Billy "Soul" Bonds (21st Century)
Daddy B. Nice's #43 ranked Southern Soul Artist
"Scat Cat, Here Kitty, Kitty"
Billy "Soul" Bonds (21st Century)
Composed by Billy "Soul" Bonds
March 1, 2015: NEW ALBUM ALERT! CALLING ALL CAT DADDY ENTHUSIASTS!
Billy "Soul" Bonds' long-awaited set of songs has finally arrived --well, as of this date almost. A survey of iTunes, Amazon, and other retailers found only one, CD Universe, selling the complete album with some (not all) samples and some (not all) for sale as mp3's. All the sites have "Cat Daddy" for sale as a single.
Sample/Buy Billy "Soul" Bonds CAT DADDY CD at CD Universe.
Listen to Billy "Soul" Bonds singing "Every Time My Neighbor Walks His Dog" on YouTube.
ALSO: See Daddy B. Nice's piece on Billy "Soul" Bonds in the February "News & Notes" on Daddy B. Nice's Corner. It includes a 2010 interview with Billy about the songs that would make up the CAT DADDY album. (The original interview is also posted on this page, in the "Tidbits" section.)
Note: Billy "Soul" Bonds also appears on Daddy B. Nice's original Top 100 Southern Soul Artists (90's-00's). The "21st Century" after Billy "Soul" Bonds' name in the headline is to distinguish his artist-guide entries on this page from his artist-guide page on Daddy B. Nice's original chart.
November 4, 2012:
Daddy B. Nice's Updated Critique
Here's a guy who crafts songs the way Sam Cooke used to.
Here's a guy who has more great unpublished songs than practically any other Southern Soul artist currently recording.
Here's a guy who, if his material continues to be as inaccessible and obscure as it has been over the last decade, will be a star in the "rare records" market.
Delicate and modest in first impression, Billy "Soul" Bonds' music doesn't always turn heads. But like the David Ruffin-led Temptations singing "My Girl," it grows on you.
The music of Billy "Soul" Bonds inhabits a special world suggested by the soul singers of yesteryear, but don't call it "retro" because Bonds has never had to "return" to it. Billy has been immersed in that special world from the beginning: straight, head-on and true.
And of the top stars in contemporary Southern Soul, few promise fans the coming excitement that Billy does. In addition to the "Recommended Singles" spanning the last twenty-five years (right-hand column of this page) and the resounding success of his signature song, "Scat Cat, Here Kitty, Kitty," already five years old (scroll down to "AN APPRECIATION OF SCAT CAT HERE KITTY KITTY"), Billy "Soul" Bonds has a backlog of unpublished songs that insures his next, long-awaited CD will be a landmark.
In addition to playing all the songs discussed in this Artist Guide over and over during the past week, I've been playing three songs in particular--underground Bonds music, unpublished or out-of-print--that have me absolutely enthralled.
The first is a song I had never heard until a year ago. I thought it was another new, unrecorded Bonds song (of which there are many) until I heard DJ Love Child at WMPR say "That thing brings back a lot of memories."
And in researching video/audio offerings for Bonds on the Internet I came across the song on YouTube.
The title is "Are You Leaving Me?" and it sounds good enough to be a number-one hit song in 2012, despite the fact the tune harks all the way back to 1985 and Bonds' first, long out-of-print CD, Deep Inside My Soul.
Listen to Billy "Soul" Bonds singing "Are You Leaving Me" on YouTube.
"Are You Leaving Me" is at least in part (the first part) an homage to Latimore's "Let's Straighten it Out." The first time or two I heard the song, it seemed a little long (not farfetched, as it logs in at an incredible eight-minutes), but that didn't take the edge off my craving to hear the song again. And again.
The second song is a gospel collaboration with the Reverend Joe A. Washington titled "Ask Me." The dominant refrain is:
"If there's anyone here
Who don't know Jesus,
This song illuminates the reason Southern Soul singers bring such emotional depth to their work. The religiosity of gospel carries over years after crossing the line into secular music.
But the hallmarks of Southern Soul (rock-and-rolling melody, fine guitar work, and the "street life" of the real world) also double back upon the rendering of this gospel outing, giving it dimensions one seldom hears in Gospel.
"Ask Me" is an unpublished song Billy "Soul" Bonds will feature on an upcoming gospel album. (See Daddy B. Nice's interview with Billy "Soul" Bonds by scrolling down to Tidbits #2.) However, it has such force it wouldn't be entirely out of place on a Bonds secular album.
Finally, I have been repeatedly listening and cherishing Billy "Soul" Bonds follow-up to "Scat Cat Here Kitty Kitty." I first heard this song on Jackson, Mississippi's WMPR.
In the same interview with Daddy B. Nice, Bonds explains that the title is:
"Every Time My Neighbor Walks His Dog, My Wife Have To Walk Her Cat."
Although fans can only appreciate this song fully if they are aware of "Scat Cat Here Kitty Kitty," I believe this follow-up is even better. The melody and arrangement are peerless, and Bonds' vocal is as iconic as ever.
