Golden Hits Of The 60s” 

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(Jesse James)

Phil-L.A. 313

No. 2   June 29, 1968


No one–not the tiny record label, not Cliff, not even Cliff’s mama–could have figured that this “Horse”

thing was going to be a big hit.   Heck, the tune was what’s called in the recording profession a throwaway.

Not that the recording was not done with the finest of care and enthusiasm, but “The Horse” was an instru­

mental intended as the flip side of a single. Poor Cliff­ his one big moment, and he doesn’t appear anywhere

on this contagious little number!


Cliff was born in Mobile, Alabama, in 1944.   From early on, he sang in the church choir, and before his

move to Philadelphia in 1965, Cliff was already quite well known in his hometown as a gospel singer.

With­in months of this move, Nobles was signed to Atlantic Records; he cut three singles, but each one fell

on deaf ears, or thereabouts.


For the next two years, Cliff made audition tapes for a producer named Jimmy Rogers.   In the company of

Benny Williams (bass), Bobby Tucker (lead guitar), and Tommy Soul (drums), Nobles hooked up with

producer Jesse James and Phil-L.A. Records.   The second release for the label, “Love Is All Right.” was a

tight, soulful item fleshed out with brass sounds from future members of MFSB.   On the flip side was the

filler–“The Horse”–which was little more than “Love Is All Right” with Cliff’s vocal track scraped off.   Cliff

does not play an instrument, so in effect, Cliff was not even on what became his only Top 40 moment.   A

Florida DJ played the “wrong” side of the record, and within a week, 10,000 copies of “The Horse” were

sold in Tampa alone.


Two more instrumentals credited to “Cliff Nobles”–“Horse Fever” (#68, 1968) and “Switch It Only” (#93,

1969)–followed, but Cliff’s voice was yet to be heard, again.   After “The Horse” galloped up the pop

listings, Rogers compiled some pre-“Horse” tracks as an album for Moonshot Records called Pony the

Horse.   Although Nobles sings on only three of the cuts (none of which show the man in his best light),

record collectors to this day will pay more for this elusive album than for Cliff’s own LP, entitled

(naturally) The Horse.


“This Feeling of Loneliness” featuring the voice and the billing of Cliff Nobles, did reach and make a mod­

erate placement on the R & B charts in 1973 (#42).