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VA: - Greetings From Philly
Sony Bmg Music 2005 CD 9.00 €
VA: - GWP - NYC - TLC VOL. 2
For a company who only put out nine R&B singles on its own logos, GWP sure had some soul. Originally a production set-up that placed recordings on major labels, they had a fruitful history before the initial 1969 GWP release, but at least half the story is about the recordings that didn’t come out.

The Devonnes, the Shaladons, the Modettes, Bobby Penn and Milton Bennett were acts who cut some very worthy music for the company that never saw the light of day. Others like Benny Gordon and Larry Banks & Jaibi had top quality material left over from their singles sessions that will be welcomed by soul fans of all persuasions.

The dance tracks featured here are particularly good. The earliest is probably Lilly Fields pacey and pure Northern ‘Changes’, a Detroit Pied Piper recording from a New York/New Jersey artist. Sadly, most of the paperwork was destroyed just prior to Ace’s purchase of these tracks, so the history is speculative, but the recordings were made at Detroit’s United Sound and the rhythm track is indicative of the Funk Brothers featuring Joe Hunter on piano. Bobby Penn is virtually unknown; there was one 45 by an artist of that name on Uptight Records in 1968, which could well be the chap. His version of the Larry Banks/Joan Bates song ‘Without Your Love’ is probably the best of the several versions. Banks and Bates combined vocally to great effect on the self-written ‘My Life Is No Better’, a Dynamics number, even out-performing the creators. We just released this previously unissued RCA recording as the flip of the latest 100 Club anniversary 45 and already demand for this track is massive.

The latter period GWP provided some fabulous singles and tracks like ‘Detour’ by the Persians. ‘Stop’ and ‘Never Gonna Let Him Know’ by Debbie Taylor would ironically be more revered over here if they hadn’t been so abundant, due to good Stateside sales. The Hesitations’ ‘Go Away’, however, was found on an unreleased multi-track tape and its release two years ago as a 100 Club anniversary 45 has already created demand for this sublime slice of mid-tempo soul dance music. The rest of the GWP and GWP’s Grapevine releases are also high quality. Debbie Taylor and the Persians recorded exquisite ballads in ‘How Long Can This Last’ and ‘Here It Comes’. The Hesitations then funked-up Aretha’s ‘Good To Me’, as did Little Rose Little on her Pazant Bros-backed recording of Otis’ ‘Tennessee Waltz’. Both of these only ever came out on GWP’s two compilation LPs, a year after the 45s had ceased.

More beautiful balladry comes from the Devonnes with another Banks/Bates creation, ‘I Don’t Care What He’s Done’, and a real grower from the terminally obscure Modettes with ‘I Won’t Be Such A Fool’, which is my current top play. Southern soul fanciers will be pleased that Benny Gordon has three previously unreleased songs, including a 1967 update on Saint Maxine’s ‘All In My Mind’ and the rhythmically complex ‘Never Give Up On Love’. He also presented a version of his Estill recording ‘So Much In Love’ by the vocal group the Exceptions, who really excelled on this fine song. (The recording does not suffer the terrible sound distortion as Benny’s 45 of the song.)

There’s a Northern soul standard from Alice Clark with the George Kerr-produced and wonderfully titled ‘You Hit Me (Where It Hurt Me)’, a Larry Banks demo of the Cavaliers’ RCA 45 ‘I Really Love You’ and mo’ George Kerr from Plus 4’s lead singer telling us how she’s ‘The Happiest Girl In The World’ and really sounding like she is. The finale is certainly grand, a master tape of Dave Godin’s “greatest soul record ever”, ‘You Got Me’ by Jaibi that is the Kapp 45 version but with extra added girl backing vocals. Now that’s something every self-respecting soul freak’s just gotta have.

by ADY CROASDELL (Ace Records)
Ace Records 2009 CD 17.00 €
When I visited Gerard W Purcell's New York offices above his Paparazzi restaurant around 1990, I wasn't really sure why I'd gone there. Though I rated his GWP label highly, there weren't any big Northern Soul sounds or rarities on it and though Debbie Taylor's 'Don't Let It End' is one of my all time favourite soul songs, it wasn't going to move box-loads of CDs. I knew there was some link with the fabulous 60s soul of Detroit's Pied Piper Productions, that we had already released on the "Rare Collectable & Soulful" CDs, but apart from shared publishing, it was hard to figure out the exact nature of the relationship. Gerry Purcell himself was amicable enough, though he didn't seem to know much about the nitty gritty of the recordings that I revered so much.

His main interest was in a series of London-recorded pieces of orchestral music, based upon the signs of the zodiac; fascinating, but of zero musical interest to me. He spoke with affection about England and Ireland, but most of the time I was distracted, looking over his shoulders at some large, old green filing cabinets that just oozed possibilities. Despite us getting on well, Jerry had better things to do than to let a bizarre Brit rummage through his documents and I left his office thanking him kindly but not really knowing if I'd wasted my time or not. However, from little seeds some years later Ace was contacted by GWP who was looking for a European deal on his R&B recordings; this time it was arranged that I could get to see the master tapes. My curiosity and optimism was rekindled.

By now the offices had been moved into Gerry's home in Bayside, NY where I renewed acquaintance with him and was introduced to his musical right-hand man and the person in charge of his soul recordings, Ed Bland. Ed and I got on well once we had swapped some music talk and it became apparent that apart from representing GWP's interests, he wanted to see the music given a new lease of life to people who cared about it. The tapes looked terrific. Lots of ¬º", ¬?" and 1" masters in great condition. Nearly all of the ones we knew about were there and there were plenty more besides. We arranged to get them copied.

Now; "was there any other material or information around that would help us when we compiled the CD?" Ed took me into a dingy basement room where some reassuringly familiar dark green filing cabinets lived. "Have a look in those, there might be some things of interest." The drawers related to Millbridge and other publishing companies that GWP owned and were crammed with sheet music and reference copies of records for each of the published songs. Not only was there at least one vinyl copy (usually several) of each song published, if GWP also published the flip, there would be a separate file with copies for that too. Records like September Jones 'I'm Coming Home' / 'No More Love' would have at least two copies; in this case six. Even better there were acetates (multiple copies of some) of some of the unissued Pied Piper recordings that we had already licensed from RCA, such as Willie Kendrick's 'She'll Be Leaving You' and Lorraine Chandler's 'You Only Live Twice'. But even betterer, some of the acetates were of songs I'd never heard before. Larry Banks' manic original of 'Ooh It Hurts Me' and some storming Nancy Wilcox RCA reference dubs, impressed me immediately.

The avaricious record collector in me (coupled with the musicologist's caution of course), couldn't let these Aladdin's cave musical jewels go back into dormancy for another thirty years. I pointed out to Jerry, after running it by Ed, that there were more copies of each song than were required for reference purposes. The discs would be better appreciated across the Atlantic where they would soar into DJ's collections like released Phoenixes. Luckily Jerry had pity and a big heart and told me to take what I wanted; I even had to press dollars into his hand to keep my conscience clean. Some years later a series of events (which I'll relate to you in GWP Volume 2), made it clear that I had taken the right moral path and I can still sleep easily at nights.

Sadly Jerry passed away a few months after this meeting, but Ed Bland fought Ace's corner in purchasing the label from Jerry's son Eric Purcell and five years on (fifteen from the first) we are the proud owner of these great soul recordings.

The original GWP label recordings were made in 1969, mostly arranged by Ed Bland and produced by the great George Kerr. Debbie Taylor, the Hesitations and the Persians were the main acts, all of whom recorded some sublime 60s soul sounds, just as that Renaissance-like decade was drawing to a close. These recordings were fully produced with New York's top R&B session musicians and with songs from George Kerr, Ray Dahrouge and Billy Terrell, the already established classy soul singers gave some great performances. The Hesitations' 'Is This The Way To Treat A Girl', Debbie Taylor's 'Let's Prove Them Wrong' and the Persians' 'I Don't Know How' are as good as it got in that period. A huge bonus has been finding unreleased tracks - like Debbie Taylor's stunning ballad 'All That I Have' and the Hesitations original version of the Moments' early 70s hit 'Gotta Find A Way'. GWP also produced for other labels and Alice Clark's 'Heaven's Will' is another excellent and very moving, deep soul ballad. Little Rose Little and Betty Barney's recordings for the label are on the grittier side of soul but it is the earlier pre-GWP label productions that a lot of Kent fans will be bowled over by.

