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RHYTHM & BLUES, SOUL & DOO-WOP
Various Artists Collections - Miscellaneous Labels, N

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Neil 100 The Best Of Neil Records ● CD $17.98
Only 14 tracks on this collection but that seems to be the entire output of this tiny New York based label that was active in 1956 & '57. Mostly good black doo-wop from The Monarchs, The Young Lads, Jimmy Williams and Bobby Williams plus two tracks from R&B singer Dorian Burton.
DORIAN BURTON: I Want You/ One Little Kiss/ THE KINGSMEN: One Foolish Mistake/ Stranded Love/ THE MONARCHS: Always Be Faithful/ How Are You/ In My Younger Days/ Pretty Little Girl/ BOBBY PIERCE: I Met A Stranger/ I've Tried/ JIMMY WILLIAMS: I Knew/ Love Only Me/ THE YOUNG LADS: I'm In Love/ Moonlight

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Neptune 1001 The Best Of Neptune Records ● CD $17.98
30 tracks, 68 mins, recommended
Little is known about the Neptune label: it was owned by Donald Shaw, located in Newark, NJ, and was part of a complex of companies that included J&S Records and Dice Records. They did manage to record some of the finest East Coast R&B during the late 50's/early 60's, a sampling of which is available on this compilation. Baby Washington, the Spaniels, Wilbert Harrison, and the El Pollos are just a few of the talents that Neptune recorded. As usual with these types of comps, the little-known artists are the ones that make the album worth buying and here the keepers include Georgeous George (that's not a typo!), Glenda Green and Del Rios. Unfortunately, there's no annotation to tell the label's story, however the sound quality is good and if you don't already have Stateside's Baby Washington collection, this is a good place to catch her bewitching vocal talents. (GMC)
THE DEL RIOS: I'm Crying/ Wait Wait Wait/ CLIFF DRIVER'S COMBO: Drive On/ Driver's Roll/ Juicy Fruit (part 1)/ Juicy Fruit (part 2)/ THE EL POLLOS: School Girl/ Why Treat Me This Way/ GEORGEOUS GEORGE: Now I Believe/ Will You Love Me/ GLENDA GREEN: He's Gone/ When I Marry/ WILBERT HARRISON: After Graduation/ Off to Work Again/ THE SPANIELS: For Sentimental Reason/ Meek Man/ BABY WASHINGTON: Deep Down Love/ Let's Love in the Moonlight/ Medicine Man/ Money's Funny/ Move On/ Nobody Cares (About Me)/ Tears Fell/ The Bells/ The Time/ Too Late/ Why Did My Baby Put Me Down/ Workout/ You Could Never Be Mine/ Your Mama Knows What's Right

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Norton 317 Get In The Groove ● CD $14.98
18 tracks, 80 min., good
Norton Records cultivates an image of raucousness, releasing more untamed new music that all the majors put together. Part holiday R&B review, part birthday celebration for Norton Records boss man Billy Miller, this live show features Andre Williams, Nathaniel Mayer, Lonnie Youngblood, Rudy Ray Moore (a.k.a. Dolomite), King Coleman, Bettye Lavette, Barrence Whitfield, The Great Gaylord, The Mighty Hannibal, and others two days after Xmas, 2003, at Southpaw, Brooklyn, NY. Now, I enjoy screaming, ranting, and songs about genitalia as much as the next fellow, maybe more so, but the first half of this show is marred by a certain lack of substance. Mayer (backed by The Shanks) and his six and a half pack of songs (more than anyone else) marks the high point, but his always-strained voice is stretched thinner than ever. He is reintroduced for his encore as "the pimp of all pimps," although the designation seems unofficial. Lavette sounds good (as always) on her two songs, but one is the everyone-back-on-stage finale and it just isn't enough. No doubt that this show tore up the club that night, but the power doesn't always transfer to disc very well, and something necessary is lost in translation. (JC)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Not Now 369 The Very Best Of Burlesque ● CD $10.98
