As the original MasterChef host Loyd Grossman might say, I’ve deliberated, cogitated and digested the sounds, and arrived at my Top 100 (as of now). There was well over another 100 that I considered but didn’t select. Here is my top 50 which didn’t quite make it.
Back to the early days of the scene, and a top northern classic released on both sides of the pond.
Alexander Patton made three singles. The first two contain some fine ballads issued in 1965 on Los Angeles label Duo Disc. The best of these sides is “Make the best of what you got”, co-written by Patton and produced by Jimmy Mack (James McEachin).
The next 45 has been a top sound since the days of the Twisted Wheel. “A lil lovin’ sometimes” is one of the most soulful up-tempo numbers, with gritty vocal over tight drum and brass arrangement. It was written by Lee Brackett, produced by McEachin, issued in ’66 on Capitol with surname spelt Patten in the US, and Patton in the UK. Patton knew little about the strange world of northern soul when invited to perform it in the UK. Witnessing a crowd of two thousand chanting “True love … can be so hard to find …” he convinced himself it must have been a major hit. It was, but not in the way he meant. A similar number, with carbon-copy arrangement “(True love is) In the heart” was unissued until included on the Kent CD “Kent 30: The Best of Kent Northern”. The flip to ‘A lil lovin’ is a steady uptempo mover called “No more dreams”.
Patton wrote three funky numbers issued in ’72 on Long Beach label A&B. The best of which is “(It’s gonna be a) Long hot summer” by Pam Kellum.
McEachin produced several other records, the most familiar being his own composition “I’m satisfied with you” by The Furys – it may have been a big northern hit but it’s no match for Patton’s classic. Brackett wrote several tunes including; his own “Save a foolish man” c/w “Ruby” on Excello, and the soulful ballad “He gave me love” by The Delicates on Soultown.
It’s difficult to decide where, precisely, The Artistics rank in the order of merit for Chicago groups – less influential than The Impressions, less successful than The Chi-Lites, less prolific than The Dells and, arguably, less distinctive than The Esquires. Nevertheless, they remain popular thanks to a solid discography, produced in the Windy City by Carl Davis, on OKeh and Brunswick. Davis often used Columbia studio for his OKeh productions and Universal for Brunswick.
Around 1963 Marvin Smith replaced Nolan Chance, and the first single with him on lead was a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Get my hands on some lovin’”. This catchy uptown side was written by Gaye with Mickey Stevenson and issued in ’64. Gaye’s original was included in ’62 on his LP “That Stubborn Kinda Fellow”. The similar flip “I’ll leave it up to you”, has that semi-Latin style used often by Chicago artists of the time. These sides were arranged by Johnny Pate.
“In another man’s arms” is a Motownesque mid-tempo number written by Smith, produced by Davis with Curtis Mayfield, arranged by Riley Hampton and issued in ’65. From here the 60’s sounds were arranged by Sonny Sanders, starting with one of their most popular sides “This heart of mine”. This mid-paced gem was written by Barrett Strong, produced by Davis with Gerald Sims, issued in ’65 as a 45 in the US and included on UK Columbia LP “Chart-Busters U.S.A.”. A fine British version is by Jimmy James & the Vagabonds, issued in ’66 on Piccadilly. Picking up the pace a fraction “So much love in my heart” was co-written by Strong and issued in ’66. OKeh included all these sides in ’67 on the LP “Get My Hands on Some Lovin’”, issued after the group had left the label.
In ’66 Davis and Sanders left OKeh and joined Brunswick taking the Artistics and Billy Butler with them. Their first single on the new label is probably their most popular, pairing the northern dancer “Hope we have”, with a fine example of sweet soul “I‘m gonna miss you”. The latter was written by group members Smith, Jessie Bolian & Larry Johnson, issued in ’66 on Brunswick in the US and, in ’67, on Coral in the UK – which was another spin at formative clubs like the Twisted Wheel. It became the title track on their first Brunswick LP. Other fine tracks on the LP include the up-tempo “I’ll always love you” (issued later as a 45), the mid-tempo “It’s gonna be alright”, the more sophisticated “On & on” and their version of the foot-tapper “Why, why, why”, which was written by Chicago stalwart Karl Tarleton and covered by both Mill Evans (a.k.a. Mill Edwards) and Otis Leavill. One of my favourite tracks is the mid-paced “You’re wonderful”, written by Sims with Pieces of Eight duo Bernard & Daniel Reed.
Marvin Smith had already embarked on a solo career before he left the group. His “Who will do your running now” is in my 50 Bubbling Under. He was replaced by Tommy Green. My top choice is a subtle piece of mid-paced crossover. “You left me” was written by Chicago veterans Billy Butler, Nate Smith & Gary Jackson and issued in ’68 as a single. It’s been suggested that this is one of their more Detroit sounding sides on Brunswick. Possibly, I often find myself comparing it to “I love you madly” by The Fantastic Four, which was recorded around the same time at United Sound. The pacier flip “Lonely old world” was written by Tarleton and both sides were included on the accompanying LP “The Articulate Artistics”. Two fine tracks on the LP written by Chi-Lite Eugene Record are the sublime mid-pacer “Ain’t that the way it goes” and the Motownesque “That’s what my lady says”.
Finally, another piece of sophisticated xover, “(I want you to) Make my life over”, was written by group member Larry Johnson and his brother Donald, produced by Willie Henderson, arranged by Pate, issued at the tail end of ’70 as a single and in ’71 became the title track of their fourth Brunswick LP.
This is another northern classic from the Windy City. The lead singer, and composer, was John Lee McKinney who used different names. He was a teacher and set up his own music workshop after his relatively short recording career.
“I’ll keep holding on” is a decent piece of mid-paced group harmony. It was written by McKinney, produced by a team called Webb-McCord, arranged by Chicago-Chess stalwart Richard Evans, and issued in the early 1960’s as Lee McKinney & the Magnetics. Black stock copies were issued on Webb-McCord’s label Sable, white demos on Product of Webb. It was issued more recently in the UK on Grapevine 2000 45/Grapevine CD.
The next 45 is a superb northern double-sider. “When I’m with my baby” is a solid dancer with tight drum and brass, lots of cool “woos” and catchy melody. It was written by McKinney and issued c. ’67 as Magnetics on Sable. The flip “Count the days” is a lesser-played but steady mid-tempo number, written by group members. Both sides were produced by Webb-McCord and arranged by Evans.
Webb-McCord, of whom I know little, produced another northern side “I can’t let you go” by The Soulful Twins, issued on Sable. The Soulful Twins are Billy & Betty Miller, whose mid-paced gem, “Talking bout you baby”, was issued in ’68 as Billy & Betty on Chicago label Sag Port.
“Wasting time” is a slightly Impressions styled mid-pacer, with the occasional distraction of a pouring wine sound, issued c. 69 as The Magnetics on J-V c/w a delightful doo-wop style ballad “Oh love”. Both sides were written by McKinney and produced by Chicago veteran Calvin Carter.
In the early 70’s the group (or possibly just McKinney) recorded a version of “The look on your face”, which is a popular crossover number by several artists. It was written by Floyd Smith (as co-writer on other versions) produced by McKinney & Smith and issued belatedly, as The Magnetics feat. Johnny McKinney, on Grapevine 2000. Three versions use all or part of the same backing track; James Phelps on Apache, Nate Evans & Buss (also as Nate Evans & Mean Green) on DPR and, as “Your loves got me”, by Satin on Shell. Two other versions with different backing are; “The look on your face” by John Edwards on Bell, and “Your love has got me” by Johnny Dollar backed by the Sound Masters on Fised. “Our love” by Loleatta Holloway, produced by hubby Floyd Smith, is in my 50 Bubbling Under.