Larry Banks' prot?©g?©s the Devonnes sing a captivating version of Terri Bryant's Verve single '(You'd Better) Straighten Up And Fly Right'; the unknown Bobby Penn contributes a great original dancer called 'No Defense' and the Shaladons, who never had a record released, show the Hesitations (who cut it on an LP) how Larry Banks' 'Without Your Love' should really sound. There's a brand new and oh too rare, Jaibi recording; previously unreleased southern soul from Benny Gordon; a mid-tempo, Detroit sounding number from Lily Fields and Frankie Newsome's Chicago R&B hit 'My Lucky Day'. Ed Bland and Ray Dahrouge contributed stories and information to unravel this mysterious chapter of the Big Apple's soul story and the photos of the acts are especially fabulous; check out Debbie and Lily's glamour shots and the Persians funky headgear.

The moral of the story then is: follow all leads; don't be too shy; never give up and you'll end up with a CD or two's worth of righteous soul sounds.
Ace Records 2005 CD 17.00 €
VA: - Hall Of Fame
Nearly two years after we began our initial excavation of the Rick Hall’s FAME Studios tape vault, our findings continue to enthral. So far we’ve brought you CDs of the complete FAME recordings of Spencer Wiggins, Candi Staton and Jimmy Hughes, the first of several volumes by George Jackson and a fantastic boxed set, as well as numerous vinyl treats. Now we’re reaching into the deepest corners of the FAME vaults for our first multi-artist scoop of rare and precious soul, part of an ongoing series we call “Hall Of Fame”.

The series will focus primarily on unreleased gems from the studio’s vaults, but will also make room for unreissued sides along the way. Most recordings are finished masters, although we will also be including some demos to give the listener a glimpse behind the scenes at Avalon Avenue. Many will be early recordings of acknowledged classics, as is the case here with Clarence Carter’s demos of ‘Tell Daddy’ and ‘Too Weak To Fight’.

The quality is never less than first-rate and is really quite staggering at times. Even allowing for the vast quantity of great Southern soul that was around at the time, it beggars belief that Rick Hall was unable to find takers for so many great performances – many of them proving to be more than a match for any of FAME’s readily acknowledged classics.

Many of FAME’s major players get a look-in on our series debut. Numerous of the songs will be familiar to collectors in recordings by others who plied their trade at the studio, but the versions here are mostly previously unheard by anyone other than those who participated in the sessions.

The CD abounds with highlights. I’d like to give an especially big hand for Ralph “Soul” Jackson’s fantastic take on Jimmy Hughes’ ‘You Really Know How To Hurt A Guy’ and for Jimmy’s own riveting version of Etta James’ ‘I Worship The Ground You Walk On’. I’d also like to commend June Conquest’s Motown-style rendition of Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham’s ‘I Do’ and Prince Phillip Mitchell’s chunky remake of James Barnett’s ‘Keep On Talking’ – one of only three tracks on here to have been previously issued in any format. But really I can recommend literally everything on a CD for which the phrase “all killer, no filler” could have been coined.

By Tony Rounce (Ace Records)
Ace Records 2012 CD 17.00 €
VA: - Hall Of Fame Vol. 3
Our Fame vault excavation continues to be the gift that keeps on giving for southern soul fans. And what better way could there be to start another soul-filled year than with a new volume of “Hall Of Fame”. The previous two volumes of the series presented a cross-section of exceptional, and mostly unissued, material from the vaults of Fame studios from the prime years of Rick Hall’s funky building on Avalon Avenue in Muscle Shoals. The previous volumes mixed male and female vocalists and added a smattering of groups, but this one concentrates on the recordings by the great male singers who passed through Fame’s doors in the mid to late 60s.

A sizeable portion of the tracks featured here only came to light during our ongoing research. Most of the artists have appeared previously in our series and will need no further introduction, but it’s a pleasure to be able to add to their number by bringing you thrilling selections from Herman Moore, Billy & Clyde, Dan Brantley and Roy Lee Johnson.

How good and how pleasant it is to be able to again bring you almost two dozen fine slabs of vintage southern soul on CD for the first time. Almost all of them date from the period that most would consider to be Fame’s golden era for soul (1966-68), and the few that don’t are just as compelling. 20 of the 24 have never been issued in any form until now. The release of this third volume concludes the “Hall Of Fame” series but not of Ace’s Fame reissue programme, I’m happy to say. There are still several more projects in the pipeline, so you can look forward to musical visits to Northern Alabama for some while yet.

By Tony Rounce (Ace Records)
Ace Records 2014 CD 18.00 €
VA: - Handy Man - The Otis Blackwell Songbook
Arguments over who the greatest rock’n’roll songwriter is will abound long after those reading this have gone to meet their maker. But surely near the top of everyone’s list of contenders would have to be Otis Blackwell, a one-man hit factory whose catalogue includes more classic rock’n’roll songs than any other single songwriter of his time. His compositions for Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis alone would guarantee his entry into every music Hall Of Fame.

“Handy Man”, named after the song that brought worldwide chart fame to Jimmy Jones in 1959, is a worthy tribute to a man who, if he’d only written ‘Fever’, would still be regarded as one of the foremost composers of the rock’n’roll era.

Compiled in the spirit of previous entries in our songwriter series, it’s much more than merely a collection of Otis’ 24 greatest hits, sung by those who recorded them first. We like to mix it up a bit, so the title track is heard in Del Shannon’s stomping 1964 version, while Jimmy Jones is represented with another fine Otis Blackwell song. Those interested enough to purchase will have more than a passing familiarity with Elvis’ version of ‘All Shook Up’, so rather than reissue that for the gazillionth time, we instead bring the song to you by David Hill, whose rare original makes its first legitimate CD appearance here. Likewise ‘Don’t Be Cruel’: rather than Elvis we bring you Jerry Lee Lewis’ uproarious take, in preference to any of the Otis Blackwell compositions generally associated with him. As for Elvis, being spoilt for choice made us opt for his first, and one of his very best, post-Army recordings; ‘Make Me Know It’ reignited his recording career and was deemed potent enough to kick off his “Elvis Is Back” album.

The songs featured in “Handy Man” cover roughly from around 1953 to 1963. Later offerings by Solomon Burke and Sam Butera show that, unlike some of his peers, Otis easily adapted to the changes in music as the 1960s unfolded. How durable his compositions were are demonstrated by Derek Martin’s classic 1962 cut of ‘Daddy Rollin’ Stone’, which Otis had recorded as a menacing blues almost a decade earlier. Via Martin, the song became a boastful declaration of intent for a new generation of sharp boys, and of English mods in particular.

Brace yourself for a masterclass in rock’n’roll songwriting by a man who was much more than merely handy with a pen and paper.

By Tony Rounce (Ace Records)
Ace Records 2012 CD 18.00 €
VA: - Hard To Handle - Black America Sings Otis Redding
His achievements as a singer may cast a giant shadow over everything else he achieved. Anyone with a passing interest in music should be able to tell you that Otis Redding wrote ‘Respect’ and ‘Dock Of The Bay’ – that’s a given. But the vast majority of his many other singles had an Otis composition or co-write on at least one side, while almost all of the albums released during his lifetime featured additional Otis Redding copyrights. A prolific tunesmith and savvy A&R man, Otis also found time to write songs specifically for Arthur Conley and others whose careers he hoped to boost.

Otis wrote a staggering number of quality songs in a very short period of time. In fact the more Otis wrote, the more he wanted to write: in the few weeks leading up to his death, he went into Stax’s McLemore Avenue studio and cut around 30 new songs, leaving behind enough material for a trio of posthumously released albums which, for many fans, are better than many of those that came out while he was still alive.

There’s no way of telling how Otis would have progressed as a songwriter had his plane not crashed in December 1967, but the unreleased songs he left behind give a pretty good indication that he was moving in interesting and special directions. The quality of many of those posthumously issued compositions was quickly recognised by his peers. Fine versions of several of them, by Buddy Miles, Etta James, Patti Drew, Percy Sledge and others, appear in “Hard To Handle”, the latest volume in Ace’s occasional “Black America Sings” series.

As befits one of the greatest purveyors of a soul ballad, many of the best songs here allow their singers to tug at the heartstrings in the way Otis’ own versions still do. A significant number are performed here by women, who seemed to gravitate to Otis’ catalogue in the wake of Aretha’s blockbuster success with her revival of ‘Respect’.

But as well as the ballads there are numerous great examples of Otis’ up-tempo work, exemplified by his protégé Arthur Conley’s romp through ‘Wholesale Love’ and an alternate take of Otis’ own Northern Soul floor-filler ‘Loving By the Pound’ (written for Bettye Lavette, apparently!). There are more previously unissued treats here from Mitty Collier and Arthur Conley, as well as several sides receiving their CD debut.

Otis’ skills as a songwriter were patently second to none and it’s hoped that “Hard To Handle” will increase perception of just how important an all-rounder he was, and how long his career as a singer-songwriter might have sustained if the Grim Reaper hadn’t had other plans.