2 CDs, 50 tracks, 138 mins, highly recommended
Nearly naked girls have had quite a soundtrack over the years. This swell collection gathers up a Double-D-cups worth of the sleaziest, horniest and just plain down & dirtiest tunes that were ever bumped and grinded to. The usual suspects you would expect to hear are here, like The Stripper by David Rose, Harlem Nocturne by The Viscounts, Cherokee by Earl Bostic, Walkin' With Mr. Lee by Lee Allen, and Honky Tonk (Part 2.) by Bill Doggett, etc. Plenty of Louis Prima, Link Wray, Dizzy Gillespie, and more to swing those hips to. Lots of great surprises are peppered throughout this collection and those are what really give this CD its high recommendation. Tracks like: Satellite Baby by Roosevelt Sykes, More Bounce To The Ounce by The Lynn Hope Quintet, Do You Want It? by Julia Lee, Cab Calloway's version of The Honey Dripper, Bull Moose Jackson with Big Fat Mamas Are Back In Style Again, and so on. If you don't have a good time listening to this collection, you might want to check your pulse. (JM)
LEE ALLEN AND HIS BAND: Walkin' With Mr. Lee/ GENE AMMONS AND HIS SEXTET: It's You Or No One/ RAY ANTHONY AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Peter Gunn/ SIL AUSTIN: Slow Walk/ LAVERN BAKER AND THE GLIDERS: I Can't Love You Enough/ EARL BOSTIC: Cherokee/ TINY BRADSHAW AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Soft/ RUTH BROWN AND HER RHYTHM MAKERS: Daddy, Daddy/ RUTH BROWN AND HER RHYTHMAKERS: Mambo Baby/ RUTH BROWN WITH BUDD JOHNSON AND HIS ORCHESTR: Teardrops From My Eyes/ SAM BUTERA AND THE WITNESSES: Street Scene/ RED CALLENDER SEXTTETTE: Rock Bottom/ CAB CALLOWAY AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Minnie The Moocher/ The Honeydripper/ BOBBY DARIN: Beyond The Sea/ VARETTA DILLARD WITH LEROY KIRKLAND AND HIS ORCH: So Many Ways (To Love You)/ BILL DOGGETT: Honky Tonk (Part 2)/ BILLY GAYLES WITH IKE TURNER'S RHYTHM ROCKERS: I'm Tore Up/ DIZZY GILLESPIE AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Algo Bueno (Woody 'n' You)/ DALE HAWKINS: Susie-Q/ LYNN HOPE QUINTET: More Bounce To The Ounce/ WILLIS 'GATOR' JACKSON: Gator's Groove/ BULL MOOSE JACKSON AND HIS BUFFALO BEARCATS: Big Fat Mamas Are Back In Style Again/ BUDDY JOHNSON AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Dr. Jive Jives/ LOUIS JORDAN AND HIS TYMPANI FIVE: Hog Wash/ EARTHA KITT WITH HENRI RENE AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Just An Old-Fashioned Girl/ MORRIS LANE AND HIS BAND: Bobby's Boogie/ JULIA LEE AND HER BOY FRIENDS: Do You Want It?/ LI'L MILLET AND HIS CREOLES: Rich Woman/ CARMEN MACRAE WITH JACK PLEIS AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Whatever Lola Wants/ JIMMY MCCRACKLIN AND HIS BLUES BLASTERS: I Want To Make Love To You/ BIG JAY MCNEELY: Rock Candy/ Strip Tease Swing/ ROY MILTON AND HIS SOLID SENDERS: T-Town Twist/ ROY MONTRELL: (Every Time I Hear That) Mellow Saxophone/ PEREZ PRADO AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Patricia/ LOUIS PRIMA: Fever/ Night Train/ Just A Gigolo-I Ain't Got Nobody/ RED PRYSOCK AND HIS HOUSE ROCKERS: Purple Wail/ TOMMY RIDGLEY: Jam Up/ DAVID ROSE AND HIS ORCHESTRA: The Stripper/ GENE AMMONS SEXTET: Red Top/ FRANKIE LEE SIMS: She Likes To Boogie Real Low/ HAL SINGER SEXTETTE: Beef Stew/ ROOSEVELT SYKES: Satellite Baby/ BIG JOE TURNER WITH HARRY VAN WALLS AND HIS ORCH: Don't You Cry/ THE VISCOUNTS: Harlem Nocturne/ JOHNNY 'GUITAR' WATSON: Hot Little Mama/ LINK WRAY AND HIS RAY MEN: Rumble