Finally, McKinney cut a more intense number “Mama take care of your baby”, co-produced/written by him, recorded at Key Charisma in Milwaukee, backed by the Key Free Singers and issued as Johnny Lemac in ’72 on Brewtown.
These Magnetics should not be confused with similarly named groups on: Allrite, Bonnie (Detroit); Ra-Sel (Philadelphia); Sound Trip (Richmond, Va).
This is a number, relatively popular with crossover fans, from the Bay Area (possibly San Francisco itself). Danny Williams appears to have made just two singles.
“Let me love you now“ is a nice piece of rare groove issued c. ’77 on Musical Energy c/w a more up-tempo xover number “A brand new love affair.”
The next 45 “All those lies” is a little more sophisticated, with a funkier vibe, and it’s one of my xover favourites. It was issued around the same time on Musical Energy. These sides were written, produced and arranged by Williams. The flip is a solid slice of funk. I’ve seen some criticism of his ‘mediocre’ vocal delivery. I don’t quite share this view, but any lack of vocal intensity is well compensated for with the soulful piano and guitar arrangements.
There seems to be no other releases on Musical Energy so I presume it was his own label, making him the complete auteur, for two 45s at least. I don’t know if this is the same Danny Williams who produced/co-wrote a funk-disco single by Zenith issued in ’84 on California Gold.
This Danny Williams should not be confused with the British based pop artist whose “Whose little girl are you” on Deram was played out during the 70’s.
I dare say that Otis Clay is best known for his original version of the 1980’s disco anthem “The only way is up” (an international hit for Yazz) but I’m focussing on more soulful fare from the mid 60’s to early 70’s.
His first recording venture as a solo artist was in the Windy City which produced a number of quality sides on One-derful! – one of a trio of labels which had its own studio. Many of the numbers on these labels had an earthy southern feel which Clay accentuated with his tough vocal style. “I paid the price” was no exception – it was written by Clay with staffer Jimmy Jones and issued in ’65. The flip “Tired of falling in (and out of) love” is a killer ballad written by Jones. Both sides were produced by Jones and arranged by Larry Nestor.
The next three One-derful! numbers were issued also in the UK on President. The mid-paced ballad “I’m satisfied” was written by Maurice Dollison, produced by Jones & Dollison and issued in ’66 in the US, ’67 in the UK. Another deep soul side, “That’s how it is (when you’re in love)”, was written by Dollison with Monk Higgins, produced/arranged by Chicago stalwart Eddie Silvers and issued in ’67. A later version was included in ’72 on his first Hi LP. His best side on One-derful! was another deep number “A lasting love”, written, produced & arranged by Silvers and issued in ’67 US/’68 UK. Higgins arranged and co-wrote “I’m not responsible” by Alex Brown, which is in my Top 20. Silvers produced, arranged and co-wrote “Don’t hurt the one you love” by Willie Parker, which is in my 50 Bubbling Under.
Staying in the Windy City and a popular crossover ballad “You hurt me for the last time”, courtesy of two Chicago veterans – it was written by Karl Tarleton, produced/arranged by Willie Henderson, issued in ’69 on Dakar in the US and Atlantic in the UK. Shortly after this Clay became one of several artists who flew south from the Great Lakes in the late 60’s/early 70’s, along with the likes of Carl Carlton, Al Green, Jackey Beavers and Syl Johnson. After several numbers recorded in various locations, and issued on Cotillion, he teamed up with the legendary Willie Mitchell. The following tracks were produced by Mitchell at his Royal studio in Memphis and issued on Hi (UK issues were on London).
First up is the mid-paced “Home is where the heart is”, which is one of scores of numbers produced by Mitchell with strings, and no less soulful for it. It was written by Memphis stalwart Bettye Crutcher and issued in ’72. The flip “Brand new thing” is a tad pacier with no strings attached, and was co-written by Hi’s Don Bryant. His next single “Precious precious” is another mid-pacer, written by Dave Crawford & Jackie Moore and issued in ’72. Jackie Moore’s original hit was issued in ’70 on Atlantic. “Trying to live my life without you” is one of his more up-tempo and, consequently, most popular sides – it was co-written by Memphis legend George Jackson (uncredited) and issued in ’72 as a single in the US and UK. These sides, except “Brand new thing”, were included on his first LP “Trying to Live My Life Without You”, which was issued on both sides of the pond. LP only tracks include the ballad “You can’t keep running from my love” co-written by Bryant, and my favourite track “Holding on to a dying love” co-written by Jackson.
My top choice is a delightful, mid-paced, and much under-rated xover gem. “You did something to me” was written by Clay with Mitchell and another Hi staffer, Earl Randle. It was issued in ’74 in the US and UK c/w the deep ballad “It was jealousy”, which was covered by labelmate Ann Peebles. Another Randle/Mitchell collaboration is the utterly sublime “I’m gonna tear your playhouse down” by Ann Peebles. Mitchell produced “Thanks for nothing” by Na Allen which is in my Top 50, and “Little things” by Phillip Mitchell which is in my Top 100.
Although their most popular sides among Motown-northern fans come from the mid 1960’s, most of the Temptations’ top sellers came later. For once though, my favourite precedes the late 60’s crossover period. All my choices were recorded at Hitsville, with occasional input at Golden World. Contemporaneous releases in the US were issued on Gordy, UK releases (except one) on Tamla-Motown.
I’ll start with three numbers recorded in ’63 and led by Paul Williams. “I want a love I can see” is a semi-Latin foot-tapper, written/produced by Smokey Robinson, issued as a single, included on the LP “Meet the Temptations”, but didn’t get issued as a 45 in the UK until ’67. The more pacy “Give it up” was written by Sylvester Potts & Mary Wells, produced by Potts and kept under wraps until included on a CD version of the “Gettin’ Ready” album. “Witchcraft (for your love)” is a popular beat ballad written/produced by Bob Hamilton & Mickey Stevenson and was also unissued, until included on the CD “Emperors of Soul”.
In ’64 David Ruffin joined the group and sang lead on many of their best and biggest hits in the mid 60’s. Few were bigger than the mid-paced ballad “My girl”, written/produced by Miracles Smokey Robinson & Ronnie White, recorded in November ’64, issued as a single and included on the LP “The Temptations Sing Smokey”. In the UK the 45 was issued on Stateside, LP on Tamla-Motown. It provided a major hit in the UK for Otis Redding, the tune was ‘borrowed’ heavily for “Nothing but you” by The Chessmen.
Next up are another three led by Ruffin and recorded in ’65. Their original version of “It’s growing” was produced/co-written by Smokey, included on the LP ‘Sing Smokey” and issued on subsequent 45s. “Since I lost my baby” and “My baby” were produced/co-written by Smokey, issued on singles and included on “The Temptin’ Temptations” LP. A brilliant up-tempo number, “That’ll be the day”, was produced/co-written by Stevenson with Henry Cosby and unissued until included on their ‘Lost & Found’ series CD “You’ve Got to Earn It”. Recorded also in ’65 was “Don’t look back”, led by Williams, produced/co-written by Smokey, issued on 45s and included on the ‘Temptin’ LP.
