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  Shorty Long



Click below for a Shorty Long sample:

Function At The Junction  


Condemned to obscurity for far too long, it's time to give Frederick "Shorty" Long his props.  First of all, the diminutive (5 feet tall) singer was calling himself Shorty decades before it became a popular nickname.  More importantly, he was living proof that not every artist on Motown during the 60s was boojie. In fact, he and Junior Walker were the only acts who seemed to recognize the Funk Revolution that was soon to emerge by the end of the decade.  The fact that Long, like Walker, was transplanted from the south may have had something to do with that.

Born in 1940 in Alabama, Long made his way to Detroit in the early 60s and hooked up with legendary producer Harvey Fuqua (Sylvester, New Birth), signing to his label. Unfortunately, everything he cut stiffed, and Long found himself on Motown after Fuqua sold his label to Berry Gordy. 

Long's first single on Motown's Soul subsidiary was "Devil With A Blue Dress On," now acknowledged as a classic but a flop at the time.  The sting of public rejection had to be doubly painful when white Detroiter Mitch Ryder hit the top 5 with his version of "Devil" in 1966. Undeterred, Shorty kept on keeping on, dropping the memorable (and funky) "Function At The Junction" and "Night Before Last," before finally getting his time to shine in 1968.  "Here Comes The Judge" was partially based on the Pigmeat Markham comedy gag well-known at the time, and the single rocketed into the top 10.

Just when it seemed Shorty Long was going to capitalize after nearly a decade of paying dues, tragedy struck on June 29, 1969, when Long drowned in the Detroit River. Motown rush-released The Prime Of Shorty Long later that year, but no hits were forthcoming.  Incidentally, on this LP, Long had produced himself, earning the right several years before Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder gained their artistic freedom.

Shorty Long's Deepest Grooves

Here Comes The Judge (Soul, 1968) 

The Prime Of Shorty Long (Soul, 1969)

Essential Collection (Spectrum, 2000)
Certainly the most comprehensive overview of Long's career, but still misses some singles.  Since anyone interested in buying a Shorty Long disc is likely to be a hardcore fan, why not compile everything the man recorded on a 2-cd set?

Copyright 2003  All rights reserved.

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