Here's a sample of the lyrics:
"Now my wife's got a cat,
And I can only walk
It in the daytime,
Because she always
Have to walk it at night.
Tell me what's up with that
Or is it just my mind?
'Cause something just ain't right,
'Cause when the dog comes home,
He seems happy through and through
And my wife's little cat
Feels the same way, too."
"'Cause every time my neighbor
Walks his dog,
My wife have to walk her cat.
And I'm crying, begging,
Tell me how a dog and cat
Can act like that."
Billy "Soul" Bonds has a special relationship with WMPR deejays, and one way to hear this and other rare Bonds songs is to call these Bonds loyalists with your requests.
AN APPRECIATION OF SCAT CAT, HERE KITTY, KITTY
Listen to Billy "Soul" Bonds singing "Scat Cat Here Kitty Kitty" on YouTube while you read.
Jerry "Boogie" Mason once told your Daddy B. Nice how taken by surprise he'd been by the success of Theodis Ealey's "Stand Up In It." "I never saw that one coming," he said.
That's how I'd describe my reaction to the enthusiastic response to Billy "Soul" Bonds' "Scat Cat Here Kitty Kitty." When it came out in 2006, "Scat Cat" seemed to me like just another fine tune in the typical Bonds mold. Who'd have believed it was destined to make Bonds a major Southern Soul star?
If great Bonds songs like "I'm Searching" and "I Failed" and "Tell It To The Judge" could "try and fail" (to quote from "I Failed") to become hits, what reason was there to believe the equally sentimental and throwback-sounding "Scat Cat, Here Kitty Kitty" would be received any differently?
I remember in particular omitting "Scat Cat" from my Top 25 Southern Soul Singles of 2006, but I was aware even then that I was going against the grain of public sentiment. Six months earlier, in an August 2006 Billy "Soul" Bonds artist-guide update, I had already written that "Here Kitty Kitty" was "a gentle, finely-focused portrait of a domestic squabble, and one of the most highly-requested songs on the Stations of the Deep South in the summer of 2006."
So you can imagine my bafflement in 2007, a year later, as month after month passed with Bargain-Priced "Scat Cat, Here Kitty Kitty" at or near the top spot of the chitlin' circuit charts, a breaththrough hit for Bonds in just the way "Stand Up In It" had been for Ealey.
When a song proves itself with the audience the way Theodis Ealey's "Stand Up In it" or T. K. Soul's "Cheating And Lying" have recently done, all a pundit can do is marvel at the unpredictability of art and consumer taste and try to grab hold of the rear bumper as the bandwagon passes. Popularity, in other words, forces even the most recalcitrant critic to reassess his initial judgments. What may have sounded familiar or trite to him somehow managed to have the opposite effect on a great number of people. Anybody has to respect that.
What's even more remarkable about the "Scat Cat, Here Kitty Kitty" is how old-fashioned it is. There are the saccharine violins, the orchestral trimmings, the tinkling background sound (Bonds' trademark), the show-tune-like crescendos on the choruses, not to mention Bonds' typically humble and soothing vocal.
Also not to be overlooked is the subtle but powerful texture created by female back-up singers Thomisene Anderson and Jewel Bass. The warbling of these two near-invisible divas ratchets up the classic Southern Soul ambience, an atmosphere that seems almost out of place in these frantic, perfunctory, rat-race times, and it still mystifies your Daddy B. Nice how such an old-fashioned-sounding song could have garnered so much love and appreciation from a 21st-century audience.
And yet, the Southern Soul audience does love it and does crave it. The proof is that three of the biggest Southern Soul hits over the same period--Ms. Jody's "Your Dog Is Killing My Cat," Carl Marshall's "Good Loving Will Make You Cry" and J. Blackfoot's "I'm Just A Fool For You"--also mined the same "retro" ambience.
How big is the triumph of "Scat Cat Here Kitty Kitty" for Billy "Soul" Bonds? Well, prior to its release, Bonds fans would have been hard-pressed to settle upon the signature song by this unheralded, chitlin' circuit, singing-songwriting master. One might have said, "I Just Came Out To Party," another one "Going Public," another "I'm Searching," and yet another "I Failed" or "Best Of My Love."
There's no disagreement any more. "Scat Cat Here Kitty Kitty" has without a doubt become Billy "Soul" Bonds' signature song.
--Daddy B. Nice
About Billy "Soul" Bonds (21st Century)
A Billy "Soul" Bonds--"Mister Sock-It, Sock-It"--grew up in Biscoe, Arkansas, on Route 70 halfway between Memphis and Little Rock, just up the road from West Helena, Ark. and Clarksdale, Mississippi.
Song's Transcendent Moment
"You come home fussing
If You Liked. . . You'll Love
If you liked The Spinners' "I'll Be Around," you'll love Billy "Soul" Bonds' "Scat Cat, Here Kitty, Kitty."
Honorary "B" Side
"Every Time My Neighbor Walks His Dog"
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