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Reviewed by Heikki Suosalo

Rating: 7/ 10

(CDCHD 1583;; 24 tracks, 63 min.)

1. June Conquest: I Do
2. Tony Borders: Cheaters Never Win
3. The Box Tops: Happy Times
4. Wilson Pickett: Up Tight Good Woman
5. Sandy Posey: Hey Mister
6. Bill Brandon: Strangest Feeling
7. The Yo Yo’s: Destroyed
8. Arthur Conley: You Really Know How To Hurt A Guy
9. Guy Darrell: Big Louie
10. Don Varner: The Power Of Love
11. The Ovations: I Need A Lot Of Loving
12. Bobby Bare: In The Same Old Way
13. Merrilee Rush: Handy
14. Bobby Womack: Broadway Walk
15. June Edwards: My Man (My Sweet Man)
16. James & Bobby Purify: Hello There
17. Dee Dee Sharp: Help Me Find My Groove
18. Percy Sledge: I Love Everything About You
19. The Goodees: Goodies
20. Art Freeman: Everybody’s Got To Cry Sometime
21. Jeanie Greene: I’ll Take Care Of You
22. B.J. Thomas: I Pray For Rain
23. Ronnie Milsap: Blue Skies Of Montana
24. Spooner’s Croed: I’ll Be Your Baby

The second volume of Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham songs from the Ace Records features this time more unfamiliar tunes by this Fame/Memphis songwriting couple, and they stem from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Tony Rounce enlightens us in his profound way on the history of each song, and interestingly on this set ten tracks neglect black music genre altogether and are interpreted in pop and country styles. Four tracks were unissued at the time and some of those that were released came out on such national big labels as Atlantic, CBS, RCA and Warner Bros., but inevitably Fame, Quinvy, Minit, South Camp and Goldwax are also present.

In spite of four quite exhilarating upbeat soul tracks by June Conquest (I Do), Don Varner (The Power of Love), the Ovations (I Need a Lot of Loving) and Bobby Womack (Broadway Walk), the eight southern soul ballads hit the * spot for me, especially Tony BordersCheaters Never Win, Wilson Pickett’s Up Tight Good Woman, June EdwardsMy Man (My Sweet Man) and Dee Dee Sharp’s Help Me Find My Groove.

THIS IS FAME 1964 - 1968

Reviewed by Heikki Suosalo

Rating: 8/ 10

(Kent, CDKEND 494; 24 tracks, 62 min., notes by Dean Rudland)

1. Jimmy Hughes: Steal Away
2. James Barnett: It Tears Me Up
3. Clarence Carter: She Ain’t Gonna Do Right
4. Arthur Conley: I Can’t Stop (No, No, No)
5. Otis Clay: That Kind Of Lovin’
6. The Del-Rays: Fortune Teller
7. Art Freeman: Slippin’ Around With You
8. James Barnett: Keep On Talking
9. Jimmy Hughes: Hi-Heel Sneakers
10. Ben & Spence: Long Ago
11. Jeanie Greene: Don’t Make Me Hate Loving You
12. Dan Penn: (TakeMe) Just As I Am
13. George Jackson: Back In Your Arms
14. Billy Young: Feed The Flame
15. Ralph “Soul” Jackson: You Really Know How To Hurt A Guy
16. Clarence Carter: Thread The Needle
17. Art Freeman: A Piece Of My Heart
18. Spooner & The Spoons: Wish You Didn’t Have To Go
19. June Conquest: Almost Persuaded
20. Arthur Conley: I’m Gonna Forget About You
21. James Barnett: Take A Good Look
22. Herman Moore: Come On Home
23. Richard Earl & The Corvettes: Blind Can’t See
24. Jimmy Hughes: I Worship The Ground You Walk On

On this set there are as many as ten songs composed by Spooner Oldham and Dan Penn, so the connection between Rick Hall’s Fame label and the writing couple was quite strong. This compilation chronicles the second incarnation of Fame Records from 1964 till 1968, comprising the series of 6401-6410 and 1000-1016. One third of this 24-track CD was not released at the time.

Rick’s biggest Fame stars – Jimmy Hughes and Clarence Carter – are featured combined on five tracks, and other prospective artists in those days - such as James Barnett, Art Freeman and Arthur Conley - all get more than one song. Actually, one of the most emotionally moving songs on the set is James Barnett’s dramatic and deep reading of It Tears Me Up. Other personal favourites include George Jackson’s version of his co-penned soul ballad called Back In Your Arms (later cut by Wilson Pickett), June Conquest’s original take on Almost Persuaded, Richard Earl & the Corvettes’ churchy Blind Can’t See and Jimmy Hughes’ I Worship the Ground You Walk on. In fact, Jimmy’s Steal Away – also included here – was the kickoff hit for Fame in 1964 (# 17 – Billboard Hot).

Along with other gorgeous southern soul slowies by Jeanie Greene, Billy Young and Herman Moore etc., there are thirteen upbeat and mid-tempo tracks on display and the ones that stand out for me are Otis Clay’s That Kind of Lovin’ and James Barnett’s Chicago-styled Keep on Talking.

© Heikki Suosalo

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