The Stray Soul Of Frankie Gearing
Once you know that Frankie is the big-voiced singer, leading on Quiet Elegance best and deepest tracks on Hi, you probably want to look out for her other material. Here's a brief run-down.
Frances Yvonne Gearing was born on 17 December 1944 in Daytona Beach, Florida. According to the sources listed at the end of the article she sang with groups called the Rudins, the Steinways ("Call me" on Oliver 2007) and the Co-Eds. She travelled with producer Bob Yorey to New York, where the Glories were formed. The Glories consisted of herself, Mildred Vaney and Dolores Brown. The uptempo "I stand accused (of loving you)" on Date 1553 stayed two
weeks in the Billboard charts in 1967. Seven other 45's followed in 1967 and 1968 but without chart success. The first 45 is common but the other ones you see rarely. Most of the material is uptempo and sometimes poppy. A good example is "I worship you baby", that is included on a recent Sony/Goldmine CD Soul time 1 that covers the CBS/Epic/Date labels. Different is "Don't
dial my number" which I know from the Japanese "Rare deep dynamite" compilations, on which it is one of the best tracks. Surprisingly, the Glories' last 45 was recorded outside New York in the American studio by Chips Moman. Frankie matches James Carr in "Dark end of the street". The production is similar, except that more horns are used on Frankie's version and the Glories sound more soulful than the Rhodes-Chalmers-Rhodes type of backing behind James Carr. Roy Hamilton's version (on American Group Productions 113) with strings, from the same year 1968, also comes highly recommended. The B-side of Date 1647 is a slow version of "Don't make the good girls go bad", written by Clarence Reid and J. Corbitt. Also very deep, very good. The numbering suggests that this 45 was released approximately mid 1968, in which case it predates Della Humphrey's version that entered the Billboard charts in November 1968.
After touring with Temptations, the Glories were spotted by Willie Mitchell in March 1972. With Lois Reeves replacing Dolores Brown they formed Quiet Elegance. Their 8 releases on Hi hardly have a bad moment. Frankie Gearing leads on most tracks and Memphis producer Dan Greer had a great role in the recordings. The Hi 45's and 3 unreleased tracks are included and are reviewed on the already classic Hi CD 109 "You got my mind messed up".
After the demise of Hi, Dan Greer produced one more 45 on Frankie Gearing "Bluer than blue/Spinnin' top" on his Beale Street label (#1179). In September 1979 Frankie Gearing came to Japan with OV Wright, doing songs like "I've been loving you too long" and Billy Preston's "You are so beautiful". The demo tape she was carrying saw the light of day through Vivid Sound in 1980. The "Just Frankie" lp is a mixed bag with some good but also some
not-so-good stuff. Keishi Suzuki's liner notes refer to Southern soul of a "stray" period. First the Beale Street 45 is included. Then there are two more tracks written by Dan Greer: the emotional "Teardrops" and "Going through the motions of love". Other original songs are "Delta melody", "Shine on superstar" and "Rock and roll waltz". The covers are "California dreaming", Brook Benton's "Endlessly" and the fine "Tired of being alone" in Hi-style.
I was so lucky to dig up two more Frankie Gearing 45's. First, there is "Tears on my pillow/ Child please" on Bound Sound 1004. This is a Florida production by Clarence Reid. I'm guessing it's early 80's, mostly because of the cheap synthesizers on the awkward B-side. "Tears on my pillow" is the well known country track, which Frankie transforms into deep soul. "Say you love me" came out on TRI and is good modern soul, though a bit cheap in the
production. The label does not give me any clues where this came from. The period must be early eighties also. This track stems from the DJ Rogers 1976 album "On the road again". It get's another good, more luxurious, rendition on Jennifer Holliday's second Geffen album from 1985.
The problem with most of this material is that it is quite rare and sought after. The Vivid album fetches around 150 pounds in lists. Let's hope Frankie has now become so collectable it will be worth while for reissuers to include some of her best moments onCD.
By Tom de Jong
Many thanks to Masaki Momose for translating Keishi Suziki's Japanese liner notes to Vivid lp 1022 and to Jan Nauta for help. Further info comes from liner notes to Hi CD 109 and an article by Tony Cummings in Soul Music from '67.
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DOWNLOAD Frankie LIVE IN JAPAN Singing - You Are So Beautiful***
Addition: When David Coleman left the Laddins, he was replaced by Frankie Gearing, and the group became the Steinways.