This piece was originally published on FYIMusicNews.

Electric Black Man is a milestone ‘60s recording and penetrating musical document from a Canadian singer who should have been an international superstar.

Arthur Lee (of the band Love), Jimi Hendrix, the Chambers Brothers, Black Merda and Richie Havens were all from a generation of black men who stepped off the “soul train,” took a new direction and immersed themselves in an emerging counterculture. The music they made was first stamped “soul psychedelia” by white critics, but Toronto singer Eric Mercury had a different take on this new sound.

I was roommates with bassist Stu Woods (Bob Dylan, Don McLean, Janis Ian) on 88th Street in Manhattan in late 1968. The two of us shared a mad passion for all genres of music. Big Pink played endlessly, as well as anything from Miles Davis, Jeff Beck and organist Jimmy Smith. At times I would purchase a recording based solely on the cover art. Mercury’s Electric Black Man found its way to a hi-fi I bought with a few dollars on 42nd Street. Stu and I repeatedly dropped the needle.

There was something in those grooves that crackled with urgency and directness. It was the vocalizations of unknown singer Eric Mercury. It was the raw power, the seriousness, the brutal honesty of each shattered word that stuck in the head. It was a voice that sourced a dozen iconic singers from across the soul and blues spectrum — stashed in the heart, processed, and then let it go.

If you missed out back in the day, this great recording has now been remastered. JAZZ.FM91’s Walter Venafro co-hosted Soul Nation with me earlier this month, and when I popped Mercury into the mix, his head spun. He thanked me profusely for letting him in on this well-kept secret. He’s now a righteous fan.

I cornered Mercury and transported him back 50 years for a bit of reflection and understanding.