Cleveland, 1966 - late 1970s
Ricky Hodges was the most unique artist to come from Cleveland's soul/funk music scene. He released nearly 10 45s, pretty much all on his own, and would reuse some or all of his songs to create updated and different versions, in one case spanning nearly 8 years. He didn't have a technically great voice but he did know how to project huge doses of spirit and energy into his recordings. His influences ranges from raw southern R&B to high spiritual gospel to psychedelic funk. Even within the relatively tight knit Cleveland African-American musical community, he is somewhat of a mystery and to few details of his life and premature death are known.
Some of Ricky's 45s are among the rarest Cleveland soul 45s with only a few copies accounted for. This includes his first 45, the first release for the DeBrossard label. The backing band and recording session seems to be the same for the Ambassadors 45 on DeBrossard. Both sides are uptempo raw soul, the most, or maybe only, conventional 45 Ricky recorded.
On his next couple 45s, he was involved with Otto Neuber. It would have been an interesting scene to picture Neuber, a former member of the German Nazi Party, dealing with Hodges, from one of Cleveland's urban black communities. One 45 was issued on the Clevetown label where Hodges was backed by Little G and the Vibrators, the soul/R&B band lead by Clarence "Little G" Gillespie. Mysteriously, the songs on the Clevetown 45 were released by the Palos label from Chicago, with alternate/re-edited vocal tracks and with the titles also altered. Hodges had another 45 on Palos. a recording of the Aretha Franklin song "Save Me", funked up to extend over two sides. This seems to be the most successful 45 that Hodges made. All these recordings were done at Audio recording.
Around 1970 Hodges started using the Boddie operation, for records on his own labels, and for a couple 45s on the Soul Kitchen label. He recorded a new version of the song "I Feel The Love You Have For Me" and retitled it "Deep". This was recorded at Audio and released on his own Music Flow label, pressed at Boddie. Later in 1970 he recorded a reworked version of "Don't Blow" called "Don't Destroy Our Love" for a 45 for the Soul Kitchen label, using the plain red label layout. In 1971, he recorded a third version of "I Feel The Love", called "I Feel It" edited into two parts and released as the first of the famous "stove logo" Soul Kitchen 45s. For this version, Ricky (and the band) went crazy, with intense heavy guitar and flute instrumentation. On many of these later 45s, he added his self-production name "Alricko" to the label credits (his given first name was Albert).
His last 45 seems to have been done in 1975/6, back on the Music Flow label. It was released under two names, Ricke (on a green label) and Rhkie VII (on a yellow label). The songs were the Supremes classic "Someday We'll Be Together" backed with a re-recording of his first 45, "Love In It's Making".
Ricky seems to have passed away in the early 1990s, long before most people had discovered his recordings.
It Happened Too Fast / Love In It's Making - DeBrossard
I Feel The Love You Have For Me / Don't Blow No More - Clevetown 450
I Feel That Love (You Have For Me) / Baby Don't Blow - Palos 1207
Save Me Pt. 1 / Save Me Pt. 2 - Palos 1208
Deep (vocal) / Deep (instrumental) - Music Flow 1952
Don't Destroy Our Love Pt. 1 / Don't Destroy Our Love Pt. 2 - Soul Kitchen 0015, 1970
I Feel It (The Love You Have For Me) Pt. 1 / I Feel It (The Love You Have For Me) Pt. 2 - Soul Kitchen 7147
Return Your Love To Me / Smoking Rhythm - Music Flow
Love In It's Making / Someday We'll Be Together - Music Flow 7605