By Tony Rounce (Ace Records)
Ace Records 2012 CD 18.00 €
VA: - Heart Of Southern Soul Vol. 2
24 tracks
Ace Records 1996 CD 18.00 €
VA: - Heart Of Southern Soul Vol. 3 - The Flame Burns On
excello soul
Ace Records 1997 CD 18.00 €
VA: - Heavy Soul - Old Town & Barry's Deep Down & Dirty Sides
Though this CD hails from the same stable and labels as our recent "Old Town & Barry Soul Survey" CDKEND 244, it is a very different animal, as the first track clearly shows.

Thelma Jones was featured on two tracks on the uptempo CD, both slick uptown productions. Here she opens at an almost funereal pace, demonstrating her accomplished, gospel trained vocals on the excellent ballad I Won't Give Up My Man. From the sparsely instrumented opening bars, the arrangement adds apposite strings and a crisp horn section, reminiscent of Otis' version of A Change Is Gonna Come. As compiler and sleevenote writer John Ridley states "several [Old Town / Barry] releases had more than a touch of Memphis about them." Similar Southern-influenced ballads include Bobby and Betty Lou's fine duet on their self-penned Sugar and Donald Height's Tribute To Sam.

Old Town already had a long and successful track record in producing and selling blues records by artists such as Bob Gaddy, Larry Dale and Roscoe Gordon, so their updating of the genre with some soul music thrown in was a natural progression. Roscoe himself attempted this with his wife Barbara on two singles and we have featured the superb It Ain't Right here. Lester.Young was very bluesy in his approach to writing, singing and playing the guitar and this is shown on four fine sides. Stop is a stunning ballad that belies its New York studios origin, while I Love My Baby is a previously unissued master tape that will please both blues and soul fans.

Though Thelma Jones had the biggest number of singles releases on the labels, jazz singer Irene Reid got to make an album for Barry. Label owner Hy Weiss tried to take her career down a soul path and he succeeded in producing some great songs, but without much commercial success. Just Loving You is a lovely ballad and still retains much of Irene's jazz heritage, whereas 'Dirty Old Man' is a fully-fledged funky black American slab of dance music.

There are plenty of uptempo moments on the CD; it isn't all doom and gloom. Jesse Gee's first featured number starts off as a slow blues rap but then accelerates into a nitty gritty mover called She's A Woman. He uses a similar technique on the even low, down and dirtier Don't Mess With My Money.

Like most sizeable indies in the 60s, Old Town picked up masters from around the country and the Nashville-produced I'm Sorry For You, by Frank Howard & The Commanders, is a soul group ballad with some heavily-featured lead guitar work. This could conceivably have been performed by one Jimi Hendrix, a friend and colleague of the songwriter Billy Cox: the two were reputedly hanging out together in the Music City at this time.

The labels were running down by the 70s, though another Old Town series was started in 1969. Bobby Long & the Dealers' Heartbreak Avenue was a highlight of this period, melding Southern soul and what could imaginatively be described as country rock. In the 70s producer and journeyman singer/songwriter Dickie Williams came up with a gospel inspired I'll Be Standing By for the label, and chanteuse Peggy Scott delivered his beautiful Making Love To My Mind.

Hy Weiss was a hard-bitten record man who trusted to his instincts and was quite prepared to be unconventional if the situation called for it. There were therefore some very interesting releases on his labels, none more so than John Standberry Jr's Marie. A Greek chorus-like, wailing intro slips into a guitar lead paean to his beautiful Marie that is totally original and quite breath-taking; particularly in its final emotional crescendo.

Unlike our "Old Town & Barry Soul Survey", which was a re-make of an earlier, long deleted Kent CD, this compilation comprises 24 fresh soulful nuggets awaiting your voracious appetites.

By Ady Croasdell (Ace Records)
Ace Records 2005 CD 18.00 €
VA: - Here Comes The Hurt
“Here Comes The Hurt” is a successor to the two volumes of “King’s Serious Soul” that John Ridley compiled for us about 10 years ago. This time, by not sticking strictly to southern soul origins or influences, we’ve been able to include many excellent tracks that weren’t eligible for those previous releases, although the south is still well represented.

James Duncan, Thomas Bailey and Billy Soul have many followers; their tracks, like most on here, appear on CD for the first time. Charles Spurling’s ‘Don’t Let Him Hurt You Baby’ is a great ballad from a man who lived and worked well north of the Mason-Dixon line and usually wrote and sang uptempo numbers. His second offering, ‘Buddy Boy’, also displays his command of all styles within the soul genre.

Ricky Lyons, June Sims and Lee Holland were one-shot artists but cut the mustard on their lone singles. Ricky Lyons’ 45 came out on both the Federal and King labels and has the authority of a soul standard, yet it seems to be his only recording. Toni Williams’ ‘Precious Minutes’ is a little-known southern masterpiece, as is Bobby Wade’s lushly produced ‘Blind Over You’. Bigger acts such as Earl Gaines, Marva Whitney and Pat Lundy sing lesser-known but terrific soul tracks.

Vocal group collectors will enjoy the early soul of the Snapshots and the King Pins and dig the later harmony of Dee Dee, Joseph & David. Lee Holland’s ‘Give Me Back My Heart’ features fabulous backing vocals too. Tony & Carol ‘Let’s Not Wait’ is a harmonious duet that builds to quite a crescendo.

Acts from an earlier era show how they could adapt to the brave new soul era; Hank Ballard and the Bobbettes give virtuoso demonstrations of how to deliver a soulful ballad. Lynn Davis is backed by a female chorus on ‘My New Love’ which, like the Bobbettes, will impress lovers of the girl group sound.

A great deep soul Federal recording, ‘Fall In These Arms Of Mine’ by Johnny Soul is released here for the first time ever. For those with a gospel bent, Christine Kittrell’s ‘Ain’t Never Seen So Much Rain Before’ is a tour-de-force and T.C. Lee & the Bricklayers’ ‘Get Away From Here’ features a preaching lead with chorus straight out of the church.

The sound quality is immaculate; all tracks are taken from the original master tapes. US soul enthusiast Bob Abrahamian provides informative and fascinating notes and there are some great new photos from the King archives. The recordings stretch from 1960 to 1971 and feature a wide range of soul styles on slow burning ballads.

By Ady Croasdell (Ace Records)
Ace Records 2012 CD 18.00 €
VA: - Hitsville West - San Francisco's Uptown Soul
The San Francisco Bay Area was not known as a centre for urbane soul productions in the 1960s, yet judged on the contents of “Hitsville West”, the R&B-mad region was just as capable of generating fine sophisticated soul sounds. An adjunct to our recent Kent collection “Moaning Groaning Crying”, this compilation focuses on the more polished of local soul recordings, and in doing so necessarily includes virtually the entire catalogue of the renowned Villa label.

It seems aeons ago ago that Ady Croasdell and I first saw a shelf-worth of multi-track reels in the Fantasy vault, all with the legend “Villa Productions” inscribed across their log sheets. Ady has waxed lyrically in his voluminous Kent scribblings of the occasion when, after copying the tapes, I surprised his unsuspecting ears at the Ace office with not one, but two vocal variants of the legendary Villa instrumental Double Cookin’. In fact, after Ady’s repeated spins of the Magicians’ (Just A Little) Faith & Understanding at full blast, there were numerous entreaties from the Ace staff for just that: ie shut the listening room door and turn the volume down, or at least put some bloody headphones on!

In truth, Villa was a tiny little entity with nary a handful of releases to its name from 1964 to 1966, but they were all of top quality. The Magicians’ three singles, including the classic Love, Let’s Try It Again and their local hit Why Must You Cry are reasonably well known, Ozz & The Sperlings’ dancefloor faves slightly less so, and the final release on the label, by future Mirwood stars the Performers, is pretty much off the radar. Double Cookin’ needs no introduction, having worn out an inordinate amount of parquet in the halls of northern England over the years, but among the Villa tapes were several strong performances that had been left in the can, due principally to the penury of owners Herb Campbell and Frank Jones. The Tandels were the first with the marvellous piece of moody girl group soul in Why Did Our Love Go, plus the original template for Double Cookin’, Is It Love Baby. We proudly present two unissued Magicians gems, one of which is the intensely soulful ballad Trust In Me. And there’s the R&B workout Earthquake, by Troy Try My Love Dodds, which came out on releated Beechwood imprint.

