R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax

No Laughing Matter


Even though he gained his reputation as the songwriting and producing partner with Isaac Hayes, David Porter began his career as a singer. While his early attempts to record under various pseudonyms such as Little David and Kenny Cain failed to gain traction, Porter's ambitions beyond his successful career behind the scenes finally found expression in a trio of albums he recorded three albums for the Stax Enterprise imprint. The third, 1971's Victim Of The Joke? An Opera, was an ambitious concept album.

An unusual project for the time period with a very defined theme, Victim told the story of an ill-fated romance. The seven-song set is strung together by a series of spoken-word interludes during which the main characters try to sort through the complications of a doomed love affair. For the notable and sometimes controversial collection, Porter balanced original material with a standard ["(I'm Afraid) The Masquerade Is Over"], The Beatles' "Help" and Tommy Hunt's 1961 soul hit "Human."

The album doesn't end well, Porter in search of his girl via "Airplane Ticket Bus Ride, Can I Borrow Your Car?" It was a laudable attempt to create something different in the world of R&B, predating the work of Millie Jackson in particular who used the concept more expansively just a few years later.

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