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Now Again 5019 Texas Funk - Black Gold From The Lone Star State ● CD $16.98
21 tracks, 68 min. essential
Texas may at first seem an unlikely source of funkiness, but as this release demonstrates (and as the notes explain), it was pretty much funk central. Compilers have included a couple of fairly well known acts (e.g., Sunny & The Sunliners), but most of these musicians started out obscure and become less well known as time passed. All they have in common is Texas and incredibly cool funk 45s, often only one or two, often on the tiniest of labels. The Brothers Seven, James Polk & The Brothers, Joe Bravo, Road Runners, Mickey & The Soul Generation, The Groove Merchants, Tickled Pink, Timothy McNealy, and others make irresistible funk offerings, many channeling James Brown to one degree or another, of course, but with a variety of styles. The booklet notes overflow with detailed and interesting information, photos, label pictures, session info, and more. This is the way to reissue music. Not to be missed. (JC)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Now Again 5063 California Funk - Rare Funk 45s From The Golden State ● CD $16.98
21 tracks, 64 mins, very highly recommended
This CD is a fascinating examination of California's unique take on funk music in the late 60's. The detailed liner notes give great insight into what funk music meant to the Black community, how it was influenced by James Brown and the prevailing unrest endemic to California's disillusioned Black populace. This is some tough, hard hitting music: All Blinded Into One by Water Color, What Goes Around Comes Around by Arthur Monday, Curse Upon the World by Apple & the Three Oranges, and Politician Rag by King Soloman to name but a few. Before Rap, this was the music through which young, disenfranchised Black people vented their frustrations at the injustice and poverty that surrounded them every day. The first compilation of its kind (according to the liner notes) is very well done, highly listenable, educational, and nearly essential. (GMC)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS NR 101 Nursery Rhymes & Fairy Tale Doo Wops ● CD $18.98
30 track collection of doo-wop songs with nursery rhyme or fairy tale titles including Fairy Tales by The Spaniels, Cinderella by Gary Kay, Old MacDonald by The Orlandos, Wizard Of Love by The Lydells, Genie by The Inspirations, Little Miss Muffet by The Colonials, and others.
THE ADMIRATIONS: Little Bo Peep/ THE CARONATORS: Fairy Tales/ THE CHARM KINGS: Tell Me A Tale/ CHIP & QUARTERTONES: Simple Simon/ THE CLASSICS: Cinderella/ THE COLONIALS: Little Miss Muffet/ THE CORVAIRS: Sing A Song Of Sixpence/ THE DEVOTIONS: Rip Van Winkle/ Snow White/ THE ELEGANTS: Little Boy Blue/ THE EMBLEMS: Poor Humpty Dumpty/ THE FIVE SHADES: Mary Had A Little Lamb/ THE GARY KAY: Cinderella/ THE IDEALS: Mary's Lamb/ THE INSPIRATIONS: Genie/ THE LAMPLIGHTERS: Bo Peep/ THE LYDELLS: Genie Of The Lamp/ Wizard Of Love/ THE MONOTONES: Legend Of Sleepy Hollow/ THE NUTMEGS: Rip Van Winkle/ THE ORLANDOS: Old Macdonald/ THE RICARDOS: Mary's Little Lamb/ THE RIVINGTONS: Fairy Tales/ THE ROULETTES: Hasten Jason/ THE ROYAL KINGS: Peter Peter/ THE SPANIELS: Fairy Tales/ THE STORY SISTERS: Twinkle Little Star/ THE TORNADOS: Geni In The Jug/ THE TROUPERS: Peter Pumpkin Eater/ THE VALAQUANS: Jolly Green Giant

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS NRC 011 35 Doo-Wops FRom NRC ● CD $17.98
35 tracks from the NRC label - mostly doo-wop plus some rock 'n' roll - Edward Harris & The Blue Dots, The Cavaliers, Diane Dove, The Majestics, Bobby One, etc.

