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RAY SHARPE WITH THE KING CURTIS ORCHESTRA

Recordings
Only one track by Ray Sharpe featuring Hendrix on guitar seems to survive, "Help Me (Get The Feeling)", recorded 21 January 1966 and split into two parts for the 45 release.

Hendrix also played on a Sharpe session on the 28th of April 1966 in New York City, but the results were never released and the master tapes were destroyed in a fire in 1978. The session featured:

King Curtis - Tenor sax
Jimi Hendrix - Guitar
Cornell Dupree - Guitar
Chuck Rainey - Bass
Ray Lucas - Drums
Bernard "Pretty" Purdie - Drums

They recorded a remake of Sharpe's "Linda Lu", "I Can't Take It" and "Baby How About You".

Ray Sharpe did release "I Can't Take It" on the 45 "I Can't Take It / Mary Jane" (Atco 45-6437) in September 1966 1, but this was a different take recorded in Dallas on the 4th of August 1966 with no involvement by Hendrix.

Side A

Side B

Cash Box reviewed the single in the 10 September 1966 issue:

["I Can`t Take It"]
"Hard driving, rhythmic sounds on this side back the groovy, soulfilled vocal of Ray Sharpe. Loads of potential both for pop and R&B here."

["Mary Jane"]
"Funky outing back here."


So the only available Ray Sharpe release featuring Hendrix is the 45 "Help Me (Get The Feeling) - Part I / Help Me (Get The Feeling) - Part II" (Atco 45-6402) released in February 1966 which doesn't seem have had much of a chart impact.

It's producer King Curtis however didn't leave the master to gather dust. The song first re-surfaced (with the same backing track but with Sharpe's vocals replaced by Owen Grey) as "Help Me" by Owen Grey. Then Jimi`s guitar part was wiped and new overdubs were made after which the track was released as "Save Me" with a new vocal by Aretha Franklin on the lp I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You in 1967. Finally the track was released as the (almost) instrumental "Instant Groove" on the King Curtis 45 "Instant Groove / Sweet Inspiration" (Atco 45-6680) in 1969, once again featuring new overdubs but retaining Jimi`s guitar part.

One more curious thing about this track is that the Atlantic discography gives the recording date as 21 January 1966. Atco however had a matrix numbering system for it's releases where the first part of the number indicated the release year. The matrix number for the "Help Me (Get The Feeling)" single is 65C-9867, thus indicating 1965 as the year of release. This could be a mistake, but it get's more confusing...

The Atlantic tape logs list a Ray Sharpe session for 29 November 1965, and one of the tracks recorded was "Gettin' The Feeling (Help Me)". No recording personnel is listed, and nothing from this session was ever released.

One possibility is that the earlier take was scheduled for release, then it was decided to do a re-recording but the matrix number already assigned in 1965 was still used even if the year had changed. This seems unlikely though, as one assumes that the numbers were given when the mastering was done, and Atco probably wouldn't have wasted money on mastering a track and then scrapping it.

Hendrix send a postcard to his dad stamped 24th of November in Lynn, Massachusetts stating that "We're in Boston Mass.We'll be here for about 10 days"..."I'm playing up here with Joey Dee and the Starliters", thus he most likely wasn't even in New York on the 29th of November...so whether the matrix number starts with "65" by mistake or the 21 January 1966 (or 28 November 1965) recording date is wrong you can decide for yourself...

Whatever the recording date may be by an amazing co-incidence a tape has survived of Jimi confirming that he plays on the track. An interview tape recorded in March 1967 at the Speakeasy in London features a journalist, Eric Clapton and Hendrix having a drink and a chat. In the middle of the conversation Jimi says "...just in case anybody can hear a guitar in the background that's me playing in New York when I was starving.." a few seconds after "Help Me" starts to play in the background. This happens at around 13.13 into the recording.

David Henderson included this part in his book "The Life Of Jimi Hendrix 'Scuse Me While I Kiss The Sky", but he identified the song as "Highway Chile" and wrote that Hendrix says "...that's me playing - starving (laughter)".

It was earlier reported here that the song played at the club and heard on the tape is the Ray Sharpe version which is incorrect - it's the one by Owen Grey which of course uses the exact same backing track thus Jimi was hearing himself play even though the vocalist wasn't the same that he recorded the song with...


