As any collector of the marginal or arcane likely sympathizes, it is that certain amount of mystery and anonymity of the object that drives one’s pursuit. In soul and funk 45” collecting, our information as to author or creator is usually limited to a few cryptic lines printed on a record. Thus, there will remain hundreds of records that have no destination and whose identity will be forever a ghost. The Human Race record on Gem, itself a subsidiary of the already mysterious Tropical label, was one of those records that seemed destined to remain a cipher. But wait...
Through as random a connection as you could imagine, the Human Race story:
The origins of the band start in North Miami, Florida in the neighborhood around 145th St. and 7th Ave. Their first incarnation was Mike and the Midnight Suns, who, though unrecorded, honed their live show at numerous school-related functions and frat parties (including one in which the lead, Michael Edell, once sang from a diving board). From these humble beginnings, and following a shared James Brown epiphany, the Midnight Suns regrouped into a larger show band, the Miami Soul Revue, whose primary body of work was the R&B and Soul tunes of the day. Through some forgotten connection, Edell, the Wernecke brothers, Alfons Kettner, Thomas (Ty) Warren Walton and trumpeter Rick Hill became the house band at the Continental Club (1966-69), which was formerly the Harlem Gardens and located in the heart of Liberty City at 60th St. and 7th Ave. The Continental Club was owned by a Mr. Walters, and a prime soul venue in Miami at the time, and most of the Miami Soul Revue were still in high school, which attested to their musical talents. Here at the Continental, the band backed and opened for most touring soul acts of the 60’s like Jerry-O, Joe Tex, Clarence Carter, William Bell, Fantastic Johnny C, the Soul Children, Lee Moses, and Pigmeat Markham, as well as accompany the local Miami acts of the time such as Benny Latimore, Helene Smith, Mr. Percolator, Ella Washington and Little Ricky Washington. Miami funk enthusiasts will recall the name Little Ricky as in “Little Ricky and the Del-Tones” (Gem 103), who along with Eddie Holloway, of the Third Guitar (Gem 102), are the only two other artists who have records on the Gem label. The Miami Soul Revue would play for some time before the members would choose their individual paths upon graduating high school in 1969. The rhythm section of the Miami’s Soul Revue reconvened in 1971 to record the two titles that would appear on Gem 101, and adopted the moniker “Human Race” for this particular recording session. Michael “Grey Boy” Edell played saxophone on the 45’s flip side, “Grey Boy.”
- Michael "Grey Boy" Edell, 2019