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Nu-Kat NKR 100 The Best R&B Of Nu-Kat ● CD $17.98
A collection of 21 tracks from the Virginia based Nu-Kat label recorded in the late 50s/ early 60s. Mostly doo-wop plus some R&B. It includes 16 issued sides plus unissued alternate takes. Artists include The Continental Five, The 5 Roses, Lady Nell, The Velvetones, Walter & Lola, Lucky Edward and Bunie Fitz
THE CONTINENTAL FIVE: King Of Rock And Roll/ King Of Rock And Roll(unissued Alternate)/ Moe & Joe/ Moe & Joe (unissued Alternate)/ My Lonely Friend/ Predelia/ Predelia(unissued Alternate)/ LUCKY EDWARD: Tell Me That You Love Me/ BUNIE FITZ: Just A Fool For You/ One More Chance/ THE FIVE ROSES: Don't Cry Della/ Don't Cry Della (unissued Alternate)/ Romance In The Spring/ LADY NELL: Don't Forget/ Lovin' Daddy/ LUCKY EDWARD: Lonesome Walk/ THE VELVETONES: I'm Leaving Home/ Impossible/ Impossible(unissued Alternate)/ WALTER & LOLA: Broken Heart/ No Mercy

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Numero 001 Eccentric Soul - The Capsoul Label ● CD $19.98
19 tracks, 60 min., essential
The Capsoul (short for Capital City Soul) label only survived for five years, only issued a dozen 45s, only pressed one LP (by the Four Mints), but has since gained legendary status in soul circles. Their secret? Founder Bill Moss released great soul songs and, unless you lived in or near the source (Columbus, Ohio), they were tough to find even when they were new. The master tapes drowned in a flood (although the sound here is quite good), and Moss destroyed his back stock one sad day. Perhaps the best known group here is the Four Mints (who still perform in Ohio). Their doo-wop inspired You're My Desire and Do You Really Love Me worked their way up the national R&B charts to #80 and #84, respectively--an amazing achievement considering the lack of distribution and promotion available to Capsoul. Marion Black's Go On Fool did even better (although on the Avco Embassy label), reaching #39 in 1971. Johnson, Hawkins, Tatum & Durr's You Can't Blame Me had regional hit power, but didn't chart. But the hands-down, put-on-your-soul-shoes best track has got to be the Kool Blues' I'm Gonna Keep On Loving You, on the short list for most underrated soul song of the '70s. The other two Kool Blues tracks shine too. The booklet notes do not include much session information, but you can't have everything. The reissue label seems as obscure as Capsoul was. May it last longer. (JC)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Numero 003 Eccentric Soul - The Bandit Label ● CD $19.98
20 tracks, 70 min., essential
 The story of the Bandit label and its owner Arrow Brown is likely one of the strangest on record (pun intended). Brown apparently lived with many nubile young women in a commune or "family" or non-religious cult, depending on how you look at it. And when he wasn't demanding the sexual fidelity of his harem, he was writing, recording, and releasing some of the sweetest soul music to make its way out of Chicago in the late 1960s and '70s--all this after (?) an apparent life of crime (thus the label name). Many of the performances come from his "family." Altyrone Deno Brown (Arrow's son) began recording at age 7; local papers dubbed him Chicago's Michael Jackson, high praise at the time. Deno Brown went on to win a Tony Award for his performance in "Raisin" (a musical version of Lorraine Hansbury's play "A Raisin In The Sun"), before slipping into obscurity, as most of the artists here eventually did. The recordings collected here, never widely available outside of the Windy City, include both sides of Linda Ballintine's only Bandit 45 (Glad About That and You're A Habit Hard To Break, of which only 2 copies are known to exist. One of the soul beacons here, Johnny Davis, who turns in a powerful performance on the charger You've Got To Crawl To Me, was brutally murdered in 1973. Most cuts are by the superb Majestic Arrows, whose lineup changes, but whose gorgeous records were rarely surpassed by their more commercially successful competitors. The exceptional Love Is All I Need would by itself make this collection essential. Includes three "rehearsal" performances found on cassette tapes belonging to Tridia Brown (Arrow's daughter by his first marriage before the "family"), among them an a cappella performance of Make Yourself Over, which is wonderful. Unrelentingly good. (JC)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Numero 007 Eccentric Soul - The Deep City Label ● CD $19.98

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Numero 009 Eccentric Soul - The Big Mack Label ● CD $19.98
19 tracks, 52 min., highly recommended
