Billy "Soul" Bonds (21st Century)

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"Scat Cat, Here Kitty, Kitty"

Billy "Soul" Bonds (21st Century)

Composed by Billy "Soul" Bonds


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:

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Here's a guy who has more great unpublished songs than practically any other Southern Soul artist currently recording.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five years old (scroll down to "AN APPRECIATION OF SCAT CAT HERE KITTY KITTY"), Billy "Soul" Bonds has a backlog of unpublished songs that insures his next, long-awaited CD will be a landmark.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Artist Guide over and over during the past week, I've been playing three songs in particular--underground Bonds music, unpublished or out-of-print--that have me absolutely enthralled.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,
Ask me."

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."

(Chorus)

"'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)

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.  

Bonds began his professional career in the eighties. His debut LP, Deep Inside My Soul (M & T 1985), including the singles "Are You Leaving Me," an eight-minute medley long out-of-print but currently available on YouTube, and "Finders Keepers."

The aptly titled Soul Of The Man CD came out on the small Sog Secret label in 1992, notching a regional hit with "Baby, I Been Missing You." Ace Records featured the track (along with "I'm Going Public With My Love") in its compilation/sampler, The Kings And Queens Of Ace, in 1997.

Bonds' Soul Of The Man also included notable singles in "I'm Moving On" and "Good Love Going Bad."

The LP Heart and Soul followed in 1994 with regional hit singles including "Going Public With My Love" and "I Found Her In Time."  

In 1998, Billy "Soul" Bonds jumped to the indie-soul label Avanti, a subsidiary of Johnny Vincent's Ace Records, for his fourth album, I'm On My Way Back, registering popular singles with "I'm On My Way Back," "You Can't Do Wrong Right" and "I'm Searching."

Bonds went back to back with 1999's Going Public Again (Avanti), scoring popular singles with "Going Public With My Love," "I Failed," "One Way In...No Way Out" and the memorable "The Reverend Joe," one of the first chitlin' circuit tunes to pounce upon the sexuality of bible-belt preachers, noting that "below the waist" the Reverend Joe "was just a man."
 
Going Public Again also featured a collaboration with fellow Ace recording artist Pat Brown, "If Love Was a Snake."

Bonds also put out a three-single EP in 1999: Special Edition CD Single.

By the time his first 21st Century recording, I Just Came Out To Party, appeared on the Hus-La label in 2002, Billy "Soul" Bonds had already logged almost two decades in the music business.

Loosely modeled on Mel Waiters "Got My Whiskey," I Just Came Out To Party featured a title tune from the perspective of a clear-eyed woman going clubbing without her man. She "got her own money" and "don't need no romance."

I Just Came Out To Party also marked a new, topically humorous direction for Bonds with the crowd-pleasing, Court TV-inspired "Tell It To The Judge."

The same album contained one of Bonds' rare cover songs, a beautiful rendering of The Eagles' ballad "Best Of My Love" highlighted by the inspired background singing of Thomisene Anderson and Jewel Bass.

Yet Bonds' signature album for the 21st century came with Here Kitty Kitty (Waldoxy 2006), in which it all came together: the material, the producer (Malaco subsidiary Waldoxy), the arranger Harrison Calloway and the background singers Jewel Bass and Thomisene Anderson.

Ironically, "Da Dawg Song (You Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks)" a precursor of "Scat Cat Here Kitty Kitty," had appeared on the prior album, I Just Came Out To Party with essentially the same thematic and musical elements, including background, without catching on.

Eyebrows raised as the whimsical "Scat Cat Here Kitty Kitty" single became a fixture of Southern Soul radio for the better part of two years and spawned numerous cover songs on the order of Ms. Jody's "Your Dog's About To Kill My Cat."

Other singles from Here Kitty Kitty logging considerable airplay included "Movin' On Again," "Bedroom Workout," "Give Them Their Flowers" and "I Failed."