The Villa recordings on HITSVILLE WEST are joined by other fine soulful sounds from the Bay Area of the mid-60s. There’s two tracks from the inestimable Claude Huey, including an alternate mix of his highly regarded Why Would You Blow It. The Fantasy subsidiary Early Bird provides rarities by Harold Andrews and Sisters Three, as well as the northern anthem We Got To Keep On by the incomparable Casanova II. Throw in some fleet-footed faves from the Ballads and Fuller Brothers, and you’ve got yourself a grab-ag of smartly-dressed yet cruelly undervalued soul. Putting this package together, I had a ball hanging out with sundry Magicians, Tandels and the two main men behind Villa, KSOL dee jay Campbell and arranger/writer Jones, the latter a true genius in the studio. “Hitsville West” finally gives Frank, and his cohorts, a soulful showcase.

By Alec Palao (from Ace Records website)
Ace Records 2010 CD 18.00 €
VA: - Holy Mackerel ! Pretenders to Little Richard's Throne
25 breathlessly rockin' homages to Little Richard !
Ace Records 2009 CD 17.00 €
VA: - Honey & Wine - Another Gerry Goffin & Carole King song colle
As a kid Goffin developed a taste for Broadway musicals and began creating songs in his head. With a vague ambition to one day write a musical of his own, he enrolled at college to study chemistry. It was there that he met 17-year-old Carole, a keen amateur rock’n’roll songwriter in search of a lyricist. They hit it off right away, penned a few songs together and dropped out of college to get married. In 1960 they joined Carole’s pal Neil Sedaka as staff songwriters at Aldon Music, a fledgling publishing house headed by Al Nevins and Don Kirshner. Within a couple of years they were the most successful songwriters in the country.

We like our original versions at Ace and a few are included here. Bobby Vee recorded ‘Go Away Little Girl’ before Steve Lawrence got his mitts on the song for example, while the Rising Sons (Ry Cooder’s early band) cut ‘Take A Giant Step’ before the Monkees did and stylish jazz diva Nancy Wilson’s reading of ‘No Easy Way Down’ was taped before Carole’s own version was released.

If you’ve ever wondered how many Goffin and King compositions the Monkees recorded, the short answer is 18, the most successful of which was ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’, the couple’s restless ode to life in suburbia, included here. (The long answer is contained in the booklet.) While not all of Goffin’s lyrics are autobiographical, it is tempting to assume that ‘So Goes Love’, heard here by the Turtles, documents the breakdown of his and Carole’s personal relationship. Thankfully, they continued writing together after their divorce.

As with our earlier volume, this set includes familiar hits (the Monkees, Maxine Brown’s ‘Oh No Not My Baby’, the Drifters’ ‘Up On The Roof’, Gene McDaniels’ ‘Point Of No Return’, etc), overlooked gems (Chuck Jackson’s ‘I Need You’, Jan & Dean’s ‘The Best Friend I Ever Had’, Freddie Scott’s ‘Brand New World’, ‘I Happen To Love You’ by the Myddle Class, to name just four) and some new to CD rarities (‘Stage Door’ by Peter James, ‘They’re Jealous Of Me’ by Connie Stevens, ‘The Boy I Used To Know’ by Andrea Carroll, Jody Miller’s very non-PC ‘He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)’ and Carolyn Daye’s ‘A Long Way To Be Happy’).

Ace Records 2009 CD 17.00 €
VA: - Honky Tonk - Charlie Gillett's Radio Picks
had just passed my thirtieth birthday when I got my own radio show in March 1972, being set loose to play pretty much whatever I wanted, Sunday lunchtime on the BBC’s local FM station, Radio London. Just 45 minutes at first, it was fairly soon extended to an hour and then to two hours, broadcast every week until 31 December 1978.

For a while, all I wanted to do was play every great record with rock’n’roll in its blood, many of them rarely, if ever, heard on British radio, and most of them emanating from the southern states of America. In those days, pop music in the UK was played on medium wave stations and this show on FM radio might easily have remained a well-kept secret if it had not been championed by John Collis, radio correspondent for London’s weekly listings magazine Time Out. When John heard the rumour of the show he called up a week or so ahead of the first programme to ask what I was planning to do; it soon became clear that he needed some kind of identity for each programme in order to be able to justify mentioning it on a regular basis.

So I began with a programme of records made in New Orleans and Louisiana, and returned to that region several times, as well as moving west to Texas and even further out to California, north to Memphis and Chicago, and often grouping records with particular themes. I can no longer remember how I ran across every track included here, but probably as many as half of them were tips of one kind or another, while many of the others had been unearthed during the previous five-year period when I was working on a history of popular music, called The Sound Of The City, which traced the emergence and evolution of rock’n’roll out of independently-recorded R&B and country music in the late 1940s and early 50s.

As the grapevine spread, listeners started to get in touch to tell me about records I seemed unaware of, not only obscure originals from the 1940s and 50s, but current artists too. I had a pretty frosty attitude towards a lot of current British pop, even though much of it was made by people my own age and with similar tastes. I never did play T Rex, Roxy Music, Wizzard or Slade but was thrilled to make room for JJ Cale, Jesse Winchester and Delbert McClinton. No coincidence, most of them were from the American South too.

Among the regular listeners were many people who knew far more than I did, some of them dedicated to finding every possible piece of information about the records they liked best – dates and locations of when and where they were recorded, names of any and all sessions musicians and which little label released the record first. Such people can be notoriously possessive of what they have discovered, but I was lucky to be befriended by Bill Millar, John Anderson, Ray Topping, Errol Dixon, Rob Finnis and others, who between them managed to make up for my woeful ignorance and gave me a much better education than I ever had in school or university. As far as I was concerned, Honky Tonk was a shared forum and bulletin board for the music we all revered. One of the greatest surprises was that the programme drew an audience of real live musicians in London, who liked this kind of music themselves, and some of them began to submit their demo tapes.

By Charlie Gillett (ACE RECORDS)
Ace Records 2009 CD 17.00 €
VA: - Hood Dreams Vol. 1 - What Chance Has A Man
21 tracks
FTR Records 2004 CD 19.00 €
VA: - Hoss Allen's 1966 Rhythm & Blues Revue - The Beat
The !!!! BEAT was the first syndicated black music television program in history and was the brain child of William Hoss Allen. Allen was a disc jockey on WLAC radio in Nashville, a 50,000 watt clear channel station that could be heard from Alasca to Jamaica on a cleaner night.

By the mid sixties Allen owned several record labels and publishing companies, a production company and managed and booked recording artists. In 1966 he set his sights on a syndicated television show and a deal was struck for 26 shows, with a fabulous house band, (The Beat Boys), fronted by the legendary Johnny Jones with Clarence Gatemouth Brown, backing a who's who of the rhythm and blues world at the time.
Superbird Records 2010 CD 17.00 €
VA: - How Many Roads - Black America Sings Bob Dylan
Not for nothing is Bob Dylan considered to be one of the greatest songwriters of his, or any other, generation. His compositions have provided a prime source of repertoire for hundreds, even thousands, of recording artists for 50 years, and his catalogue continues to be regularly revised and revisited in all genres of music.

Spanning more than two decades of Dylan compositions, “How Many Roads” offers 20 first-rate examples of how well his songs have lent themselves to being remade/remodelled by high profile names in black American music. Few of his peers have had their catalogues visited as regularly by black singers and musicians. Only John Lennon and Paul McCartney (the subjects of the next volume in this short “Black America Sings…” series) come close in terms of breadth of catalogue and number of covers.

Black America was very quick to wake up to the potential of Dylan compositions and savvy singers started covering them almost as soon as he released them. Early fans included the Staple Singers, who cut no less than three songs from his breakthrough album “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” and can be heard here on a stellar version of ‘Masters Of War’. Sam Cooke was inspired to write his masterpiece ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ after hearing Dylan sing ‘Blowing In The Wind’ on TV and wondering why no black songwriter had come up with anything that spoke so eloquently of the need for racial equality as the song’s opening line, “How many roads must a man walk down before they call him a man?” That song is heard here in a compelling 1968 rendition by front-tier Memphis soulman O.V. Wright, one of more than 30 black American artists who recorded it within five years of Dylan’s version.

This set includes some of Dylan’s favourite recordings of his songs and the CD comes to you with his blessing and approval. My own favourite tracks include the Persuasions’ glorious a cappella remodelling of ‘The Man In Me’ from Dylan’s “New Morning” album, Con-Funk-Shun’s surprisingly effective funk-up of ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ and gospel queen Marion Williams’ heart-wrenching deep soul version of ‘I Pity The Poor Immigrant’ from “John Wesley Harding”.

There are many other great tracks that finite CD running time didn’t allow us to include here, so keep your fingers crossed for a second volume. Until then, there’s plenty of superbly soulful singing to be savoured, on some of the finest songs that will ever be written by anyone, anytime.

