Mark Putney, "Today’s Man"
Every now and then you stumble onto a song that blows your mind. That was the case when I first heard “Today’s Man,” and unfortunately all my hopes of discovering other 45s by Putney were squashed when I learned this was his solitary release as a solo artist.
“Today’s Man” is the perfect mix of the incredible, though shamefully uncredited TSU Toronadoes and Putney’s passionate vocal stylings. With the primitive-sounding vibes and horn blasts, it sounds more Motown than distinctly Houstonian.
Putney spent most his time just out of the spotlight instead of in it - early on he was one of Archie Bell’s Drells, though how long remains unclear. Just goes to show, even though “Today’s Man” may be one of the finest soul singles to ever come out of Houston, sometimes good records aren’t enough in the music business.
Clarence Green, “Doin’ It”
Clarence Green was a mainstay at many Third Ward and Fifth Ward juke joints over the years. It must have been at one of these haunts that Green caught the ear of Don Robey, who signed him to his Duke label. The bluesy soul singer and guitarist managed to work out two singles on the label.
“Doin’ It” was a one-off venture on Aquarius about the happenings of the city, from schoolboys and business men hollering at female passers-by to the sounds of honking horns and downtown traffic, Green attempted to capture the pulse of our fine city in a sort of “funky day in the life.” He later released a couple more singles on the local Pope label, including a nice funky duet with an unknown female singer entitled “Let Me Be.”
Wild Honey, “Yesterday Wouldn't Have Been Too Soon”
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This column has been going on for a good minute now, and I’ve yet to write about a single ballad. So here’s a killer sweet ballad, Houston-style. Any 45 that starts with the singer making a collect call to her man from another city has to be good, right?
Wild Honey kept things in a sort of lo-fi, sweet soul mood through the mid-70s. Though the group was from Houston, they recorded primarily in Florida but still issued their records on Willie Jefferson’s Houston International label. They released three singles on the label, including a Christmas record with a nice midtempo funk number called “Dirty Butch.”
Houston International moved with the times up through the more modern soul of the ‘80s. It released a handful of disco 12” singles, some of which remain sought-after collectibles among DJs today. Random detail: Wild Honey had a charismatic Scottish manager by the name of John Anderson, who today is one of the planet’s most notable soul authorities. – Brett Koshkin