Singles Going Steady: "I'm Not Ready For Love" by Promise

The Gerldets, later known as Promise

In 1969, four junior high girls from Washington D.C. seemed to be getting their big break.  They were singers in a band dubbed the Gerldets.  Two of the Gerldets had been performing together since they were eight years old.  Back then, one of their mothers was handling management duties and it's safe to say that her tutelage wasn't exactly bringing the pre-teens the fame and fortune they were craving.

But now, four years later, they were a quartet and the future was looking bright for the girls, who up until that time had only played small gigs, dances and private parties. This was because one of them had a serious industry "in."  Her name was Janice Jones, and her father's cousin was Eddie Kendricks, an extremely talented young fellow who sang in one of the best and most popular groups of its time.  

Here are The Temptations.  Eddie Kendricks sings backing vocals on "My Girl," a legendary number one hit of incalculable importance to popular music.

Eddie Kendricks graced the world with his haunting lead vocals with this song—a hit, which Rolling Stone ranked 389th on its list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. 

It must have been something for these girls to be just one degree of separation from a genuine star. Chances are, they were probably fans of his and the thought of him giving them a break probably made them as giddy as, well...schoolgirls.  

And Kendricks did help them.  How?  He arranged an audition for the pre-teens with the most powerful person in all of soul music, Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown Records. It was Gordy who had established careers for pretty much everyone in the soul genre, including the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes...

...and the Jackson 5. 

I imagine a couple thoughts had to cross these girls' minds.  Sure, they could be "the next Jackson 5." But, maybe Gordy would do for them what he did for The Supremes and set up a nationally syndicated Jackson 5/Gerldets television special!  At the very least maybe he'd let the girls provide handclaps and backing vocals to the Jacksons' new hit recordings. There was only one way to find out.  The girls met with Barry Gordy and gave an audition.

It's unclear whether Gordy thought the Gerldets were talented.  What is known is that he rejected them and one of the reasons he did was because he didn't want to manage another underage group.  Still, you can't help but think that if the Gerldets truly had that "it" factor, Gordy and Motown would have gobbled them right up.

But despite Gordy's rejection, the Gerldets carried on.  They changed their name to Promise and released a couple singles.  They never achieved any success, which must have crushed them because they flirted with fame A LOT.  Here are three absolutely legendary performers they opened for:

In 1975, the four members of Promise were no longer girls.  They were 18.  College was on the horizon and each woman enrolled at a school somewhere across America.  I can't tell you that much more than that.  But, I can let you hear what they sounded like.   Here is one of Promise's flop singles: "I'm Not Ready for Love," which appears on a compilation called Homeschooled: The ABCs of Kid Soul, which includes 17 songs by obscure kid groups. 

"I'm Not Ready For Love" by Promise

Holly by Nick Waterhouse


Holly by Nick Waterhouse

It takes a second to get it.  At first glance, one probably looks at this album cover and thinks that the beautiful woman pictured is the artist and her name is Holly.  And since she is pictured behind a cozy, autumn backdrop straight out of the movie The Notebook, you can't help but think she is a Joni Mitchell-inspired "Lady of the Canyon." 

But album artwork can be deceiving. Holly isn't the artist—she is the subject of an album. And a good one, too.

Holly is the second album by Nick Waterhouse, who is a singer/songwriter only in the sense that he is an individual instead of a band.  Waterhouse isn't a James Taylor copycat. He's more like a slick man dressed in a zoot suit who has left the hustle of the city to do whatever he damn pleases in a suburb 10-15 minutes away.  

In short, Nick Waterhouse is a Roy Orbison-influenced narrator of cool—sort of like Chris Isaak or T. Bone Burnett.  His music is performed with hollow body electric guitars, church organs, a horn section and double basses—alongside a few backing singers who sound as if they're part of his entourage even after they leave the studio.  Nick Waterhouse couldn't write "You Give Me Fever," but he is exactly the kind of artist who could give it to Peggy Lee.  

Vocally, Waterhouse possesses the accessible timbre of the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach mixed with the delivery of Heart of Saturday Night-era Tom Waits.  He's the kind of artist who would sound at home playing at both The Continental Club in Austin and a seedy Las Vegas night club.  

In an economical 30 minutes, Holly packs in no particularly great songs, but it still manages to be a somewhat addictive listen, because every song is a respectable B to B+ in terms of pure listenability and fun.

Voyage by The Vintage Caravan


Voyage by The Vintage Caravan

The Vintage Caravan is a trio from Iceland that delivers a brand of classic rock heavily influenced by Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath, which contains no irony whatsoever. There are no smiles, grins or anything hip on the band's debut Voyage and its straightforwardness—combined with the trio's powerhouse riffs and room demolishing punch—makes for an undeniably refreshing experience in 2014.  

That doesn't necessarily mean that Voyage is a truly effective album.  It's not missing grit.  It has plenty of that, in fact.  What it is missing—and absolutely needs—is a few truly spellbinding songs.  In that department, this trio provides none.  Those looking for a hard rock hit a la "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" will be disappointed.  But, if you just want to rock for 50 minutes, you really can't go wrong here.

At their best, The Vintage Caravan makes a totally convincing case for charging a $5-$8 cover to see them at a hot bar in town.  At their worst, they seem only marginally better than the average seasoned hard rock band taping posters to the windows at Guitar Center.  

It's not a bad debut record though and on "Winterland," an Alice in Chains/Pink Floyd pastiche, and especially on the 12-minute epic "The King's Voyage," these Icelanders sound good enough to ask for—and receive—a case of beer on their hospitality rider.