By Tony Rounce (ACE Records)
Ace Records 2010 CD 17.00 €
VA: - Impressed: 24 Groups Inspired By The Impressions
I use a basic if somewhat ridiculous method of musically grading my 45s. Firstly I describe the tempo as S, M or U. There are the obvious variations like M/U and S/M for which I run the risk of myself being classified as a bondage fan or preserver of jams. If there is a certain amount of funk in the rhythm it may get an additional 1/4 F or 1/2 F and waltz, rockabilly or cha cha cha tend to get described longhand.

Next I give my value judgement of musical merit by awarding marks out of 10. This sounds simple, but I have managed to make it a lot harder by narrowing down the limits so that no record gets more than 71/2 or less than 51/2-.-NB there are also marks like 63/4 / 7 / 7 which I don't think I can explain. This means that something as perfect as say the Impressions I Need You only gets two points more than Hayley Mills Let's Get Together-.-a hard world indeed.

Finally if there's an obvious sound to the record that reminds me of a better known artist, I'll put that beside the score. Such standards include Otis, JB, Jackie Wilson, Beatles, Spector and Shads. The most often described acts though are definitely the male soul vocal groups. Whether they consciously copied other acts or not I couldn't say but they sure are easy to pigeonhole.

Possibly because the layout of the singers within the group was distinctive, or because their lead vocalist heroes were such individuals, they seem to instinctively slip into categories. The Drifters are obvious contenders with their strong NYC influence and the Miracles soundalikes tend to copy Smokey's lead. There are noticeable influences from the Temptations, though I'm sure most of the groups copied their looks and footwork. Even the Superbs' beautiful West Coast soul sounds get described as a genre on my old singles bags. However the most influential group of them all has to be Curtis Mayfield's Impressions, particularly in their mid 60s heyday.

"Imps" or "Impsy" gets scribbled regularly and the records may have originated from any part of the US, not just that swingin' Chicago stronghold. Sometimes it's an instinctive thing and when I later play the single I wonder what aspect of the music made me think it was Curtis related in the first place. If we analyse the music too much we could find a case against all of the selections on Impressed, if only because they aren't the Impressions, but some of them get damned close so why spoil the fun?

Now to the tracks: the Players He'll Be Back, a beautiful ballad concerning a lost love in Vietnam, is one of the better known tracks, having been a fair sized R&B hit on its 1966 release. Less well known, but arguably as good, is the Pacesetters What About Me, Baby released on the same Minit label two years later. By then the bandwagon had moved on and although the song is of comparable quality it made no impact whatsoever. On the plus side however it has saved a small musical gem for our appreciation thirty plus years on.

Shamefully I probably wrote "Imps" too quickly on the Astors' Just Enough To Hurt Me and filed it before I realised what a great song it was. I've played it at least twenty times since my rediscovery of it-.-and it's not enough. I can allow myself a bit of pride on the next track as no one had heard the Enjoyables' 'Bout My Baby until it was summoned up from Capitol's tape vaults to see the light of day for the first time since 1964. It's as fine a finger clicker as you could wish to come across on a new CD.

I've snuck on a few long time favourites from the Climates, Poets, Saints and Falcons, and I was alerted to the Imps-like qualities of the Dontells, Brilliants and Sonics by fellow enthusiasts. If you don't know the tracks by the Presidents, Expressions, Voice Masters or Realistics then you're in for a treat, in fact I can hardly wait for it to come out.

Apart from supplying excellent sleevenotes Peter Burns helped guide the whole project with suggestions for and against inclusion-.-to have the co-operation of one of the world's foremost Impressions experts was invaluable.

I think the project is a worthy tribute to the Impressions and if it does half as well as I think it will, there will be more volumes to come. And of course we're working on similar tributes to the Miracles, Drifters etc: now where's Bill Millar's phone number?

By Harboro Horace (Ace Records)
Ace Records 2002 CD 17.00 €
VA: - In The Naked City
Ace Records 2008 CD 18.00 €
VA: - Intruders & Friends - Philly Soul Rarities Vol. 1
Collectables 1997 CD 13.00 €
VA: - It's A Deep Soul Thing Vol. 8
Black Cats CD 15.00 €
VA: - J & S Harlem Soul
Zell Sanders' nest of labels brought Harlem and Bronx talent to the local black New York soul scene.
Ace Records 2008 CD 18.00 €
VA: - Jack Nitzsche Story 1963-78 - Hearing Is Believing
26 biisiä mm Jack Nitzsche, Frankie Laine, Round Robin, Paris Sisters..
Ace Records 2005 CD 17.00 €
VA: - Jerk ! Shake ! And Vibrate !
Soul City Records CD 18.00 €
VA: - Jerk Boom Bam Vol. 5
Jerk Boom Bam 2012 LP 17.00 €
VA: - Jerk Boom Bam Vol. 6
Jerk Boom Bam 2012 LP 17.00 €
VA: - Jerk Boom Bam Vol. 1
Jerk Boom Bam Records LP 17.00 €
VA: - Jerk Boom Bam Vol. 10
Killer new LP of greasy late-1950s & early-1960s R&B &soul dance blasters!!
Jerk Boom Bam 2013 LP 17.00 €
VA: - Jerk Boom Bam Vol. 2
Jerk Boom Bam Records LP 17.00 €
VA: - Jerk Boom Bam Vol. 3
Jerk Boom Bam Records LP 17.00 €
VA: - Jerk Boom Bam Vol. 7
Greasy Rhythm & Blues And Nasty Soul Party
Jerk Boom Bam 2013 LP 17.00 €
VA: - Jerk Boom Bam Vol. 8
Greasy Rhythm & Blues And Nasty Soul Party
Jerk Boom Bam 2013 LP 17.00 €
VA: - Jerk Boom Bam Vol. 9
Greasy Rhythm & Blues And Nasty Soul Party
Jerk Boom Bam 2013 LP 17.00 €
VA: - Jerry Ragovoy Story - Time Is On My Side 1953-2003
A Celebration of the musical genius of this superb R&B / Soul all-rounder. Includes the original versions of many hall of fame classics
Ace Records 2008 CD 17.00 €
VA: - Jim Jam Gems Vol. 2
Stag-O-Lee Records 2013 10" LP 17.00 €
VA: - Jungle Exotica Vol. 1
32 tracks
Strip Records 1995 CD 17.00 €
VA: - Just For A Day - The Apollo Records Story 3CD
Apollo Records came from humble beginnings but, through the hard work and dedication of its founders, it became an influential record label in America during the Forties and Fifties. New York-based Apollo went toe-to-toe with larger labels in the era to break artists across numerous genres, most notably doo-wop, gospel and blues, in its near-two decade existence.

Born in the Rainbow Record Shop in downtown Harlem, near the theatre whose name it would share, Apollo Records was founded by husband-and-wife duo Isaac and Bess Berman, along with colleagues Hy Siegel and Sam Schneider. It was Bess who drove the label from the off, taking responsibility for the day-to-day running of Apollo despite Siegel’s initial role of President.

The label’s location amid arguably the country’s most vibrant music scene meant it unearthed gems from the off – and none was more precious than Dinah Washington. The woman who would become known as ‘Queen of the Juke Boxes’ cut a number of tracks for Apollo during its earliest years.

Among the numbers recorded by the 21-year old were ‘Mellow Mama Blues’ (disc one), ‘My Voot Is Really Vout’ (disc three) and ‘Pacific Coast Blues’ (disc two). Even on her maiden studio outing, the young Washington displayed a talent and a soulfulness that belied her age. She would soon be snapped up by the larger Mercury Records and became one of the most influential artists of her time.

Another future superstar to cut their teeth for Apollo was Wynonie Harris, an R&B powerhouse and founding figure of rock ‘n’ roll. Having travelled the United States in a bid to establish himself, Harris turned up at – of all places – the Apollo Theatre in Harlem in the mid Forties. Among the tracks Harris recorded for the label were ‘I Gotta Lyin' Woman’, ‘Young And Wild’ and ‘She's Gone With The Wind’; all three can be found on this collection. The musicians’ strike of 1942-44 postponed Harris’ success, and he went on to enjoy a string of R&B chart-topping hits on both the Decca and King labels.

Artists had to make their name through live performance and public appearances if they wanted to get noticed. Such was the tactic of 35-year old Mahalia Jackson, who arrived at Apollo in 1946.

Jackson wasted no time in justifying the lofty moniker of ‘Queen of Gospel’, bestowed upon her as she played the circuit. In 1948 she recorded and released ‘Move On Up A Little Higher’, which sold eight million. Apollo struggled to meet demand and Bess Berman soon deposed Siegel as head of the label. Jackson would stay at Apollo for nearly a decade, recording tracks such as ‘She Said It Would’ (disc three) and ‘Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen’ (disc one) before departing for Columbia in 1954 and going on to win four Grammy awards.