Into ’66, and another of their big hits was the solid “Ain’t to proud to beg”, produced/co-written by Norman Whitfield, issued as singles and included on the LP “Gettin’ Ready”. It was led by Ruffin, as was the original version of “What am I gonna do without you”, which was another one found on the “You’ve Got to Earn It” CD.
My top choice is the superb northern number “(Loneliness made me realize) It’s you that I need”. It was written by Whitfield with Eddie Holland, recorded in January ’67 led by Ruffin, produced by Whitfield, included on the LP “With a Lot o’ Soul” and subsequent 45s. Earlier versions, by Holland and Jimmy Ruffin, were kept in the vaults until unearthed on CDs. Those vaults have been much raided in recent years. “Since I don’t have you” was produced/co-written by Dennis Lussier, recorded at Mowest & Hitsville, led by David Ruffin and Included on the digital comp “Motown Unreleased 1967”.
My last one led by Ruffin is the sophisticated mid-tempo number “I could never love another (after loving you)”, co- written by Whitfield and Barrett Strong, recorded in ’68, produced by Whitfield, issued as singles and included on the LP “Wish it Would Rain”. Ruffin was replaced by Dennis Edwards who took lead on “Why did she have to leave me (why did she have to go)”, written by Whitfield and Strong, recorded in’68, produced by Whitfield, issued as 45s and included on their best album “Cloud Nine”. The LP included a couple of excellent tracks led by Paul Williams “Don’t let him take your love from me” written by Whitfield and Strong, and “Hey girl” written by Brill Building partnership Gerry Goffin & Carole King. “I didn’t have to (but I did)” by Dennis Edwards is in my Top 100.
Finally, my second favourite by them is the sublime mid-paced crossover side “Running away (ain’t gonna help you)”, written by Whitfield and Strong, recorded in ’69 led by Williams, produced by Whitfield, issued on singles and included on the LP “Puzzle People”.
Candi Staton will forever be heralded as the maker of one of the best disco anthems, but crossover and southern soul fans cherish deeper material.
I believe her first recording session, as a solo artist, was the northern double “Now you’ve got the upper hand” c/w “You can stop me”, c. 1967-68. It was issued in ’70 on Birmingham label Unity, after chart success with Fame. ‘Upper hand’ was a big sound in my early days, and possibly one of the numerous pressings I once owned. Sometime in the 70’s, Candi reportedly denied that this was actually her – perhaps a brief episode of selective memory syndrome.
Focussing on my own choices from her recordings at Fame, I’ll start with a sublime crossover ballad. “Too hurt to cry” was written by George Jackson & Raymond Moore, recorded in ‘70, arranged by Jimmie Haskell, produced by Rick Hall, included on her LP “Stand by Your Man” and issued later as a single. The LP featured noted musicians including Clayton Ivey and her hubby Clarence Carter. Bobby Lacour cut a version of “Too hurt to cry”, issued in ’71 on Hep’ Me. “This is my chance” by Art Gentry, written by Jackson & Moore, is in my Top 100. They wrote several fine tunes for George Jackson himself (see entry for Art Gentry).
Her cover version of Bobby Taylor’s “Blackmail” is a sophisticated piece of funky xover, written by Pam Sawyer and Gloria Jones, produced by Hall and included in ’72 on her eponymous LP. The musicians on this one featured future labelmate George Soule. “Blackmail” was included also on United Artists LP “Black Flash”, which was issued in Europe but not the UK. Other personal choices recorded at Fame are three tracks which remained in the vaults until included on the Kent CD “Evidence: The Complete Fame Records Masters.”. Candi’s version of Ann Peebles’ ballad, “Trouble, heartaches and sadness”, was recorded in ’71. My second favourite track by her is another xover ballad “I’ll be here”, written by Soule and recorded in August ’73, recorded at the same session was “Are you just building me up”, written by Candi with Jackson.
Candi signed up with Warner Bros. in ’74 and, initially, stayed with Rick Hall. “Your opening night” is a country tinged xover number, co-written by Jackson, produced by Hall at his Fame studio, included in ’74 on the LP “Candi” and issued subsequently as a 45.
It’s fair to say that most rare soul fans have an issue with ‘disco’. That said, some disco numbers are tolerated more than others. In ’76 she teamed up with Dave Crawford at Sound City studio in Los Angeles and cut “Young hearts run free” which, dare I suggest, is one of the more tolerated ones.
Ray Lewis made four singles, probably all in the Big Apple, which attract much interest from deep soul and crossover fans.
“Give my love a try” is one half of a deep soul double-sider. It was written by Lewis with brothers Richard & Robert Poindexter, produced and arranged by New York veterans Johnny Brantley and Bert Keyes respectively, and issued in 1966 on Philly label Fairmount. It was covered by Linda Jones and reminds me of “I’ll be sweeter tomorrow (than I was today)” by The O’Jays (and others) which was co-written by the Poindexters.
His next single pairs another self-penned deep number “I still love you”, with the raucous “Sorry, you’ve got the wrong number”, issued c. ‘67/68 on Smash. Both sides were produced by Brantley and arranged by East Coast maestro Richard Tee.
Next up is a superb xover double-sider. From the fanfare opening “Sitting at home with my baby (tight’n our love up)” has a catchy uptown feel. It was written by Lewis with Rogelio Straughn and issued in ’69 on both D’ar (orange label) and D’Or (black) with the same cat nọ. D’ar was distributed through All Platinum in New Jersey but the credits lean heavily towards NY. The flip is a sweet soul gem. “Too sweet to be lonely” was co-written by the Poindexters. Both sides were produced by Lewis with the Poindexters and arranged/mixed by NYC stalwarts Trevor Lawrence and Eddie Youngblood respectively. Lewis and Straughn wrote another sweet soul gem “Your love comes slower than never” by The Enchanted Five on CVS (issued later as The Ultimates on a P-Vine LP).
I know of only two other releases on D’ar, both by The Internationals. The second of these pairs their version of “Too sweet to be lonely” with an excellent mid-paced shuffler “Beautiful philosophy”. All their sides were co-written by the Poindexters. The original version of ‘Too sweet’ was “You’re too sweet” by The O’Jays, issued on their Bell LP recorded in NYC. Another track on this LP “Just another guy” is in my 50 Bubbling Under.
Lewis’s last 45 is another double helping of xover. The catchy mid-tempo “Cool love” was issued in ’71 on Atco c/w the funky psych-soul “Sugar toe”. Once again both sides were written by the Poindexters, with Jackie Members (who co-wrote “Beautiful philosophy”) produced by Lewis with the Poindexters and arranged by Richard Poindexter.
Lewis co-wrote several songs recorded by other artists, as well as The Enchanted Five. “Love gonna pack up (and walk out)” was issued by both The Persuaders on Win or Lose and Sly, Slick & Wicked on Bad Boys (different group from the one on People).
E.J. & the Echoes recorded several much sought-after singles including this lo-fi piece of mid-tempo, recorded in the Motor City.
Their first recordings were as a four-member ‘blue-eyed’ group led by E.J. Current (E.J. Gronda). The mid-paced doo-wop style “Say you’re mine” was written by the group, recorded at Forest Green’s studio in Clio, produced by Green and issued c. 1965 on his C&W label Ranger. After this Manuel B. Holcolm joined them as lead singer and keyboard player. He was their only Afro-American member, both he and Current were members of their university wrestling team (no wonder they managed to get their own credits on their records).
