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J.J. Barnes

In June of 1967, J.J. Barnes' "Baby Please Come Back Home" jammed all over the Midwest, East Coast, South, and west of the Mississippi River. Barnes sang the lyrics with so much pain that the single went to number nine on Billboard's R&B chart. Unofficially, it was number one at inner city skating rinks -- skaters loved rolling to its cool, slinky, mercurial rhythm and pinging accents. It was the 11th single and the sixth recording company (Groovesville) of Barnes' career. Barnes co-wrote most of his recordings; "Baby Please Come Back Home" was co-written with Don Davis, a guitarist, songwriter, producer, music publisher, and record label owner.

James Jay Barnes, born November 30, 1943, in Detroit, MI, had more than 25 single releases after his big hit, but none duplicated its captivating aura, sales, or chart position. Barnes' gospel background (the Halo Gospel Singers) isn't apparent on his recordings; he came along at a time in Detroit when the city's blues and R&B bases were strong. His style emulated Southern soul singers; the session players in Detroit in the early '60s were R&B players and gave Barnes' records a Southern feel. Other Detroit singers with a similar sound include Joe Stubbs, Steve Mancha, Darrell Banks, Sammy Ward, and Lee Rogers.

In 1960, when he was 17, Barnes cut his first single, "My Love Came Tumbling Down" b/w "Won't You Let Me Know," for Kable Records, which did nothing but add "recording artist" to Barnes' resumé. This was not a title to take lightly -- a few spins on the radio enabled an artist to jack their price up at the neighborhood club. No longer was he, J.J. Barnes, appearing Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights; now J.J. Barnes, the recording artist, was appearing live and in person.

Mickay Records issued four singles by Barnes; the first, "Just One More Time" (1963), is sought after by Northern soul fanatics. Scepter Records realized its potential and plucked it for national distribution, but the sales never amounted to much. "These Chains of Love," "Teenage Queen," and "So Far Away" -- all released in 1963 and 1964 -- were good efforts that few heard. He cut one record for Ring Records in 1964, "Poor Unfortunate Me" b/w "She Ain't Ready."

Ric-Tic Records issued Barnes' seventh record and followed it with three more, debuting with "Please Let Me In" in 1965; like many of Barnes' recordings it had a pronounced, four-on-the-floor beat -- the beat that defined the early Northern soul sound. Initially, if a tune didn't have that beat, it wasn't played in Northern England's popular dance clubs. Inner-city teens hated the beat (it wasn't cool to dance to) and R&B disc jockeys rarely played these tunes. Still, his Ric-Tic debut sold better than previous singles. "Real Humdinger," its successor, charted at number 20 on the R&B chart and number 60 on the pop chart, but, despite these numbers, wasn't played in some cities, mainly because of its hokey beat. An update of the Beatles' "Day Tripper" became his most successful record at the time. Barnes' smooth interpretation of the British rocker received substantial play in many urban cities. With Edwin Starr (lead) and Steve Mancha, Barnes hit with "I'll Love You Forever" as the Holidays. The record was a complete fluke -- the trio just happened to be around when producer Don Davis got an itch to cut the tune. They never toured as the Holidays, Davis recruited other singers for that. "Say It" b/w "Deeper in Love" didn't stand a chance because Ed Wingate was in the process of selling Ric Tic/Golden World Records lock, stock, and barrel to Motown.

Barnes wasn't happy being Motown's property, neither was his ex-Ric-Tic bud, Edwin Starr. Motown never released anything by Barnes, the company was more interested in his songwriting abilities and released at least two songs co-written by Barnes: "Show Me the Way" by Martha & the Vandellas (October 1967) and "Don't Make Hurting Me a Habit" by the Marvelettes (December 1968).

Motown released Barnes from his contract and he hooked up with Don Davis again, scoring the first time on Groovesville Records with "Baby Please Come Back Home." Its successor, "Now That I Got You Back" b/w "Forgive Me" (1967), a stomper and a pleader, threw a rod at number 44. The third, "Sweet Sherry," with the Originals harmonizing behind Barnes, didn't sell despite its immense charm. Then came "Easy Living" b/w "I've Lost You," with backing vocals by the Holidays, on the Groove City label, which sank upon release. A stint on Revilot Records resulted in four singles, including "Our Love Is in the Pocket," a popular Northern soul song. Barnes co-wrote his final Revilot single, "So Called Friends" (1969), with George Clinton (Parliament) and two unknown brothers by the last name of Taylor.

Buddah, Volt, Leo, Magic Touch, Perception, and Invasion Records issued Barnes' next five releases from 1969 to 1973. None hit, but "Snowflakes," the Volt release, was later acclaimed by some Britishers. Perception issued the first J.J. Barnes album, Born Again, in 1973; the Perception sides didn't compare to earlier recordings, nor did what followed.

