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The Light Drivers "Operator"


March 23, 2022

I stumbled across this gem on YouTube. Not available on any streaming services.

The Light Drivers [1967] - Operator / Dreams Of A Shoeshine Boy [Gemini #1021]

The only single released by The Light Drivers is a superb double sider. Dreams Of A Shoeshine Boy (the official A side) was written by James (Jimmy) Conwell and Leonard Jewell Smith (Len Jewell ) and Operator by James Conwell and Perry Kibble who later became a member of Taste Of Honey and co-wrote their disco hit 'Boogie Oogie Oogie' with group member Janice Marie Johnson. It is believed that Jimmy Conwell was a member, and probably the lead singer, of The Light Drivers. Discogs dates the release as 1967, 45Cat has no date, but it sounds later than 1967 to my ears. Manship has it dated as 1970, which sounds more like it as 1021 appears to be the last release and 1020 &1021 have different label designs to 1006 (the last cat. no. in the 1000 series) dated 1967/68. The Gemini label was based in Cleveland, OH, and released only around 8 singles, two of those were by The Exits (who were James Conwell, Godoy Colbert, Esko Wallace, Louis Hendricks, and Charles Colbert) 'Under The Street Lamp' / 'You Got To Have Money' and 'I Don't Want To Hear It'. Their only other single as The Exits was on Kapp after they left Gemini with the brilliant 'Another Sundown In Watts'. Jimmy Conwell also released the stomper 'To Much' c/w the superb deep cut 'Let It All Out' on Gemini and of course the Light Drivers single, so Conwell appeared on at least half the Gemini catlogue. Conwell was also a member of The Trips which included Earl Nelson (Bob & Earl aka Jackie Lee), Len Jewel and, Discogs states Paul & Harry Colbert, but it seems too much of a coincidence that Godoy and Charles Colbert were members of the Exits, so I suspect that info is not correct! They released another great double-sider on Soundville in 1967 'Love Can't Be Modernized' / 'There's That Mountain' (also issued on Soultown). The latter having the same backing track as his classic NS tune 'That Beatin' Rhythm' recorded under the alias Richard Temple in 1967 on Mirwood, named after a TV detective at the time. An instrumental version had previously been released as the B side to deep soul ballad 'Second Hand Happiness' titled 'Cigarette Ashes' as Jimmy Conwell. In the 70s Conwell was a member of Smoke Sugar Company who released 'The Girl I Can't Forget (Is The Girl Who Forgot Me)' / 'It's Been So Long' and 'Save A Little Love For A Rainy Day' / 'Doin' It' on Ter-De in 1974. Ter-Di was owned by Len Jewell and named after his daughter. In 1975 they released a self-titled album on 20th Century which spawned two singles 'My Eyes Search A Lonely Room For You' / '(Loving You) Coming Out Of A Brand New Bag' and 'Keeping Up My Front (Bumpity Bump)' as a promo. As a footnote it is no great surpise as to why Godoy Colbert's only single in 1969 on Revue 'Baby I Like It' has the same backing as Len Jewel's 'All My Good Lovin' (Is Going To Waste)'. The other side is another great track 'I Wanna Thank You' co-written with Len Jewel. Another footnote. Conwell's first single 'The Trouble With Girls (Of Today)' / 'I Know I'm Sure (I'm In Love)' was released in 1963 on L.A.'s 4J records which was coincidentally owned by Jesse J. Jones who regular followers of the blog will recall (from the Sonia Ross reissue on Hit And Run posted a few days ago) owned Tragar after moving from L.A. to Atlanta.

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