Sounds Of Unity and Love hailed from Cleveland, Ohio and were originally made up of Walter Winston on guitar, bassist Lee Lovett, Paul Stubblefield on drums and Gus Hawkins on saxophone and flute. They were discovered in 1970 when they won a battle of the bands competition in their hometown which led to them being signed by New York-based Musicor Records. Their hard funk and soul sound proved popular enough for them to release seven singles and two albums between 1971 and 1974. Their albums are very hard to track down and highly prized by collectors of funk and break beats.
First up was “What It Is”, featuring a coruscating version of Richard Evans’ ‘Burning Spear’ alongside ‘Memphis Underground’, ‘Express Yourself’ and the band’s theme tune ‘Soul’. For the follow-up, “Can You Feel It”, they augmented the line-up with several players, most notably keyboardist Larry Hancock who became a fulltime member of the group. Another vibrant melting pot of jazz, funk and soul, the album’s title track is now considered as a classic. After its release the band suffered several personnel changes before finally splitting up. Latter-day member Beloyd Taylor went on to write ‘Getaway’ for Earth, Wind & Fire.
By Dean Rudland