Harvey & The Phenomenals

From the state of Ohio, in the heart of the American Midwest, Harvey & The Phenomenals were a mainstay of the Cleveland club circuit throughout the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Harvey Hall (also known as Harvey Nickerson-Hall) formed this self contained soul group after having been a singer in the Fabulous Flames.

Between 1966 and 1968, the Boddie Recording Company was the Phenomenals’ second home, the group on call to either practice or record at a moment’s notice. They served as Thomas Boddie’s clutch session players, giving the studio a more professional feel and capacity. They did a lot of woodshedding and backing group recordings for Boddie. The Phenomenals during this pivotal period consisted of drummer Al Williams, bassist Leonard Lewis, saxophonist Fred Evans, alto-saxophonist Otis Harris, vocalist Beverly Elliot, and at the helm, guitarist and vocalist Harvey Hall.

It is remarkable that they only released two records in their long career. Both 45s were recorded at Thomas Boddie’s crucial Boddie Studio, a move made by many local northern Ohio combos at the time. During the 1960s the group had one 45 on the Boddie related Luau label. The record was pressed at Pama, it was an early Boddie 45 done before he had his recording studio and pressing plant un full operation. In 1971 the group would find financial backing courtesy of Melvin Woods’ and Bob Davis’ upstart Da-Wood label for their their second and last 45 "Soul & Sunshine" b/w "What Can I Do". The group changed members often, but in the early 1970s the group included Hall on guitar and vocals, Nate Gainey on bass and vocals, James Ash and Ellis Hives on tenor sax, and Ernest James on drums. George Hendricks, who had been in the Sahibs, one of the Fabulous Flames main competition, was the lead singer for awhile.

In their tireless live act the Phenomenals Band would back man local vocalists of the era, including Beverly Elliott, the Entertains, and the Instuitions. Earning their chops and gaining popularity by relentlessly playing notable night spots such as the Ashbury Lounge, the Kinsman Grill, and the Cougar Lounge, they worked hard, as guitarist Hall remembers: “We’d play the Cougar Lounge every Saturday until 2am. Then we’d do a breakfast party at Robert’s Steakhouse from 4 – 8am. Then we’d go someplace else. We wouldn’t go to bed, it was fun! They were the best times of my life!”

*Liner Notes with help from Jazzmanrecords and Harvey Nickerson-Hall

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