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45 Spotlight: Searching for Vera

Vera Hamilton: “But I Ain’t No More (G.S.T.S.K.D.T.S.)”

First off the bat, thanks to Skeme and the Hot Peas and Butta Crew for a chance to write about a great 45 that I have been wanting to research for quite some time. Vera Hamilton’s “But I Ain’t No More” is a heavy hitting funk track that gets many plays at my house. The record was initially released on Epic in 1972, and backed with “Heavy Heavy Hangs (Over My Heart)”; but most people who have bumped into the song most likely heard it on the female soul compilation album ‘I’m a Good Woman’. In “I Ain’t No More”, Hamilton’s strong windpipes are reminiscent of well-known wailers such as Lyn Collins and Marva Whitney, but still maintain a unique flavor that is strictly Vera’s. She sings about her transformation from a “stomped down” fool to someone who “ain’t no more”; the strong lyrics and Vera’s powerhouse delivery ensure that this genuine soul-sister track remains loved by all fans of the late 60’s and early 70’s grooves. A midtempo song, “Ain’t No More” is also perfect for showing off your “Four Corners”, one of the plethora of single-move dance fads of the period (think The Mashed Potato or The Pony). But as for me, I am much more in love with the songs simple bass line and, as a Philly native, the orchestral horns that highlight Vera’s performance.

I decided to write about this record as a nod to the nostalgic feel of the Hot Peas and Butta parties, but also as a tribute to the legendary Johnny Otis, who recently passed away this past January. Vera Hamilton was a former Otisette (as well as an Ikette). And in fact, “I Ain’t No More” was produced by Johnny Otis himself. The song even makes an appearance on the ‘Watts Funky’ compilation album put out by Otis and friends. Unfortunately, that is all I could find out about Vera’s work with Otis. It would be great to dig a little more and find out how else the two collaborated. I tried to find a way to contact her family for more information but resources were slim this time around.

Many of us are indeed wondering what Vera is doing these days, and we are searching hard for other, possibly nonextant, recordings. I am sure she released at least one more 45 even though I have not been able to track it down successfully. Vera’s powerful voice, however, does make an appearance on ‘The New Johnny Otis Show’, singing the bluesy “Why Don’t You Do Right?” alongside a young Charles Williams. Here we get a chance to check out Vera in a different vein; but to be honest, I was hoping she had a few more surprises like G.S.T.S.K.D.T.S. la la lala laaa!

“I Ain’t No More” is a great record indeed, and one that should share shelf space with some of our favorite soul sisters from the era. I hope you are lucky enough to own a copy.

The 45 Brains

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