Nolan Porter - If I Could Only Be Sure / Keep On Keeping On 45
  • Nolan Porter - If I Could Only Be Sure / Keep On Keeping On 45
  • Nolan Porter - If I Could Only Be Sure / Keep On Keeping On 45
  • Nolan Porter - If I Could Only Be Sure / Keep On Keeping On 45
  • Nolan Porter - If I Could Only Be Sure / Keep On Keeping On 45

Nolan Porter

If I Could Only Be Sure / Keep On Keeping On 7"

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A Side: Nolan Porter - If I Could Only Be Sure
B Side: Nolan Porter - Keep On Keeping On
Label: Light Of Love Wax Co.
Catalogue #: LOLWC004
Format: 7" Vinyl
Genre: Northern Soul, 70s Soul
Release Year: 2016
Condition: New

The career arc of Nolan Porter is the stuff of Hollywood legend. A native Angelino with a love of music, Porter joined a madrigal singing group in 1968 while attending Los Angeles City College, where he met Mani Mekler, sister of record producer Gabriel Mekler. Having just come off of Steppenwolf’s massive hit “Born To Be Wild,” Mekler, whose roster also included Three Dog Night, was at the right point for Porter to be connected with him. “It was a great learning experience for me,” Porter confessed to liner notes author Greg Russo about his early session with Mekler, “since all the guys were seasoned players and performers and I was just starting my recording career.” Among the musicians enlisted for Porter’s initial sessions were Steppenwolf's Jerry Edmonton and Goldy St. John, Mothers of Invention drummer Jimmy Carl Black, Little Feat’s Lowell George, and harmony vocalists The Blackberries, made up of former Raelette Clydie King and former Ikettes Venetta Fields and Sherlie Matthews. Mekler brought Porter fully into the fold, signing him and releasing Porter’s recordings on his freshly launched Lizard label.

 

Porter followed his 1970 debut album No Apologies with the single “Keep On Keeping On.” “[Drummer] Richard Flowers and I created the song together at a recording studio at Argyle Avenue and Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood,” Porter recalled to Greg Russo. “Gabriel Mekler was preparing me for a tour and 'Keep On Keeping On' came as a surprise while jamming in the studio. Richard heard the saying 'Keep On Keeping On' when he was a child growing up in the south. It was a way of saying, 'be strong, don't give up.' I liked the expression and wrote the lyrics.” Lizard issued the single in September 1971, but confounded matters by crediting the single to “N.F. Porter.” Making matters worse, Porter explained, “Lizard was breaking up while the song was becoming a hit”: just as “Keep On Keeping On” was climbing the charts—it cracked the R&B Top 40, reaching #39—Lizard lost its distribution deal, and the release stumbled.

 

As if inspired by their own creation, Mekler kept on, securing a new deal with ABC Records, and again assembled some of music’s top players for Porter’s next session. Returning to the studio in August 1972, Porter was joined by, among others, guitarists Larry Carlton and Johnny “Guitar” Watson for his intensely personal “If I Could Only Be Sure.” “At that time of my life, love and relationships weren't concrete or certain in my life,” Porter reveals. “It was an expression of longing and loyalty to that longing. Johnny Watson's guitar expressed that longing." Though the song spent two months on the R&B chart, peaking at #29 and making it Porter’s best chart performer, it only tipped into the Hot 100, reaching #89. With a lack of commercial traction, the ABC deal dissolved.

 

The songs’ brilliance was not lost on the Northern Soul scene. “Keep On Keeping On”’s psyche-garage pulse made it an early ’70s floorfiller, while the moody vanguard “If I Could Only Be Sure,” which would find good company with other eccentric expressions like 24-Carat Black and Steve Parks’ “Movin’ In The Right Direction,” shows not only the diverse musical paths that African-American artists pave, but the diverse sounds the Northern scene would embrace.

 

Light of Love Wax Co is proud to present these two gems on 7” vinyl in a limited edition pressing. Issued in a custom tri-color sleeve, “If I Could Only Be Sure” / “Keep On Keeping On” is the latest release on Gloria Jones’ Light of Love Wax Co. imprint. Ms Jones set up the Light of Love Wax Co. as a vehicle to help support Music & Film schools in West Africa. Proceeds from every Light of Love Wax Co. sale helps support this cause.


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