Bob & Gene – 1967-71 – If This World Were Mine…
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This Sweet Soul album is a culmination of singles and unreleased tracks recorded between 1967 -1971 on the long defunct, Buffalo NY label, MoDo. Thanks to the help of Daptone Family member Dave Griffiths, we were lucky enough to be the first to compile these tracks into one of the finest Soul long players you’ll ever hear. Whether it’s the funky brilliance of “Your Name” or the devastating beat balladry of “I Can Be Cool” we promise that this album will satisfy even the most discerning SOUL fan.
Trust us… You will love this album.
A1 Gotta Find A Way 2:57
A2 Your Name 2:37
A3 It Won’t Go 2:35
A4 I Can Be Cool 3:08
A5 Sailboat 2:21
A6 Which Love 3:03
A7 Interlude 0:45
B1 Don’t Leave Me Girl 2:48
B2 Somebody’s Doin It (War) 2:26
B3 You Don’t Need Me 2:44
B4 You Gave Me Love 3:45
B5 If This World Were Mine 4:47
By Ryan Dombal
The Daptone label unearths a long-buried and low-budget soul nugget from early-70s Buffalo, featuring the vocals of teenage pals Bobby Nunn and Eugene Coplin.
l here, the full spectrum of dumbstruck teenage L-U-V. Tough love. Unrequited love. Romantic love. Misguided love. Religious love. Selfish love. The love that doesn’t come for free but is priceless, all of it. When Buffalo natives Bobby Nunn and Eugene Coplin recorded If This World Were Mine… in the late 1960s and early 70s, the duo fashioned themselves as suave sophisticates with their insides exposed boys to men by-way-of Marvin Gaye and the Five Stairsteps . No doubt they incited more than a few swoons and sighs at local gigs. But then Nunn’s father William couldn’t sustain his fledgling label, Mo Do, and Bob & Gene’s album was set aside in a crawl space or an attic or wherever else all these “lost” soul records marinate. You can guess the rest: Collector-historian finds an old B&G 45, makes a few calls, dusts off a few canisters and the thing finally sees fine record stores courtesy of hip Brooklyn nostalgists Daptone 36 years after recording wrapped. And make no mistake, this album is a time capsule; eternal sentiments caught in a refreshing, but not necessarily fresh, package.
What sets World apart from other golden soul relics is its unexpected album-ness and its amateurish naiveté. Though the LP could be taken as a no-budget mirror of Motown’s more tender sides, its hissy imperfections build a uniquely convincing narrative of conflicting hormones and emotions as they prep for maturity. As Buffalo outsiders, B&G didn’t have to compete with artists vying for showtime and the lax approach to shows, for better and worse. Even after going through the digital wringer, World still sounds like it was just recorded in Bobby’s house after school. There are a few vocal flubs that wouldn’t survive cursory American Idol judgment, some perilously loose instrumentation, and varying degrees of sound quality throughout. But turn a blind eye to the blemishes, and the album settles into a wafting drama of young love that floats above generation gaps, remastering technologies, and stylistic innovations.
If This World Were Mine… follows a storyline countless teen movies have exploited in the years since its recording: Boy dreams about getting fantasy girl back, boy changes his demeanor for fantasy girl, boy turns to the Lord to help him get fantasy girl back, boy finally gets fantasy girl, boy gets bored with fantasy girl, boy brushes off fantasy girl, boy finally comes to terms with love’s fickle touch with the help of a Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell classic. (OK, maybe not countless teen movies, but a couple– probably.) Along the way, the pair shade their typical “I want you back” sentiments with more intriguing, detailed relationship struggles. While “I Can Be Cool” is marred by a couple glaring vocal gaffes, its tale of “but I can change!” desperation is tragic and affecting. “I know you dig the kind of dude that… spends more time doing you wrong than keeping your love true and strong/ But if that’s what it takes to get you baby, I can be cool,” it goes, and the sensitive duo’s complete unbelievability as a pair of tough playboys only adds to its heart-tugging doom. And the decision at the center of “Which Love” isn’t between two lovely ladies; skillfully ambiguous lines like “I don’t want to hurt you baby, I don’t want to put you down/ The answer to my prayers I haven’t yet found” show the boys are trying to choose between God and a girl– always a tough call.
Unsurprisingly, the legendary Gaye & Terrell title track – the only song on the disc not penned by B&G – is also the album’s unequivocal apex. But B&G don’t just copy Marvin outright, they add their own spin to “If This World Were Mine…” while incorporating a wispy extended instrumental intro. Taken out of its original male-female context, the song becomes dreamier with the duo singing their fairy-tale lullaby to a creature that may or may not exist. Like all of World, it’s blindly, almost stupidly hopeful in its love-conquers-all thrust. Without the wear and cynicism of adulthood– or most of the last four decades– bogging them down, B&G’s insular world of skipped heartbeats and wide-eyed sincerity resonates simply and lovingly.