Eccentric Soul: The Big Mack Label

Various Artists. Numero Group.

Detroit’s Big Mack label was a shoestring operation that never had a prayer of emulating Motown, or even turning a profit. Swathed in distortion and other sonic blemishes, these grungy mono tracks from the ’60s and ’70s inspire visions of the low-budget studios and garages where they were committed to tape. Reflecting a desire to jump on the nearest commercial bandwagon, most of Big Mack’s passionate nobodies echo big names: Bob & Fred copy Smokey Robinson’s Miracles for the wistful “I’ll Be on My Way,” and Soul President mimics James Brown’s hard funk with “Got to Have It.” On the other hand, Ms. Tyree “Sugar” Jones’ sleazy 1971 single “If You Feel It” predates Donna Summer’s like-minded disco epics by a number of years, suggesting that timing was yet another attribute Big Mack lacked.

  • Jon Young is a contributing writer for Mother Jones. For more of his stories, click here.

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