Billy "Soul" Bonds Discography

Deep Inside My Soul (M & T 1985)

Soul Of The Man (SOG Secret 1992)

Heart And Soul (SOG Secret 1994)

I'm On My Way Back (Avanti 1998)

Going Public Again (Avanti 1999)

I Just Came Out To Party (Hus-La 2002)

Here Kitty Kitty (Waldoxy 2006)


Song's Transcendent Moment

"You come home fussing
And leave home cussing.
You treat me so unkind.
No kissing and no touching,
It's about to blow my mind.
Just the other day,
I had to turn down
Your best friend Smitty.

She said,
When you say 'Scat cat,'
Another man say,
'Here kitty kitty.'"


Tidbits

1.

November 3, 2012: YouTube offerings for Billy "Soul" Bonds


Listen to Billy "Soul" Bonds singing "Scat Cat Here Kitty Kitty" on YouTube.

Listen to Billy "Soul" Bonds singing "Bedroom Workout" on YouTube.

Listen to Billy "Soul" Bonds singing "Good Love Going Bad" on YouTube.

Listen to Billy "Soul" Bonds singing "For Your Precious Love" Live on YouTube.

Listen to Billy "Soul" Bonds singing "I Found Her In Time" on YouTube.

Listen to Billy "Soul" Bonds singing "Finders Keepers" on YouTube.

Listen to Billy "Soul" Bonds singing "Are You Leaving Me" on YouTube.

Listen to Billy "Soul" Bonds singing "I'm On My Way Back" on YouTube.

Listen to Billy "Soul" Bonds singing "I'm Moving On" on YouTube.

Listen to Billy "Soul" Bonds singing "I Failed" on YouTube.

Listen to Billy "Soul" Bonds singing "One Stop Love" on YouTube.

2.

November 3, 2012: From The Archives


DADDY B. NICE INTERVIEWS BILLY "SOUL" BONDS ON UPCOMING BONDS MUSIC:

Reprinted from Daddy B. Nice's Corner, News & Notes, September 5, 2010:

Billy "Soul" Bonds' New "Cat" Song and CD's

. . . And each day brought new discoveries on Southern Soul radio, many by new artists out of the Jackson, Mississippi area. But the most amazing surprise was a new song by Billy "Soul" Bonds which told the story of how Billy's wife felt compelled to walk her cat each evening at the exact moment his neighbor left the house to walk his dog.

See Daddy B. Nice's #1 "Breaking" Southern Soul Single for September 2010.

So I called up Billy, who also now lives in the Jackson area, and told him I'd heard a new song that I was convinced was going to be a big hit for him, and described the lyrics.

"Where did you hear that song?" Billy said with the underlying tone of paranoia that artists get whenever they sense they may have copyright infringement issues. "No one's supposed to know about that yet."

I paused, realizing that I couldn't exactly remember. "Well, it must have been WMPR," (Southern Soul's flagship station in Jackson, Mississippi). "But it wasn't one of the main deejays. It wasn't Ragman or Outlaw. They haven't been there lately. I don't think it was Handyman. It was. . . I just don't know. I can't remember. It was one of the other guys over there."

Then Billy told me that the song and the new album containing the song was still under negotiation, although close to being finalized. But he had to be careful until all the "'i's got dotted and the 't's got crossed."

He said it would be released very soon after the Labor Day weekend. "Sometimes," Billy said, "I'll ask a deejay to play a new song on the radio so I can listen to it over the air waves."

"So it was more or less a demo?" I asked. "A trial run?"

"Yeah."

"Well, you hit the bulls-eye."

"You think?"

"Oh yeah. That song's going to be a smash. I mean, it's kind of silly and all, but musically it works to perfection."

Now we were both getting excited.

Billy said the title of the upcoming album is "The Much Right Man." The CD will contain another amusing and somewhat controversial track that was inspired by listening to Peggy Scott Adam's "Bill."

"You remember that, Daddy?

"Oh, yeah."

"Well, this song will be titled, "I Went To Bed With A Woman But Woke Up With A Man."

"Do you know the TV show "Cheaters"?"

"No, I don't know that one."

"Well, I'll have a country-western song that takes off on that show," Billy said. "I've also got a gospel album in the works, but I'm not calling it a gospel album. The title of the album is going to be 'Message Music.' It will also have a couple of patriotic songs."

