Pure Essence is one of countless soulful outfits whose sounds were almost lost to the dustbins of time. This funky crew of Cincinnati musicians included iconic vocalist Dwight Trible, along with an unknown young drummer named L.A. Reid. (Yes, that L.A. Reid.) Thankfully, recent discoveries have brought their sounds back to life for a new generation of listeners.
Unmistakably a product of the Age of Aquarius, one of their few existing tracks includes a funky bassline that would make Bootsy proud, and a hazy wah guitar lying somewhere in between the sounds of Sly and Eddie Hazel. Originally the product of a tiny label called Mantra Records, “Third Rock” was released on a 45 in 1976. (The band’s only other known recording, “Wake Up Parts 1 & 2”, was released by Mantra the same year.) A year after the single’s release, it appeared on Cincinnati radio station WEBN’s “The Album Project #2”, a grab bag of output from local bands.
“Third Rock” was almost destined for obscurity until it was rediscovered by Stones Throw Records’ then-general manager Egon, who reissued the record on his Soul Cal imprint in 2005. Stones Throw would subsequently include the cut on its 2006 Chrome Children compilation, an eclectic album that was co-sponsored by Adult Swim. Not every tune has nine lives, but fortunately for crate diggers this gem has lasted long enough rock for another day.
Words by @BrotherHayling
*This is the first installment in a weekly feature that will revisit forgotten singles and deep album cuts across eras and genres.