Old friend Edwin Starr moved to England and became very popular; remembering Barnes, Starr arranged for his old buddy to come over and do a series of shows with him. This proved to be a lucrative move, as Barnes signed a deal with Contempo Records, a U.K. label, in the mid-'70s. Contempo cranked out seven undistinguished singles and an album, Sara Smile, for Barnes. He debuted on Contempo with "To an Early Grave," cut a remake of Hall & Oates' "Sara Smile," and tried to popularize an inner city dance tune, "The Errol Flynn."

He released at least five more records -- including "Think I Got a Good Chance" on Organic, an update of Carl Carlton's "Competition Ain't Nothing" on Inferno in 1984, an attempt to recapture the magic of Frank Wilson's Motown release (which was ignored in the U.S.A.) "Do I Love You (Deed I Do)" on Inferno in 1985, and two on Motor City. Albums include Rare Stamps on Volt Records, which features cuts by Barnes, Steve Mancha, and Darrell Banks; he also recorded an album on Motor City Records entitled Try It One More Time.

A virtual nobody in the States, Barnes is one of Northern soul's most beloved artists. A janissary of soul fans worldwide love him, but at home his sister, Ortheia Barnes, is more known. Ortheia Barnes never had a hit, but once hosted a radio show in Detroit on WCHB every Wednesday called Ortheia's Special Touch; she's fondly remembered by witnesses of her electrifying live performances. ~ Andrew Hamilton
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Big In Wigan

2. Baby Reconsider

5. I Wanna Be (Your Everything)

6. Happy

7. My Man, A Sweet Man

8. Little Miss Soul

9. I'll Never Fall In Love Again

11. Till You Give In

13. Mother Of Shame

14. Running Away From Love

15. You've Come A Long Way Baby

16. A'int That Good Enough

17. You Turned My Bitter Into Sweet

18. Baby I Need You

19. Can It Be Me

20. Our Love Will Grow

x

Track List: The Best Of Perception & Today Records

Disc 1

1. Matrix

2. I Can't Get No Higher

3. Brother (Title)

4. You Owe It To Yourself

5. Too Sad To Tell

8. Naturally Good

9. Get Some Of This

10. Gingele

12. Honey Buns

13. You And I

14. Take My Love Don't Set Me Free

15. Instant Replay

Disc 2

1. Dance Girl

2. Boogie

3. Alligator

4. I Keep Asking You Questions

6. Submission

8. You've Just Been Bitten

9. Surrender

10. Find The One Who Loves You

11. Take It Easy My Brother Charlie

12. Heritage Hum

14. Looking For A Brand New Game

15. A Possibility (Back Home)

x

Track List: The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles, Vol. 2: 1968-1971

