Recording Oddities: The Kingsmen – “I’ll Fly Away”

Recording Oddities: The Kingsmen – “I’ll Fly Away”

MaydayI remember my Dad had quite a record collection. His favorite pastime was to put these records onto mix tapes to play in the car. One such tape I remember vividly, as it never seem to leave the car. The Dixie Echoes, the Oaks, the Hemphills, and the Kingsmen were on this particular tape, and I think we wore it thin playing it in his old Cougar.

One of the songs on that tape I always enjoyed as the Kingsmen’s version of “I’ll Fly Away” from their 1972 album, “May Day.” It always stood out to me because it included an introduction by Jim Hamill that declared that they had just finished “the greatest album” they’d ever done, listing off the credits of the album while the band played behind him before going into the first verse of the song. I could just about quote his intro from hearing it so many times.

Years later, while browsing through Spotify, I saw a company called Bibletone had digitally released several of the Kingsmen’s old Heavyweight Records table projects from that era. One of the albums, sure enough, was May Day. I fired up “I’ll Fly Away,” expecting to hear Hamill’s intro, but alas, it wasn’t there. He still named the instrumentalists during their features, but the “greatest album” monologue was gone.

I seriously began to doubt my memory at this point. I could’ve sworn it was in “I’ll Fly Away.” Was I thinking of another album entirely? Then thanks to Chad Pruitt on the Gospel Music CSI Facebook group (great bunch of folks!), he confirmed that I was not going crazy. He sent me the LP version, and sure enough, there was Hamill’s intro!

It turns out that whoever is distributing the Bibletone Kingsmen albums apparently felt it necessary to edit out Hamill’s monologue from “I’ll Fly Away.” This is an odd decision, mainly because the albums themselves don’t appear to have been edited in any other way (except maybe removing some LP pops here an there). There is distortion all over most of them, and yet Big Jim’s monologue was removed to save 30 seconds on a song that, even with the monologue, came in at just about 2 minutes.

Below is the clip provided by Chad (it’s slightly faster, as it came from a turntable):

And below is the clip as heard on Spotify:

Any ideas as to why such a seemingly pointless edit was made? The only explanation I can come up with is that, in a digital age where songs are purchased one-at-a-time and shuffled in playlists, it maybe made sense to cut it down to a stand-alone track, or maybe someone didn’t want the studio credits included. In any case, it’s an odd cut to make….

Kyle Boreing

<p>Kyle has been writing for MusicScribe since 2008. He is a gospel music soloist, occasional quartet singer, and church music director who pays way too much attention to recordings. He is an alumni of Stamps-Baxter School of Music and has shared the stage with artists such as Mercy’s Mark, the Dove Brothers Band, and The Oak Ridge Boys.</p> <p>Visit his website at www.kyleboreing.com, or follow him on Twitter @kyleboreing.</p>

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  1. Sam
    Reply January 08, 16:14 #1 Sam

    Is the Bibletone label still run by Johnny Carter in Rome, GA? He used to have a company called NRC (National Recording Company).




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