The Numero label's Eccentric Soul series (starting with the Capsoul label story) is easily the most interesting and best researched of any label's soul reissue program. This time the focus is on Ed McCoy's tiny Detroit label, Big Mack, named for its owner. McCoy apparently used the eclectic approach inasmuch as no single soul style predominates. He even started a subsidiary called Wildcat to release white garage bands such as The Sleepwalkers. The most pleasing musical moment at Big Mack came when Bob and Fred (Bob Thomas and Fred Brown) waxed their own I'll Be On My Way, a sweet slice of violin-driven goodness. But as seemingly radio friendly as the song was, it went nowhere. Other obscure groups worth (re)discovering here include L. Hollis & the Mackadoos, Edd Henry, Ms. Tyree "Sugar" Jones, Essence, Soul President, Mae Young, The Performers, and The Manhattens (with an "e"), who also recorded as Grand Prix's (especially after The Manhattans, with an "a," became popular), and whose 1962 doo wop effort Why Should I Cry is another standout. (The tracks here were cut between 1961-73.) The booklet houses informative notes, rare photos, and the story of a label worth reading about. (JC)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Numero 011 Eccentric Soul - Mighty Mike Lenaburg ● CD $19.98
17 tracks, 48 min., very highly recommended
This time Numero focusses its eclectic attention on Mike Lenaburg's various Arizona-based soul labels operating between 1962-71 (although one cut comes from 1980). Many of Lenaburg's labels are one-offs and many more of his efforts never saw wax at all. He did manage to get national releases (on Brent, for example), but they tended to disappear almost before they emerged. The most "famous" cut here might be Function Underground by We The People--an engrossing funk-rock workout. But one of the best kept secrets to discover here is the trio of tracks by The Soul Blenders (w/ & w/o Lon Rogers). This CD is full of secret soul wonders, many in the funk arena. Ronnie Whitehead's Begging You is irresistible, as is the rare female vocal cut by Shiela Jack I've Got To Have You. In short, this is probably the best Numero release since No. 1, and that's saying something, since the label is 11 for 11 in the interesting releases department. Informative booklet notes, cool photos. (JC)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Numero 013 Eccentric Soul - Twinight's Lunar Rotation ● CD $28.98
2 CDs, 40 tracks, 1 hour 50 min., very highly recommended
If you thought Chicago's Twilight/Twinight label was all about Syl Johnson, you were right. And you were wrong. Yes, of the 55 singles issued by Twinight between 1967-1972, only 8 made the charts, and 7 of those bear Syl Johnson's name, as the booklet noters note. But as this excellent compilation proves, Twinight had talent that ran soul deep. These 40 tracks (no Syl here) sport a high percentage of better-than-average soul with a reasonable sprinkling of outright great. Include the Notations optimistic gem A New Day among the cuts no soul fan should go without. In it they recommend "shooting pool" as a possible remedy for racially motivated violence between "black and white." Other praise-worthy songs include George McGregor & The Bronzettes' Temptation Is Hard To Fight, The Radiants post-Chess, Smokey-esque effort My Sunshine Girl, and the Perfections' almost-perfect Which One Am I. The Dynamic Tints, Krystal Generation, Renaldo Domino, Velma Perkins, Kaldirons, Elvin Spencer, Mistiques, Chuck & Mac, and others also offer consistently cool Windy City soul worth telling your friends about. The 32-page booklet is half well-written, informative notes and half rare photos. Class job all the way. [One minor gripe: Track lists appear only on the tray card (not in the booklet), which is inconvenient, and the small brown-on-brown print is squint inducing.] (JC)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Numero 014 Cult Cargo: Grand Baham Goombay ● CD $18.98
16 tracks, 77 min., highly recommended