They went on to cut five singles for one of Detroit’s independent producers, ‘Diamond Jim’ Riley who had his own office, studio and small group of labels. The following three sides were issued on Diamond Jim. “Never ever leave me” is a mid-paced ballad, written by the group, produced by Joey Kingfish with Funk Brother Eli Fountain and issued in ’67.
My favourite is the sublime “Put a smile on your face”. Another mid-pacer from ‘67, it’s much appreciated by lovers of Detroit mid-tempo and crossover alike. It was written by Current with an S. Harris, of whom I know nothing. Production is credited to Current & Harris but it was probably produced, uncredited, by Kingfish. It was arranged by an M. Davis who may well be Detroit stalwart Melvin Davis whose “I must love you” is in my Top 100. The flip “People say” is more of a blue-eyed rocker. A more recent version of “Put a smile on my face” was made by retro group Durand Jones & the Indications, issued on Colemine.
“If you just love me” is another piece of smooth Motor City mid-tempo, produced/co-written by Riley, arranged by John Perry and issued in ’68.
Personal choices issued on Riley’s labels include: “Don’t leave me” by The Tempos issued in ’66 on Riley’s; “Lonely one” by The Tempos issued in ’66 on Riley’s, also by The Steptones issued in ’68 on Diamond Jim, which was co-written by Detroit veteran Johnnie Mae Matthews – both versions use the same backing track as “I can’t get used to sharing you” by The Platters and “I’ll never forget” by The Tempos issued in ’68 on Diamond Jim, which uses the same backing track as “She’s my beauty queen” by Joe Matthews. Most, if not all, of these sides were produced by Riley and arranged by Perry. Some will have been recorded at other studios before Riley set up his own (e.g. Tempos at Golden World).
E.J. & the Echoes should not be confused with the group And the Echoes on Pulse and Soultrain (Baltimore).
From one piece of Detroit mid-tempo magic to another. Back in the late 1980’s I chanced upon two compilation LPs, called Detroit Gold 1&2, on US label Solid Smoke. The titles grabbed my attention immediately. I knew stuff by The Capitols, Deon Jackson, Jimmy (Soul) Clark and, of course, Popcorn Wylie. I don’t mind admitting, however, that back then I knew nothing about artists like The Compacts or Belita Woods, and very little about Jimmy Delphs. The notes were by the legendary producer himself, Ollie McLaughlin. At the time I had loads of original 60’s LPs but these ‘re-issue’ comps were two of the most treasured in my possession.
Delphs cut five singles produced by McLaughlin and issued on his labels. The first one is a superb piece of mid-tempo recorded during the Detroit riots of 1967. “Almost” was written by ‘Prince’ Harold Thomas & Leroy Mason, issued in ’67 on Carla, re-issued in ’68 on Karen (and on Italian Atlantic). Both labels were named after McLaughlin’s daughters. It was covered by Betty LaVette, using the same backing track, and issued in ’68 on Karen. The flip to the Carla 45 was more of a solid dancer, Delph’s version of “I’ve been fooled before”. It was co-written by Sherman Nesbary. These sides were arranged by Detroit veteran Dale Warren. Nesbary cut the original mid-paced version of “I’ve been fooled before”, under the name of Verble Domino, and issued in ’66 on Chicago label Toi. The most popular number by Delphs in the UK is the relatively poor “Dancing a hole in the world”, issued on Carla (once covered up as Tony Hester) which was recorded also by Chicago group The Esquires.
In ’67 and ‘68 Delphs cut three numbers which were recorded at United Sound, backed by the Funk Brothers, but remained hidden in the vaults until issued recently in the UK on Hayley singles. “Where there is love” is a version of Sharon McMahan’s mid-tempo classic. Unfortunately, her own sublime version remains unissued, but acetates have been played occasionally since Stafford in the 80’s. The others are “Our last goodbye” and “The flip side”. All these, including Sharon’s, were produced by McLaughlin and arranged by the ubiquitous Mike Terry.
“Don’t sign the paper baby (I want you back)” is a bit funkier than the previous cuts. It was written by veteran Detroit partners Popcorn Wylie & Tony Hester, arranged by Terry, issued in ’68 on Karen, and Italian Atlantic, c/w “Almost”. It was included on Italian Atlantic LP “Gli Idoli del Rhythm and Blues N°2”. “Feels like summer’s coming on” brings the pace down a tad, written by Wylie & Hester, produced by Wylie and issued later in ’68 on Karen. His last 45 on Karen was the mid to up-tempo crossover number “Am I losing you”, produced by McLaughlin, arranged by Terry and issued in ’70. Another version by The Volumes, using the same backing track, was issued on Karen shortly after (the flip “Ain’t gonna give you up” is in my Top 100).
Finally, two more xover numbers on Detroit labels recorded several years apart. “Country girl” is an up-lifter written by another Motor City stalwart Ronnie Shannon, produced by Detroit veterans Mike Theodore & Dennis Coffey and issued in ’72 on Eastbound. His last 45 has gradually gained appreciation. “Do you know what I mean” is a tender ballad, written by Duane Freeman & George Mallory, co-produced by Freeman and arranged by Freeman with Paul Riser. It was issued in ’77 on two labels Mano and D.S.S.I. with the same cat nọ and almost identical print setting.
Even though this number is languishing in my Bubbling Under list, Barbara Lynn (singer, composer and guitarist) is probably my top female artist. Unless stated otherwise the recordings featured here were self-penned and produced by Huey P. Meaux.
Barbara Lynn recorded numerous sides in the early to mid-1960’s, which were a mixture of southern flavoured ballads and r&b. The superb deep soul number “You’ll lose a good thing” was recorded at Cosimo studio in New Orleans, issued in ’62 on Philly label Jamie and became the title track of her first LP. Her mid-paced version of “You left the water running“, written by Muscle Shoals maestros Rick Hall & Dan Penn, was issued in ’66 on Meaux’s label Tribe in the US, and on London in the UK.
In ’67 Barbara began a five-year stint with Atlantic. The next five titles were included in ’68 on her second LP “Here is Barbara Lynn” which was arranged by Bob McRee, Cliff Thomas & Edward Thomas, recorded at their Grits & Gravy studio in Clinton on the outskirts of Jackson, and mixed by McRee. Her first single on Atlantic was the highly soulful mid-paced ballad “This is the thanks I get”, issued in ’67.
My favourite track on the LP is the mid-tempo gem “You’re losing me”, with Barbara playing guitar over simple arrangement. It was issued in ’68 as a single and became a popular spin at the Catacombs in Wolverhampton. The flip “Why can’t you love me” is a cool ballad written by McRee, Thomas & Thomas. Two more tracks written by the trio are popular on the northern scene “Sure is worth it” and “Take your love and run”. The latter was recorded in December ’67 and issued as a single in ’71 on another of Meaux’s labels Jet Stream in the US, and Atlantic in the US/UK. For many years it was her most popular side in the UK. McRee, Thomas & Thomas wrote several good soul sides (see my entry for Tommy Tate).
The next four featured sides were recorded at Meaux’s Sugar Hill studio in Houston (formerly known as Gold Star). “Nice & easy” has a tight slightly funky arrangement, so typical of Texas soul sides of the period. It was issued in ’71 on Atlantic, later on Jet Stream and picked up some dancefloor interest in the late ‘noughties’. “(Daddy Hotstuff) You’re too hot to hold”, issued in ’72, is a solid funky dancer, with perhaps a slight nod to Jean Knight’s “Mr. Big Stuff”. An under-rated dancer is the up to mid-tempo crossover number “It ain’t no good to be too good” which, at the beginning of ’73, was to be her last single on Atlantic.
