With the three Kent compilations below we start our journey from Memphis and dance our way to the early 1960s Los Angeles.
In his notes to Everybody Makes a Mistake Ė Stax Southern Soul Volume 2 (Kent, CDKEND 499; 20 tracks, 76 min.; track listing: https://acerecords.co.uk/everybody-makes-a-mistake-stax-southern-soul-volume-2)
Dean Rudland writes ďwith our second volume we have dived back into the archive, unearthing unreleased tracks or different versions [...] we have looked for tracks that had been originally unissued and then snuck out as bonus materialĒ, and I can only wonder at the quality of the material thatís been unearthed. Out of the 20 tracks on this compilation, only seven saw the actual release at the time and as many as eight of these have been released on later Ace/Kent compilations.
The CD opens with William Bellís smooth and beautiful ballad called Iíll Do Anything for Your Love and proceeds into another peaceful ballad, Eddie Floydís How Can I Win Your Love. The former is a previously unissued version and the latter has remained in the vaults until now. Next we have Isaac Hayes delivering in his unmistakable style the original take on Banks & Hamptonís ballad Iím Gonna Have to Tell Her, and soon after that Frederick Knight sings his 1975 melodic ballad titled Letís Make a Deal, which is better known by Z.Z. Hill a couple of years later.
Other noteworthy numbers here include Veda Brownís big-voiced soul ballad named Guilty of Loving You, Bettye Crutcherís memorable downbeat song called Weíve Got Love on Our Side, Mavis Staplesí impressive and touching reading of Iím Tired and Eddie Gilesí powerful mid-pacer named It Takes Me All Night. In the early 70s for a short spell Tommy Tate was the leader of the Nightingales and sang on the magnificent gospel-soul number titled Just a Little Overcome. For my Tommy Tate story twenty years ago Tim Whitsett told that ďif the record should have been a big hit, heíd become a Nightingale.Ē However, it wasnít a smash, so consequently next Tommy recorded I Remember for KoKo Records.
Let me still draw your attention to Shirley Brownís powerful ďAretha coverĒ of Ainít No Way and Eddie Floydís version of the song he co-wrote, Everybody Makes a Mistake. This compilation really put me in a blissful southern soul mood for one hour and sixteen minutes, and I urge you to test it too (9/10).
Northern Soulís Classiest Rarities, Volume 7 (CDKEND 498; 24 tracks, 62 min.; track listing: https://acerecords.co.uk/northern-souls-classiest-rarities-volume-7) makes you either dance or reminisce about the times when you actually could do that. Thirteen of the 24 tracks on display were issued in the 1960s or early 70s and the rest appear here for the first time. Ady Croasdell wrote detailed notes on each one of them.
Mickey Stevenson is the producer of the two perky and captivating opening tracks, Carolyn Crawfordís Ready or Not Here Comes Love and Kim Westonís It Takes a Lotta Teardrops. He was also in charge of the Chicago-based dancer, Joe Buckner & the Major IVís I Wish I Knew. Another old school master, Don Davis, produced Major Lanceís í71 mover on Volt, Girl, Come on Home. My other uptempo favourites here include The Intruder by Melvin Hicks & the Versatiles,I Need a True Love by that impressive vocalist, Ray Gant, and his Arabian Knights, the poppy The Right to Cry by the Perfections and the richly orchestrated Under the Street Lamp by the Exits.
Harvey Scales & the Seven Soundsí Itís Midnight has a slight Latin touch to it, Brothers of Soulís I Need Your Love isnít as memorable as their hits those days, the Hesitationsí Soul Kind of Love isnít one the cream tracks from their first album and Buck Ram is the man behind Cats Ďní Mouseís light pop song called Love in My Heart. Jean Battle doesnít dive deep enough into Sam Deesí song titled Iíve Got to Come in, and the Lyricsí So Glad represents mediocre pop music, opposite to the great ďRighteous BrothersĒ song with the Wrecking Crew, My Son, on the flip, which isnít included here but you can find it on YouTube.
One more: a routine dancer called You Said by Little Nicky Soul on Sidney Barnesí Shee label in 1964. While listening to this track I grabbed Sidneyís 2011 book, Standing on Solid Ground, to check out what he said about this artist. ďI knew a young guy in Newark that had been begging me to record him. His name was Nicky Faircloth. People called him Little Nicky. He wasnít a great singer but he sounded different and he was tall and good looking [...] No matter how hard I tried I couldnít get Nicky to sound right. He had a strong nasal sound that if not produced right, could end up being quite annoying, and it was - - Once finished, the record didnít sound all that bad, so we had a couple of hundred records pressed up and hoped for the best [...] it later became somewhat popular on Englandís Northern Soul scene.Ē (7/10)
FLEDGLING SOUL FROM THE WEST COAST
On a compilation like Birth of Soul Ė Los Angeles Special (24 tracks, 59 min., notes by Ady Croasdell and Alec Palao; track listing: https://acerecords.co.uk/birth-of-soul-los-angeles-special) I guess you really canít avoid the Drifters influences. There are echoes of Under the Boardwalk on Don Wyattís But What about My Broken Heart and Save the Last Dance for Me on the Mandarinsí That Other Guy.
Fifteen of the 24 tracks on display were actually released in the early 1960s, and one thing that calls your attention is the diversity of different styles. There are snappy dancers from the Chesterfields, Ray & Bob, the Question Marks, the Phillips Sisters and the Rev-Lons, and there are also pop ditties by Richard Berry and the Imperialites. Then we can get absorbed in sentimental sweetness with such standards as How About Me? by Billy Watkins and With These Hands by the Wonders, and those post-doowop ballads, of course, are self-evident (the Vows, the Classicals, Wilks & Wilkerson, Vic Granton and the Numbers).
Among more familiar names we can spot Jewel Akens as the lead singer of the Composers on a sweet teeny ballad called I Had a Dream, and Brenda Holloway duets with Robert Jackson on a pop ballad titled I Want a Boyfriend (Girlfriend). Tina Turner gets quite aggressive on a midtempo stomper called Lose My Cool, which bears a remote resemblance to Itís Gonna Work out Fine. Darlene Love shines on the fast, Spectoresque Let Him Walk Away, produced by Jack Nitzsche, and Sylvester Stewart Ė aka Sly Stone Ė sounds young on his 1962 mid-tempo pop ditty named Help Me with My Broken Heart. The very same year H.B. Barnum produced a dancer with a hammering beat called Iím with You All the Way for Dorothy Berry and Jimmy Norman. Altogether, this is a sunny and delightful compilation (8/10).