Music in Context.

Moments "Baby I Want You" b/w "Pray for Me" (45)

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In 1972, the Mizell Brothers—Fonce and Larry Mizell—made mad enemies in the jazz world when they transformed hard-bop hero Donald Byrd into a funky monster—and subsequently revolutionized Blue Note Records as Byrd’s fusion classics Black Byrd and Street Lady were followed up by flutist Bobbi Humphrey’s equally funky Blacks & Blues. But the two brothers weren’t new jacks to the music biz. Fonce Mizell was part of Motown’s powerhouse songwriting/producing team, the Corporation—with childhood friend Freddie Perren, Motown founder Berry Gordy, and Deke Richards. In 1969 and ’70, they scored number-one hits for the Jackson 5 with “I Want You Back,” “ABC,” and “The Love You Save”—and later wrote and produced the sampled classics “It’s Great to Be Here” and “Maybe Tomorrow.” Freddie and Fonce would go on to write and produce Edwin Starr’s funky soundtrack, 1974’s Hell Up in Harlem.

Nearly a decade earlier, in 1965, post-doo-wop vocal harmony groups were morphing the music into what would become known as sweet soul. At Washington DC’s famous Howard University, the Mizell Brothers and Freddie Perren, along with schoolmate Toby Jackson, founded Hog Records and signed the harmony group the Moments, recruited from nearby Morgan State in Baltimore. Their ultra-rare 7-inch soul single—“Baby I Want You” b/w “Pray for Me”—showcases the fledgling talent of this songwriting/arranging/producing juggernaut, affording us a glimpse of their musical roots. “Baby I Want You” is upbeat and dance-floor friendly, while “Pray for Me” glides along at a slower, more romantic pace. Only a few original copies are known to exist; it was lost to obscurity until now.

This vinyl-only reissue is the second release by Wax Poetics Records, who, like their sister publication, is fast becoming the authority on soul music’s unsung heroes. Digitally remastered by the Mizell Brothers and masterfully packaged—with full-color original artwork and liner notes by contributor Ronnie Reese—this limited-edition 7-inch is as collectible as the original.