Long prized by record collectors and soul enthusiasts alike, Messengers Incorporated’s album Soulful Proclamation is a monster soul/funk LP, nearly unheard since its original release in 1972. After constant performances in and around the Oklahoma City area, Charles Burton’s band Messengers Incorporated produced and released this album themselves, in the hopes of scoring a record deal. While the deal never materialized, the group left this incredible document behind.
In the ’70s radio stations were a powerful force across the whole of the US, and anyone with a transistor radio had access all kinds of music. Live music was another matter altogether, and unless you found yourself in a major city your nights out were limited to what the local talent had to offer. This was especially so with soul and funk acts, as mainstream rock and pop was where the money was. So for small time Oklahoma soul bands such as husband and wife Charles and Barbara Burton’s groups Messengers Inc – and later Burton Inc – times were tough. However, like many purveyors of soul, tough times were no match for those with determination, persistence and a story to tell. Many artists scraped enough money together to make a 45 or two on their own label; but the Burtons took this to another level – they got themselves organized and released their own full length LPs.
Soulful Proclamation features ten tracks centered in soul and funk, but drawing on influences of rock and jazz. The titular opening track “Soulful Proclamation” was compiled on the classic Now-Again album Midwest Funk. Featured here are seven originals and three covers, including an intense Latin flavored funk instrumental version of the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby.” Soulful Proclamation is one of the rarest of holy grail collector albums: not only do original copies fetch upwards of a thousand dollars–it’s an album that’s exceptionally rare, but also exceptionally good.