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Biography

  • Born

    20 November 1933

  • Born In

    Washington, D.C., United States

  • Died

    29 September 2016 (aged 82)

Little Royal & The Swingmasters was an American soul and R&B group and artist of the 1960-70's. Little Royal was half-brother of James Brown.

Notable people who have performed with Little Royal include Teddy Pendergrass and Bobby Parker.

The title track of his album "Jealous", reached #15 on the Billboard R&B Chart on August 5, 1972. His song, Razor Blade was sampled by 16 artists, including Ice-T, Lord Finesse and J Dilla.

Little Royal died at the age of 82 on September 29, 2016.

Little Royal – know to his mama as Royal Torrance – recorded for a number of labels in the 60’s and 70’s, creating his best known/remembered for the Tri-Us subsidiary of King records.
The King association is apt because the artist that ought to come to mind upon hearing much of Little Royal’s material is none other than the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.
‘Razor Blade’ is a very solid bit of meat and potatoes funk 45-ism, with a rubbery pimp-walk of a guitar line laid over a snappy 4/4 drum beat (with a break, of course…) and a sharp horn chart. Torrance had a sound that was probably too derivative to ever elevate him from the B-list of soul artists, particularly considering that his vocals were very similar to those of James Brown. Despite this limitation, Royal recorded fairly frequently in the '60s and '70s for labels including Carnival, Excello and Tri-Us, a Starday-King label. For the latter label Royal cut his most well-known material with the "Crazy Cajun," Huey P. Meaux, as producer. Today's selection was the instrumental B-side of his 1972 Tri-Us single "Jealous" (a reworking of Garland Green's smash 1970 hit "Jealous Kinda Fellow" that gave Royal a rare taste of chart success) and has become a breakbeat favorite. "Razor Blade" has a pretty good melody, but what really sells the record is the wicked bass solo and the scratchin' guitar solo that follows it. It's solid get-down, and a lot of fun. Although "Jealous" was the hit, "Razor Blade" made enough noise for a funky 45 follow-up, "Switch Blade," which is also popular among the rare funk flock. Little Royal's Tri-Us recordings are worth checking out, as they are fine pieces of what Southern soul in its final hour.

It should also be noted that "Razor Blade" has a fraternal twin in Sebastian's Brown Dog 45 "Living in Depression," for which it is the backing track.

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