Although it is far from the deepest or most brilliant disco single ever conceived, “Puddin’ ” ranks as one of the most quirky. For one, it’s unusual to see too many disco singles armed with a picture cover—let alone on a private imprint—and you have to enjoy the uber-’70s decor and fashion that Belle Farms Estate (both the name of the group and label) are rocking here. The cover sticker crows, “Baltimore’s own ’cause Baltimore’s best,” and the assembled band is presumably all local (drummer Larry Jeter now runs the city’s Dimensions in Music record store). Of the gathered players, only writer, arranger, and producer Maynard Parker saw much national acclaim—he made a small name for himself in the early 1970s as a session guitarist for Prestige Records, playing on several of Charles Earland’s albums and overseeing his 1973 solo LP, Midnight Rider.
Together, the Estate knock out an entertainingly funky tune whose slightly lo-fi quality is balanced by its bright, upbeat appeal. The rhythm section—led by Wesley James’s percussive elements, Eric Perry’s steady bass lines, and the smooth, soft touches of Dave Barnes’s electric piano—locks the groove down, while Parker’s guitar work riffs just under the surface, content to play with the rhythm rather than over it. What’s notable is that the single offers up not one, not two, but three different versions of the song, each one steadily longer. The shortest, at 3.5 minutes, is over too quickly, but the 5.5 minute version not only gives you more time to get your puddin’ on but adds in loud hand claps that help anchor the disco beat. The monster is the B-side—nearly eleven minutes long—which includes a long keyboard solo by Barnes missing from the shorter siblings.
Mostly, though, we just love the title and main chorus: “Puddin’s my true love/ puddin’s my whole life.” It’s not at all clear what vocalist Ethel Meyers is singing about—we’d guess it was something sexual, but, somehow, the song just doesn’t give off that vibe. But, hey, we’re down with the idea of puddin’ being our whole life and true love even if we have no idea what that means.