But it wasn’t just solo stars that made it on Apollo. Bess Berman showed she was adept at spotting collective talent when she renamed gospel vocal group the Selah Jubilee Singers the Larks in 1950. They went on to bag a number of Top 10 R&B hits, including ‘Little Side Car’ (disc three) in ’51. Buoyed by this success, Berman took another gospel group, the Royal Sons Quintet, and rechristened them the Five Royales. They would enjoy even greater success, most notably with ‘Dedicated To The One I Love’, a track that would go on to hit for both the Shirelles and the Mamas and the Papas in the Sixties.

While the name of the game was commercial success, characters like ‘Champion’ Jack Dupree gave Apollo a large helping of credibility. A gritty and authentic musician who loved his trade, the veteran New Orleans-born singer-pianist was renowned for his witty lyricism and gritty tone. He cut about a dozen country-blues tracks for Apollo, including ‘Deacon’s Party’, ‘Old Woman Blues’ (both disc one) and ‘Come Back Baby’ (disc three), but would achieve greater success on Atlantic.

With a mixture of cult, critical and commercial success, Apollo maintained a respectable output across the Forties and Fifties. But the early Sixties were blighted by Bess’ ill health and copyright lawsuits pertaining to Apollo’s crediting of Mahalia Jackson recordings. It was ultimately, however, the departure of artists like Jackson, the Five Royales and Wynonie Harris to other labels that proved too much for Apollo, which shut its doors in 1962.

But Bess Berman could look back on her work in that period and be proud, not least of the achievement of becoming the first woman to head a record label in a male-dominated era. More than that, this three-disc selection, with its assortment of artists and musical genres, illustrates the strength of the label’s catalogue in all its glory.
One Day Music 2014 2-CD 9.00 €
VA: - Kent 30 - Best Of Kent Norther 1982-2012
This CD is a look at the Kent label’s Northern Soul history, heritage and future. There’s more to Kent than just Northern Soul, but that’s how we started in 1982 when Mary Love’s ‘You Turned My Bitter Into Sweet’ kicked off the “For Dancers Only” vinyl album. We covered the ballad side recently on “Deep Shadows: The Best Of Kent Ballads” CDKEND 342.

The “For Dancers Only” LP gets a nod with Gene & Gary’s duet of Danny Monday’s ‘Baby Without You’, here on CD for the first time. There is a host of exclusives, several not issued in any format before: Alexander Patton’s ‘True Love (Is In The Heart)’ will open traditional Northern fans’ eyes and ears the most, being from the same session and of a similar feel to his classic ‘A Lil Lovin’ Sometimes’, and Marva Holiday’s ‘Rising Higher’ is a fabulous Sherlie Matthews’ song that will be admired by progressive Northern fans.

Modern soul has been a part of the Kent landscape since 1984’s “Moving On Up” album. We celebrate that branch of our music with Darrow Fletcher’s ‘No Limit’ and the Paramount Four’s anthemic ‘Sorry Ain’t The Word’, both debuting on CD. 70s soul fans may well buy the CD for these two alone.

Our forthcoming Pied Piper spring range is launched with the original alternate take of Lorraine Chandler’s 60s Detroit opus ‘You Only Live Twice’; the song that gave birth to Yvonne Baker’s ‘You Didn’t Say A Word’. From the same stable comes the Pied Piper Players (aka Motown’s Funk Brothers) on ‘Ooh It Hurts Me’, a massive 60s newie of recent years as a stunning, unheard instrumental.

Representing the Dave Hamilton chapter are O.C. Tolbert and Little Ann’s rare soul classics, both presented in mixes different from our previous releases. Ben E King with ‘Gettin’ To Me’ heads our legendary discoveries section. Melba Moore, Chuck Jackson and Maxine Brown’s unissued recordings that re-floated the grounded SS Northern Soul in the 80s are here, as are the Magicians, whose vocal to ‘Double Cookin’’ shook up the Northern nation.

There are vinyl-finding tales of two of the biggest big beat ballads of them all and a story concerning picking up a handful of sleeveless singles in a producer’s house and seeing an undocumented Wand label for Walter Wilson’s 60s stomper which had been assumed to exist as tape only. Luther Ingram supplies the mother of all R&B/Northern crossover numbers, while Bobby Wisdom preens over his potential price tag of £4000; if you can find one.

There are classy crowd-pleasers from Toni & the Showmen, Sugar & the Spices, the Fiestas and the Sweethearts that have been marooned on Kent label stories, neglected by all but the pure in heart.

Advances in technology mean that the audio is vastly improved on tracks we first released 10 or 15 years ago. On some titles we were able to access superior quality multi-track masters and in Melba Moore’s case we even found an alternative vocal take. It is the first time the 45 mix of Johnny Maestro’s dramatic ‘I’m Stepping Out Of The Picture’ has been reissued. The quality of Chuck Jackson’s ‘Millionaire’ in particular is awesome, while the Magicians now has a potentially life-threatening dynamic.

The booklet contains 9,000 words of wisdom, re-telling the Kent Northern saga for long-term inmates or explaining where it all came form for the more recent converts. That’s 30 stunning soul sounds; one for each glorious year. It is not only a celebration but a revelation too; we hope you enjoy the hyperbole.

By Ady Croasdell (Ace Records)
Ace Records 2012 CD 18.00 €
VA: - Kent's Cellar Of Soul
Back in the 60s when I'd just got to hear about Motown, Stax and Atlantic, there were people working in London record companies who had long since discovered those sources of great music and were moving on and looking at labels such as Goldwax, Dial, Minit and Money. They had made it to their positions of musical power through a combination of knowledge, enthusiasm and luck-.-all stemming from their love of the new black American music that was reaching their ears through their privileged jobs. Support came from the information flow from like-minded collectors across the country and from journalists of the calibre of Dave Godin at Blues & Soul and Norman Jopling at Record Mirror. Music lovers like Derek Everett at Stateside, Trevor Churchill at Bell, Guy Stevens at Sue, Alan Warner at UA and John Abbey at Action were trying to get hits for their companies but undoubtedly their private passion would have influenced several of the releases. I sometimes wonder when confronted with a particularly "out of left field" UK release, whether the missionary zeal of the hirelings was used to impress or appease fellow collectors and did their comfy jobs ever go on the line to get a particular favourite on to the pressing plant machines?

These thoughts are particularly appropriate for Kent's latest CD release as 23 of the 26 US 45s featured on it were also issued here in the UK and I doubt if one of them ever charted. Several of those I'm sure would have given the label managers anxious moments when the sales figures were discussed with their bosses. So it is as a tribute to the early soul collecting pioneers that we've compiled KENT'S CELLAR OF SOUL, named in fact after the ground breaking LPs that co-compiler Trevor Churchill issued for Bell in the 60s.

A most dramatic of intros heralds Rodger Collins' 1967 mover She's Looking Good-.-it's earthy, obvious and straight to the lower body, music that has the power of life flowing through it. Moses & Joshua's My Elusive Dreams and Homer Banks' A Lot Of Love are hewn from the same tree-.-they have a tough approach like a lot of Southern Soul songs but in truth are more typical, mainstream soul of the late 60s.

The next batch of three songs, the Spellbinders' Chain Reaction, Bettye Swann's Make Me Yours and the Intruders' Cowboys To Girls are more sophisticated in their productions with Van McCoy, Arthur Wright and Gamble & Huff at the controls. Indeed the latter two were R&B #1s on the Billboard charts, but that would not have given them any extra chance of making the UK charts in those days. Ironically the Spellbinders' song had two UK releases, showing how it was the power of the record buying dancers that often dictated which releases came out over here.

Trevor Churchill had extra scope for obscure releases with his BELL'S CELLAR OF SOUL series of LPs. Esoteric tracks could be sneaked in and there was probably less pressure from above over LP sales. That's how Brooks O'Dell's You Better Make Up Your Mind came out over here-.-its black, orchestral drama would have surely been too subtle for teenagers brought up on Memphis and Motown dance classics. I can guarantee that it would have gone over my head, had I heard it back then. Whereas Jerryo's Karate Boogaloo was right up my intellectual alley, plenty of "sock it to me"s and "oom gow-wow"s along with sexy girls in the background and a beat that really does grab the feet.

The other burning musical question in the 60s apart from "Can white men play the blues?" was "Can an instrumental be soulful?" This CD features two great examples of the soul instrumental genre, the Packers' Hole In The Wall and Beau Dollar & The Coins' Soul Serenade. The Packers were probably one of the greatest groupings of soul instrumentalists ever, heralding from Memphis, rather than the LA of the record's release, and the music was very much in the infectious Ramsey Lewis' mid-60s style that just oozed soul. The funky background crowd noises all added to the general hip feel. Beau Dollar's single may have been produced and inspired by a white Cincinnati guitar hero, but the guys got the feel of King Curtis' 1964 hit Soul Serenade just right for its 1966 soul loving audience. So much so that it became the theme tune for the UK's main black music radio show.

