Young-Holt Unlimited were a soul and jazz instrumental musical ensemble from Chicago, Illinois.
Drummer Isaac Holt and bassist Eldee Young, formerly members of Ramsey Lewis' jazz trio, formed a new outfit called the Young-Holt Trio with pianist Don Walker in 1966. They met with modest success, including the minor hit, "Wack-Wack", which charted at number 40 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 1968, the group renamed itself Young-Holt Unlimited, and replaced Walker with Ken Chaney. Under their new name, the group scored a number three Hot 100 hit with "Soulful Strut", the backing instrumental track from Barbara Acklin's "Am I the Same Girl". "Soulful Strut" sold a million copies with the gold record awarded by the R.I.A.A. in January 1969, less than 3 months after the track's release. Follow-up releases would not match "Soulful Strut"'s commercial success, and the group disbanded by 1974, with Young and Holt returning to Ramsey Lewis' group by the 1980s.
Bassist Eldee Young and drummer Isaac "Red" Holt attended the American Conversatory of Music in Chicago together, and played together in a dance orchestra called the Cleffs, where they met pianist Ramsey Lewis and formed a popular jazz trio in 1956. After a decade as Lewis' rhythm section, Young and Holt split to form their own act in the wake of the trio's breakout pop hit "The 'In' Crowd." Hiring pianist Hysear Don Walker and christening themselves the Young-Holt Trio, they scored a quick Top 20 R&B hit with the infectious and silly "Wack Wack." Most of their material, recorded on several LPs for Brunswick, cut an invigorating soul-jazz groove that explored the territory between Jimmy Smith and Junior Walker, with dour bass, Ray Charles-inspired keyboards, faint scat vocals, and a live party ambience. In 1968, Walker was replaced by Ken Chaney as Young and Holt tightened up their sound, added some funky rhythms, and renamed the group Young-Holt Unlimited. They scored a left-field smash with the instrumental "Soulful Strut," which was actually the backing track from Brunswick soul singer Barbara Acklin's "Am I the Same Girl." Although the actual Young-Holt group was rumored not to have even played on the track, it went all the way to number three in 1969, driven by a bright, indelible horn riff. Attempts to duplicate its success met with indifference, and although Young-Holt Unlimited remained a popular concert attraction on both the R&B and jazz circuits (sometimes with pianist Bobby Lyle in place of Chaney), their recording career was on the wane. They cut LPs for Atlantic (1972's Oh Girl) and Paula (1973's Plays Superfly) that failed to restore their commercial momentum, and disbanded in 1974. Both Young and Holt reunited with Ramsey Lewis in 1983.
50s, 60s Hits
lthough Barbara Acklin — who was married to Eugene Record recorded the song first, producer Carl Davis removed her voice from the track, replaced it with a piano solo by Floyd Morris, and released the resultant track in November 1968 as "Soulful Strut" credited to Young-Holt Unlimited; it became a #3 hit in the United States and went to #1 in Canada