Speaking with James Funches, saxophonist and flautist for the defunct Carolina soul combo, the Eliminators, provides insight into the band's history. “Can you believe last Easter everyone was in town?” he exclaims. “They tried to call a meeting on Easter Sunday. I said, ‘Come on, now! You’d have enough trouble trying to get together on a Wednesday night!’ ”
Although the members of the eleven-piece outfit never ventured far from their collective birthplace of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, they re-established lines of communication after the late-’90s reissue of their lone LP, Loving Explosion.
And though the sob stories of poor distribution, band politics, and financial mismanagement haunt the authors of record rarities, there was a point in time when the Eliminators were actually a big deal.
Globally speaking, however, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was not a big deal. But with a population hovering around 100,000, Winston-Salem’s music scene more than sustained itself through the ’60s and ’70s—especially with the help of Black radio like WAAA (“The Black Spot on Your Dial”).
One of the products of said music scene was Loving Explosion, an album that would garner a little radio play here and there but would never make any huge waves outside of North Carolina, despite the destructive implications of the cover photo.
“That was really a mistake,” laughs trumpeter Joe Robinson, regarding the unfunky photo. “I told [producer Alonzo Tucker that] it would be nice to have an explosion at the beginning of the song. You know, boom, and then kick off “Loving Explosion.” And somehow he got it crossed up, and he put an explosion on the cover.”
Alonzo Tucker was not exactly a dream producer. (“We had another name for him,” jokes Funches.) In the studio, he habitually made microscopic changes to each song—a word here, a note there—resulting in a fifty percent cut of the writing credits. In addition to the studio hustle, he routinely drove down from New York City with a station wagon full of assorted cookware sets to sell on the side. “We were so happy to have something going, we let it go,” admits Robinson. “But as you can see,” he reaffirms, “that’s not a loving explosion.”