This time the cargo is the interesting story of the Grand Bahama record label, the G.B.I. Recording Company, during its glory years of 1968-76. Who knew the tiny island that didn't gain its independence until 1973 housed so much cool soul and funk? The tourist trade spawned any number of hotel bands of varying skill, but the Numero Group has handpicked some wonderful examples of American soul with a Grand Bahaman attitude--or is it the other way around? Oddly, the opening funk workout by Cyril Ferguson is one of the least interesting cuts, but the Jay Mitchell beater that directly follows makes up for it. In fact Mitchell owns five tracks here and is no small part of why the album is so much fun. The two tracks by The Mustangs deserve high praise as well for their easy going brand of infectious reggae. And while the scales tilt toward funk on this set, the occasional pop oddity (The Gospel Chandeliers Honesty Is The Best Policy) startles in its naiveté. And what can be said about Sylvia Hall's paean to sexual abstinence Don't Touch That Thing except that while it almost has to be tongue in cheek, it doesn't seem to be. This cargo isn't for all cults, but its unusual assortment of styles is pretty charming. And as usual the booklet is full of intelligent notes, rare photos, and cool pictures of records you'll wish you owned. (JC)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Numero 015 Eccentric Soul - The Prix Label ● CD $19.98
19 Tracks, 53 mins, recommended
The Numero group seems determined to prove that Columbus, Ohio is a gold mine of unsung soul music; three years ago, they brought us "Eccentric Soul: The Capsoul Label" which documented some tasty tracks tidbits of Columbus R&B. Now, Numero returns to Ohio for "Eccentric Soul: The Prix Label", which similarly makes the case for the city's underground scene. The brainchild of a Black electronics geek and a white lawyer, Prix and its accompanying recording operation, Harmonic Sounds, released singles roughly from 1969 to 1976, never had a hit, and remains shrouded in mystery to this day. The names on this CD are unknown, but Eddie Ray, Mitchell Mitchell and Marion Black--based on the evidence contained here--deserved more recognition than they got. Black's Listen Black Brother from 1972 is a powerful denouncement of black-on-black violence that still rings true today. The sound quality is good, if somewhat tinny sounding (probably more due to the way the songs were recorded), the liner notes are informative, and the packaging attractive if Spartan. This collection of Motown-meets-Stax hybrids and James Brown-esque funk ready-mades is not without its charm, and is definitely worth investigation. (GMC)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Numero 017 Eccentric Soul - The Outskirts Of Deep City ● CD $18.98
20 tracks, 56 mins, highly recommended
The latest edition of Numero's Eccentric Soul series is a related follow-up to "Eccentric Soul: The Deep City Label, concentrating on the smaller independents that were satellites or rivals of the original Deep City imprint. The story leads us to into unsung labels Reid, Sun Cut, Lloyd, Concho, Blue Star, and Green Gold, as well as giving us further insight into the Deep City saga. The famous Florida grooves are present as ever on songs from Helene Smith, James Knight & the Butlers, Clarence Reid, and a young Betty Wright. Lush balladry is to had from Lynn Williams, Smith, The Rising Sun, and The Rollers, and all offer excellent counterpoint to the Saturday-nite party feel of the up tempo tracks. Dating from 1963 to 1971, these songs form the backbone of the Miami soul scene that became more famous later on thanks to KC & the Sunshine Band and George McCrae. As we've come to expect from the Numero series, the package is expertly annotated and put together. Bottom line: if you like the other Numero CD's, you'll need this one too. (GMC)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Numero 020 Eccentric Soul - The Tragar & Note Labels ● CD $28.98
2CD, 50 tracks, 128 mins, recommended
The gang at Numero Records is at it again with this collection of extremely rare soul from Atlanta labels Tragar and Note, both formed, in 1968 and 1971 respectively, by saxophone player Jesse Jones. Neither of the labels produced anything approaching a hit, but these tracks represent the first attempts of releasing locally produced and distributed music from the ATL. These tracks, recorded between 1968 and 1977, represent the rarest of the rare Southern R&B that documents a time and place that shouldn't be forgotten or ignored. Eula Cooper was the "star" of Jones' stables; this teenager had the goods to go national but never got the breaks needed. Just listen to Heavenly Father for the proof. (GMC)
