Daddy B. Nice's #94 ranked Southern Soul Artist
"The Man With The Singing Ding-A-Ling"
September 1, 2014:
Frank Lucas debuts at #94 on Daddy B. Nice's Top 100 21st Century Southern Soul CountdownSee Chart
Listen to Frank Lucas singing the definitive version of "The Man With The Singing Ding-A-Ling" on YouTube while you read.
September 1, 2014: Daddy B. Nice's Profile
Frank Lucas is one of those hard-to-define niche artists whose achievements are too easily dismissed and--in the case of Lucas's carnality--even shunned or abhorred by the same genre (southern soul) that celebrates sensuality.
On the other hand, it's likely Lucas was "driven" to southern soul and its underground network of independent radio stations (where even in "friendly" territory he's sometimes denied) by the Pollyannish rejections of the majority of mainstream stations. (Hard to believe in the age of hiphop content, but that's another story.)
"The Man With The Singing Ding-A-Ling" is the ultimate male mating call, like a rooster crowing, or like a big bull elk trumpeting in the high country, but this celebration of alpha-male ego is tempered, as it were, by the joy and hilarity the self-congratulation brings out in the singer.
In my favorite video of Frank Lucas, he's gyrating in high-stop sneakers, matching zebra shirt and do-rag, looking vaguely reptilian, definitely someone you'd cross the street to avoid after dark.
It's as if Lucas himself were a spectacle, or as if--because of the over-the-top nature of the lyrics--he becomes a spectacle in the very act of distilling the words to the audience without breaking down or cracking up.
The singer seems to be--MUST be, you think--laughing at himself. Nevertheless, on the surface at least, the singer is playing it straight, letting it all hang out, rhyming--
"...I'm proud of that thing"
--with an earnestness that belies any detachment, much less self-reflection. And that, too, contributes to the legend of Frank Lucas and "The Man With The Singing Ding-A-Ling."
Because the song really has become a kind of "cult song," making your Daddy B. Nice and countless other fans of the tune revel in the very unlikeliness of it all, the against-the-grain braggadocio of Frank Lucas coming out of nowhere to score an underground hit in the best risque tradition of Marvin Sease, Clarence Carter, Bobby Rush and Chick Willis.
Whether you love or hate the singer's blissful state of "being-full-of-himself," you can't ignore it. The melody's too catchy, the lyrics too explicit (or kitschy, depending on your point of view), the instrumental track too soulful.
(It's from the classic Rascals hit, written and performed by front-man Felix Cavaliere, "Groovin'". Betty Wright also used "Groovin's" instrumental track for her tale of first love, "Tonight Is The Night.")
Lost in the X-rated daydreams the song engenders is the masterful job Frank does on vocals. Covering up none of his twangy, somewhat tinny tenor, instead milking it for all it's worth, Lucas lapses (in a well-calculated manner) into long, almost satirically drawn-out notes and--even better--nonsense-syllable scat phrases that endear his scruffy style to the listener even more. "The Good Thing Man," from a vocalist's standpoint, is even more impressive.
Listen to Frank Lucas singing "The Man With The Singing Ding-A-Ling" on YouTube.
Listen to Frank Lucas singing "Good Thing Man" on YouTube.
The Original Good Thing Man Single.
Dirty Ol' Man CD.
--Daddy B. Nice
About Frank Lucas
Frank Lucas’s “The Man With The Singing Ding-A-Ling” first charted on….
Honorary "B" Side
"The Good Thing Man (Single)"
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