RECORD WORLD
The release of the "Help Me" single was extensively covered in Record World, actually a bit too extensively for this to have been just enthusiastic journalism. All of the news items were published in the "R & B Beat Where It`s At" -column by Kal Rudman who was also one of the guests at the May 1966 Atlantic party so was clearly well connected with Atlantic. These news items do seem to confirm the 21 January 1966 recording date as the correct one as they started to appear just a few days after the 21st. Specific mention is however made of the single being mastered in late January / early February 1966 which does not in any way clear up the mystery of the 1965 matrix number...

Record World 29 January 1966 (by Kal Rudman):
"We hate to tease you about something that is coming up, but we are not at liberty to give you the full details about a new record coming out in February that Jerry Wexler says is "The most exciting, swingingest, most `down,` greatest sound created in the last decade in the world of R&B!"

I can only clue you that King Curtis and his boys wrote the figures, that the vocal is done by the great Ray Sharpe, that it was cut in the Atlantic studios but the atmosphere is all South of the Mason-Dixon line, and that it is so down that you will feel those icy soul fingers pull your scalp skin clean off your skull bone."


Record World 5 February 1966 (by Kal Rudman):
"FLASH FROM JERRY WEXLER: That Ray Sharpe-King Curtis record I clued you on is being mastered. Jerry is at a fever pitch waiting to get it to you. Look out!"


Record World 12 February 1966 (by Kal Rudman):
"Jerry Wexler has that King Curtis-Ray Sharpe record ready. The title of it is "Help Me," and it is as "down" as you can get!"


Record World 19 February 1966 (by Kal Rudman):
""Help Me," Ray Sharpe, sounds like a stone "down" winner"


Record World 12 March 1966:
Full page ad, "THE SOUND ON ATCO," including four singles with Ray Sharpe among them.


COPYRIGHT REGISTRATION
The 21 January 1966 recording date is also supported by a February 1966 copyright registration for the song - which of course does not rule out the 29 November 1965 date but does fit the general time frame rather well: 2

HELP ME (GET THE FEELING); pts.1 & 2,
w & m C. Ousley, R. Sharpe & C. Du-
pree. C Pronto Music, inc. & Kilynn
Music Pub., Inc.; 3Feb66; EU922890.


HELP ME
This is the recording information for the Ray Sharpe -version of the song, for Owen Grey see the Owen Grey "Recordings" -page.

Help Me (Get The Feeling)
Composers: "King" Curtis Ousley, Ray Sharpe, Cornell Dupree
Recorded at: Atlantic Studios, New York City, USA
Engineer: ?
Producer: "King" Curtis Ousley
Date: 21 January 1966
Vocals: Ray Sharpe
Drums: Ray Lucas
Bass: Chuck Rainey
Lead guitar: Cornell Dupree
Guitar: Jimi Hendrix
Trumpet: Melvin Lastie
Tenor sax: "King" Curtis Ousley
Baritone sax: Willie Bridges

Help Me I

Help Me II

Only one mix of the track exists, in mono. This was split in two and released as a 45.

Available on:
7" Ray Sharpe with the King Curtis Orchestra:
"Help Me (Get The Feeling) - Part I / Help Me (Get The Feeling) - Part II" (Atco 45-6402)

Also available (both Part I & Part II included) on:
Cd Various Artists:
"Blues & Soul Power - Funky R&B And Rockin' Soul Crossovers 1964-72 (Warner 0927-49064-2)

 

SOURCES
1 The 45 was listed in Billboard issue 17 September 1966 in the "Spotlight Singles" -section under the subheader "Predicted to reach the HOT 100 Chart". It was also reviewed in Cash Box 10 September 1966 issue and mentioned as a DJ favorite in the 10 September 1966 issue of Record World. Matrix numbers on the disc are as follows:

Matrix A (all etched):
W (or "3") 66C-10607- 1 AT LW

Matrix B (all etched):
W (or "3") 66C-10608- 1 AT LW

2 Library Of Congress Catalog of Copyright Entries 1966 Music Jan-June 3D Ser Vol 20 Pt 5 Secs 1-2)