CHERRY BLEND: Love is Gone/ RICHARD COOK: Love is So Mean/ Somebody Got' a Help Me/ EULA COOPER: Beggars Can't Be Choosey/ Have Faith In Me/ Heavenly Father/ I Can't Help If I Love You/ I Need You More/ Let Our Love Grow Higher/ Love Makes Me Do Foolish Things/ Shake Daddy Shake/ Standing By Love/ That's How Much I Love You/ Try/ L. DANIELS: Nite Cap/ TEE FLETCHER: All Because of You/ Down In the Country/ Would You Do It For Me/ THE FOUR TRACKS: Charade/ You Mean Everything To Me/ FRANKIE & ROBERT: Love (It's Been So Long)/ Sweet Thing/ SANDY GAYE: Talk is Cheap/ Watch the Dog That Bring the Bone/ J.J. JONES: Black Midnight/ I Can't Stand It/ THE KNIGHTS: The Hump/ Tippings Strings/ LANGSTON: Tumbling Down/ Let's Get Funky/ TOKAY LEWIS: What Can the Matter Be/ Who Wants Me Now/ BOBBY OWENS & THE DIPLOMATS: Messing Around/ SONIA ROSA: Breaking My Heart/ Every Now and Then/ Let Me Be Free/ ALICE SWOBODA: I Think It's Time (You Were Mine)/ Potters Field/ FRANCIENE THOMAS: I'll Be There/ Too Beautiful To Be Good/ CHUCK WILDER: The Clown/ Why/ NATHAN WILKES: Now That I'm Wise/ Strange Feeling/ ANDREA WILLIAMS: Love Makes Me Do Foolish Things/ BILLY WRIGHT: You Got a Spell On Me/ You're the Only Thing I've Got Going For Me/ YOUNG DIVINES: Ain't Tha Sharp/ Deep In Your Heart/ I'll Show You With Love

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Numero 021 Soul Messages From Dimona ● CD $18.98
16 tracks, 69 min., very highly recommended
At the least, listeners expect a collection of great, rare soul sides from a Numero release, such is that little label's deserved reputation. But every so often, they reveal a secret world of coolness that even ardent soul fans are not likely to have stumbled across. Such is the case here, where the Black Hebrew culture centered in Dimona, Israel (referred to here as the "spiritual capital of the world"), comes to life for anyone curious. The stellar (as usual) booklet provides a well-written and necessary road map from the back-to-Africa movement of 1967 that, for a select few, ended in a back-to-the-promised-land-of-Israel movement. The unusual suspects here include Charles "Hezekiah" Blackwell (who played bass for the Metrotones), Thomas "Yehudah" Whitfield, and John "Shevat" Boyd, who were at one time loosely connected to the Mar-V-Lus, Toddlin' Town, One-Der-Ful, M-Pac Chicago labels, no doubt familiar to most soul aficionados. The Soul Messengers are featured on 10 cuts, but also play on the 2 by The Spirit Of Israel. And, the Jackson-Five-influenced (just listen to the wonderful Holding On) Tonistics, , who have a pair of fine tracks, are the offspring of the members of the Soul Messengers. The Sons Of The Kingdom, also rate 2 songs. The sound features a mixture of straight-ahead soul, psychedelic soul, rasta beat, jazz, funk, and gospel. Song subjects tend to be spiritual, though often in surprising ways. The Sons Modernization takes a decidedly unfavorable view of that concept. The Messengers' Prince Of Zeal is more-or-less straight up jazz, but the best pieces, including Victory fuse soul, jazz, and funk. The Spirit's charmer A Place To Be features a Sam Cooke-esque vocal with first-rate female back-up singers that would give The Vandellas a run for their money. Not to be missed. (JC)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Numero 023 Eccentric Soul - The Young Disciples ● CD $19.98
21 tracks, 60 mins, highly recommended
In Numero Records never-ending quest to dig up lost and/or forgotten R&B from the late 60's/early 70's, Volume 23 brings us music from the mean streets of East St. Louis Illinois. In an effort to help keep kids off the streets and out of trouble in the crime and poverty riddled city, teacher Allan Merry organized music programs through a youth center. The collective name for the teenage musicians and singers was the Young Disciples, but this catch-all name actually encompassed solo singers, duos, and groups. The music here, originally released on Merry's homegrown labels YoDi and Merry, is rawer than most Soul of the time, possibly reflecting the rough lives of the participants: from the tough-minded The World is Changing by LaVal Moore and Crumbs From the Table by Young Disciples Co. to the deceptively sweet sounds of Anyone Or Anything by DeDe Turner Happening, this music oozes potency from every note. And the songs are amazingly accomplished for teenagers; surprisingly, many of the ballads are throwbacks to the R&B of the early 60's, rather than the lush Gamble & Huff sounds that came to dominate the Soul scene of the late 60's and early '70's. In sum, this is yet another winner from the folks at Numero. (GMC)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Numero 027 Eccentric Soul: Smart's Palace ● CD $19.98
19 tracks, 60 mins, highly recommended