Other highlights on the CD include Tina Britt's splendidly vivacious The Real Thing-.-very much of its time, but a delight to listen to now nonetheless. The melodic, gentle side of Chicago soul is shown by the Steelers, whose Get It From The Bottom was massive in the Windy City but probably appealed only to die-hards in the UK's smoggy and foggy ones. Similarly classy in the vocal department is the Detroit soul of the Falcons' (I'm A Fool) I Must Love You. White singer Bob Brady could certainly deliver a good Smokey Robinson-style vocal on Everybody's Going To The Love-In, a much better choice of material for him than trying to find out if he could sing the blues. And it has a period piece title to boot! Danny White gives us the greatest Memphis soul recording to come out of New York and the Dreamlovers show us what big Philly pop-soul harmonies are all about.

All the tracks are very strong soul numbers, only space precludes me from mentioning them all. We've even thrown in a couple of smoochers at the end to help you really re-live those halcyon days when it was all so new and uncharted.

Ady Croasdell (Ace Records)
Ace Records 2003 CD 18.00 €
VA: - Kent's Cellar Of Soul Vol. 2
26 tracks from 1964-1969
Ace Records 2006 CD 18.00 €
VA: - Kent's Cellar Of Soul Vol. 3
We present for your delectation 26 mid to late 60s classic soul tracks, only six of which are currently on Ace CDs. Inevitably many are uptempo but the CD is designed to capture the spirit of 60s soul rather than its later UK dance-centric revision. Several were R&B hits and a few made the Pop Hot 100 too. Most were released in the UK, some on groovy little labels such as Action, Spark, Soul City, Direction, B&C and Pama. They were the type of records the pirate radio stations would plug from their off-shore floating studios. It was mod music in the sense of new, hip and in the groove, rather than of any elite, exclusive in-crowd. If it was groovy you bought it.

I remember exotic names such as Cliff Nobles & Co, the Maskman & the Agents and Peggy Scott & Jo Jo Benson being raved about on the radio. When you got your newly released records home you’d play the top side a few times and then try out the flip – always a worthwhile exercise. With the Show Stoppers you got ‘What Can A Man Do’ as a big, big bonus.

Fellow compiler Tony Rounce and I grew up in the exciting times of late 60s Britain, so it is inevitable that this compilation has some Anglo Saxon nuances. Gene Latter was born in Wales and his great 60s soul pastiche ‘Sign On The Dotted Line’ was recorded in London. It gained a US release on Liberty but it was the spins in the clubs of the UK on the Spark label that won it admirers who danced to its gritty grooves. The Show Stoppers also found fame through the UK clubs and went to #11 with their ‘House Party’ top-side without even denting the US R&B charts. Brenton Wood had a hit on all the record sales listings, but surprisingly reached the highest over here.

Cliff Nobles’ ‘The Horse’ was an instrumental that had that indefinable something which made it stand out from the rest; there are probably legions of fans who never knew the song’s title. Bill Moss’ funky ‘Sock It To ‘Em Soul Brother’ is a fine example of early rap and something of a period piece with it’s eulogising of OJ Simpson for his football rather than courtroom skills. Jesse James’ first R&B hit ‘Believe In Me Baby’ didn’t get a UK release; possibly just as well as there are some heavy sexual problems featured towards the end.

There’s girly group soul from the Ikettes and Inspirations, funky stuff from Clarence Carter, Thelma Jones and Lowell Fulsom and soulful balladry from Carl Henderson, the Ad Libs and Bob & Earl. The soul group roots of Northern Soul are demonstrated by the Platters, Esquires, Showmen and Volumes, while Ruby Andrews and J.J. Barnes feature the subtler productions that were the foundation stones of the 70s modern soul scene.

No false categories are needed; it’s all truly great soul music that will be appreciated by any music lover.

By Ady Croasdell (Ace Records)
Ace Records 2014 CD 18.00 €
VA: - King Northern Soul Vol. 2
24 tracks
Ace Records 2001 CD 17.00 €
VA: - King Northern Soul Vol. 3
The King group of labels – Federal, DeLuxe, Hollywood etc – were hugely productive throughout the soul era, so there are hundreds of releases which have taken years to locate. Hence the 10-year gap since “King Northern Soul Vol 2” was released.

Northern Soul collectors used to see the blue King label, immediately think “funky”, skip by it and continue the search for an “arranged by Mike Terry” denotation. There is no doubt that a drab grey label such as DeLuxe (as the Dave & Vee 45 from 1969) discourages the listener even before the needle drops. The mainly monochrome aspects of these labels could never compete with the colourful splashes of Groovesville, Giant, Tayster, Pzazz etc in building up the listener’s expectations; inevitably the music was undermined. We have mainly got over those prejudices now, but it is still a shock to hear how good some of those collected tracks sound on CD.

The more obvious big Northern sounds were featured on the first two volumes of this series but there are some great numbers here that have become very collectible over the years. Charles Spurling’s ‘That’s My Zone’ and his song ‘Unwind Yourself’ for Marva Whitney both sound very cutting edge for today’s funk-edged fans, as do the Brownettes and Charles’ super-groove ‘Popcorn Charlie’. There are some terrific tracks from long-serving King acts, such as Hank Ballard’s Rudy Clark-penned ‘I’m Just A Fool’, Otis Williams’ ‘When We Get Together’ and Little Willie John’s Drifters-inspired ‘Until Again My Love’.

The lesser-known Hollywood label is responsible for four excellent tracks from Robert Moore (who would go on to sing about ‘Party Freaks’ with Miami), L.H. & The Memphis Sounds (one of Packy Axton’s many bands) and Hal Hardy, who provides the superb ‘Name In Lights’; my hum in the head song of the month.

There is an increasing movement to play southern soul tracks at Northern Soul dances nowadays; although King was based in Cincinatti, they licensed in southern productions; mainly fromNashvilleandMacon. The Toni Williams, Dan Brantley and James Duncan tracks are all evidence of that growing trend. And, although we have recently issued a New Breed R&B compilation drawn from the King group, there are still some of those influences contained in the songs from Mary Johnson, Mike Williams and Oscar Toney Jr.

All but two of the 24 tracks are from King’s wonderfully preserved master tapes and sound alive again on CD. The booklet, with its amazing cover photo of the Presidents Band, is a darn sight prettier than an old DeLuxe label too.

By Ady Croasdell (Ace Records)
Ace Records 2012 CD 18.00 €
VA: - LA's Silver Soul: Lee Silver's Symphonic Productions
Stunningly good but rare West Coast 60s & 70s harmonic soul-.-from an unheralded producer whose time has come at last.

By Ady Croasdell (Ace Records)

I'll tell you how good this CD is. I'm listening right through it for a final check on how it sounds technically, I'm up to track 18 and loving it, and I've just realised there's still four or five of my favourites to come. Unfortunately it ain't always that way. After you've played a compilation several times, in the course of getting it ready for production, ear-hole fatigue usually sets in. Even tracks that are well worthy of inclusion can drag a bit after the eighth run through, but not on this one Baby.

It helps that Lee Silver's work is almost as big a pleasant surprise to me as it probably is to you. As recently as less than two years ago I didn't expect the man who had been responsible for writing the Royal Teens Short Shorts (covered over here by none less than Freddie and The Dreamers) to have produced a string of sublime soul singles throughout the 60s & 70s.

It mainly came about through Lee's management of, and friendship with, the Pentagons. After their first doo wop hit To Be Loved, the group cut two great early soul singles for Jamie, one for Philips under the alias of the Chesterfields and then broke up into two groupings. Lead singer Joe Jones aka Joey Jones aka Joe C Jones went solo and then returned to Lee's stable in the late 60s as the Jones Brothers with his half-brother and ex-Pentagon Otis Munson. The rest of the group under the guidance of original group member Ken Goodloe formed a new outfit, which was known variously as the Corduroys, Themes, 21st Century and Soul Patrol. It was this conglomeration that was responsible for a very large proportion of Lee's soul music output, contributing 11 of the 24 tracks here.

