“Soul Serenade”: Beau Dollar + Coins

Seems like everyone’s covered “Soul Serenade” – so why does no one play it on the radio?  Don’t you think it’s about time for this tune to be rediscovered?

“Soul Serenade”     Beau Dollar & the Coins     1966

This irresistible instrumental was produced by Lonnie Mack, one-time musical compatriot of Roger TroyBeau Dollar – last celebrated in this offbeat & oddball historical highlight reel – once served as a session drummer for Syd Nathan’s King Records in Cincinnati.  Three of the Coins – Ed Setser, Tim Hedding & Les Asch – in fact, would join Roger Troy’s Jellyroll.

                      DJ copy                                        45 on Cincinnati’s Fraternity label

Beau Dollar - Prime 45Beau Dollar - Fraternity 45

Originally recorded by legendary session musician and bandleader, King Curtis, in 1964, this song would be covered by the likes of Quincy Jones, Gloria Lynne, Aretha Franklin,  Lou RawlsWillie Mitchell, The Allman Brothers, Jimmy Castor Bunch, Bill Black’s Combo & The Derek Trucks Band.

The song would also spawn a slew of ska, rocksteady & reggae covers by such notable names as Prince Buster, The Soul Brothers, The Paragons, The Gaylads, Tommy McCook, Boris Gardiner, St. George & the Dragon Killers, Byron Lee & the Dragonaires, and don’t forget The Federalmen.

Beau Dollar’s Last King 45 as Artist – written by henry glover

Beau Dollar - King 45

Prior to becoming The Dapps, the group had already released two 45s under the name, Beau Dollar and the Coins.  The band’s second single features a classic arrangement of “Soul Serenade,” which is, in fact, a track recorded by Lonnie Mack for Fraternity Records.  According to Stuart Colman’s liner notes from the Ace UK anthology, Lonnie Mack — From Nashville to Memphis:

“Sax supremo King Curtis could hardly have imagined the kind of track record that his immortal ‘Soul Serenade’ would one day generate.  Not long after its public debut, this mellifluous instrumental became part of the Lonnie Mack repertoire where it sat alongside such well-loved favourites as Don and Juan’s ‘What’s Your Name‘ and Bobby Parker’s ‘Watch Your Step‘.  The personnel of Lonnie’s road band at this point included guitarists Troy Seals and Eddie Setser, who’d previously worked together backing Johnny Tillotson and Tommy Roe, along with a remarkably solid drummer named Bill Hargis ‘Beau’ Bowman Jnr.  However, with a line-up that was in a constant state of flux the trio departed for pastures new, leaving the Lonnie Mack legend to take a significant turn during 1965 towards a musical enterprise known as Soul Incorporated.”

Lonnie subsequently recorded “Soul Serenade” and two other songs with Wayne Young and Marvin Maxwell’s outfit, Soul Inc, although Harry Carlson of Fraternity Records made the curious decision to release the 45 under the name “Beau Dollar & the Coins.” Stuart Colman provides a postscript:

“Despite a lack of chart action, there was a further show of faith in ‘Soul Serenade’ when the master was leased to the Chess-distributed Prime label in October 1966.  Inspired by the fact that most local bands were now including the tune in their sets, the Casinos (who’d just been signed to Fraternity) cut a version for the flip of their debut single.  According to leader Gene Hughes, this track was used as theme for DJ Tom Kennington’s show on WSAI in Cincinnati.”

Danny Sandrik‘s excellent tribute piece – “Blue-Eyed Soul and the Cincinnati Sound” – notes that Lonnie Mack, along with Beau Dollar, “was” the Cincinnati Sound and reveals that it was Chuck Sullivan, not Mack (as indicated in this discography), who played the signature guitar lines on Beau’s classic version of “Soul Serenade.”  Sullivan would also relate the details of that famous recording session of 7 February 1966 to Brian Powers in a special radio program James Brown Productions, Part One that aired on Cincinnati’s WVXU during 2018’s King Records 75th Anniversary Celebration.