an open-ended stint in a rice paddy had made the Valadiers' 1961 hit "Greetings (This Is Uncle Sam)" more timely than ever by the spring of 1966, when the Monitors redid it and enjoyed their biggest hit for V.I.P.
"Say You", the quartet's first V.I.P. offering (written by Robert Dobyne, Charles Jones, and Robert Staunton), made some R&B chart noise in the early weeks of 1966 on the strength of its gliding mid-tempo groove and alluring harmonies behind Richard's lead. ("All For Someone" gave the group a swaying, strings-enhanced ballad showcase on the flip).
"Greetings (This Is Uncle Sam)," their V.I.P. encore, hadn't changed since the Valadiers waxed it a half a decade earlier - the doo-wop ballad framework survived intact, Richard's lead was just as strong as Stuart Avig's on the original, and the drill sergeant barking orders sounded every bit as obnoxious. Producers Mickey Stevenson, Hank Cosby, and Ronnie Dunbar (the latter and house engineer Lawrence Horn were added as co-writers) brought nothing new to the tune, but its timeliness was inescapable. "Greetings" climbed to No. 21 R&B that spring. "Number One In Your Heart," a torrid rocker by Clyde Wilson and Wilburt Jackson supervised by Harvey Fuqua and Johnny Bristol, was wasted as the "B" side.
That was it for the Monitors as hit makers, but they made three more V.I.P. singles that should have been. Fuqua and Bristol helmed "Since I Lost You Girl," an ear-catcher with a driving beat that Richard and Warren Harris contributed to as writers; Harvey and Johnny wrote the equally insistent "Don't Put Off 'Til Tomorrow What You Can Do Today" on the flip, out in late '66. Richard was on fire on "Bring Back The Love," another pounder by James Dean, William Weatherspoon, Eddie Holland, and Jack Goga in the spring of 1968. Its flip was a reprise of the Tempts' '63 spine-tingler "The Further You Look, The Less You See". Both sides of their last 45, the brotherhood plea "Step By Step (Hand In Hand)" and "Time Is Passin' By," were sizzlers supervised by Dean and Weatherspoon issued in mid-'68 on Soul.
As if to neatly tie up all the loose ends of their career at the label before bidding them adieu, Soul issued an album, Greetings! We're the Monitors, in late '68 that held nearly all their singles plus a few tunes unavailable elsewhere. "Share A Little Love With Me" boasted a guitar/bass unison line strong enough to hang a Ford Mustang on, a snaky baritone sax solo, and a hair-raising lead from Richard; "Serve Yourself Another Cup Of Happiness" was another Dean/Weatherspoon-generated rocker; the delicious "You Share the Blame" came from Smokey and fellow Miracle Ronnie White, and there was a cover of Jay & the Techniques' strident '68 hit for Smash, "Baby Make Your Own Sweet Music."