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Various Artists: Soul Voices - 60s Big Ballads

Reviewed by Heikki Suosalo

Rating: 9/ 10


CDKEND 490 ( – 24 tracks, 8 originally unissued; 69 min.; notes by Ady Croasdell

1) Forget The Girl - Walter Jackson
2) They Say I'm Afraid - Freddy Butler
3) Heartache (Hurry On By) - Roy Hamilton
4) Big Bad Rain - Kenny Carter
5) (There's) No Place To Hide - Ben E King
6) Lonely People Can't Afford To Cry - Clyde McPhatter
7) Gloomy Day - Herb Johnson
8) Just Outside Of Lonely - Clarence Pinckney
9) Seeing Is Believing - Tony Mason
10) Don't Make Me Over - Tommy Hunt
11) Reach Out For Me - Lou Johnson
12) Now You Are Gone - Brooks O'Dell
13) You Got Too Much Going For You - Jimmy Beaumont
14) A Day Or Two - Garrett Saunders
15) Where Does Love Go - Freddie Scott
16) I Can't Stand To See You Cry - Chuck Jackson
17) Anytime You Want Me - Garnet Mimms
18) Can't Stand No Fooling Around - Gene Burks
19) I Want To Be Loved - Billy Watkins
20) Lover's Competition - James Carr
21) You're A Lucky So And So - Sammy Sevens
22) Good For A Lifetime - Al Hibbler
23) Through A Long And Sleepless Night - Jimmy Radcliffe
24) I Love You So Much - Junior Lewis

  I’ve always been enthusiastic about big dramatic ballads – be it 60s pop music, uptown New York rhythms, or West Coast Spectoresque productions – and that’s why I was delighted to get my hands on this wonderful compilation. This set gathers material not only from the most obvious sources, but also from such cities as Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and Memphis.

  In terms of quality, the names of such producers as Bert Berns, George Kerr, Jerry Ragovoy, Kenny Gamble and Quinton Claunch serve as the seal of guarantee, but add to that list such arrangers as Garry Sherman, Bert Keyes, Richard Tee and Teddy Randazzo, and you can rest assured that the orchestration is innovative and plentiful. On their rhythm tracks and sweetenings it’s safe to add majestic male voices. Those tracks just call for passionate, overwhelming and sometimes close to melodramatic interpretations.

  Among the voices there are mostly well-known soul heroes, such as the magnificent Walter Jackson on the originally unissued but nevertheless impressive Forget the Girl, the imposing Roy Hamilton on Heartache (Hurry On) and Lou Johnson with his charted 1963 song titled Reach out for Me. All recordings, except one by Clarence Pinckney (Just Outside of Lonely), derive from the 1960s and all are either ballads or mid-tempo numbers. James Carr’s early Memphis recording of Lover’s Competition is a bit untypical to him in its pop approach and Jimmy Radcliffe’s rendition of the intimate Through a Long and Sleepless Night differs from the released track on this set. Most of these male luminaries are featured here with not one of their biggest hits, which on one hand is consumer-friendly but on the other hand I think Tommy Hunt would have earned a better track than his uninspired – and unissued - version of Don’t Make Me Over. But that’s my only complaint.

  At least ten of the vocalists on this set are not so well-known outside of the aficionados circle, and the ones I’d like to highlight in this group are Tony Mason on Seeing Is Believing and Junior Lewis (later the “well-known” C.L. Blast) on the quiet but intimate I Love You So Much. In this less-known section the personal favourite is Jimmy Beaumont’s Spector-inspired beat-ballad named You Got too Much Going for You.


© Heikki Suosalo

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