In our last issue we introduced Hardway Connection out of the Washington D.C. area, and this time we present another group from that region, Unique Creation Band led by Jim Bennett. "At one time we used to be together with Hardway Connection, all one group. I became Unique Creation, when we split. We keep in touch. The two bands work hand in hand, and we're the two most popular bands in the area."
Still Lovin (JB-1999/Y2K) is credited to Jim Bennett & Lady Mary along with Unique Creation Band. "This is my most recent band. I have been dealing with a few musicians and I decided to formulate an unique group of guys - a drummer, two keyboard players, a guitar player and Lady Mary and myself. I'm playing bass with the group also. We're a six-piece band."
The record opens with a catchy lilter, I'll Even Blow Down There, which has a touch of Tyrone Davis in it - "some people say Marvin Sease" - and Walk That Walk Talk That Talk plays in the same territory. The first outside tune, There Is Something On Your Mind, became a hit for its writer, Big Jay McNeely, in '59 with Little Sonny Warner on vocals. "Sonny lives about thirty miles from my house. He's doing the club scene. I hooked him up myself on a couple of shows. He hasn't done any recording lately."
You're All The Pill A Man Needs is a swaying beat ballad, whereas I'll Love You All Over is more of a bouncer. Both were written and sung by Lady Mary. "I met her about five or six years ago. She was singing with a little band. Her name was Mary House. I liked the voice and said 'I want you to sing with me, I want you to try it'. She came to sing with me, and she was shy. She had no stage presence. I said 'first thing I'm gonna do, we're gonna call you Lady Mary'. Right away she assumed the name. I wrote a few songs for her, and she became a part of the act. She's from the Washington D.C. area."
I'm Still Loving You is as close as you can get to For Your Precious Love. "When doing the lyrics I did not want to cross over too much into For Your Precious Love, but have that feeling and expression everyone can relate to. It seemed to have made a statement and reached a lot of people." I Can't Walk Away is an "old school" soul ballad, and the second outside tune comes from Roy C's songbook, I Got To Get Enough (on Alaga in '71). "I love Roy C. I used to back him up. As a matter of fact, I have recorded a lot of stuff with Roy. I'm on his version of A Change Is Gonna Come and on Shag (on the Call Me album). In fact, I helped him create the flow of Shag. We were in the studio working on the other songs for the album. He was in the booth and started humming. He started that song as a joke, but it all fell together in the studio. I first ran across him on a show, when he had the James Hines Band. He said 'I could use a bass player like you' and I said 'well, I have my own band'. He offered me enough money to make me interested, so I started travelling with Roy. This was back about 1980."
One of the gentlemen Jim is thanking on the sleeve is Lee Fields. "Lee influenced me. He tried to work on my vocal output, coming out of shyness that I once was. I've always not had the confidence, because I started out as a bass player. Only about six or seven years ago I started assuming the role of vocalist. Lee Fields tried to make my studio performances stronger than my stage shows, and not to be tight in the studio. Then he influenced me to write about happy things. I did a blues song a while back called Pack Your Bags, and Lee went into the studio with me. He'd sing the whole song for me and with me, 'do it like this, put this flavour here, put that flavour there'. If he had released it on himself, it would have been a million dollar hit, but he was big enough to say 'this is your song, now you sing it'."
Special thanks go also to Lamont Savoy "Mighty L". "He runs a major night club in Southern Maryland. Every Sunday we're the oldies band there. We've been there for five years."
Jim was born in 1951 in Washington D.C., but grew up in Southern Maryland. As a youngster he listened closely to Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and Tyrone Davis. "I played in the school band. That was in '67, '68 and '69. As I got out of school I started formulate a band. First we formulated a family band. Out of my ten brothers six were in that band, but you had the controversy, who runs this, who does this - so we divided. I just kept on. I've been managing bands and running bands for the last twenty years now. Between playing with Roy C and other bands I had a group called the Monitors. It was a nice band, a fully-contained show band, and we did all the military clubs. And now five-six years ago I formulated this last band."