Disc 1

1. I Was Born To Love You

2. Precious, Precious

3. Send Peace And Harmony Home

4. Soul-Limbo

5. I've Never Found A Girl (To Love Me Like You Do)

6. It's Been A Long Time Coming

7. What A Man

8. I Like Everything About You

9. Stay Baby Stay

10. Private Number

11. So Nice

12. Long Walk To D.C.

13. Give 'em Love

14. Funky Mississippi

15. Lovin' Feeling

16. Where Do I Go

17. Bed Of Roses

18. Bring It On Home To Me

19. It's Unbelievable (How You Control My Soul)

20. Who's Making Love

21. Mighty Cold Winter

22. Hang 'Em High

23. You're Leaving Me

26. Running Out

28. I'll Understand

Disc 2

1. The Ghetto

2. Blues Power

3. The Echo

4. Funky Way

5. Take Care Of Your Homework

6. I Like What You're Doing (To Me)

7. I've Got To Have Your Love

8. Let 'em Down Baby

9. Love Is Here Today And Gone Tomorrow

10. It Ain't Long Enough

11. Mellow Way You Treat Your Man

12. Private Number

13. Time Is Tight

14. Double Or Nothing

15. (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay

16. So I Can Love You

18. One More Chance

19. I Wanna Be Good (To You)

20. Finger Lickin' Good

21. Tighten Up My Thang

22. My Whole World Is Falling Down

23. Testify (I Wonna)

24. Drowning On Dry Land

26. Don't Tell Your Mama

Disc 3

1. Mrs. Robinson

2. Love's Sweet Sensation

3. Just Because Your Love Is Gone

4. Chains Of Love

5. Happy

6. The Challenge

8. Never, Never Let You Go

10. I Need You Woman

11. I've Got A Feeling

12. It's Time To Pay For The Fun (We've Had)

13. I Could Never Be President

14. By The Time I Get To Phoenix

15. Long And Lonely World

16. Midnight Cowboy

17. I've Fallen In Love (With You)

18. Slum Baby

19. The Best Part Of A Love Affair

20. By The Time I Get To Phoenix

21. Walk On By

25. You're Driving Me (To The Arms Of A Stranger)

Disc 4

1. Open Up Your Heart (Let Me In)

2. Why Is The Wine Sweeter (On The Other Side)

3. When Will We Be Paid

4. Grinder Man

5. Born Under A Bad Sign

6. What You Gonna Do

7. I'm So Glad

8. Beautiful Feelings

9. Your Love Was Strange

10. Love Bones

11. Hard To Say Goodbye

12. Got To Get Rid Of You

13. Habit Forming Love

14. My Thing Is A Moving Thing

16. When Tomorrow Comes

17. Wrapped Up In Love Again

18. Do The Funky Chicken

19. California Girl

21. Sang And Dance

22. Hold On, I'm Comin'

25. Black Boy

Disc 5

1. Bracing Myself For The Fall

2. All I Have To Do Is Dream

3. Singing About Love

4. Goodies

5. Just The Way You Are Today

6. The Creeper Returns

7. Guide Me Well

8. Give A Damn

9. Steal Away

10. Your Sweet Lovin'

12. Can't See You When I Want To

13. Never Be True

14. Can't You See What You're Doing To Me

15. Sixty Minute Man (Part 2)

16. The Preacher And The Bear

17. Something

18. Seeing Is Believin'

19. You're My Only Temptation

20. What I Don't Know Won't Hurt Me

21. Right, Tight And Out Of Sight

22. (What's Under) The Natural Do

Disc 6

1. My Girl

2. I Have Learned To Do Without You

4. Lonely Soldier

5. Heart Association

6. I Stand Accused

7. Brand New Day

8. Sweeter Tomorrow

9. Cool Strut

10. You Put The Sunshine Back In My World

11. Montego Bay

12. Got It Together (Parts 1 & 2)

13. Wade In The Water

14. You're Movin' Much Too Fast

15. The Best Years Of My Life

18. Soul Machine

19. (Follow Her) Rules And Regulations

20. (Do The) Push And Pull (Part 1)

21. Love Changes

23. Love Is Plentiful

Disc 7

1. Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom Boom)

3. Too Many Lovers

4. Black Christmas

5. The Mistletoe And Me

6. Ask The Lonely

7. Jody's Got Your Girl And Gone

8. Finish Me Off

9. Oh, How It Rained

10. The Look Of Love

12. Melting Pot

13. That's The Way I Like It (I Like It That Way)

14. Mr. Big Stuff

15. You Make Me Want To Love You

16. Stop! In The Name Of Love

17. I Don't Wanna Lose You

18. (Girl) I Love You

19. The World Is Round

20. A Penny For Your Thoughts

21. Never Can Say Goodbye

22. I Don't Want To Be Like My Daddy

Disc 8

1. You've Got To Earn It

2. Hold On To It

3. Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get

4. Born Too Late

6. That Other Woman Got My Man And Gone

7. If You Think It (You May As Well Do It)

8. Shame On The Family Name

9. Blood Is Thicker Than Water

10. Hijackin' Love

11. Sweetback's Theme

12. Breakdown, The (Part 1)

13. Pin The Tail On The Donkey

14. Them Hot Pants

16. It's Good To Be Careful (But It's Better To Be Loved)

17. Where Would You Be Today

18. Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven

19. Got To Get Away From It All

20. Love's Creeping Up On Me

21. Show Me How

22. If I Give It Up, I Want It Back

23. Woman Named Trouble, A

Disc 9

2. Respect Yourself

4. You Think You're Hot Stuff

5. All For The Love Of A Woman

6. Theme From Shaft

7. Jamaica, This Morning

8. Gone! The Promises Of Yesterday

9. Girl, Come On Home

10. (Let Hurt Put You In The) Loser's Seat

11. My Baby Love

12. How Do You Move A Mountain

13. Black Nasty Boogie (Part 6)

14. Do The Funky Penguin (Part 1)

15. You've Got A Cushion To Fall On

16. Get Up And Get Down

17. Son Of Shaft

18. Don't Cha Mess With My Money, My Honey, Or My Woman

19. I Can Smell That Funky Music

20. A Sadness For Things

21. That's What Love Will Make You Do

22. Standing In For Jody

Comments

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Love the music by J.J. Barnes....Sh e l l 1 9 6 5
Report as inappropriate
This is another song that i LOVE. RASHON IBN ALMUHYI 18Th ave & so.19Th street

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