The Pair Extraordinaire!
:: In the Beginning ::
:: A Hard Day's Night ::
:: A Hundred Pounds of Clay ::
This album calls them, The Pair, but Carl Craig and Marcus Hemphill actually went by the name, The Pair Extraordinaire. A lounge-style soul duo from Texas, Craig on vocals and Hemphill on upright bass, they made the rounds of the L.A. club circuit throughout the 1960’s. Liberty Records picked them up, and they recorded four albums, three of them live, between 1965 and 1967. This one is their first, recorded at the Ice House in Pasadena, CA, a home for folk music in the 60’s that exists now as a comedy club. There was, however, a little more than a pairing the night this was recorded, as there’s some un-credited drums and guitar accompaniment going on.
This album languished in my unlistened-to dollar-bin finds for quite a bit, I’m sorry to say. I thought it would be squaresville, but was pleasantly surprised to find laid back, smooth and jazzy soulfulness tucked inside. Carl sprinkles in jokes, both between songs and in lyric, giving a nice touch of humor to the show. Perhaps this sense of humor endeared them to Bill Cosby, with whom they toured for awhile as his opening act. Hemphill, who became a playwright during the 70’s, hooked up with Bill Cosby again in the ‘80’s as a writer for The Cosby Show before his death in 1986. That’s about all the internets will tell me about them. And, apologies in advance for the pops and surface noise, my copy is a bit thrashed.