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Little Willie John - Heaven All Around Me - The Later King Sessions 1961-63
The Little Willie John renaissance continues, with Ace’s third and final volume of Willie’s King recordings. Our release of “Heaven All Around Me” means that virtually every master that Willie cut during his sadly truncated career is now available on either Ace or Kent.

Our recent Kent release of Willie’s complete Capitol recordings (“Nineteen-Sixty-Six”, CDKEND 305) was an across-the-board success with both long time devotees and more recent ‘recruits’ to the Willie John cause. Forty one years after his unfortunate death, it looks as though the magnitude of Willie’s talent is gaining recognition. In particular, Willie’s fairly recent rediscovery by the UK’s New Breed R&B fans has led to tracks like ‘Until Again My Love’ and ‘Don’t Play With Love’ – both of which feature on this CD – being played extensively on that scene along with earlier LWJ favourites like ‘I’m Shakin’ and ‘Spasms’. The value of the original 45s is rising to reflect their new-found popularity.

Apart from the four instrumentals cut at his sessions on which did not appear, “Heaven All Around Me” collects every side cut by Willie between 1961 to 1963, when he recorded his final King session. Not every one is an out-and-out masterpiece, but Willie never delivered a substandard performance, even when the material was not inspired. The majority of the tracks here are, however, quite sensational – and all of them show that Willie John was primed and ready for the forthcoming explosion of soul music that he missed due to his incarceration in prison.

In particular you should note Willie’s riveting version of Tin Pan Alley standard ‘The Masquerade Is Over’, a powerhouse performance that shows he could turn even the most MOR of songs into an expression of soul at its deepest. ‘My Baby’s In Love With Another Guy’ is another masterpiece demonstrating Willie’s ability to turn trite into torrid. For me, this is where R&B disappears over the horizon, and soul begins. Willie’s versions of country standards ‘Big Blue Diamonds’ and ‘She Thinks I Still Care’ show, too, how at home he would have been in Muscle Shoals or Memphis during the Golden Era of southern soul, had he lived.

The CD booklet offers a wealth of unpublished photographs and a label shot for almost every featured track. The notes tell the sad story of Willie’s final years in some detail, and give considerable insight into the personal complexities of the man behind the voice. Along with our previous LWJ CDs, it’s a fitting final tribute to this totally unique talent.

By Tony Rounce (Ace Records)
Ace Records 2009 CD 17.00 €
Little Willie John - Nineteen Sixty Six
The Last recording sessions Of one of R&B's Greatest ever voices
Ace Records 2008 CD 18.00 €
Lou Johnson - Incomparable Soul Vocalist
Of all the CDs in all the record companies in all the world, this was the one I had to do.

I only fully discovered Lou Johnson relatively late in life, but have been a firm disciple ever since. He became my favourite singer, bar none, and although I like his later southern recordings, it is the disciplined and elegant sides he cut for New York City’s Big Top label that are the pinnacle of soul for me.

Hearing ‘Reach Out For Me’ was the catalyst for my conversion, smartly followed by ‘The Last One To Be Loved’, ‘(There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me’ and ‘Please Stop The Wedding’. As a Northern Soul DJ I was already intimate with ‘Unsatisfied’ and got a buzz from playing it every time. It is one of those records that is always in the box, acting as a talisman to ward off the DJ’s recurring empty floor nightmare. If the previous record spun had turned out to be 10 years ahead of its time, ‘Unsatisfied’ was the remedy and earned time to re-group (while considering whether you’d have preferred to be a hod-carrier to a jock). Having relied so heavily on this piece of not uncommon styrene, it was a thrill to hear the alternate take, as discovered on an acetate, which we feature as the ender here.

That version was discovered in the mid-80s, around the same time that I snared a brace of Lou’s exquisitely sung ‘The Panic Is On’ acetates, also previously unknown to man. The hunt was on to get Lou’s recordings out there onto CD for us soul people, especially me. The near 20-year wait is indicative of the problems of licensing, although an extreme example. However, that wait lead to more unissued sides turning up in the ensuing years to add to the pair described. We now have a further three tracks that have never appeared on a CD of any description. Working at Ace is rather like getting locked in the sweet shop and probably no other company could have come up with this compilation, as many of the Big Top tapes are missing. Our esteemed director Trevor Churchill had squirreled away a copy of Lou’s Big Top LP, which only ever reached test pressing stage. Featured on it is the track ‘No Other Guy’, which never made it to 45. As we only know of this copy, it was indeed fortuitous that it was in-house.

Although primarily a ballad singer, several of Lou’s beatier songs have gained acceptance on the Northern Soul dance scene, notably the powerful ‘Wouldn’t That Be Something’ and his first single ‘If I Never Get To Love You’. Like me, soul fans were noticing what a great body of work this was and further investigation revealed that ‘Park Avenue’ was not a travelogue for a Manhattan ad agency but a wonderfully crafted and vivid description of life in the Big Apple for a fictitious black chauffeur driving his bigwig boss around and having the time of his life. It is exuberance in the extreme. I was thrilled when Lou recounted to me how much he’d enjoyed recording that particular song.

80% of the songs are provided by Brill building dwellers Billy Giant, Bernie Baum and Florence Kaye or the Bacharach and David team. These very successful songwriters (think Dionne and Elvis) loved working with Lou, despite no major hits. Having the backing of the wealthy Big Top label, funded by a very successful publishing firm, meant that the facilities and talent were available to do these works justice. Even when the company edged Lou away from R&B by replacing the raucous gospel-inspired ‘Love Build A Fence’ with French torch song ‘A Time To Love, A Time To Cry’, the result was superb.

Even on Lou’s foray to New Orleans with Marshall Sehorn and Allen Toussaint, Big Top’s influence was apparent in the choice of material – ‘Walk On By’. It is however turned into a powerhouse ballad instead of the bittersweet number we already know. Toussaint wrote a suitable and excellent love song for the flip side in ‘Little Girl’ and it is compositions like that, Bacharach and David’s ‘Kentucky Bluebird’ and the beautiful Giant/Baum/Kaye number ‘What Am I Crying For’ that feature so well here.

We have assembled a marvellous array of photos and memorabilia for the lavish 24-page booklet to complement David Cole’s excellent interview with Lou from his In The Basement magazine. The recording history of these tracks is looked at in depth and the sound has been given that extra, extra tweak to complete a project from the heart: it is also in our prestigious “Artistry In Soul” series. Lou and his lovely wife Linda have waited patiently for this event and Linda is inordinately proud of her talented husband, wanting the whole world to know of his talent; something we are all very much agreed on.

By Ady Croasdell (Ace Records)
Ace Records 2010 CD 17.00 €
Lowell Fulsom - In A Heavy Bag
Sundazed Music 2006 LP 20.00 €
Luther Ingram - I Don't Want To Be Right
The A's and B's of Luther's remaining Ko Ko singles. Unbeatable 60s/70s Memphis Soul from one of the genre's greatest-ever vocalists.
Ace Records 2008 CD 18.00 €
Luther Ingram - Let's Steal Away To The Hideaway / Do You Love Somebody
t’s been a real pleasure to have been the architect of Kent’s four volume Luther Ingram reissue programme. Luther has always been one of my favourites, and it’s a shame that he has seldom received the kind of accolades from the mainstream that his talents as both a singer and a songwriter deserve. His recorded legacy may be relatively small compared to that some some of his peers, but almost all of it is first rate and none of it is less than very good.

We’ve now reached the final instalment in the our reissue of Luther’s Ko Ko catalogue, his final two albums for the label on one CD. The songs were recorded between 1974 and 1976 and both albums were released in the eye of Hurricane Disco. Happily they make little concession to what was occupying soul’s mainstream and instead give southern soul fans more than 75 minutes worth of what we like best. There are treats galore here, from mighty 45s like ‘Let’s Steal Away To The Hideaway’ and ‘Get To Me’ to cherised modern soul movers such as ‘Do You Think There’s A Chance’ and ‘Trying To Find My Love’. There’s also a bonus in the shape of the second version of ‘I’ll Love You Until The End’, which we had to omit from our previous Luther 2 on 1 through lack of space.

Luther Ingram is in the very best voice of his career, and the sympathetic backing of the Muscle Shoals rhythm section frames that great singing and quality songs – many of which are being reissued here for the first time. Even though disco was slowly exerting a stranglehold on southern soul as a chart force, Luther managed to hit with all the singles that were selected from these albums – surely the ultimate testament to their excellence.

It’s hard for me to pick a highlight from this set but if pushed I’d choose the title track from the “Do You Love Somebody” album – a midtempo classic that embodies every positive element of the sophisticated side of southern soul, and one that features one of the most sincere and impassioned of all of Luther’s many great vocal performances.

The music Luther Ingram left behind identifies him as one of the best and most important soul men of his time. These recordings – beautifully remastered from optimum sound sources - will sound as good decades from now as they did when they were first released more than 30 years ago.

By Tony Rounce (ACE RECORDS)
Ace Records 2009 CD 17.00 €
Lyn Collins - Check Me Out If You Don't Know Me By Now
People LP 15.00 €
Lyn Collins - Think (about It)
180 gram vinyl
People LP 15.00 €
Mad Daddy - Wavy Gravy
Radio Broadcasts 1958-1964
Norton Records 2003 CD 17.00 €
Mar-Keys - Damifiknow / Memphis Experience
Two more Stax classics back to back - Damifiknow from 1969 and Memphis Experience from 1971. Once again this is a graphic description in sound of the change in soul music between the end of the '60s and the start of the '70s. Damifiknow features a stack of Mar-Key covers of soul standards in the shape of "Mustang Sally", Aretha's "Never Loved A Man ...", the perennial "Knock On Wood", the flip of Booker T's "Soul Limbo" - "Heads Or Tails" as well as the wonderful trilogy of "Coffee Cup", "Black" and "One With Sugar"!!! Memphis Experience on the other hand kicks off with a 9 minute-plus work out on the Temptations "Cloud Nine" and further gives Motown a good seeing to with a 4.5 minute "Reach Out...". But it is all played with that Stax sensibility that was the Memphis experience - damifiknow how they did it (ouch! - Ed ( Ace Records website)
Ace Records 1990 CD 17.00 €
Maria Hänninen - Not Only But Also
Samsara Records 2009 CD 13.00 €
Marlboros And The Jokers Six - Real Live Girl - So Much A Man Can Take
Collectables 1995 CD 13.00 €
Martha And The Vandellas - Come And Get These Memories
Gordy LP 20.00 €
Martha And The Vandellas - Dance Party
Universal Music Japan 2013 CD 15.00 €
Marv Johnson - I'll Pick A Rose For My Rose
Our collector-oriented series of officially authorised Motown releases continues with this first-time-on-CD reissue of Marv Johnson’s “I’ll Pick A Rose For My Rose” album, as first released on the British Tamla-Motown label in 1969. The first CD there has ever been of this great artist’s Motown recordings, the collection features a further 15 tracks, including five previously unissued rarities from the vaults.

Marv Johnson was there at the birth of Berry Gordy’s fabled Detroit empire with his Tamla single, ‘Come To Me’, in 1959, which Gordy placed with the established United Artists label for national release, using the proceeds of the deal to finance recording sessions. Marv remained at UA until 1964, when he returned to the Motown fold.

Over the next few years he released three tremendous singles on the Gordy imprint – ‘Why Do You Want To Let Me Go’, 'I'll Pick A Rose For My Rose' and the ultra-stompy ‘I Miss You Baby (How I Miss You)’ – but found it hard to re-establish himself, at least in the USA.

It was a different story here in the Motown-hungry UK, where ‘I’ll Pick A Rose For My Rose’ reached the Top 10 early in 1969. To satisfy demand, US Motown dug into what they had in the can on Marv and sent over enough tracks to create a similarly titled LP for the British market. The album was never issued in the USA. The first 11 tracks on this CD represent that long-player in its entirety, mastered from the original stereo tapes used by EMI to manufacture the album in 1969.

The next nine tracks are presented in recording date order. They include the four numbers that have surfaced on multi-artist CD collections in recent years, plus a clutch of exclusive previously unissued masters. Some of these have been circulating on underground bootlegs for a while, but here they are superbly mastered from brand new digital transfers of the precious original tapes. In other words, our CD collects together Marv Johnson's complete Motown recordings from 1964 to 1971.

Motown took particular care when it came to their single mixes, and for the many aficionados out there who prefer them, the final six tracks comprise the original punchy mono mixes of Marv's three Gordy 45s.

Like our recent “The Satintones Sing!” and “Dance With The Contours” CDs (and our Monitors collection, out next month), “I’ll Pick A Rose For My Rose” is compiled and annotated by renowned Mojo award-winning Motown historian Keith Hughes.

By Mick Patrick (ACE RECORDS)
Ace Records 2011 CD 17.00 €
Marv Johnson - Marvelous Marv Johnson
Detroit gifted singer, songwriter and pianist Marv Johnson was a seminal figure in the early history of Motown Records.

Responsible for more than a handful of hits between 1959 and 1960, he enjoyed no less than nine records in the top 100 as well as two songs on the top ten chart, after being chosen by the record producer Berry Gordy as the first artist to be released on his fledging record label TAMLA, in which Marv kept recording and working on sales and promotion until the late 70s.

Often overlooked compared to the other great R&B stars of those years, Johnson's rich legacy includes dozens of brilliant soulful songs, like the immortal chart-smasher "You Got What It Takes" and the classic "Come To Me".
Rumble Records 2012 LP 17.00 €
Marvelettes - Detroit's Darlings 1961-1962
The Marvelettes were Tamla Motown's first great female group predating The Supremes and The Vandellas by several years.

Here we have their first three LPs, Please Mr Postman; Smash Hits and Playboy which funnily enough include a hit about begging a postman for a letter, 'Playboy' and 'Beechwood 4-5789'.

This is Motown magic from the label's early days!

Fully detailed liner notes with career achievements and history.
Jasmine Records 2013 CD 13.00 €
Marvelettes - Please Mr. Postman
Hallmark Music 2012 CD 6.90 €
Marvin Gaye - Greatest Hits - Live in '76
22 tracks. Live show filmed in Holland 1976. 60 min
Eagle Rock 1999 DVD 9.00 €
Marvin Gaye - I Heard It Through The Grapevine
Music On Vinyl 2011 LP 18.00 €
Marvin Gaye - I Want You
Motown Record Corp LP 17.00 €
Mary Wells - Best Of Mary Wells - 20th Century Masters The Millenium Coll
Universal 1999 CD 11.00 €
Mary Wells - Bye Bye Baby
Jasmine is proud to present the first lady of Motown, Mary Wells with this wonderful compilation of sublime early Motown hits and recordings.

Features 1961's 'Bye, Bye Baby/I Don't Want to Take a Chance' and 1962's 'The One Who Really Loves You' and four bonus singles which include the R&B No. 1 'Two Lovers'.

Other hits include: 'Bye Bye Baby'; 'The One Who Really Knows' and 'You Beat Me to the Punch'.

These recordings led The Beatles to invite her onto their first US tour and a few years later inspired the early beat groups that led to the British invasion.
Jasmine Records 2013 CD 12.00 €
Mary Wells - Bye Bye Baby - I Don't want to take a Chance
originally released 1963
Rumble Records 2013 LP 18.00 €
Mary Wells - Sings My Guy
originally issued 1964
Motown Record Corp 2013 LP 25.00 €
Maxine Brown - Spotlight On / Greatest Hits
All Maxine's songs from her Spotlight On..and Greatest Hits albums together with 8 bonus tracks
Ace Records 2000 CD 17.00 €
Memphis Slim - Poor Man Blues / Poor Man Blues
used copy. ex condition. rare french pressing with picture sleeve.
Barclay 1975 Single/EP 15.00 €
Midniters - In Thee Midnite Hour
Norton Records 2006 CD 17.00 €
Millie - Melting Pot
Spirit Of 69 Records 2002 CD 15.00 €
Millie Jackson - Soul For The Dancefloor
22 tracks
Ace Records 2008 CD 18.00 €
Milt Jackson & Ray Charles - Soul Brothers
Vinylogy 2013 LP 15.00 €
Minits - Follow Your Heart - The Sounds Of Memphis Recordings
From the 1950s right through to the 1970s Memphis was a record town, awash with studios, record companies and distributors. Its industry proved to be an irresistible magnet for artists from all over the South and often beyond, especially black artists. Country acts would head the few hundred miles up the road to Nashville, and the West Coast was a hub for rock’n’roll’s golden dream, while Memphis – sometimes known as Soul City USA – attracted aspiring soul or R&B performers. The closer you were to Memphis, the greater the pull.

The Minits were from not too far away in Montgomery, Alabama. The three-girl vocal group we celebrate in this CD headed to Memphis and released a mere three singles on the Sounds Of Memphis label. Their records were moments of pure pop-soul magic. Their second 45, ‘Still A Part Of Me’, commands a price of well into three figures due to its dancefloor appeal.

Left in the vault were five further numbers which we have released slowly over the past few years. ‘Hook Line and Sinker’ is a Dan Greer tune with a snappy pop hook that must have been a candidate for a single but remained unissued until recently. ‘Natural Reaction’ and ‘Stepping Stone’ are both in a similar high quality pop-soul vein. The trio’s version of Aretha Franklin’s ‘Pullin’’ is another thing altogether – the rhythm section hits a groove and takes this one straight to the dancefloor. ‘If You Don’t Like My Apples (Don’t Shake My Tree)’ was found in the vaults only last year and has become my favourite Minits discovery so far. It’s a slamming slice of double entendre sister funk that should make it into DJ sets as soon as it starts to become known.

For some reason their records failed to catch on and the Minits never became the stars their records suggest they should have been. The girls are almost completely forgotten today, yet the music they left behind reveals an act that should have achieved more. It may well have been that, despite top of the range production values and high quality songs, there is just too much of the south left in the recordings for them to have sat comfortably on pop radio. Then again, it may just be that they were never championed by the right people at the right time. What is for sure is that their recorded legacy makes for one hell of a listen.

A lot of money was clearly spent on styling and taking wonderful photographs of the girls in a bid to represent them as stars. It wasn’t to be but those wonderful photographs now allow us to give you not just some great music but a stunning booklet to go with it.

By Dean Rudland (Ace Records)
Ace Records 2010 CD 15.00 €
Miracles - Collection
19 tracks
Spectrum 2002 CD 9.00 €
Miracles - Depend On Me - The Early Albums 2CD
Motown Records 2009 CD 28.00 €
Miracles - Hi We're the Miracles
Hallmark 2012 CD 7.00 €
Miracles with Smokey Robinson - You Can Depend On Them 1959-1962 2CD

The first three albums by The Miracles plus all the 45s released through to 1962 in one package representing the beginning of one of the greatest and most influential groups in history.

Among the many great tracks this superb 2CD set features, 'Who's Lovin' You' which is now one of the group's most famous songs after being recorded by The Jackson Five and is now becoming a staple track for American Idol contestants. Plus let us not forget 'You Really Got a Hold on Me' which of course The Beatles recorded the following year on their second LP.

Fully detailed liner notes.
Jasmine Records 2013 CD 15.00 €
Mitty Collier - The Chess Singles 1961-1968
24 tracks
Ace Records 2008 CD 18.00 €
Monitors - Say You - The Motown Anthology 1963-1968
You have to feel for those artists that didn’t get the breaks at Motown. Most that didn’t were every bit as good as those that did. Their lack of success was the result of being some way down a pecking order dominated by acts such as the Temptations, Four Tops and Supremes. Even the second wave of higher profile acts had to battle to be heard above the big noise made by the hits of those groups. With hindsight, the Monitors hardly stood a chance.

Their lack of real success is no reflection of how excellent Richard Street, Warren Harris and Maurice and Sandra Fagin were as a group. Richard Street’s pleadingly soulful lead was good enough to win him a gig with the Temptations in 1971, where he replaced the group’s original lead singer Paul Williams. The material the Monitors recorded, some of which Street co-wrote, was frequently supplied by some of Motown’s biggest names, including Smokey Robinson and Mickey Stevenson. They were recorded under the same conditions as their bigger counterparts, and the end results were invariably as satisfying. That their discography can boast merely a couple of modest soul chart hits is a mystery that even Sherlock Holmes would be at pains to unravel.

Chart hits or not, the Monitors have always been revered by the Motown collector cognoscenti, and a CD devoted to their extremely fine recordings has long been overdue. As part of our series of officially approved compilations from the Motown vaults, Kent is delighted to present ‘Say You!’, an extensive overview of the group’s time at the company. Their one album, “Greetings! We’re The Monitors”, is featured in its entirety in stereo. Motown diehards will be delighted to know that the same tape used to manufacture the original UK vinyl LP has been used to master our CD.

The album, which includes stereo mixes of all their V.I.P. and Soul A-sides (and some Bs), is joined here by two exceptional non-LP flipsides and a staggering 12 previously unissued tracks spanning the group’s entire tenure with Motown. Ten of these have never been issued before in any shape or form, while the versions of ‘Crying In The Night’ and ‘Cry’ are considerably different to those available on other CDs. All of these unissued masters are featured in their original mixes, made in the 1960s at the time of their recording. Whatever it was that caused Motown to pass over these tracks for release in the 1960s, it wasn’t a lack of excellence.

“Say You!” is a superb addition to Kent’s small but growing list of vintage Motown collections, a list you can expect to be added to very soon.

By Tony Rounce (Ace Records)
Ace Records 2011 CD 17.00 €
Movie - Ray 2DVD
2 DVD, 146 min, suomitekstit
Universal 2005 DVD 32.00 €
Nathaniel Mayer - I Don't Want No Bald Headed Woman Telling Me What To Do
Norton Records 2002 Single/EP 6.00 €
Nathaniel Mayer - Ride In My 225 / Mr. Santa Claus
tracks recorded 2003
Norton Records 2005 Single/EP 6.00 €
Nella Dodds - This Is A Girl's Life - The Complete Wand Recordings 1964-65
15 tracks
Ace Records 2007 CD 18.00 €
Nick Waterhouse - Time's All Gone
V2 2012 CD 15.00 €
Nikki Hill & Deke Dickerson With The Bo-Keys - Soul Meets Country CDEP
This phenomenal release will surprise fans of both Deke and Nikki—pure Southern-fried soul recorded at Scott Bomar's Electraphonic Studios in Memphis with the mighty Bo-Keys band!

Two duets, "Lovey Dovey" and "Feelins," coupled with a powerful rocker from Nikki, "Struttin'" and Deke's awesome new wah-wah funk version (featuring Motown's Dennis Coffey on guitar!) of "Lady Killin' Papa" from his first album, now titled "Lady Killin' Killa." The CD comes with a gatefold cover with extra pictures.
Major Label Records 2013 CD 8.00 €
Nikki Hill & Deke Dickerson With The Bo-Keys - Soul Meets Country EP
This phenomenal release will surprise fans of both Deke and Nikki—pure Southern-fried soul recorded at Scott Bomar's Electraphonic Studios in Memphis with the mighty Bo-Keys band!

Two duets, "Lovey Dovey" and "Feelins," coupled with a powerful rocker from Nikki, "Struttin'" and Deke's awesome new wah-wah funk version (featuring Motown's Dennis Coffey on guitar!) of "Lady Killin' Papa" from his first album, now titled "Lady Killin' Killa." The vinyl comes with a free download card, pressed on gold vinyl.
Major Label Records 2013 Single/EP 8.00 €
Nina Simone - Little Girl Blue
Hallmark Music 2011 CD 6.00 €
Nina Simone - Nina At The Village Gate LP + CD
recorded live in 1962
Doxy Music 2012 LP 20.00 €
Nina Simone - The Best Of
12 tracks
BMG 1989 CD 10.00 €
O.C. Tolbert - Black Diamond - Dave Hamilton's Detroit Masters
It is odd to have lived with an artist’s work for many years, admiring their talents, gleaning little bits of information about them here and there, but failing to get a full picture of their career. Then suddenly things drop into place and the mists clear.

That is how the process has been in seeing O.C. Tolbert’s solo compilation come to fruition over the last few months. Firstly, a 1-inch master tape was randomly copied and turned out to feature some great songs that we had not previously realised were Dave Hamilton’s work. Then the Damn Sam The Miracle Man Tayster LP and the Tolbert Rojac singles became better known and documented. Finally a trawl through some of Dave Hamilton’s half-inch tapes revealed more un-annotated recordings. But we were still missing the vital ingredient: a family member who could fill us in on O.C.’s career details from birth to his death in 1996.

I had regularly tried the soul scene’s various web sites and information groups for details of O.C.’s life, but consistently came up with blanks. Then Eric LeBlanc – a music historian, good friend of Ace and something of a sleuth – provided me with five addresses of close relations, to whom I sent detailed letters requesting any information they could muster. Months passed and there was no word, so I decided to carry on regardless and do the best job I could on Dave Hamilton’s top male singer. Out of the blue an e-mail arrived from a Danish journalist resident in New York named Andreas Vingaard, who was researching Jack Taylor, the second of O.C.’s producers, and wondered what information we could provide him with for a forthcoming article. We got together, pooled our resources to quite an extent, and chased the family even harder. This paid off with only a couple of weeks to go to the deadline, when Andreas made contact with O.C.’s widow, Velma, and a telephone interview was arranged.

Apart from filling out the early and later years of O.C.’s life, about which we knew very little, Velma was actually involved as a co-writer on several tracks that we were to feature. Though never a part of the recording sessions, she remembered the songwriting and sequence of musical events very well. She furnished us with photos that have further improved a very substantial booklet and put us right on several points; though it turned out that a lot of the speculation was near to the truth. Her granddaughter, Myesha, was involved in getting the music, photos and information between the two countries and the whole saga was an emotional journey for all concerned.

For Velma, hearing tracks such as the original take of ‘Let Me Be Your Only Man’ and the tender ballad ‘I’ll Take It All’ was very bittersweet and rekindled all sorts of memories. For us soul fans it is a pleasure to have all his first major works on one compilation. Although the recordings stretch from 1968 to 1988, the power of O.C.’s tremendous voice makes the date of the recording low in relevance compared to the majesty of his singing. Tracks that have been dotted about on producer Dave Hamilton’s various artist compilations have had their audio revisited and further enhanced and putting them into one collection highlights their brilliance. ‘You Got Me Turned Around’ is shown to be a true powerhouse of a song, while ‘I’m Shooting High’ is mid-tempo Detroit soul at its very best. Gospel numbers such as ‘Rough Side Of The Mountain’ and ‘Somebody Is Here With Me’ fit in with the secular songs and his religious opus, ‘Give It To Glory’, is nothing short of sensational and ripe for more serious DJ attention; it is a new mix from the multi-track master that we feature this time around.

Both sides of the excellent Rolyak 45 are heard in a new, brass-led, mix and we found a finished vocal version of ‘The Grown Folks Thing’, previously only known in an abbreviated form. ‘Fix It’ is a brand new slab of funk-edged soul and ‘Message To The Black Woman’ is as good a 70s dancer with a moral as you will hear. Though primarily a 70s artist in musical style, Dave Hamilton recorded him initially on some earlier backing tracks circa 1966 and his reading of ‘All I Want Is You’ is magnificent mid-tempo deep soul singing. The similarly constructed but contemporaneously recorded ‘That’s Enough’ and ‘That’s All She Wrote’ are equally worthy. Less than a third of the songs have actually been issued on Kent and most of those are in improved sound quality.

This release will inevitably tease out a few more O.C. and Dave Hamilton facts from family and friends. Luckily we have found plenty more Dave Hamilton recordings to be able to update soul fans and music historians on future CDs. Until then revel in a truly unique and inspiring soul singer.

By Ady Croasdell (Ace Records)
Ace Records 2011 CD 17.00 €
Odetta - Ballads And Blues - The Best Of
18 tracks
Collectables 2006 CD 10.00 €
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