Another side which emphasises the change in tastes on the northern scene is the up-tempo ‘modern’ number “Moovin’ on a groove”. It was issued in ’76 on Jet Stream and has become her biggest sound thanks largely to the ‘across the board’ policy of weekenders since the 80’s.
Finally, another classy modern number is Barbara’s version of “Trying to love two”, written by William Bell and Paul Mitchell, produced by Gary B. B. Coleman at Sound Lab in Atlanta, included in ’88 on her Ichiban LP “You Don’t Have to Go” and subsequent 45. It’s the more popular version in the UK thanks to regular spins since the 90’s. Bell’s original was issued in ’76 on a Mercury single, included on his LP “Coming Back for More”, and became a Carolina Beach sound.
This is a superb double-sider from the Big Apple, which is both popular and rare in equal measure. Bobby Kline was a group member, composer and made one 45 as a solo artist – and legendary arranger Horace Ott cites it as one of his “all-time favourites”.
As I understand it, Kline hailed from Orange, NJ and was the lead singer of doo-wop group The Melo Gents – he co-wrote their number “Baby be mine” issued in 1959 on Warner Bros. He wrote also “The stars” by another NJ group Ocapello’s, released in ’66 on both General and Checker (and re-issued on Collectables). The original flip “Anytime” is a decent piece of harmonic northern. A picture and line-up of the Melo Gents (and Ocapello’s) are featured on the excellent Doo-Wop Blog. More recently “The stars” was covered by retro harmony group 2Smooth.
From the gentle flute opening “Say something nice to me” continues as a splendid piece of mid-tempo magic, and is the most popular side. It was written by Winfield Scott (who wrote also “Return to sender” for Elvis) and issued c. 1967 on bandleader Walt Levinsky’s New York label MB, whose parent co. (MBA) had its own studio. The flip “Taking care of business” is another steady mid-pacer written by Scott with his prolific writing partner Otis Blackwell. Both sides were produced by Scott & Levinsky with Steve Cagan and arranged by Ott. Although Ott has been quoted as saying the 45 was issued in ’70, it was reviewed in Cash Box in August ’67. It’s a good example of how tastes have changed over the decades. I’m unsure when or where ‘Say something nice’ was spun first, but its popularity and price tag shot up after taking off in the 90’s.
Levinsky & Cagan produced also an enjoyable piece of pop-psych “Have you seen her” by Stephen Hartley, issued on MB. As far as I can make out, Kline’s 45 is the only soul one on the label, which seems to have been aimed at the pop market.
The ‘Wicked’ Pickett needs no introduction thanks to a string of international hits like “In the midnight hour” and “Mustang Sally”, and is now immortalised thanks to Alan Parker’s adaptation of Roddy Doyle’s “The Commitments” (1991). As with Aretha, I’ll be taking a slightly alternative look at some of his recordings from the mid 1960’s to the mid 70’s.
After being a member of Detroit group The Falcons, and making a small handful of records in the Motor City, Wilson Pickett signed up with Atlantic. Whilst there he made numerous singles and LPs made up, predominantly, of southern r&b and deep soul numbers. “Take a little love” is a steady, self-penned, mid-tempo number, produced/arranged by New York stalwarts Bert Berns & Teacho Wilshire respectively, issued in ’65 as a 45 and included on the LP “In the Midnight Hour”. On the flip to the ‘midnight hour’ single, issued later in ’65, was “I’m not tired”. This mid-pacer, with a laid-back arrangement, was written by Pickett with Steve Cropper, recorded at Stax in Memphis, produced by Cropper, included on the ‘Midnight Hour’ LP and issued in the UK on Atlantic.
The follow-up hit “634-5789 (Soulsville U.S.A.)” is another classic with simple southern arrangement, written by Cropper with another Stax legend Eddie Floyd, recorded at Stax, produced by Cropper, issued in ’66 on US/UK 45s and included on the LP “The Exciting Wilson Pickett”. My favourite number from the Atlantic years is Pickett’s version of “I’m in love”. This tender mid-paced ballad is popular with both southern and crossover fans. It was written by Bobby Womack, recorded at American Sound studios in Memphis, co-produced by Tom Dowd, issued in ’67 on US/UK singles, and became the title track of his fifth Atlantic LP.
A new decade but a delightful throw-back number “Woman likes to hear that”. It was written by southern legend George Jackson, recorded at Fame in Muscle Shoals, produced by Dowd and included in ’70 on the LP “Right On”. Backing vocals come from the Sweet Inspirations (including Cissy Houston & Judy Clay) which may have been added at Atlantic in NYC. My last choice from Atlantic is Pickett’s version of “Don’t let the green grass fool you”, which has the most sophisticated arrangement so far. It was written by members of Silent Majority, produced by Philly legends Gamble & Huff and included in ’70 on the LP “In Philadelphia” (one of the least Philly sounding LPs from the City of Brotherly Love) and issued on subsequent singles. Back in Shoals, Pickett cut two versions of “Can’t stop a man in love” at Muscle Shoals Sound, wtitten by Terry Woodford & George Soule. The one I prefer was recorded in ’72 but kept in the vaults until included on Rhino CD “Atlantic Unearthed: Soul Brothers”. Reuben Howell’s version is in my Top 100.
Pickett teamed up with writers/producers Brad Shapiro and Dave Crawford in Nashville. “I keep walking straight ahead” is another mid-paced xover track, written by the trio, produced by Shapiro & Crawford and included in ’73 on the LP “Mr. Magic Man”, issued on RCA Victor. “Two women and a wife” is an up-tempo xover number, written/produced by Pickett with Shapiro, recorded at RCA, Nashville, issued later in ‘73 on RCA Victor 45s and included on the LP “Miz Lena’s Boy”. Up to this point all LPs referred to here were issued in the UK.
My top fav is a sublime mid-tempo piece of xover. “How will I ever know” is a soulful, undulating number with sympathetic orchestration and female backing, complete with several of Pickett’s signature screams of anguish. It was written by Pickett & Shapiro with Albhy Galuten, produced by Shapiro, issued in ’75 as a single on Wicked which was, curiously, registered in New Jersey but distributed by T.K. in Miami. The ‘A’ side flip “The best part of a man” is much more funky. They were included in ’76 on the LP “Chocolate Mountain”, which was recorded at the Sound Shops in Nashville and arranged by Pickett & Shapiro with Mike Lewis. Finally, another track on the LP, “That woman”, is a fine Womack style ballad written by prolific composers Bryan Blackburn and Donnie Fritts. Lewis arranged the string section, as he did on Reuben Howell’s version of “You can’t stop a man in love”.
Needless to say, Wilson Pickett should never be confused with Willie Pickett on Eastern and Soul Pot.
Ah yes, this is what it’s all about, obscure artist, minor label, modest production, and it’s a crossover killer! I believe the artist’s name is Reggie Smith, as Reggie Soul he cut three singles in the Windy City. All labels referred to were based in Chicago.
“My world of ecstasy” is a sophisticated piece of xover, with a cool woodwind arrangement and catchy female backed title line. It was written by Reggie with Charles Scott, produced by a company called “Lush for Music”, arranged ahead of its time by John Jackson & Bill McFosland and issued in 1968 as Reggie Soul & the Soul Swingers on Capri. The flip “Might good loving” is a 100mph stomper.
