Emanual Laskey

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Little is known about Emanual Laskey, a jet-black-complected, rail-thin Detroit soul singer. His discography lists 12 singles and no albums. Producer Don Davis wrote and produced Laskey's first four singles,…
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Little is known about Emanual Laskey, a jet-black-complected, rail-thin Detroit soul singer. His discography lists 12 singles and no albums. Producer Don Davis wrote and produced Laskey's first four singles, the best of his disappointing career. This was before Davis worked with Steve Mancha, Darrell Banks, the Dramatics, Johnnie Taylor, and others. Nothing like those singers, Laskey was similar to Deon Jackson and Jimmy Ruffin; his light, engaging first tenor fluttered with little effort and hinted of falsetto.

Thelma Records, owned by Thelma Coleman-Gordy, Berry Gordy's Jr.'s first wife, issued Laskey's first two releases. "The Monkey" from 1963 got played in Michigan and surrounding States; a trumpet solo on the break made it different, but its flip, "Welfare Cheese," written by Davis, Richard Street, Thelma Coleman, and Emanuel Laskey was more popular. It also graced the flip of his second Thelma release, "Crazy," which had potential, but the label's limited resources couldn't do the catchy ditty justice. Laskey's next single was on NPG Records out of Pittsburgh, PA and is arguably his best ever. Dismayed with Thelma's lack of clout, Davis and Laskey decided to test the waters. "I Need Somebody," is a sweet, floating, lamenting, mid-tempo number. It entered the R&B top 20 formats in many cities but never spread across the country. Laskey's fourth and last recording with Don Davis producing appeared on Detroit's Wild Deuce label; "Lucky to Be Loved by You," was as catchy as the previous three but failed to break out, and Davis never worked with Laskey again.

Laskey returned to Thelma, who welcomed him back with open arms. His fifth release, "Don't Lead Me on Baby," and its flip side were co-written by Hazel Joy Coleman, Berry Gordy and Thelma Coleman-Gordy's daughter, who later married Jermaine Jackson. The single went nowhere despite a lilting uptempo beat. Neither did two more Thelma singles in 1965: Don Juan Mancha's "I'm a Peace Loving Man," and "I've Got to Run for My Life." In 1968, Laskey recorded "Just the Way (I Want It to Be)," on the Music Now label. It stiffed, but Laskey secured a deal with Westbound Records for Mike Hanks to produce. It resulted in two 1969 single releases with "A Letter From Vietnam" serving as the flip to both "More Love (Where This Came From)" and "Never My Love," but nobody at Westbound was pushing Laskey's product. Laskey cut a two-parter, "Remember Me Always," in 1973 on Stag Records that few heard. Ditto for his final release in 1980 on Dennis Talley's DT Records, "I'd Rather Leave on My Feet." You won't find an Emanuel Laskey compilation CD, if you don't have the original 45s you're pretty much out-of-luck. He still calls Detroit home, doesn't record anymore, but occasionally performs at festivals and other occasions.