With two discs and over 40 tracks, there’s plenty to choose from in the Way Out Records anthology, available from Numero Group. Here are our five favorite tracks and a little about the circumstances around which they were recorded.
While you're listening, do peruse this week's cover story detailing how this quirky, historical Cleveland record label gets new life.
BETTY & ANGEL - “HONEY COATED LOVING” (1972)
This was Ragland’s favorite Way Out recording, though technically it’s the sole release for its Every Day Records imprint. Betty White was only 19 when she recorded it but she’d already been making music for years. As a child during the fifties, she performed in sibling gospel group Echoes of Joy, and by the time she was 12 had signed her first label deal. She’d just scored a gold record for the Clarence Reid/Willie Clarke tune, “Clean Up Woman,” which peaked at No. 6 in Billboard pop charts. This funky little horn-laden rave-up has a Super Fly manner (released that same year) complete with Big Easy-boogie keyboard rides, as the two women promise to fulfill every man’s desire: “I’m gonna make some money so we can survive.” Sugar Momma indeed!
SPRINGERS - “I KNOW MY BABY LOVES ME SO” (1964)
This Wade Park area act scored Way Out’s first hit, 1964’s doo-wop R&B ballad “I Know Why,” which earned them a weeklong stint at New York’s Apollo Theater. Atlantic President Jerry Wexler caught them and offered a distribution deal. The backside of that track is the delicious two-and-a-half minute “I Know My Baby Loves Me So.” It opens with an ambling, almost rockabilly beat that feeds into impassioned gospel-style call-return lead vocals and harmonies, coming off like Jerry Lee Lewis crossed with Howlin’ Wolf. It’s lively. They’d release two more singles, their last in 1965, before quitting the business.