Sounding rather dated in comparison to ‘ecstacy’, but nevertheless quite soulful, is “I feel so bad”. This mid-pacer was written, produced & arranged by Chicago stalwarts Lee Sain, Clarence Johnson & Johnny Cameron respectively, and issued in ’70 on Red Balloon. His other 45 is a funk double issued on Nation Time with Reggie Soul on one side and Reggie Smith on the other.
The Capri label had approximately a dozen releases with a mixture of blues, deep soul, funk and xover. The mid-tempo “I’m a lonely man” by Cam Cameron, was written by Howard & Walter Scott (brothers of Charles) and issued in ’68 c/w the pacier self-penned “They say”, both sides were arranged by Johnny Cameron and co-produced by Howard Scott. Taking the pace down is the tender ballad “Don’t leave me (I was wrong)”, by Fred Johnson, written by Howard & Walter Scott with Ira Gates, produced & arranged by Jackson & McFosland and issued in ’68 (on associate label Shi-Lush). “Everybody push and pull” by Judson Moore is well funkier, it was written by Moore and issued in ’70. Another ballad by Fred Johnson is “Full time dream”, backed by the Scott Bros. Orch., produced by Howard Scott, arranged by McFosland and issued in ’72.
Another number produced by “Lush for Music” (the Scott Brothers?) is “My baby confuses me” by “Little” Nolan & the Soul Brothers (Nolan Struck). It was written by Struck with the Scotts & Ira Gates and issued in ’67 on Ty-Do.
The Scott brothers made records themselves under various names including; The Five Masquerades/Masquerades, The Scott Brothers and Brothers Scott & Comp.
Barbara Mason is best known for her major hit “Yes, I’m ready” but few realise that she was a very competent composer, writing much of her own material. Her delicate voice and crisp diction lent themselves to ballads, so it’s unsurprising that many of her recordings were of that variety. All of the songs featured here were made in the City of Brotherly Love.
The first three of Barbara’s numbers referred to here were recorded at Virtue studios. She had already begun composing as a child and her first recording, age 17, is a self-penned beat ballad which belied her youth. “Trouble child” was produced (uncredited) by Philly veterans Wendell McDougal & Jimmy Bishop, with vocal backing from the Tiffanys, issued in 1964 on local label Crusader, re-issued in ’65 on its subsidiary Charger, and included on her first Arctic LP “Yes I’m Ready”.
Barbara was the most prolific artist on Bishop’s Arctic label, which all northern fans know well thanks to top sounds from The Volcanos, The Temptones and Kenny Gamble. Among the northern sides made by Barbara is “Bobby, is my baby”, written by Bishop and issued in ’66 which has the same backing as “(Put a dime on) D-9” by The Rotations (feat. Richard Parker). This punchy sax infused track was laid down in Detroit with the vocals, on both recordings, added at Virtue. The following Arctic sides were self-penned. “Ain’t got nobody” is a mid to up-tempo number and the first to be picked up on the northern scene – it was written with Bernard Broomer and issued in ’67. Broomer wrote songs for several other artists including Wilson Pickett, Jerry Butler and Honey & the Bees.
In ’68 Arctic began using Sigma Sound studio for most of its recordings. Her first crossover tune was the sweet ballad “Half a love”, written with Bishop’s wife Louise and issued in ’68. Her next single was the slightly pacier “Don’t ever go away”, written with Philly maestro Norman Harris. In the past I’d have said that ‘got nobody’ was her most popular number among rare soul fans, but I’m pretty sure it’s been overtaken by my favourite. “You better stop it” was her most sophisticated side up to that point. From the haunting intro it leads into a complex mid-tempo xover stunner, and it’s worth remembering that at this stage she was still only 22. Produced by Bishop and issued in ’69, it was to be her last 45 on Arctic. The flip “happy girl” is another of her sweet ballads. Not all of her Arctic releases had production credits, but some do credit Dynodynamics, i.e. Wendell McDougal, Luther Randolph and Johnny Stiles. They ran the Harthon label and produced “I can’t break the habit” by Lee Garrett, arranged by Randolph, which is included in my 50 Bubbling Under.
New decade, new label. After the demise of Arctic Babs stuck with Jimmy Bishop and cut four singles and an LP on National General. Another xover ballad, “If you knew him like I do”, was written/produced by Bishop, recorded at Sigma Sound, arranged by Philly maestro Thom Bell, issued in ’70 as a single and became the title track of the LP. Another tune written by Bishop is the mid-tempo “When you look at me”, issued in ’70 c/w the ballad “I should be leaving you“, written by Babs. Both sides were produced by Bishop and arranged by Philly stalwarts Bobby Martin & Norman Harris. After this she signed up with Buddah and worked with Bishop, Harris and Curtis Mayfield.
Among the numbers Barbara wrote for other artists is the sweet funk “Ain’t got the love of one girl (on my mind)” by The Ambassadors, issued in ’69 on Arctic as a 45 and included on their LP “Soul Summit” which was recorded at 919 Sound.
Although I’ve been somewhat of a Detroit soul fan for many years, there is one operator in the Motor City whose contribution I had underestimated. That is one Doctor William Kyle who, in one way or another, was involved with three of the entries in my chart. This one is another crossover double from the Motor City.
As far as I know, June Taylor only made one single and it’s an obscure xover gem. “Pick up the pieces” starts with a spoken intro and leads into a sublime mid-paced example of mellow-groove – it was issued c. 1970 on Kyle’s Detroit label Music Now. The flip “Jealous heart” is a much funkier and up-tempo mover. Both sides were written by the label’s chief composer Emanuel Taylor (no relation), recorded at Kyle’s Detroit Sound studio, produced by Emanuel Taylor with studio engineer Brian Spears and arranged by Kyle, whose sons played instruments on some of the recordings.
Kyle was a genuine GP and his studio/office was situated above his clinic. He ran three labels including Music Now. Another superb mid-pace/up-tempo xover double was by a youthful Neil Reed. “Not as beautiful as you” was produced by Deno Bennett c/w the infectious “Gonna find a way (to get you back)”, produced by Bennett & Spears. Both sides were written by Emanuel Taylor and arranged by Kyle. My other favourite on the label is the cool mid-pacer “Just the way (I want her to be)” by Emanuel Laskey, written by Taylor and arranged by Taylor with Kyle.
Another of Kyle’s labels was De•To from which “(I can) Deal with that” by Dee Edwards is in my Top 50, and “Sitting in my class” & “Isn’t she a pretty girl” by Ronnie McNeir is in my 50 Bubbling Under.
This is a highly sought-after northern gem, from the City of Brotherly Love, by a group that seems to have made just one record.
The Imperial C’s were a six-piece group that were called the Imperial Challengers. “Someone tell her” is an up-tempo piece of group harmony written by one of its members, Marvin Jordan. It was recorded on 10 October 1967 at 919 Sound in Philadelphia, produced by their manager Earl Marable, and issued later that year on Phil–L.A. of Soul with the shortened group name. Another version, with piano accompaniment and recorded earlier, remained unissued until included on the Jamie/Guyden CD “The Northern Side of Philly Soul”. I’ve yet to hear the 45 flip which was the official ‘A’ side.
By far the most popular number recorded at 919 Sound is “Girl across the street” by Moses Smith, issued in ’68 on Dionn.
The only other item produced by Marable that I’m aware of is a pop-psych 45 by The Natural Gas which leaked out in ’69 on Philly label Renee.
Despite the Philly connections, Freddie & Marvin Jordan of the Imperial C’s are not related to blue-eyed rockers The Jordan Brothers on Jamie.
