Moses K & the Prophets

Biography by

Moses K & the Prophets issued only one single, but their story is complex enough that it probably takes more time to read their bio than to listen to their entire discography. The oddly named band…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

Moses K & the Prophets issued only one single, but their story is complex enough that it probably takes more time to read their bio than to listen to their entire discography. The oddly named band was comprised of the same personnel as a group called the Mad Lads. The Mad Lads, like Them, were a Belfast R&B-influenced mid-'60s band that played shows at the city's Maritime Hotel. Agent Phil Solomon and his brother, record wholesaler Mervyn Solomon, who had played roles in getting Them's recording career started, also helped the Mad Lads get signed to Decca. Prior to recording for Decca, they laid down a track in Dublin, "Strangers," that was written by Tommy Scott, who would also pen some material for Them (composing "Call My Name" and co-writing "I Can Only Give You Everything"). Aside from the vocals, "Strangers" did bear a passing resemblance to some of Them's ballads, enhanced by the presence of guitarist Jim Armstrong, who played in Them for a while (and who was not a member of the Mad Lads).

When the Mad Lads arrived in London to record a single for Decca, their name was changed to Moses K & the Prophets, to avoid confusion with the soul group called the Mad Lads that recorded for Stax in America. Moses K & the Prophets only did one single for Decca, "I Went Out with My Baby Tonight," which was written by Bert Berns (who had, as it happened, written some songs that Them recorded). According to Owen McFadden's liner notes to the compilation Belfast Beat Maritime Blues, they first heard the tune when Berns sang an acoustic version of it to them at a London nightclub. Nothing happened with the single, and Moses K & the Prophets broke up. Mad Lads/Moses K & the Prophets singer Kenny McDowell would later take the lead vocal slot in the post-Van Morrison incarnation of Them, performing alongside Jim Armstrong.

"I Went Out with My Baby Tonight" is included on the Big Beat compilation Belfast Beat Maritime Blues, an anthology of mid-'60s tracks by Belfast groups. The disc also has several Mad Lads tracks, including the previously unreleased "Strangers," and demos of "I Can Tell" and "Little Queenie." Another unreleased track, "Answer Your Phone," is credited to the Mad Lads, although the liner notes indicate that they did not learn the song until they had been renamed Moses K & the Prophets. To stir up further confusion, the liner notes identify this as a Bert Berns composition, but Ken McDowell gets the songwriting credit on the sleeve. It certainly sounds as if it was recorded in a professional studio with a mind to release on a label such as Decca, which would seem to indicate that it was actually recorded when they were known as Moses K & the Prophets, not when they were known as the Mad Lads.