"Speaking of gospel, Billy. You put out a gospel song I was just wild about a few months ago. I couldn't find anything on it, but I kept hearing it on WMPR. DJ Outlaw would play it every morning there for awhile at the end of his show (9 am) as a segue into the gospel show. It was with the Reverend Joe A. Washington. 'Ask Me!' That's it. ('If there's anybody here/ Who don't know Jesus/ Ask me.') I liked it so much I put it on one of my top ten R&B lists. Is that going to be on your new gospel album?"

"Yes it is," Billy said.

"Well, Billy, you're going to have some real happy fans. And the new song is going to be as big as 'Scat Cat Here Kitty Kitty,' you wait and see. Which reminds me of the reason I called. What is the exact title of that song?"

"Every Time My Neighbor Walks His Dog, My Wife Have (sic) To Walk Her Cat," Billy replied.

I laughed. "The whole phrase. Boy, that's a mouthful. Well, don't you worry, Billy. That song is going to win over people hands down. You've really got something there."

The next morning--I believe it was a Saturday--brought an amusing postscript.

"Every Time My Neighbor Walks His Dog, My Wife Has To Walk Her Cat" was playing again on WMPR. DJ Love Child was on the mike.

Billy "Soul" Bonds was giving the song one more on-air run-through.

--Daddy B. Nice

*****


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

"Tell It To The Judge"



5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Scat Cat, Here Kitty, Kitty by Billy 'Soul' Bonds (21st Century)
Scat Cat, Here Kitty, Kitty


CD: Here Kitty Kitty
Label: Waldoxy

Sample or Buy
Here Kitty Kitty


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Tell It To The Judge by Billy 'Soul' Bonds (21st Century)
Tell It To The Judge


CD: I Just Came Out To Party
Label: Hus-la

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I Just Came Out To Party


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Baby, I Been Missing You by Billy 'Soul' Bonds (21st Century)
Baby, I Been Missing You


CD: Soul Of The Man
Label: Right Time

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Soul Of The Man


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Best Of My Love by Billy 'Soul' Bonds (21st Century)
Best Of My Love


CD: I Just Came Out To Party
Label: Hus-la

Sample or Buy
I Just Came Out To Party


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy I'm Searching by Billy 'Soul' Bonds (21st Century)
I'm Searching


CD: I'm On My Way Back
Label: Avanti

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I'm On My Way Back


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Moving On Again by Billy 'Soul' Bonds (21st Century)
Moving On Again


CD: Here Kitty Kitty
Label: Waldoxy

Sample or Buy
Here Kitty Kitty


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Give Them Their Flowers by Billy 'Soul' Bonds (21st Century)
Give Them Their Flowers


CD: Here Kitty Kitty
Label: Waldoxy

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Here Kitty Kitty


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Failed by Billy 'Soul' Bonds (21st Century)
I Failed


CD: Going Public Again
Label: Avanti

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Going Public Again


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Reverend Joe by Billy 'Soul' Bonds (21st Century)
Reverend Joe


CD: Going Public Again
Label: Avanti

Sample or Buy
Going Public Again


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Going Public With My Love by Billy 'Soul' Bonds (21st Century)
Going Public With My Love


CD: Going Public Again
Label: Avanti

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Going Public Again


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Don't Want None by Billy 'Soul' Bonds (21st Century)
I Don't Want None


CD: I'm On My Way Back
Label: Avanti

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I'm On My Way Back


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Just Came Out To Party by Billy 'Soul' Bonds (21st Century)
I Just Came Out To Party


CD: I Just Came Out To Party
Label: Hus-la

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I Just Came Out To Party


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy I'm Going To Do Better, Babe by Billy 'Soul' Bonds (21st Century)
I'm Going To Do Better, Babe


CD: Here Kitty Kitty
Label: Waldoxy

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Here Kitty Kitty


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy If Love Was A Snake (w/ Pat Brown) by Billy 'Soul' Bonds (21st Century)
If Love Was A Snake (w/ Pat Brown)


CD: Going Public Again
Label: Avanti

Sample or Buy
Going Public Again


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy One Way In...No Way Out by Billy 'Soul' Bonds (21st Century)
One Way In...No Way Out


CD: Going Public Again
Label: Avanti

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Going Public Again


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