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The Baby Huey Story - The Living Legend

Baby Huey

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iTunes Review

Upon its release in 1971, Baby Huey and the Babysitters’ Living Legend must have seemed like an album without a future. Baby Huey (nee James Ramey), the 400-pound soul shouter whose resounding baritone had defined the Babysitters’ sound, had died over a year earlier. To those involved in the album's creation, Living Legend’s commercial failure must have seemed a particularly abject coda to Huey’s short and tragic life. But if Living Legend died an ignominious commercial death in 1971 it would be resurrected in a more glorious form at the close of the decade, when South Bronx DJs like Kool Herc and Grand Wizard Theodore yanked it from bargain bin obscurity and installed it in a place of pride in their revolutionary, proto-Hip-Hop DJ sets. Thanks to their efforts tracks like “Listen To Me”, “Hard Times”, and “Mighty Mighty” were granted new life as propulsive B-Boy anthems. Much of the credit for Living Legend’s eventual success should be given to Curtis Mayfield, who signed Baby Huey to his Curtom imprint at the recommendation of a young Donny Hathaway. Mayfield lent his trademark production style to Living Legend, swathing it in the same richly psychedelic textures that graced his groundbreaking debut and ensuring it would be recognized as a soul classic by future generations of listeners.

Customer Reviews

Huey No Hooey

If you like classic soul and you haven't heard of Baby Huey, don't fret. In fact, just the opposite, be glad; much goodness is in store for you. I thought I recalled hearing the name before, but it never conjured up anything other than the nephew of a famous animated duck with a bad temper (possibly due to a serious speech impedement) and a serious speech impedement (a condition often iflamed by a bad temprament). This is not the same Huey. All I know about Baby Huey I just read in the All Music Guide review found here. I know he's dead now, and has been for some time. I know he recorded this before the date of his death. Apparently he was a very large man. I know his album was released on Curtis Mayfield's Curtom imprint, and I know that Curtis not only produced the record, but also wrote 3 of it's 8 songs. I know that the cover is really great. I know that the average review for it at the time I write this is a perfect 5 stars. I now know that it is freaking awesome. Huey has a voice. A voice freakishly meshing the raw screeching bombastic energy of James Brown at his most excited with heart-breakingly soulfull power reminiscent of Otis Redding. The backing band freaking cooks. They're called The Baby Sitters, and this record is more than worth classic status based on their work alone. Huey apparently liked smoking weed, dressing in crazy outfits, wearing a big afro, dropping acid, and making the most pleasing funky psychedic soul music I never heard before tonight. I rocked so hard on the first cut, "Listen To Me" that I had to rock it twice. Huey's voice astounds, and the band builds from a solid foundation of heavy organ guitar drums horns funk to such an ecstatic plateu that I think I'm dancing half naked in the mud at Woodstock. Santana's tuning up and Sly and The Family Stone are prepping their costumes, but they stop to cheer on Huey and the Baby Sitters from stage left. This is energetic stuff. But wait, let's slow it down. I've heard Sam Cooke sing "A Change is Gonna Come." I've heard Otis Redding sing it too. But I've never felt it as much as when I heard Huey sing it. Horn bombast again. Think Ike and Tina. But the best is the end, when we take it down and Huey gets nostalgic for that very first time of "getting mellow," when "the whole world sorta brightens up a little bit." Huey man, you crazy. Nine minutes plus? Thank you. Get your neck bob back for Mighty Mighty, somehow better than Curtis's version? Is that possible? Depends. If you'd rather just get funky without the heavy duty socially relevant message music, it's better. (What??! A guy has got to let his hair down every once in a while, right? I love Curtis more than you, so step off.) It's a crime that I never heard of this record before now. But damn, it's a good feeling to finally be here today. Have some fun and check this out with no delay.

This is the hard stuff

This is the hard soul-funk that you've been looking for. These tracks groove, slam and rock through and through. Eight irresistable tracks.

The Living Legend

It's great to find these tracks- before we were married, my wife and I separately used to frequent small clubs on Chicago's North Side, And Baby Huey often played there- he entertained! The man put his heart and soul into these performances for maybe a hundred people, mostly white folk who nevertheless were moved by Huey's soul communication. Thanks, Huey!

Biography

Born: 1944 in Richmond, IN

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '70s

A locally beloved figure on the Chicago soul scene, Baby Huey never achieved quite the same renown outside of his hometown, despite an exciting live act and a record on Curtis Mayfield's Curtom label. Born James Ramey in Richmond, IN, in 1944, Baby Huey was literally an enormous stage presence: a glandular problem kept his weight around 350-400 pounds and beyond. He began performing in Chicago clubs in 1963 with his backing band the Babysitters and soon became a popular concert draw. As the '60s...
Full Bio

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