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DEEP # 1/2019 (March)

  I kept postponing the publishing of this short column, because I was waiting for two packages of new indie soul CDs, but unfortunately they haven’t arrived yet.  Consequently I now concentrate on some of the latest Ace/Kent CD compilations released earlier this year.

Reissue & compilation CD release reviews:

Tommy Hunt: The Biggest Man
Reggie Young: Session Guitar Star
The Undisputed Truth: Cosmic Truth & Higher than High
Various Artists: This Is Lowrider Soul 1962-1970


  The first Tommy Hunt compilation on Kent Records, The Biggest Man, was released already 22 years ago, and now we get supplement in the form of The Complete Man CD (CDKEND 480; 25 tracks, 65 min.; track listing at In the notes Ady Croasdell writes about Tommy’s musical history starting from such 50s groups as the Five Echoes and the Flamingos, continuing to Tommy’s most notable 60s recordings with Luther Dixon on Scepter Records – Human, I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself, I Am a Witness etc. – all the way to Tommy’s later success on the U.K. northern soul scene. 

  The three opening tracks on this set are gorgeous uptown big ballads.  Van McCoy wrote and Carl Davis produced I Don’t Want to Lose You and Hold On, which were released on Atlantic in 1965, but for some strange reason this single flopped.  Similarly I’ll Make You Happy is equally impressive.  It was co-written by Jimmy Radcliffe, arranged by Bert DeCoteaux and released on Capitol a year later. 

  On this CD there are thirteen tracks that were recorded for Scepter, but five of them remained unissued at the time.  The shelved ones are mostly driving dancers, but there’s one pop & soul number that grabbed my attention, a melodic mover called Who You Gonna Thrill Tonight. Among the released ones there are dancers but also those delightful big ballads.  Both And I Never knew, and The Door Is Open came out already in 1961.  The former song was produced by Leiber & Stoller and the latter one was co-written by the young Freddie ScottGirls Are Sentimental (by Van McCoy), How Young Is Young and Son, My Son are more lush sweet ballads.

  The rest eight tracks were cut for Dynamo Records in 1967 and ’68.  There were stompers, even aggressive ones – such as Jerry WilliamsSearchin’ for My Baby – but also either impassioned ballads (Searchin’ for Love), or standards like Born Free and I Believe.  The highlight for me is the title tune, The Complete Man, another grandiose big ballad, which was beautifully arranged by Jimmy “Wiz” Wisner.  Today at 85, Tommy is still active and hits the stage every now and then (


  The passing of Reggie Young in January this year at the age of 82 turned this new CD into a memorial tribute.  Session Guitar Star (CDCHD 1537; 24 tracks, 79 min. 55 sec.!!!; track listing at is accompanied by a 36-page booklet, where Bob Dunham tells us in detail about Reggie’s musical path: debut recording in 1954, first big hit with Smokie, touring, becoming one of the Memphis Boys at American, session guitarist in Nashville and – as amazing as it may seem – his first-ever solo album called Forever Young as late as in 2017 (

  This CD covers the years from 1956 till 2010 and various genres from rockabilly and pop to country, soul/r&b and even “children’s poetry.”  Some notable records in terms of sales here that Reggie played on are A Touch of the Blues by Bobby Bland, Meet Me in Church by Solomon Burke, Drift Away by Dobie Gray, Cocaine by J.J. Cale, I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink by Merle Haggard and Highwayman by Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson.

  Let me still add some soul sides - Chicken Crazy by Joe Tex, More Love by James Carr, Morning Glory by James & Bobby Purify and Whenever You Come Around by Little Milton – and if you remember the guitar licks on those records you can fully appreciate Reggie’s legacy.  Some examples from pure pop world on this set include music from the Box Tops, Dusty Springfield and Elvis Presley.  Reggie was a multi-faceted musician.


  The Undisputed Truth’s 5th and 6th albums on Gordy in 1975 are now re-released as such on a 2-CD set, Cosmic Truth & Higher than High (CDTOP2 483; 9 + 9 tracks, 40 + 41 min.; track listing at  In his notes Tony Rounce interviews one member of the group at the time, Virginia McDonald, who describes how the Magictones turned into the mid-70s Undisputed Truth.  The only original member left was Joe “Pep” Harris

  On the Cosmic Truth album Norman Whitfield literally takes his sound to outer space.  Musically we’re not even close to traditional soul music and soul singing.  On the contrary, Norman favours long instrumental, rock-based passages and modern chanting, which at times verges on self-parody.  The Temptations covers – 1990 and (I Know) I’m Losing you – are almost unrecognizable, and of these mainly funky tracks UFO’s turned into a small hit.  This sound has its fans, but I’m not one of them.

  On Higher than High Norman gets more down-to-earth, although his playful music still tends to escape to space every now and then.  The fast “express train” title tune became a small hit, and again there’s a Temptations cover, the downtempo Ma.  Poontang is a bouncing pop number, Boogie Bump Boogie closes in on disco and I Saw you when you met her is a sorrowful, dramatic slow number. 

  The Undisputed Truth still exists and Joe Harris and B.J. Evans are members in the current line-up.  They just released a new album called Truth Gon’ Set You Free.


  As Sean Hampsey explains in his notes, lowrider car scene is part of the Chicano culture in Los Angeles and the music that goes with it derives from the 1950s group harmony.  We have a beautiful name here for this lowrider motor car cruising – pussy rally.  This Is Lowrider Soul 1962-1970 (CDKEND 482; 24 tracks, 65 min.; track listing at lets us enjoy a number of sophisticated, sweet and mellow slow jams.  Closest to doowop are I Wanna Chance by the Vows (1962), As I Sit Here by the Whispers (1965) and Shattered Dreams by the Endeavors (1970).

  There are many familiar names interpreting these “Southern Soul Spinners of California”, e.g. Brenton Wood, Lee Williams & the Cymbals, Barbara Mason, the Ambassadors, William Bell and the Esquires doing a slowish Chicago number called No Doubt about It, arranged by Tom TomDebbie Taylor’s richly orchestrated ballad is titled Never Gonna Let Him Know and she is backed by the Hesitations

  Other delights on this atmospheric and laid-back set include the melancholic Second Hand Happiness by Jimmy Conwell, the melodic One More Chance by the Four Tees, the smooth Find Me by the Attractions, the soulful As Long As I’ve Got You by the Charmels (on Volt) and the memorable Don’t Forget about Me Baby by Jeff DaleThe Lovelles’ beat ballad named Pretending Dear was cut in Muscle Shoals.  This CD surprised me in a nicest possible way.

© Heikki Suosalo

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