Beyond the strange world of northern soul Lee Garrett is known as either the co-writer of some major Motown numbers, or the singer of a decent top ten hit in the UK. Within that strange world he is renowned for an enduring northern nugget from the City of Brotherly Love.
Garrett, who was born blind, cut several singles in the 60’s with varying styles. Beat ballad fans will enjoy “I need somebody”, issued in ’65 on Pittsburgh label World Artists. Apart from a couple of early funk numbers the only other 45 of interest to rare soul fans is his Harthon classic.
“I can’t break the habit” is a catchy uptown mover and one of my top sounds from my earliest days on the scene. According to some sources it was ad-libbed even though the rhymes, piano arrangement, hook line and vocal backing seem way too smart and coherent. It was written by Garrett, recorded at Virtue, arranged by Luther Randolph, produced by the Harthon production team and issued in ’67 on their local label. It used the same backing track as “Deeper than that” by The Preludes, which was written by Philly veterans James Solomon & Eddie Holman and issued earlier on Harthon. Garrett’s self-penned flip “Baby please don’t go” is a more soulful ballad than ‘need somebody’.
The Harthon production team of Randolph, Wendell McDougal & Johnny Stiles produced also some of Barbara Mason’s Arctic sides, using their alter ego Dynodynamics. Of the numerous numbers recorded by Holman my favourite is the mid-tempo “Stay mine for Heaven sake” (sic) written by him with Solomon, produced by the Harthon team, arranged by Randolph and issued in ’66 on Philly label Parkway.
Garrett found greater success as a composer, he co-wrote two major Motown hits with Stevie Wonder and Syreeta Wright; “Signed, sealed delivered I’m yours” by Wonder and the crossover classic “It’s a shame” by The Spinners. He had a hit of his own with “You’re my everything”, issued in ‘76 on Chrysalis, which was one of the better chart-bound soul numbers of that period.
Ron Kenoly made several soulful records under different names including this delightful piece of mellow groove from the City of Angels.
His first single is a northern double arranged by Los Angeles veteran James Carmichael – the happy-go-lucky “The glory of your love” c/w a soulful rendition of a Jimmy Webb song “Moving on”, issued in 1970 on Audio Arts! I much prefer the mid-paced shuffler “You’re still blowing my mind”, written/produced by Kenoly and issued in ’71 on associated label Audio Forty. The flip is another Webb song “Take it easy”, a treat for beat ballad fans.
Next up is a sublime piece of mellow crossover, spun at Blackpool Mecca in the 70’s and seen a recent revival. “Lovely weekend” has a cool sax intro and leads into a soulful duet with a meandering pace. It was written by Kenoly with Art Woods, recorded in ’72 at Clark Brown Audio studio in L.A., arranged by Woods, produced by George Semper and issued as Ron & Candy on Semper’s Hollywood label Inner City. The flip is a less wonderful slice of psych-funk (this contrast reflects the mix of styles found elsewhere on the label). It sold close to 200,000 copies, which may explain its relatively low list price of around £15 to £20. I’ve yet to discover who Candy was, I doubt if she was his Puerto Rican wife Tavita (see last para re. Ron & Candy Perry).
A decent sweet soul double by Hands of Time was issued on Inner City. This single emanates from Chicago, both sides were written/produced by Leroy Hutson, one of which is a cover of a song by Nolan Chance. It may well be a different label with the same name.
Kenoly cut a couple of sexy soul singles in the mid 70’s on A&M. The best of these sides is the mid-tempo “Can’t live without you (sticks and stones)”, written by UK’s pop-soul maestro Biddu, and issued in ’75 as Ron Keith & Ladys (sic). The original version was made by The Jesters and issued in ’73 on UK label Jam. After this Kenoly became a pastor and made devotional recordings.
To add to the confusion over Candy’s identity, in 2017 a pleasant spiritual soul album was released by Ron, Candy & Perry Generations. This is a family group consisting of “Mom, Dad Ron and Vermelle Perry (Candy) and their four adult children Roman, Candy, Keisha and Ronald”. One of Kenoly’s albums was backed by Phil and Carol Perry. Comparing photos of Ron Kenoly and Ron Perry they seem to be different men despite the coincidences of names and music genre.
Brenda Lee Jones made numerous records, under different names and formations, encompassing the full spectrum of r&b and soul styles.
Her greatest success was as one half of popular duet Dean & Jean (with Welton Young). They made several singles in the early r&b, ‘birth of soul’ mode including the beat ballad “In my way”, written by Chip Taylor and issued in 1964 on New York label Rust. Their next 45 was “Lovingly yours”, which was covered by Timothy Wilson. Among the hundreds of songs written by Taylor is Justine Washington’s “I can’t wait until I see my baby’s face” (see the entry for Aretha Franklin for some other versions).
As Brenda Lee Jones she cut the northern mid-pacer “You’re the love of my life”, written/produced by Doug Morris & Eliot Greenberg and issued in ’66 on Rust. Greenberg was a part owner of parent label Laurie and wrote “Sweet talking guy” for The Chiffons.
An identical sounding artist called Jean Lee wrote and sung a tender ballad “Unwed mother”, which was issued c. ‘69/70 on Chicago label Cedric. It seems to be the original version of Brenda’s crossover gem. A long-time friend of Brenda’s says it’s a different artist, which seems unlikely.
“Big mistake” has a long laid-back piano intro, other instruments emerge gradually and then Brenda builds a highly sophisticated blend of soul, complete with a Jeff Beck style guitar break. This superb self-penned piece of mellow funk, is a tribute to her adopted son (a variation on “Unwed mother”), produced by Herb Abramson at A-1 Sound in the Big Apple, and issued in ’74 as Brenda Jones on Mercury. The flip is a groovy funk number. Later that year she cut another fine ballad “I am the other woman”, written & co-arranged by Robert Wilson, produced by Abramson and issued as Brenda Jones & Coconut Love on Mercury. Abramson produced notable r&b hits by Tommy Tucker including “Hi-heel sneakers” and “Long Tall Shorty”. Jean & Dean sang backing vocals on “Hi-heel sneakers”.
Although both artists recorded in New York, Brenda Jones on Mercury should not be confused with Brenda Jones on S.S.I. (see the entry for Linda Jones).
Barbara Hall cut this modern soul gem on a short lived but much-admired label from the Windy City (see her profile on John Ridley’s site Sir Shambling’s Deep Soul Heaven).
After a brief spell in a duet with her sister Sandra, called The Soul Sisters, Barbara cut three singles in the late 1960’s on Atlanta label Tuska, which include a mid-paced r&b number “Lookin’ for my baby”, and the self-penned ballad “Broken hearted”.
It seems that her next recording venture was with Chicago label InnoVation II run by Carl Davis and E. Rodney Jones. “Can I count on you” is a delightful piece of crossover just under mid-tempo. It was co-produced by Windy City legends Otis Leavill & Major Lance, arranged by Tom Washington and issued in ’74.
“You brought it on yourself” is more orientated towards the dancefloor. In truth, this Blackpool Mecca spin is the closest entry in my chart to what resolute traditionalists might associate with that dreaded term ‘disco’, but it’s way too sophisticated and soulful to be dismissed as such. It was written by Sam Dees, produced by Leavill & Lance, arranged by Archie Jordan, issued in ’75 on InnoVation II in the US, and on EMI in the UK. The flip “Drop my heart off at the door”, is described by John Ridley as “one of the best deep soul cuts” of the 70’s. Lloyd Price made a version of “You brought it on yourself”, which was included in ’76 on the LP “Music-Music” issued on his labels LPG and TSG. Archie Jordan arranged and co-wrote one of my own favourite 70’s ballads, the Aretha styled “How could you run away” by Louise Freeman, issued on Shout in the US and London in the UK.
