaloo Bag heartily endorses all three versions of this song. The Happy Cats version is probably fleshed out the best, with a fine, soulful horn chart and a good vocal. The What Four adheres closer to the demo, with it’s driving, garage-rock beat; plus the modulation in the middle creates excitement. However, it looses points with the vocal—is that all four (?) members singing together?—which is weak.
The singer of the Fine Wine demo, whoever she is, is strong—the best of the three versions. The stark accompaniment and the pulsing organ riff on the demo lends a bit of danger to it that is not in the other recordings, making this the best of the three.
Fine Wine, in conjunction with the good people at Munster Records, has released the demo recording and it is now available for everyone to buy. In order to celebrate the release of the single—which comes complete with a cardboard picture sleeve with notes about the acetate and a further inserted note that discusses Uncle Morris Last’s legacy in the music business. In order to celebrate this cool record’s release, Mr. Fine Wine gathered the troops at Botanica on Wednesday August 16 and several of the area’s finest DJs, as well as Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus, were asked to spin a few records: Mister Robinson, One Mint Julep, Peanut Butter Brown, Sheila B, Greg Tormo, Young Chris…did we miss someone?
Fine Wine announced the theme of the evening and he played the newly released “I’m Going to Destroy That Boy” record just prior to the set by The Boog. Ever the wise-ass, The Boog showed Mr. Fine Wine his copy of The Happy Cats record and Fine Wine insisted The Boog start his set with that. And so he did. Here is a list of all the records played by Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus at the Destroy That Boy Record Release Party:
- The Happy Cats–Destroy That Boy (Grapevine; UK)
- The Banana Splits–Doin’ the Banana Split [from EP Kellogg’s Presents The Banana Splits] (Kellogg’s)
- Lu Parks Singers–Zap Pow Ee Yow (Ambassador)
- Simms Twins–Good Good Lovin’ (SAR)
- Chris Powell and his Five Blue Flames–I Come From Jamaica (Spanish Town; UK)
- Lowell Fulson–Blues Rhumba (Checker)
- Orquesta Joe Cain–Mambo Au Go Go (Mainstream)
- Mighty Sparrow–Calypso Boogooloo (RA; West Indies)
None of these records are for sale, however, Mr. Fine Wine’s acetate version of “I’m Gonna Destroy That Boy” is available for purchase here: