|VA: - Ace Story Vol. 2
We weren’t in the least bit surprised at how well our expanded CD reissue of “The Ace (USA) Story Volume 1” was received. It’s been one of the most requested items in the “Why don’t you reissue more of your old vinyl albums on CD” stakes for years and, frankly, we’d have been more surprised if it hadn’t gone down well. In fact, it’s gone down so well that we’ve advanced the release of the second volume to satisfy public demand. The remaining three volumes are to be expanded and digitised during the course of next year. As with the previous and forthcoming collections, Volume 2 is enhanced by the addition of a dozen bonus tracks that complement those selected many years ago for the original vinyl LP.
Johnny Vincent may not have been a musician himself, but he certainly knew which musicians would make his 45s and albums sound as great as they did. By employing hands-on A&R men of the calibre of Huey “Piano” Smith, sax king Alvin “Red” Tyler and the young Mac “Dr John” Rebennack, who commanded respect among their musical peers, he always ensured that Ace’s rhythm tracks would personify the sound of New Orleans at its best.
The beauty of a catalogue such as Vincent’s is that there are so many great records in it that there’s no question of turning to anything not so good in an attempt to fill a CD. Volume 2 offers more of what Volume 1 delivered: the unbeatable goodtime New Orleans rock’n’roll and R&B for which Ace was famous (although one or two tracks were recorded outside of the Crescent City, next door in Houston).
Several Ace label stalwarts inevitably make their welcome return, but we also encounter a number of highly talented people who briefly figured in Johnny Vincent’s discography – and who, but for the lack of a hit record, may have figured more prominently than they did. Our roll call includes 40s R&B megastars Amos Milburn and Charles Brown duetting on Huey Smith’s rocking ‘Educated Fool’, Edgar “Big Boy” Myles and Issachar “Junior” Gordon stepping out from premier vocal groups the Shaweez and the Spiders respectively, more great stuff from blues kings Frankie Lee Sims and Julius “Mercy Baby” Mullins, a brilliant example of the early work of Crescent City legend Eddie Bo and more from the inevitably top quality repertoire of Ace mainstays Frankie Ford, Jimmy Clanton, Bobby Marchan and Huey Smith.
If this music doesn’t cure your blues and put a smile on your face, it really is about time you gave some thought to having that check-up from the neck up.
By Tony Rounce (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2010||CD||18.00 €
|VA: - Action ! The Songs Of Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart
The latest in our popular songwriter series spotlights Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, the duo whose instinctive marriage of folk-rock and pre-bubblegum teen pop created and defined the Monkees sound.
Boyce and Hart each started out as teenage rock’n’rollers in late 1950s Los Angeles and first met in 1960. Their formative years are represented here with ‘Be My Guest’, written by Boyce for Fats Domino in 1959, ‘Beverly Jean’, one of the handful of Boyce compositions recorded by Curtis Lee and ‘Too Many Teardrops’, an early Bobby Hart solo single.
By 1963 both had relocated toNew York, where they began writing as a team. They made their big breakthrough the following year with ‘Come A Little Bit Closer’, a Top 3 hit for Jay & the Americans, which helped land the twosome a contract with leading music publishers Screen Gems.
They reached the peak of their success and creativity in 1966, writing for and producing the Monkees. Three of the group’s best recordings are here, and a further six songs popularised by them are featured in less-frequently heard, but equally good, mostly pre-Monkees versions, including ‘(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone’ by UK fuzz-beat combo the Flies and ‘She', an almost hit for Del Shannon. By the end of 1966 the Monkees had recorded nearly 50 titles, 21 of them Boyce and Hart songs – quite an achievement considering they were in competition with Carole King, Gerry Goffin and the rest of the Screen Gems stable.
Apart from the duo’s joint compositions, the collection also features examples of their work with other co-writers. ‘Never Again’ by the Royalettes and ‘Hurt So Bad’, as defined by Little Anthony & the Imperials, stem from Bobby Hart’s spell collaborating with Teddy Randazzo. ‘Action’ – the theme for TV’s Where The Action Is, here by Paul Revere & the Raiders – and ‘Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day’ by Sir Raleigh & the Cupons represent Tommy Boyce’s brief partnership with Steve Venet. And Wes Farrell gets a look-in via three songs co-written with Boyce and Hart.
Come 1969 Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart were stars in their own right, with four hit singles and three albums to their name. This CD kicks off with ‘I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight’, a power-pop precursor from 1967 and the pair’s biggest hit as performers.
By Mick Patrick (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2012||CD||20.00 €
|VA: - Adios Amigo - A Tribute To Arthur Alexander
|Razor & Tie 1994||CD||10.00 €
|VA: - All Tore Up
unrequited love, tormented romance, tragedy & tearjerkers 1955-1968
|VA: - Allnighter - Norther Soul In A New Millennium Vol. 4
||Vinyl Only Records 2004||LP||18.00 €
|VA: - Always Something There - A Burt Bacharach Collector's Anthol
Collectors' Pieces and original versions from the deep catalogue of one of the 20th century's greatest pop tunesmiths
|Ace Records 2008||CD||18.00 €
|VA: - America's Most Wanted
21 Dancefloor Favourites from the home of soul.
Malaco Soul Fugitives
|Malaco 2003||CD||19.00 €
|VA: - Atlantic Gold 3CD
75 Soul classics from the Atlantic vaults
|Warner Music 2004||CD-Box||22.00 €
|VA: - Atlantic Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974 Vol. 6
25 biisiä vuosilta 1966-1969
|Warner Music||CD||13.00 €
|VA: - Atlantic Rhythm & Blues 1952-1954 Vol. 2
||Warner Music 2006||CD||9.00 €
|VA: - Atlantic Rhythm & Blues 1955-1957 Vol. 3
||Warner Music 2006||CD||9.00 €
|VA: - Backdrop - The Very Essence Of Northern Soul ca. 1974
|Vinyl Only Records 2000||LP||18.00 €
|VA: - Beach Music - Made For Dancing
Dee Clark, Nighthawks, Debby Dobbins..
|Beach Bag||CD||11.90 €
|VA: - Behind The Closed Doors Where Country Meets Soul
The line that separates the genres of country and soul music has never been a particularly thick one and over the decades there has been a healthy swapping of repertoire between the genres. Jimmie Rodgers, country music’s first superstar, established himself by putting a hillbilly spin on delta blues – and that was back in the late 1920s. Most 60s soul singers who grew up in the segregated American south in the 30s and 40s probably heard more country music on the radio than they did blues or jazz, as there was little to no radio programming devoted to music for black people. It’s therefore no surprise to find that there were so many classic adaptations of great country songs during the golden age of soul music.
“Behind Closed Doors: Where Country Meets Soul” brings together 24 supreme spins on songs that were first recorded – usually successfully – by country artists. It’s not the first such compilation to do so but, if I say so myself, it’s the best one to date. As one who regards both genres to be of equal importance, and who collects both soul and country 45s, I can say with some certainly that nobody is going to be disappointed with the tracks in this top-notch compilation. (For those who might wish to check out the country originals after hearing them sung with soul, I have listed the first version of each song in the track-by-track annotations.)
Where country meets soul can be a pessimistic and dark place. Songs such as ‘The Grand Tour’ or ‘Life Turned Her That Way’ are going to have a downbeat outlook whoever is singing them; they are as tailor-made for Aaron Neville and James Carr as they are for those who originally sang them for country audiences (George Jones and Little Jimmy Dickens), while Percy Sledge sings ‘Take Time To Know Her’ with the experience of someone who sounds like he lived every minute of its bleak narrative and provides this collection with an undisputed highlight.
The place can also be optimistic and light, as Joe Simon’s wonderful version of the early Waylon Jennings hit ‘Yours, Love’ and Little Milton’s romping revamp of Charlie Rich’s ‘Behind Closed Doors’ show. Somewhere in the middle there’s Moses & Joshua Dillard’s tear ’em up take on ‘My Elusive Dreams’, a song usually sung in country circles in the maudlin manner of the original version by its writer Claude “Curly” Putnam.
There are still a few people out there who have not yet come to regard soul and country as musical equals. Hopefully “Behind Closed Doors: Where Country Meets Soul” will help to right that wrong and lead to further understanding of why so many country songs have been turned into soul classics down the years.
By Tony Rounce (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2012||CD||18.00 €
|VA: - Berry Gordy - Motor City Roots
2009 is the 50th anniversary of the formation of the worlds most recognisable record label - Motown - and all through the year reissue CDs, major print articles and TV specials have celebrated the music of Berry Gordy.
This compilation is the first ever attempt to gather together examples of Gordy's song writing and production skills in the late 1950s prior to the formation of his legendary label.
This unique collection brings together many of the records that helped in the formation of Motown like Jackie Wilson's 'Reet Petite' written by Gordy and often cited as his first recorded composition along with Kenny Martin's version of 'My Love Is Coming Down' which is making it's CD debut.
To top it off this set also features the earliest recordings of Smokey Robinson & The Miracles as well as those of Motown stalwarts, Marv Johnson, Eddie Holland and members of The Originals who sang with The Five Stars.
|Jasmine Records 2009||CD||12.00 €
|VA: - Best Of Burlesque - 50 original club classics 2CD
||Demon Music 2009||CD||10.00 €
|VA: - Best Of Kayden & Merben Records
24 tracks soul, mod and r&r from the 60s
|Kayden & Merben Records 2009||CD||19.00 €
|VA: - Best Of Sue Records
|Collectables 1994||CD||13.00 €
|VA: - Birth Of Soul Vol. 3
This series of CDs is always a pleasure to compile as it covers an era I was not around for, in a record collecting, or even listening, capacity. Much of it is therefore new to me at the 'getting the titles together' stage. There are always plenty of pleasant surprises and the occasional revelation.
This was an age where the level of song craftsmanship was truly exceptional. Take Garnet Mimms' A Quiet Place-.-it starts with an unaccompanied (in more senses than one) woman hollering out of the window for one 'Johnny Dollar', which elicits a most tuneful response from Garnet, bemoaning the row while backed by the solitary bass singer from the Enchanters. That's the first ten seconds of the song and already we have a picture of a Harlem tenement, a lovelorn occupant with a straying, good-for-nothing boyfriend, neon lighting and clotheslines strewn across the alleyway. And don't get me started on what happens when the strings, drums and the rest of those enchanting Enchanters come in.
New York was definitely the pioneering city for soul music. Undoubtedly Detroit had the biggest individual label but that had already been influenced by Jackie Wilson and other earlier productions. Over half the tracks on this bountiful CD came from NYC and if you want a testament to its quality, look no further than Brooks O'Dell's Watch Your Step. The writers who created this masterpiece were Luther Dixon, Tommy Bell and Kenny Gamble - the aural equivalent of getting Rembrandt, Van Dyck and Canaletto to knock up a picture together. Then you've got Reggie Obrecht putting the ace Big Apple musicians through their paces, to create an eerie, swirling sea of emotion complementing the highs, lows, building tensions and breaks that the song provides. Brooks himself was a fabulous singer and he responds with a vocal that conveys every last emotion of a troubled lover. This recording reminds me of the early 6Ts days, when Randy Cozens was compulsively making tapes to counteract some of Wigan's later playlists and to teach anyone who would listen what real 60s soul could aspire to. He also made the point that music needn't be 100 mph to dance to-.-deeper sounds could be moved to out on the floor, particularly if a partner could be found.
We've already mentioned the highly influential city Detroit and this CD is notable for the first Motown licenses on Kent. The reason why it's taken us so long are down to major record company policies, politics and the cost. With Kent's 20th anniversary coming up next year, it's about time we said "Sod, the expense!"
The three tracks we've chosen include a rare Jimmy Ruffin offering on one of the smaller subsidiary labels, an in-demand, but neglected, early Miracles' number and a beautiful Carolyn Crawford collector's item, for those who knew what the real 'Sound Of Motown' was.
Even further back in the 60s came Richard Berry's Have Love Will Travel, an R&B classic that's been massively popular on the post 1990, UK mod scene. It has even crossed over to Northern Soul fans in the last couple of years. Manic and magical, it sounds better than ever since Ace acquired the master tape.
When I booked Ray Pollard to sing at the 100 Club I was surprised to get a call from Bill Fredericks, one of the later Drifters, who was worried it was some sort of a hoax designed to break his heart. "It can't be THE Ray Pollard from New York, the guy who used to sing lead with the Wanderers. He's my greatest singing hero of all time!" When I told him it was indeed the same person, he immediately booked a table for eight and insisted on paying for everyone. He wouldn't dream of having any sort of guest list, that would have cheapened the magic of the event. Ray did indeed sing like a bird, as he does on You Can't Run Away From Me, his last group release before a musically stunning solo career.
Another early soul group sound comes from Chicago outfit the Blenders. Their biggest record Daughter was cut in 1963 on Witch and at the session they also recorded the excellent Big Lover that inexplicably remained in the can until now. It really is top notch and a big bonus for any lover of the black vocal group sound.
As far as revelations go, just listen to the original take of I Need Your Loving by Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford. You may think you've got the wrong track, but hang on in there and be amazed.
For the esoterically inclined we have the male soul duo sound of the Taylor Brothers' People In Love-.-one of those legendary early soul records that we knew so little of at the time and not much more now.
The CD has its fair share of R&B hits and obscurities, plus excellent, copious notes from Dave Godin in a lavish booklet. Just seeing the names that produced, arranged and conducted these tracks: Van McCoy, Bobby Robinson, Bert Keyes, Jeff Barry, Garry Sherman, Jerry Ragovoy, Don Costa, Bert Berns, Richard Barrett, Teacho Wiltshire, Ed Townsend, Robert Banks and Berry Gordy remind us why we collected obscure pieces of vinyl in the first place.
By Ady Croasdell (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2001||CD||17.00 €
|VA: - Black Gold Vol. 1
|Flight To Oblivion 1998||CD||19.00 €
|VA: - Blame It On The Dogg - The Swamp Dogg Anthology
The Swamp Dogg Anthology 1968-1978
|Ace Records 2008||CD||17.00 €
|VA: - Bless You California - More Early Songs By Randy Newman
Following on from the success of “On Vine Street”, Ace’s first collection of compositions by Randy Newman, comes “Bless You California”. As with the previous volume, the focus is primarily on Newman’s early work for Metric Music, and once again there’s a diverse array of classics, near-misses and obscurities on offer here. Listening to the emerging talent of one of the world’s most gifted songwriters makes for a fascinating 67 minutes.
It was during his tenure at Metric in the 1960s that Randy honed his writing skills. There’s clearly a brain ticking away here. Randy was still finding his songwriting niche and testing the musical waters by trying his hand at a wide range of genres. From soul ballads (Irma Thomas’ reading of ‘Anyone Who Knows What Love Is’) to widescreen Americana (‘Illinois’ from the Everly Brothers’ outstanding “Roots” LP), to the charming pre-rock innocence of the Fleetwoods (‘Ask Him If He’s Got A Friend For Me’), to the character sketches for which he would later achieve fame and notoriety (Duffy Power’s ‘(Davy O’Brien) Leave That Baby Alone’), you could never say Newman was stuck in a rut. There’s even a cocktail jazz instrumental in Martin Denny’s ‘Scarlet Mist’ – a new one to me, and a recording which maybe explains Randy’s brief spell writing for the TV Music Library at 20th Century Fox (or maybe it was the influence of his soundtrack-composing uncle Alfred, who penned the immortal Fox fanfare ident).
In spite of this almost scattershot approach (“well, that didn’t work, let’s try this”), from the evidence here it’s possible to trace the emergence of one of the most idiosyncratic singer-songwriters of the 1970s. While the style-hopping may imply a certain lack of self-confidence, once Randy had found his lyrical voice (apparently with ‘Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear’, included on “On Vine Street”), he was off and running. The sardonic pops at society wrapped up in ‘The Debutante’s Ball’ (performed here by Liza Minnelli) and ‘Bless You California’ (the Beau Brummels) present a world-view unlike any other songwriter from the era. Still, even at this stage in his career he could turn his hand to a ballad as impossibly tender as ‘Snow’, perfectly suited to the none-more-fragile voice of Claudine Longet.
Other highlights include Alan Price’s delightful and chortlesome near-throwaway ‘Tickle Me’ and Harry Nilsson’s breathtaking performance of ‘Cowboy’, culled from his “Nilsson Sings Newman” album and featuring one of the most resigned, world-weary vocals ever committed to tape. From the ridiculous to the sublime and all points between; this terrific collection is not just for Newman scholars, but stands as a perfect introduction to a unique talent. Any chance of a third volume?
By Harvey Williams (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2010||CD||17.00 €
|VA: - Bo Diddley Is A Songwriter
In his long and illustrious career, the late Ellas McDaniel portrayed his alter ego Bo Diddley as many things – a lover, a gunslinger, crazy, even a lumberjack would you believe (and as this is Bo we’re talking about, you would…)
One thing that Bo seldom if ever proclaimed himself to be is ‘A Songwriter”. But over a period of 10 years, Bo crafted some of the most memorable songs of the rock ‘n’ roll and R & B era, including numerous Hall Of Fame perennials which many will be unaware are his songs. For instance, there can be few on this planet who’ve never heard at least one version of “Love Is Strange” – it was featured in ‘Dirty Dancing’, one of the most popular and biggest grossing films of all time, for goodness sake! How many of the thousands of young people who own that soundtrack album also know that the same man who wrote it also wrote “Mona” a 1990s UK chart topper for Craig McLachlan, and “No No No”, a Top 10 hit in 1993 for reggae artist Dawn Penn (both songs appear here, in other versions, under their real titles ‘I Need You Baby’ and ‘She’s Fine, She’s Mine’ respectively…). Not many, I’ll wager.
Bo is so well known and loved as an R & B legend that his songwriting skills tend to get overlooked in comparison with his fabulous recordings. He may be seen by some as a left field entry in Ace’s ongoing ‘Songwriter Series’, but once the CD popped into the player, it won’t take but a few minutes (as his Chess colleague Chuck Berry once wrote) to realise that he’s here on merit, and not just because everyone at Ace loves Bo Diddley.
Of course, anyone who lived through the R&B and British Beat boom will be familiar with any number of E. McDaniel copyrights – both those Bo wrote, and those that were written for him by others. And there’s considerably more variety to Bo’s songwriting than some might initially think. OK, so he did put together more numerous variations on the ‘shave-and-a-haircut, six-bits’ rhythm. But Bo’s catalogue of compositions also embraces doo-wop (‘I’m Sorry’), teen pop (‘Love Is Strange’, ‘Mama Can I Go Out’) proto-surf (‘Bo’s Bounce’), humour (‘Pills’) 12 bar blues (‘Before You Accuse Me’) straight ahead R&B (‘I Can Tell’, ‘Diddy Wah Diddy’) and so much more besides.
As well as recording his songs, many of our stellar cast of artists were major league Bo fans and, indeed, most of those who are still around continue to be. The fact that the recordings on our CD span a period of 50 years gives a strong indication of the timelessness of his work as a writer – hardly surprising when his own early recordings still sound like they were recorded yesterday.
If there’s still any shadow of doubt in your mind that Bo Diddley IS a songwriter, buy this CD immediately and let its contents rid you henceforth of such foolish supposition!
By Tony Rounce (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2010||CD||17.00 €
|VA: - Boy Meets Girl
The Memphis-based Stax label featured male/female duos from the very start, indeed two of their first releases were by the father and daughter duo of Rufus and Carla Thomas. It was not until 1969 though, that the duo idea developed into a full concept. At that time, Al Bell, the Stax executive, was trying to turn the Stax stable from a singles-based label into an all-round record company with strong album material. As part of that thrust, the company commissioned a special project to showcase the best female and male talent in a series of duets and this led to the release of Boy Meets Girl. In the US this was one of Stax's few double albums, but when released later in the UK, only a single-album subset saw the light of day.
Given her previous experience, it was not surprising that Carla Thomas was featured amongst the female artists on Boy Meets Girl. Carla has vocal pairings with Johnnie Taylor, William Bell and Eddie Floyd and also with Pervis Staples of the renowned gospel and secular group the Staple Singers. As the Staple Singers were a mixed female/male line-up that sang easily and well together, it made a lot of sense to use the Staples family as the other main source of artists for the concept. Consequently the strong-voiced Mavis Staples also appears singing with William Bell, Eddie Floyd and Johnnie Taylor and her sister Cleotha shares a song with Eddie. All the singers appear on the opening track Soul-A-Lujah.
The tracks for Boy Meets Girl were recorded principally at Ardent studios in Memphis and at the Fame Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama with the backing musicians which later became known as the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.
Additionally, some tracks were worked on at United Sound and at Terra Shirma studios in Detroit. As well as being the architect behind the concept, Al Bell was also the principal producer of the sessions, with help on many tracks from the likes of Isaac Hayes, Don Davis and Steve Cropper of Booker T & The MGs. Drawing on a mixture of specially commissioned songs and some pop/R&B classics such as That's The Way Love Is, Piece Of My Heart and All I Have To Do Is Dream, the double album became a clear artistic success. However, its sales recognition probably suffered from the project being in the midst of a welter of both Stax singles and album releases, not all of which could attract Stax's buying public at the same time. Here it is for the first time re-issued on CD
by Peter Gibbon (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2000||CD||15.00 €
|VA: - Break-A-Way. The Songs Of Jackie DeShannon 1961-1967
Before her own breaktrough as a recording star, jackie DeShannon was one of the most in-demand songwriters of the 60s, providing material for everyone from Brenda Lee to the Byrds. This bumper collection features solo compositions and songs co-writeen with Jimmy Page, Jack Nitzsche and Sharon Sheeley, plus an exclusive previously unheard demo.
|Ace Records 2008||CD||17.00 €
|VA: - Califia - The Songs Of Lee Hazlewood
This is the latest addition to our high profile Songwriter series. Comprising familiar Lee Hazlewood fan favourites and scarcer titles in equal measure, the set spans Sanford Clark’s Top 10 hit of 1956 ‘The Fool’ (built on a memorable contribution from guitar wizard Al Casey) to 1970’s German language interpretation of ‘And I Loved You Then’ by transcontinental pop princess Peggy March (a song familiar to buffs via Lee's recording on his “13” LP).
No such compilation would be complete without Nancy Sinatra and axe-meisters Duane Eddy and Al Casey, with each of whom Lee was inextricably linked. They’re all here. Hazlewood mavens should lap up the titles by the Darlenes, the Hondas, Rose & the Heavenly Tones (produced by Sly Stone, no less) and Lee’s frequent collaborator Suzi Jane Hokom (who gets two collectable cuts, including a duet with him), each of which is new to CD.
One of pop’s genuine originals, Hazlewood is lionised by luminaries such as Primal Scream, Beck, the Jesus & Mary Chain, Pulp, Lydia Lunch and Sonic Youth. In 1999 he performed at the Nick Cave-curated Meltdown Festival on London’s South Bank backed by members of the High Llamas and Stereolab, while the “Total Lee!” tribute album of 2002 had the indie cognoscenti tripping over each other to record his compositions.
Hazlewood was a uniquely versatile songwriter, equally capable of turning his hand to pop, country, psychedelia, R&B, folk, easy listening, burlesque, blues or twangin’ rock’n’roll – dig Don Cole’s wild ‘Snake Eyed Mama’ and Al Casey & the Bats’ reverb-drenched ‘(Got The) Teenage Blues’. His songs are truly beyond categorisation.
He was also a pioneer in the mysterious art of record production and taught a thing or two to the teenaged Phil Spector, who hung around paying close attention while Hazlewood crafted magnificently cavernous guitar instrumentals for Duane Eddy. Of the 25 tracks on “Califia”, Lee wrote each one and produced all but four.
As a performer, Hazlewood possessed an instantly recognisable bass drawl perfectly suited to his lyrical tales of low-rent heartache, self-deprecating comedy, picturesque nostalgia and mystical cowboy psychedelia. He sings on four cuts on this collection, including the folksy Shacklefords’ recording of ‘The City Never Sleeps At Night’, a song written specifically for Nancy Sinatra.
As Dionne Warwick was to Burt Bacharach and Petula Clark to Tony Hatch, Nancy was Lee’s perfect muse. Theirs was a partnership created one velvet morning in pop heaven. The expansively orchestrated opening duet ‘Lady Bird’ – just one of the many masterpieces they made together – was personally selected for this compilation by the lady herself.
A companion volume of Lee Hazlewood-penned instrumentals is also in the Ace pipeline, so watch this space. Meanwhile, check out the others in our Songwriter series, which include compilations based on the works of Randy Newman, Jackie DeShannon, Neil Diamond, Goffin & King, Bo Diddley, Burt Bacharach and many more.
By Mick Patrick (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2010||CD||17.00 €
|VA: - Calla Records - Soul Of The 60s Vol. 1
||Avi Records 1996||CD||17.00 €
|VA: - CamPark Records Novelty, Instrumental, Rock And Soul Vol. 14
18 tracks all the odds and ends
|CamPark Records||CD||18.00 €
|VA: - Can't Be Satisfied - The xl and Sounds Of Memphis Story
|Ace Records 2007||CD||18.00 €
|VA: - Caputred Live
18 tracks - Mary Wells / Marvelettes / Temptations
|Motorcity Records 1987||CD||19.00 €
|VA: - Carnival Northern Soul
n the early 60s, through the auspices of Choker Campbell, Joe Evans spent seven months living in one of Berry Gordy’s old houses in Detroit. He was playing with the Funk Brothers on recording dates, performing concerts in local auditoriums and touring the country with the first Motown Revue. This experience showed him how successful black music could become and he took the Hitsville set-up as a blueprint for his own Carnival label. Undoubtedly Joe learnt a lot from his Detroit stay and this CD captures most of his Motown moments.
The Manhattans were his “children” whom he nurtured from their inception. When they left Carnival for what they thought was a bigger company (but was merely a revival of the old Deluxe label) it tore the heart out of his dream and his company. Joe Evans’ recent autobiography recalls the tragedy of George “Smitty” Smith’s death from a brain haematoma in 1970; it also reveals that it is Joe playing the flute on the group’s ‘There Goes A Fool’, featured here.
It is the lesser acts that get the most tracks on this CD. Newark schoolteacher Phil Terrell only ever recorded three singles and all were on Carnival. ‘Love Has Passed Me By’ was a huge record for me at the 100 Club in the mid-80s and his other two contributions ‘I’ll Erase You (From My Heart)’ and ‘I’m Just A Young Boy’ are so good they will surely have their day soon. The Pretenders also get a trio of tracks and they start with a storming version of the Manhattans’ biggest 60s hit ‘I Wanna Be (Your Everything)’ before morphing into a classic 70s “modern soul” group with ‘I Call It Love’ (also ex-Manhattans) and the Kent exclusive, previously unreleased (until 1995) shuffler ‘A Broken Heart Cries’.
Phil Terrell was brought to the label by Manhattan Winfred “Blue” Lovett who also attracted Norma Jenkins and the Lovettes to the stable. The Lovettes regularly backed the Manhattans and other artists and could veer from the shimmering and seductive stomping sound of ‘Little Miss Soul’ to the plaintive and pretty ‘I Need A Guy’. Blue was a heck of a song writer, the most “on the fours” influenced of all the Carnival composers and he delivered a catchy, soulful ‘Me, Myself And I’ for Norma Jenkins that really should have launched her career.
More motor city links are revealed on the Pets ‘I Say Yeah’, written by Joe along with the pre-Golden World label Parliaments. They later turned the music world around with their Cosmic funk. Southerner Little Royal later showed his funky side but in 1967 he was all Stax grit and grits, not unlike New Jersey brother Kenneth Ruffin whose ‘Cry, Cry, Cry’ a year later also had that brass-laden Memphis groove.
Jimmy Jules was the epitome of the itinerant musician who started out in Louisiana but took in New York, Denver, LA and Colorado Springs, among many other places that offered his cookin’ band some live music action. His self-penned ‘Don’t Let Yourself Go’ was either recorded in NJ or NO or both, depending on whose story you plump for. The main thing is, it’s a fine slab of soul.
The small (two releases) Chadwick label is represented by both its great 1966 dancers from the Metrics with ‘Wishes’ and the Topics with ‘Hey Girl (Where Are You Going)’, while Florida’s Turner Brothers turn up with a song by George Kerr’s oppo Gerald Harris whose ‘My Love Is Yours Tonight’ is a really great record.
Joe Evans remembers being approached by Ace Records in the 90s with a view to re-releasing his catalogue onto CD. He asked director Trevor Churchill whether he was the same guy who used to write to him in the 60s for record release information, and was answered in the affirmative. Knowing Joe as I do now, I’m pretty sure that would have clinched the deal, and deservedly so.
By Ady Croasdell (ACE RECORDS)
|Ace Records 2009||CD||17.00 €
|VA: - Change Is Gonna Come
|Ace Records 2007||CD||17.00 €
|VA: - Chartbusters USA Vol. 2
29 tracks USA hits 1963-1969
|Ace Records 2002||CD||17.00 €
|VA: - Chinese Checkers
A Tribute To Memphis Soul Instrumentals
|Wildebeest Records 2001||CD||15.00 €
|VA: - Chitown Boogaloo
||Vinyl Only Records 2006||LP||18.00 €
|VA: - Come Together - Black America Sings Lennon & McCartney
The unanimous acclaim for and success of Ace’s recent ‘How Many Roads: Black America Sings Bob Dylan” project pretty much guaranteed a follow-up at some point. Its release immediately instigated a high level of consumer interest in whether or not we were planning any further volumes in the series. Truth to tell, it wasn’t meant to be a series originally, but the suggestion of Black America singing other notable rock icons of the 60s was too good to ignore. So it is that we now present a selection of interpretations by leading black American artists of the compositions of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
John and Paul’s songs perhaps did not carry the same degree of social significance for black Americans as those of Mr Zimmerman, but their superlative knack for words and music inevitably made each new Beatles album a potential source of future hits for others. It’s therefore no surprise to find enough superb examples to fill a few volumes. Here we present two dozen of their best-known songs sung by many of the leading names in soul from the 60s and 70s.
As with the Dylan set, you’ll find the obvious (Otis Redding’s reconstruction of ‘Day Tripper’ and Aretha’s from-the-heart essay on ‘Let It Be’) rubbing shoulders with the blindingly obscure (West Coast blues giant Lowell Fulson wondering ‘Why Don’t We Do It In The Road’ and sweet soul quartet the Moments’ totally unexpected take on ‘Rocky Raccoon’). Unlike many pop songwriters, Lennon and McCartney reached out to a broad spectrum of black artists; you won’t find too many compilations where New Orleans’ rockin’ R&B man Fats Domino and his 60s near-namesake Chubby Checker feature alongside Motown’s first lady Mary Wells and king of 70s soul Al Green, and do so in such a seamless way. The common factor among all these covers is that they are never less than interesting. John and Paul are not on record as having expressed an opinion on too many versions of their songs, but we’d be willing to bet that the ones included here would have entertained them more than most.
As always, the CD comes to you with a booklet featuring a huge amount of illustrative material and generous song-by-song annotations covering who wrote what (or most of what). We had originally thought that we might include versions of some Harrisongs as well, but in the end there was more than enough Lennon and McCartney material to fill this disc and more besides, so George will have to wait until another day and another CD.
By Tony Rounce (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2011||CD||17.00 €
|VA: - Complete Goldwax Singles Vol. 2 1966-1967
This second volume is the label’s golden period, where classic southern soul 45s poured out and James Carr cemented his place in the pantheon of great soul singers with a series of releases that are simply jaw-dropping.
However Goldwax’s owners worked hard to diversify, in the hope that it wouldn’t suddenly be caught in the cold by a sudden change in musical fashion.
1966-7 was when James Carr released five singles. The run of the first four A-sides ‘You’ve Got My Mind Messed Up’, ‘Love Attack’, ‘Pouring Water On A Drowning Man’ and ‘Dark End Of The Street’ are peerless, and it is almost unbelievable that they were a consecutive run of singles. The Ovations also released some superb 45s throughout this period as did number two soul man Spencer Wiggins, who served up the sublime ‘Uptight Good Woman’, among others. There are also brilliant slices of southern soul from Percy Milem, Eddie Jefferson, George (Jackson) and (Dan) Greer and Barbara Perry.
Part of the fun of a complete singles set are the oddities and one-offs that come up. Here are excursions into garage rock, with the respected local Memphis group the Yo Yos aping the sounds of the British Invasion, who were influenced by the sounds of America in the first place. It also sees the start of an attempt to move into the country market with records by Kathy Davis and Carmol Taylor, which led to the launch of a new label – Timmy – specializing in this type of music. The singles usually included one side of the sort of country ballads that are a close relation to the deepest southern soul. They are a pleasure to hear and are reissued for the very first time.
There is also a wider sense of the R&B and soul world beyond the impassioned voices of Carr and Wiggins: OB McClinton released his final, Ernie K Doe-sounding 45; there is a typical Memphis instrumental from Gene “Bowlegs” Miller; and an attempt or two by Ivory Joe Hunter to rekindle his career. The veteran star’s 40s and 50s recordings were very much favourites of Elvis Presley, and Hunter was based in Memphis throughout the 60s.
Goldwax’s golden age was when their main star was regularly in the charts and their recordings were hailed as great. These were always strong enough to stand alone. What is fascinating is to hear them in context of what was going on around them.
By Dean Rudland (ACE RECORDS)
|Ace Records 2009||CD||25.00 €
|VA: - Complete Goldwax Singles Vol. 3 2CD
The third volume of the Goldwax singles is the story of music industry decline. If not exactly riches to rags – Goldwax sales were never that good – it is the tale of an independent label slowly losing its way in an increasingly difficult environment. This was not just about a failure to sign talent, but about changes within the business, and that meant that it became more difficult for regional independents to survive and thrive.
The company's peak year was probably 1967. Musically James Carr and Spencer Wiggins were at the top of their game, whilst the Ovations continued to record great records. New talent such as Willie Walker entered the fray and label owners Quinton Claunch and Doc Russell were confident enough to start the country music imprint Timmy to showcase talent as good as Carmol Taylor and Jeanne Newman. However distributor Bell had no real clout in the country market and the new label’s outpit fell on deaf ears, or more likely wasn’t even played to them. Other signs of how tough it was was the licensing out of various singles by ‘Ivory’ Joe Hunter and Willie Walker to Veep and Chess respectively – which Quinton now admits was to tide the label over cash flow shortages.
In 1968 things were not improving. Although James Carr continued to make records of amazing quality, sales began to decline and, even more worryingly, James became increasingly difficult to entice into the studio and onto the road to promote his records. Inexplicably strong 45s by Wiggins failed to make the charts and it began to look as if the struggle was never going to get easier. Of course all this wasn’t helped by the way that the industry was developing, with a more centralised, major-orientated distribution network taking hold, and the church-based southern soul sounds that had formed the core of Goldwax’s sales beginning to seem old-fashioned, even in the local market. Memphis’ big soul sellers into the 1970s would be the orchestrated masterpieces of Isaac Hayes and the smoother sound of Hi’s Al Green.
The label was effectively over by 1969 and completely over by 1970. The artists had moved on, been sold on or simply left without a label. The final side on Goldwax was James Carr’s ‘Everybody Needs Somebody’ a country soul ballad of exceptional quality, and is typical of how high the quality remains throughout volume three of “The Complete Goldwax singles.” There are errors and side-steps, but until the day the doors swung shut for the final time the sounds of the label were almost always a joy to the ears. This is southern music at its’ very best.
Dean Rudland (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2010||CD||23.00 €
|VA: - Cookin' With Kent
||Ace Records 1986||LP||17.00 €
|VA: - Cruisin' 1965
||Increase Records 1996||CD||15.00 €
|VA: - Dave Godin's Deep Soul Treasures # 4
in 1997, Dave Godin launched his first Deep Soul Treasures CD. Of the genre he had so masterfully identified, Godin noted, It is certainly the music of the outsider," before adding that this glorious music he had so skilfully hewn from the rich musical landscape of black America, was, "a form of therapy by which we are brought face to face, with the worst thing we think could happen to us but by experiencing it through the artistic metaphor, we learn the lesson..."
Is it any wonder then that in an over-burgeoning compilation market, the Deep Soul anthologies remain the most eagerly awaited of them all? This anticipation should surprise no one. Godin's CD's have not only brought to light dozens of hidden artists, but his selections have been masterful, presenting a music that will never ever pale in time's shadow. "
Within the slap of a bass and the cry of a vocalist, the CDs became some of Ace's biggest-ever sellers and are now rightfully viewed as major releases, creating a standard which Godin himself acknowledges: I am particularly pleased with this particular compilation," he writes in his liner notes, "because in my view the standard of excellence achieved in previous releases has been well maintained."
Invariably, you will come to cherish your own choices, but right now I keep returning to the opening track, Temptation 'Bout To Get Me, by the Knight Brothers. The song's opening: muted trumpets and drum roll create the perfect setting for the boys impassioned plea for help against the demon that dogs us all.
The impeccable grace of Eddie and Ernie's, I Believe She Will, follows, an emotional state of affairs later sustained by the setting of the great Chuck Edwards' voice to a haunting organ and bassline on his song, I Need You. There's the zest and exuberant musical colours of Just Loving You by Ruby Andrews, as well as the casual accusatory tone the Black Velvet adopt for, Is It Me You Really Want, a song which gives way to the majestic classicism of Paul Kelly's, The Day After Forever, marked by its sublime chorus and poetic title.
The inventive musical touches that mark Jackie Lee's, I Love You, are not only ear catching, but make a claim for this Deep Soul collection to be the most varied yet, a point later strengthened by the inclusion of singer Tony Owens' uptempo stormer, This Heart Can't Take No More.
Yet, notwithstanding the songs mentioned, for me the heart of this collection resides in an incredible six-song sequence which begins with Doris Duke's I Don't Care Anymore, her resigned voice capturing the song's radical sentiment with amazing skill. We then move on to the previously unissued, You Make Me Feel Good, by Lawrence and Jaibi (a singer I get more excited about with each passing day), a footloose funky workout which nicely sets the stage for the solemn overtones of Barbara Brown's Can't Find No Happiness. The tragedy contained within her statement that, "these empty arms just bring me great pain", is then dispelled by the weighty vocal insistence of singer Garnett Mimms on My Baby, brilliantly accompanied by dragging horn lines, swinging drums and a fiery piano. Then there's just about enough time to catch your breath and suddenly the Webs are upon you, a lovely guitar lick mixed with great harmonies but the instrumentation played with an almost slapdash feel, as if both band and singers are on the point of breaking down. Which, when the song is called, It's So Hard To Break A Habit, is probably the point.
As with other projects Godin is not scared to include the more familiar. Thus the Miracles' exquisite Tracks Of My Tears and Irma Thomas' rousing Time Is On My Side, are also included, as is the lesser-known but equally as powerful Gladys Knight track Giving Up.
And then comes Jaibi's previously unreleased, It Was Like A Nightmare. This is a major new discovery-.-a great vocal performance that has lain dormant on unearthed tapes, a song that just keeps rolling and rolling and rolling, just like all the best nightmares do. To read of her early passing is to know the pain of regret all too well.
There's just time to pick out Roy Hamilton's grandiose vocal on the immortal, Dark End Of The Street, before we hit I Made It Over by Jimmy Robbins, a vocal performance rich with suggestion that the story is not as clear cut as his words claim. Bob and Earl's Don't Ever Leave Me, ends the trip, worth it just for the vocal performances alone, complex in their arrangement, so direct in their efficiency.
Want the word on Dave Godin's new Deep Soul CD? Superb. It's the only one that springs to mind, really.
By Paolo Hewitt"
|Ace Records 2004||CD||18.00 €
|VA: - Dave Godin's Deep Soul Treasures Taken From The Vaults
||Ace Records 2013||LP||25.00 €
|VA: - Dave Hamilton's Detroit Dancers Vol. 3
|Ace Records 2006||CD||17.00 €
|VA: - Dave Hamilton's Detroit Soul
Dave Hamilton’s Detroit tape cache reveals hitherto unknown soul dimensions to the great producer’s work.
Uptown yet edgy Motown soundalikes, blues with a beat, sweet soul harmonies, jazz grooves, drug-influenced funk and uplifting gospel – these are just a few of the categories in store on “Dave Hamilton’s Detroit Soul”. A career of over 50 years in one of the hotbeds of black music meant that Dave could sway with the musical punches and counter as well as any. The sides here span 20 creative years, all of them of interest to soul devotees who are intrigued by how the music flourished and developed. After three volumes of “Detroit Dancers”, we felt “Detroit Soul” to be a more apt title this time, although there are plenty of dancers on here too.
Starting with Dave’s first label, Temple, we have early examples of the emerging soul sound from his daughter Charmaine with the plaintive ‘Don’t You Listen’ and the bluesy ‘Won’t You Come On Home’ by Harry Reid. Frenchy & the Chessmen get an organ groove going, but I don’t think it shook up Booker T too much. Moving on to his most famous imprint, Topper, we have the logo’s final two soul recordings to be digitalised, which involve Priscilla Page solo and as half of a duo with Rony Darrell, Dave’s then partner. We then investigate later labels Da Da, Demoristic, TCB and New Day, all of which had gems of soul dotted among them.
Three ballads are featured: the churchy, southern style ‘Look Up And Smile’ from Gene Cooper, nightclub jazz in the shape of ‘Missing You’ from Sue Ann Jones and ‘All Because Of You’, high quality male harmony soul from the unknown Moderations. The latter is one of four numbers that have been discovered and mixed from multi-track tape. ‘I Don’t Play Games’ by male vocal quartet Nightchill is commercial enough to have charted if only they’d have pressed it up, and the female led New Experience’s ‘Here I Am (Come And Take Me)’ will also thrill modern soul fans. Romeo & Juliet get it on a la Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway on ‘You Got What It Takes’. Funk is touched on in the form of Billy Garner’s raucous ‘You’re Wasting My Time’.
A track that will excite traditional 60s soul fans is Ortheia Barnes’ performance on Dave Hamilton and Joe Hunter’s mid-tempo ‘Never Ever Leave Me’, originally destined for the Mickays label. J.T. Rhythm’s Palmer 45 on CD for the first time and Bobby Dee’s ‘Sweet Thing’ is grabbed from the clutches of BGP to reclaim a real soul dancer for the silver sliders. Any lover of black music will dig Dave Hamilton’s harmonica-led ‘Take Care Of Your Own Business’, while bluesman Chicago Pete’s ‘I’m Begging You’ grooves and grooves and grooves. O.C. Tolbert devotees are treated to ‘Too Late’, which was discovered too late to include on his recent solo CD. Chico & Buddy cover the narcotics side of the business, while the Webb People sound a little as if they’ve been investigating that area themselves.
This is wonderful music from a revered musician who attracted great talent and knew his business well enough to leave a major body of work for his followers so many years on.
By Ady Croasdell (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2011||CD||18.00 €
|VA: - Deep Shadows - The Best Of Kent Ballads
We’ve not had an out-and-out ballad CD on Kent for over a year and after 28 years of compiling, we thought that a retrospective look at the very best tracks was due.
Many deep, southern or ballad collectors may not have gone for CDs such as “Mirwood Soul Story” or “Dave Hamilton’s Detroit Dancers”. As there were gems of these styles within those and other packages, we knew they would be enjoyed in another CD setting. Similarly, other pieces of beautiful music from the Charmels, L.V. Johnson and Johnny Gilliam were on similar but deleted CDs. Picking a “Best Of” CD felt valid and to strengthen it even more, we are including a handful of recordings that have not been issued on CD before, in some cases never issued at all.
These newbies deserve the most attention as they will be fresh to most soul fans. Of the issued tracks, the least rare is the Quotations’ ‘It Can Happen To You’ on DiVenus, which was a good seller in NYC on issue, though the current price tag of £150 (due to its Northern flip) would put the casual buyer off. Rarer is the Austin Taylor offering from Zell Sanders’ J&S subsidiary Sprout Artist. That set-up was never known for production subtleties and the single opens as if in an echoing Harlem Church, with the chorus belting out Hymn #94 before Austin’s tough vocal preaches his message.
The master tape contenders are of incredible quality. Bay Area songstress Jeanette Jones was probably only demoing ‘What Have You Got To Gain By Losing Me’ but sang it from the heart, which now means that an excellent Gerry Goffin co-composition was saved for the world, with its first airing here. Down in Nashville, Tennessee ace arranger and producer Bob Holmes cut a Gallatin act called the Paramount Four on a stunning group ballad ‘You Must Leave Her Because You Love Her’. If you invest in this CD, I can guarantee that you will be singing along to this beauty with gusto.
From the previously released but now deleted pile we re-present the Charmels’ brilliant ‘I’ve Done It Again’. Featuring on the same deleted Kent CD was L.V. Johnson’s ‘Seeing Is Believing’, which I now realise is right up there with it. Giving the track another lease of life also gives me the chance to correct the assumption that it is the same song the Mad Lads cut (also for the Volt label); it isn’t and we don’t know who penned it. I hadn’t even noticed that it was over four and a half minutes long – it doesn’t drag for a single second.
Personal favourites include the tracks by Phillip Mitchell, Loleatta Holloway, Sam Dees, the Modettes, Debbie Taylor and the bittersweet and haunting voice of Little Ann singing her self-written title track to the CD. If you don’t recognise any of the titles, please rest assured that these are the best of Kent – that’s going to be very good indeed.
By Ady Croasdell (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2010||CD||17.00 €
|VA: - Delta Swamp Rock Vol. 2
More sounds from the south 1968 - 75:. At the crossroads of rock, country and soul.
New on Soul Jazz Records, the second volume of Delta Swamp Rock continues to journey into the heartland of the American south, exploring the musical links between country, rock and soul music in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Southern rock rose up in the 1970s on the huge commercial success of southern-based groups The Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker, Lynyrd Skynyrd and others. Like the twisted roots of rock and roll, southern rock put country, rock and black music into a melting pot to create a unique sound. This gave rise to a new identity for white southern working-class youth.
The roots of this revolution were to be found in an obscure corner of Alabama, in the sleepy town of Muscle Shoals, where, in the previous decade, a group of white in-house studio musicians together with the greatest rhythm and blues vocalists of the day - Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Etta James and many others - away from the segregated environment found just outside the studio walls.
Delta Swamp Rock 2 contains extensive sleeve-notes in an accompanying deluxe large outsize book housed in double-backed card case, which also includes stunning photographs and new interviews with a number of the featured artists (including Tony Joe White) .
As well as the deluxe slipcase CD edition there is also a similarly deluxe limited edition heavyweight double gatefold vinyl edition complete with full sleeve-notes and super-loud pressing.
|Soul Jazz Records||2-CD||23.00 €
|VA: - Detroit Special - Motor City Roots 2CD
Following on from the success of our first two volumes in the Motor city Roots series comes, 'Detroit Special'.
Features the first two compilation albums ever released by the legendary Motown label plus 36 bonus tracks featuring the superb Motown artists: Barrett Strong; The Miracles; Mary Wells and more.
Also on offer here are many US chart hits from the likes of: Marvin Gaye and The Supremes plus some of the earliest recordings from such artists as: Martha Reeves; Stevie Wonder and once again The Miracles.
Fully detailed liner notes make this another great collector's item.
|Jasmine Records 2014||CD||15.00 €
|VA: - Dial Records - Southern Soul Story 2CD
51 biisiä Dial -merkin Soul / R&B
|Ace Records 2003||2-CD||23.00 €
|VA: - Diggin' Gold - A Galaxy Of West Coast Blues
25 tracks Galaxy records R&B + Soul
|Ace Records 2004||CD||17.00 €
|VA: - Discovered Vol. 5
25 tracks from Billboard Top 100 lists 1955-1969
|Recollect Music||CD||18.00 €
GOOFIN' RECORDS 30th Anniversary Party
LEVYMESSUT / TAPAHTUMAT
GOOFIN' RECORDS TULEVIA JULKAISUJA