More obscure R&B from the American hinterlands courtesy of the folks at Numero; this time they delve into the Wichita, Kansas soul scene (who even knew that Wichita had a soul scene) to focus on Dick Smart, DJ, bassist, club owner (the "Smart's Palace" of the title), record store owner, promoter, and solo proprietor of Solo Records. This CD is the story of the Smart and Neal brothers, and how their fortunes dominated the Wichita show band circuit during the 1960s and 1970s. The music here is passionate R&B by Baby Neal & the Smart Brothers, Fred Williams & the Jewels Band, Chocolate Snow (a great instrumental cover of the Beatles' A Day in the Life), and Hard Road featuring C.C. Neal. This is actually one of the more interesting Numero collections because the music has a lot of spirit, fire, and oomph (!), and the story of how the music came to be is a classic American success story. In short, this is a must-have for lover of grass-roots R&B. (GMC)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Numero 35 Boddie Recording Company: Cleveland, Ohio ● CD $42.98
Another amazing production from this adventurous label. A three CD set featuring 57 tracks recorded for the long lived Boddie Recording Company of Cleveland that was the longest lived operation of its kind in Cleveland. The 57 tracks on these three CDs represent the best of the Boddies' in-house Soul Kitchen, Luau, and Bounty labels, which released an unspoiled treasure trove of kitchen-sink eccentric soul, fuzzbox funk, shoestring doo-wop, and haunted, eerily hook-laden spirituals. Enclosed inside is a mountain of office-styled ephemera: two massive booklets brimming with detail on the Boddies and their artists; extensive notes and scores of unpublished photos; a complete detailed discography folio; reproduced fliers; and a Boddie greeting card--all rendered with the handcrafted charm that was the Boddie hallmark. Call it a self-contained record industry crammed into one box. Counts as four CDs for shipping purposes.

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Numero 039 Eccentric Soul - The Nickel & Penny Labels ● CD $19.98
24 tracks, 69 mins, highly recommended
It's been a while since the gang at Numero has unleashed one of their obscure American R&B compilations on an unsuspecting world, but here it is and this time the spotlight is on Chicago labels Nickel and Penny. The mastermind behind the labels-and most of these sides-was Chicago DJ Richard Pegue, who acted as writer, arranger and producer. The obscurity of these 60's and 70's recordings is partly due to the fact that they went out of print weeks after being released. These tracks are basically slices of sweet soul that sound pleasant to the ear and are as well crafted as anything else from that time frame. The top artists appear to have been Jerry Townes, the Norvells, and Little Ben & the Cheers, who all impress on their respective songs (Townes' Just Say the Word and Never More; Why Do You Want to Make Me Sad by the Norvells; and Little Ben's Mighty, Mighty Lover and I'm Gonna Get Even With You). Other artists of note include Voices, Halleluiah Chorus, and South Shore Commission. As with all of Numero's compilations, this one is packaged beautifully and contains a booklet that gives the lowdown on Pegue's story. If you're a fan of rare Chicago soul then this is the CD for you. (GMC)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Numero 041 Eccentric Soul - A Red Black & Green Production ● CD $18.98
19 tracks, 69 mins, very highly recommended
The latest release from those R&B archivists, Numero, covers the saga of Robert "Jose" Williams, a producer/engineer/entrepreneur from Silver Springs, Maryland, working under the name Red, Black & Green Productions. The songs here are all in the "sweet soul" vein that was popular in the mid-70's, and there are some excellent examples of the genre here-some of which made waves in the Washington D.C. area-from the likes of Skip Mahoaney & the Casuals (the gritty Town Called Nowhere and the luminous We Share Love), Father's Children (I Really Really Love You), East Coast Connection (the Kool & the Gang quoting Summer in the Parks), Dyson's Faces (the disco-y We're Two Fools in Love), and Promise (I'm Not Ready For Love). The records were issued on obscure labels like New Directions (Williams' brief foray into label ownership), and D.C. International and were recorded at db Sound Studios, Williams' studio of choice, located in Silver Spring. Although Williams produced and/or engineered recordings for Gil Scott-Heron, Van McCoy, the Soul Searchers, and Hugh Masekela, these marvelous sides are his true legacy to 70s soul and are presented here for the first time, accompanied by extensive liner notes that tell not only his saga, but that of each of his artists as well. As a historical document of Beltway soul between 1972 and 1975, this compilation is invaluable; as a listening experience, it's mandatory. (GMC)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Numero 043 Eccentric Soul - The Dynamic Label ● CD $18.98

 

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