Brenton Wood's charmingly unpredictable phrasing and his infectious sense of good times made the smooth uptown soul of "The Oogum Boogum Song" and "Gimme Little Sign" into hits in 1967. Despite his skill as a pop-soul vocalist, Wood was never able to match such heights again, yet those two songs became genuine R&B classics of their era.
Born Alfred Jesse Smith in Shreveport, LA, Brenton Wood moved west to San Pedro, CA, as a child. After learning how to play piano, he began forming vocal groups, inspired by Sam Cooke and Jesse Belvin. One of these groups, Little Freddie & the Rockets, recorded a single in 1958. While he was studying at Compton College, he assumed the name Brenton Wood, naming himself after his home county. Wood formed the Quotations during college, but soon after graduation he became a solo act. Signing with Double Shot Records, Wood had a hit single in the spring of 1967 with "The Oogum Boogum Song," which reached number 19 on the R&B charts and number 34 pop. It was quickly followed by "Gimme Little Sign," which climbed to number nine pop and matched its predecessor's R&B position. It was a promising start to a career, but Wood wasn't able to follow it through. "Baby You Got It" stalled in the bottom reaches of the pop and R&B Top 40 in early 1968 and "Some Got It, Some Don't" failed to make the pop charts later that year. Wood continued to perform and even recorded a duet with Shirley Goodman, but he wasn't able to reach the charts again until 1977, when "Come Softly to Me" registered in the lower reaches of the R&B Top 100. Following its release, Wood became part of the oldies soul circuit. In 2001, he finally returned with an album of new material, This Love Is for Real. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine