28 Days of Album Cover Blackness With VSB, Day 4: Black Ivory's Don't Turn Around (1972)

Illustration for article titled 28 Days of Album Cover Blackness With VSB, Day 4: Black Ivory's Don't Turn Around (1972)
Image: Black Ivory “Don’t Turn Around” (Today Records)

Black Ivory—the trio of vocalists from Harlem, N.Y.—is a group that had me at hello. Made up of multihyphenate, do-it-all group members Russell Patterson, Stuart Bascombe and Leroy Burgess, I still remember the first time I heard their single “Don’t Turn Around” because I was digital crate digging and saw this album cover and said, “Panama, this is one Black-ass album cover.” So I listened. And I loved it long time. That intro? Chef’s kiss.


And it’s not like Black Ivory were the greatest singers of all time, but they just worked well together. And their production sound worked well for their voices. But the song of theirs that immediately landed on Panama’s List of Favorite Songs of All Time is “You and I, ” a 7-minute song with a whole jam session vibe (with Larry Blackmon getting some drum work in) in the last four minutes. And not the remastered version, but the original. Q-Tip sampled the song for his single, “Gettin’ Up,” that met rave reviews. When I started getting into production, I made a beat out of this same song and it was the first time I made a beat where I felt like I might be able to make money producing (I did, not much).

Well, this series is about album covers and this is one Black AF album cover. For one, look at those flourishing ass afros. Look at that Black stare-down happening. And look at the “My name is Bennett and I ain’t in it” look of Stuart Bascombe in the middle. Look at how the album title actually kind-of-sort-of fits the album art since whatever happened to precipitate this particular stare-down means that whoever blinks or turns around first is probably catchin’ a hand jammy. Also, buddy on the left (who I do believe is Russell Patterson) has a smirk like he doesn’t really give a shit about the drama, but Leroy Burgess is upset. Effectively, money is involved.

You remember in Menace II Society when Tat (played by Samuel L. Jackson) was asking for his money and the dude he eventually shot was like, “I’ll pay your monkey ass when I got it.” That’s where I feel like this is heading. Left Man is one jacked up comment away from dem handz. I love it.

But mostly, if you were looking through albums in a record store, you’d most certainly stop on this album and be like, “Damn, this is Black.” And you’d probably buy it for that very reason. For that reason, we pay salute to Black Ivory’s Don’t Turn Around album. Not only is it a dope album with three good singles on it, but you can also feel like you’re contributing to the community at the same time.

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.



Black Ivory had some real jams and were sorely underrated. But I’m a Chicagoan, and a ‘House Head,’ and ‘Mainline’ is the Alpha, Omega, Truth, Light and a bag of Jay’s plain potato chips all rolled into one. As a DJ, you were more than suspect if you didn’t have this cut in your rotation. They were gods and I hope they knew it.