Apart from occasional great lead vocals, Ken Goodloe wrote most of his groups' material in association with his brother Ted or Bill James-.-he sometimes called himself B Goode on the credits. That was how he described himself on the mysterious Pentagons' double-sider, Gonna Wait For You / Forever Yours. The first side moves at a great pace and features the group at its finest in harmonies and traded lead vocals, while the beautiful ballad flip of Forever Yours harks back to their successful vocal group days with a beautiful soul song. To make it more intriguing it seems that it wasn't the Pentagons classic line up at all, more the Goodloe brothers grouping-.-it was apparently first issued as by the Corduroys. As the Themes that group reached the highest peaks for me with one Minit 45, Bent Out Of Shape / No Explanation Needed and two terrific unreleased tracks, Do Yourself A Favor / Reminds Me Of You held in the can for more than thirty years. Having said that, all the 21st Century tracks are good-.-the previously unreleased Search The World Over being a particularly wonderful ballad which exemplifies Lee's symphonic approach to producing and his ear for a great song.

The Jones Brothers have the biggest number of individual credits on the CD with six songs. My favourites are the big ballad sound of That's All Over Baby and their so soulful take on Good Old Days which utilises the same backing track as Nathan Williams' ultra rare (and equally good) Lime recording 'What Price'. Apart from Nathan Williams' 45 there was also a one-off single from Minnie Jones & The Minuettes whose version of Shadow Of A Memory on Sugar Records is highly rated by DJs and collectors and adds a female touch to an otherwise male dominated CD.

However the third major grouping in Lee's stable also featured females. The Primers aka the Vines consisted of three guys and two girls from San Diego, and though they only came out with two released singles, their How Does It Grab You on Hale Records has proved to be one of the biggest Northern Soul vinyl discoveries of recent years. They also cut a follow up called It's Laid On You which is pretty damned hot too and we hope to include that on a later CD of Lee's material.

Lee's music has been one of the delightful surprises of the last few years for me and I'm sure Kent fans will be thrilled too. The fact that he's such a thoroughly nice chap too has been a bonus for me and the many soul fans who have been contacting him to pass on their praise and to see whether he has any old Hale singles lying about anywhere. He doesn't, but you can get all that great music on this little s(S?)ilver disc.
Ace Records 2003 CD 17.00 €
VA: - Land Of 1000 Dances
30 tracks
Ace Records 1999 CD 17.00 €
VA: - Larry Banks' Soul Family Album

It sounds dramatic to say that this CD was Dave Godin’s last musical request, but then Dave wasn’t afraid of drama and was prepared to do almost anything to promote his beloved causes. So: Dave Godin’s last words to me before he left this mortal coil were "Make sure that Larry Banks tribute CD gets done".

Many UK soul fans knew Dave’s work from his championing of the early days of Northern Soul. He loved the concept, the fanaticism and passion and its independence from a music business which he thought cynical and more in love with the pound than the music. Later soul fans were able to share his ultimate passion through the Deep Soul tracks that adorned the four CD volumes of "Dave Godin’s Deep Soul Treasures". Dave often said that these were his proudest achievements. If we look at the front cover of the very first volume (he didn’t really expect it to sell enough to warrant a follow up), we see the first of the selected artists names was Larry Banks. That was a conscious decision to give pride of place to the work of Larry and his two wives, Bessie and Jaibi, who also shine out from that momentous CD cover. Their music was a constant and rewarding chapter in Dave’s musical enlightenment.

He quickly realised that Larry was more of a behind the scenes’ musician than a performer and so took a great interest and pleasure in the songs and productions that Larry was involved with throughout his life. That led to the discovery of such accomplished and often inspired acts as Kenny Carter, the Dynamics and the Geminis.

Kent and Dave had a mutually beneficial relationship and it was nice that we could repay Dave’s faith in us by uncovering more of his heroes’ music in the form of unreleased master tapes. At roughly the same time that Dave’s Soul Treasures, vol 1 came out we issued Rare Collectible And Soulful Vols 1 & 2. These featured unreleased RCA masters including great finished productions of Larry’s songs on Kenny Carter, the Cavaliers and the Metros. There were others that we saved for this project, notably the Kenny Carter and the Cavaliers ballads and the Geminis fast and funky dance numbers.

Getting even closer to the source, we made contact with GWP Productions, for whom Larry had been the main soul A&R man in the 60s. Though some of his work ended up at RCA there were also terrific independent productions on the Devonnes and an unknown male group called the Shaladons. Even better for Dave was the discovery of extra Jaibi tracks including her original demo of You Got Me, which, with a superior tape copy of Go Now and Kenny Carter’s original unreleased take on Lights Out meant this CD met Dave’s highest standards.

Not being limited to Deep Soul meant that I could unleash Northern Soul dancers like Milton Bennett (Larry’s Go Now co-composer)’s What’s One More Lie, the Dynamics’ My Life Is No Better, the Devonnes’ Doin’ The Getting Up and the Shaladons superior take on the Hesitations’ We Can Do It. Larry’s own vocals often matched up to those of his pupils and his Select 45 Will You Wait was a recording Dave had championed since the 60s. His quirky Spring single is absolutely captivating in this setting, whereas when I originally picked it up I just thought it was good but unclassifiable soul.

Bessie Banks’ moving tribute to Dave at his funeral showed that here was more than the usual critic and musicians relationship. Dave had become a regular correspondent with several members of the Banks family and their contributions to this CD have been invaluable, taking us back to that most creative period of the 1960s, when sublime soul music was being created. Even though it’s taken forty years to access and appreciate some of it ; it’s been well worth the wait.

Ady Croasdell (Ace Records)
Ace Records 2007 CD 17.00 €
VA: - Laurie Records Story Vol. 1
29 biisiä New Yorkista, Laurie Records Doo Wop 1958-1967
Ace Records 2003 CD 17.00 €
VA: - Laurie Records Story Vol. 3
When I think “girl group label”, visions of Philles, Red Bird and Dimension do the locomotion in my head. But I’ve always thought of Laurie as the home of Bronx deities Dion and the Belmonts. (I grew up there – let me assure you, we built shrines.) Sure, Laurie had the Chiffons, but otherwise, what else?

Plenty else, as this femmecentric third volume of the Laurie Records Story vividly illustrates. It turns out that several of the genre’s most revered figures made under-the-radar contributions to the imprint’s oeuvre. Ace compiler (and girl group ace) Mick Patrick has rounded up 24 compelling arguments for Laurie’s girl group bona-fides.

Barely resembling Tommy James’ garage-y remake, the original ‘Hanky Panky’ by the Summits name-checks its producers, the Tokens. The song’s co-writer, Brill Building Queen Ellie Greenwich, moonlights as Les Girls with session cohort Mikie Harris. The duo sang countless backups for many years (they’re on Blondie’s 1976 debut LP) and it’s nice to hear them front and centre on ‘I Still Love You’. Another studio stalwart, Jean Thomas, is known to have masqueraded as the Powder Puffs, Rag Dolls and Beach Girls. Here, she’s the Cheese Cakes on the bouncy ‘Heading For A Heartbreak’.

Noms de plumes abound. Brenda Lee Jones (Jean of Dean & Jean) channels Motown and Marie Antoinette (supposedly the notorious Alice Wonder Land) perches atop the wall of sound.

Van McCoy fashioned ‘Shy Guy’ for the Charmers, but scoring with an Essex soundalike was easier said than done. The genre-defining voice of Mary Aiese, our beloved Reparata, is heard at the very beginning and end of her glorious recording career.

There is no shortage of unsung heroines, either. Occasional Angel Bernadette Carroll emotes the bizarre ‘Circus Girl’ and young drama queen Dawn lays on the angst with a trowel borrowed from the Shangri-Las. But of all the unknowns we know, perhaps Beverly Warren was most unjustly denied success with Goffin-King’s majestic ‘Let Me Get Close To You’, backed by the Cookies. A brilliant vocalist, Bev still performs in the New York area.

As valedictorians of Laurie’s girl group class, the Chiffons make four late-60s appearances. Their hit-making heyday behind them, the Bronx quartet settled for artistic triumph on the thumping ‘Stop, Look And Listen’ and the brooding ‘If I Knew Then (What I Know Now)’. Years earlier, the Chiffons’ first visit to the studio had yielded the era’s most successful girl group song (‘He’s So Fine’), but their magnum opus came in 1969. ‘Love Me Like You’re Gonna Lose Me’, produced and written by Irwin Levine and latter-day Brill Building princess Toni Wine, is simply a masterpiece. With a shimmering arrangement by the formidable John Abbott and shared, soulful leads by Judy Craig and Sylvia Peterson, this song deserved to be a mega-hit.

So here’s an opportunity to enjoy some undiscovered classics, many making their CD debut. Not one of the songs herein managed to trouble the Billboard charts. It only sounds like a greatest hits collection.

By Dennis Garvey
Ace Records 2009 CD 17.00 €
VA: - Leather Soul Vol. 1 - Where The Bop Meets The Buzz
Oosoul 2011 CD 10.00 €
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