When I first scanned down my big long list of number ones and saw that ‘Baby, Now That I’ve Found You’ by The Foundations was coming up, I started imagining what it would sound like. I do that with bands and songs that I’ve not heard much before. And I pictured a Detroit four-piece – like The Four Tops, or The Temptations – and lots of vocal harmonies.
Baby, Now That I’ve Found You, by The Foundations (their 1st and only #1)
2 weeks, from 8th – 22nd November 1967
But no. The Foundations were British. And, while I could have sang at least half the chorus of ‘Baby, Now That I’ve Found You’, the rest of the song sounds quite different to how I’d imagined. It is uplifting, and catchy. It soars upwards on line after ascending line. There are strong hints of Motown in there. But it’s a record that owes just as much, if not more, to British soul – the Georgie Fames, Chris Farlowes and The Spencer Davis Groups that have been popping up over the past couple of years.
Baby, Now that I’ve found you I can’t let you go, I’ll build my world around you, I need you so… It could be a Motown recording, if the production were a little slicker, and the vocals a little more polished. But it’s down to Earth-ness, it’s rough around the edges-ness – dare we say its Britishness? – is a big part of this record’s charm. Especially in the bridge, when the drums go all rocky, and the voices all come together like its last orders down the pub: Now you told me that you wanna leave me, Darling I just can’t let you… Clem Curtis, the lead singer, gives it his all.
It’s a fun song, a catchy interlude that makes 1967 an even more eclectic year in terms of its chart-topping singles. It was the debut single of The Foundations, who are a band that deserve a bit of attention drawn their way. They were the first inter-racial band to have a #1 in the sixties, their members coming from the West Indies, the UK and Sri Lanka. Plus there were – I think – nine people in the band when ‘Baby, Now That I’ve Found You’ was released (I know there are only eight in the picture above, but I’m going on what I’ve read…) That’s a big pop group in anyone’s books, but not a record… The Temperance Seven also numbered nine members back when they hit top spot back in 1961. The Foundations’ oldest member was thirty-eight; the youngest just eighteen.
From the sounds of it, they found it very difficult to keep a band of that size and with that wide an age-range together. They only released ten singles before splitting up in 1970 – the second biggest of which was the even catchier ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’, which would reach #2 in 1968.
To be honest, if a year or so ago somebody had asked me about ‘British soul in the 1960s’ I would have had to politely shrug. But having now written posts on all these hits that have kept on cropping up at the top of the charts for almost three years now, I feel I should hang my head in shame. British soul was a big part of the sixties-sound, that seems to have been overshadowed by the likes of Merseybeat, folk and flower-power… Maybe it’s because, like me, people just assume the songs and the bands were American. Hopefully if you were as oblivious as I was then you too have enjoyed discovering this fascinating sub-genre. And hopefully the British soul hits keep on coming!