The InnerVision II/InnoVation II label was short lived (roughly two years) but produced some much sought-after sweet soul sides from the likes of The Quadraphonics, The Lost Family and Wales Wallace. One of my choices is the mid-paced shuffler “Hey it’s over” by Windy City, produced/arranged by Chicago veterans Willie Henderson & James Mack respectively, and issued in ’74 on both InnerVision II and Warner Bros. with the same cat nọ.
In the UK Sam Dees is best known for his co-penned killer “Lonely for you baby”, issued in ’68 on SSS International. As a composer he had huge success with the likes of Anita Ward. Songs for other artists include: “I’ve got to come in” by Jean Battle/” Let me in” by Eboney Essence; “Whatever I am, I’m yours” by Bill Brandon; “Beggars can’t be choosey” by Eula Cooper; “Can I hold you to it” by Lorraine Johnson and “Run to me” by Sidney Joe Qualls (Dees’ own version was kept in the can until included on Kent CD “Second to None”).
Ike Noble and The Up Tights cut a few numbers appreciated highly by deep and northern soul fans alike.
“it’s bad” by Ike Noble is an Otis Redding inspired mid-paced southern ballad, produced by Joe Lee and issued in 1967 on Lee’s Jonesboro label Alley.
His next release was as a member of The Up Tights. “Look a little higher” is another deep mid-pacer, complete with Memphis Horns style backing. It was issued in ’69 on Alley c/w “Just a dream” in similar vein. Both sides were written by Noble and produced by Lee. “Just a dream” is the second of two versions, the first was issued as “It’s just a dream” by The Up-Tights on Solid Beat.
The group cut some other numbers which remained unreleased until issued recently in the UK on Soul 7, including an excellent piece of southern fried soul titled “How long must I wait for you”, written and produced by Noble and Lee respectively.
Noble cut several decent crossover/modern sides on various labels including: “We got to hold on to ourselves” written by John McGaughy, co-produced by Noble, arranged by John & Eugene McGaughy and issued in ’76 on Toledo label Smoke; “One way street” as Ike Noble Means of Persuasion, issued on Detroit label Sound Patterns (issued also as Means of Persuasion in ’77 on another Detroit label C&J ); and “Your love” written by Noble & the McGaughys with Howard Collins, arranged by Collins and issued in ’78 as Ike Noble on Toledo label Chanson (a later version was issued on Connowil LP/45, also from Toledo).
The Up Tights on Alley should not be confused with female group The Up Tights on Mala & Columbia (New York) or male group The Uptites on Ra-Sel (Philadelphia).
Although relatively unknown to the wider world, even among musos, Jean Wells is adored by rare soul fans, especially on this side of the pond. Her strident gospel trained voice was used well on all styles of r&b/soul, and she is a competent composer.
Her first three 45s were cut in the City of Brotherly Love including the beat ballad “Don’t come running to me”, issued in 1965 on ABC-Paramount, which was covered also by Madeline Bell and Cissy Houston. In ’66 she teamed up with the prolific Clyde Otis and his Argon Productions, after one single on New York label Eastern Otis signed her with another NYC label Calla.
Most of her Calla recordings are distinctly southern in flavour with a mixture of deep, r&b and country. I’m confused, however, as to where they were recorded. The notes to the Kent CD “Soul on Soul” said that most of her Calla releases were cut in the Big Apple, including Bell Sound. Two of the studio engineers listed on her Calla LP were NYC based, Malcolm Addey (A&R studios) and Eddie Youngblood (various NYC studios inc. Bell Sound). When these tracks were included on a BBE comp, and selectively on new 45s, Philly veterans Ron Baker, Earl Young & Norman Harris were added to the production credits as part of Argon. For now, I’ll go with the later info (BBE) and presume they were produced at Sigma Sound in Philly (by Otis, Baker, Young & Harris) but mastered in NYC.
Northern fans are served well with four sides including “I feel good” “With my love and what you’ve got” (both issued in ’67) “Can’t you feel it” (’68) and the one I prefer most “The best thing for you baby”. It was co-written by Bert DeCoteaux and issued in ’68. The original was made by Gloria Parker and issued in ’66 on Rochester label Samar, as the flip to the brilliant “I’m headed in the right direction”, both sides were produced/arranged by DeCoteaux.
My top number by Jean is the self-penned “What have I got to lose”. Rhythmically, this mid to up-tempo crossover gem was her most sophisticated track. It was arranged by DeCoteaux with David Spinozza, included in ’68 on her LP “World, Here Comes Jean Wells”, and subsequent single. The 45 flip “Broomstick horse cowboy”, is a self-penned country ballad. The LP was issued also in the UK on Sonet. Jean recorded three numbers written by her with Otis, c.67/68, which remained in the can until included on BBE’s Deluxe version of the “Soul on Soul” comp, including the utterly simple ballad “I want to live”.
Jean cut more numbers in Philly between ’69 and ’72. Of these my favourite is the self-penned country tinged mid-pacer “I couldn’t love you more than I do now”, recorded at Sigma, produced by Baker, Young & Harris and issued in ’69 on local label Volare.
Jean co-wrote the northern monster “You didn’t say a word” by Yvonne Baker, recorded also by Patti Austin.
Clyde Otis wrote two popular northern numbers: “Head and shoulders” by both Patti Young and Marlina Mars (written with DeCoteaux) and “What’s a matter baby” by both L.J. Reynolds & Chocolate Syrup and The Love Foundation, which have the same backing track as both “Rock me till I want no more” and “Look at me” by Phil Lowman. There was another vocal track, with that backing, which I used to have on a tape. I think it was played at Wigan in the late 70’s, but I don’t remember who it was, so I’ll refer to it simply as ‘got the notion’ by Unknown Male Artist. Otis co-wrote the xover/modern number “Don’t you worry baby the best is yet to come” by Bessie Banks.
Bert DeCoteaux co-wrote both Gloria Parker sides, he also arranged several numbers of interest to northern and/or xover fans including: “Can’t lose my head” by George Blackwell; “Let’s play house” by Tony Drake; “I can’t get along without you” by Maxine Brown; “Tomorrow keeps shining on me” by Chris Bartley and “All these changes” by Milt Matthews.
As far as I’m aware Charles Buddy Smith made only one single and it’s one of the most sought-after pieces of vinyl from the Motor City.
The utterly sublime mid-paced ballad, “When you lose the one you love”, is also one of the most loved. The lead vocal, backing vocals, percussion and brass are all laid back and beautiful. It was written by Detroiter Tony Clarke, recorded c. 1966 and issued as Buddy Smith on Detroit label Brute. I’m not sure when this first surfaced in the UK, it was a Stafford spin in the 80’s but took off big time in the 90’s. Smith gives a more earnest delivery on the flip “You get what you deserve”, which sounds similar to some of Clarke’s Chess sides. Both sides were produced by Clarke “under supervision” of Solid Hitbound duo Don Davis & LeBaron Taylor, and arranged by Chicagoan McKinley Jackson.
Brute was a short-lived venture, run by Clarke and bought by him from Davis and Taylor. The only other 45 issued on the label was the mid-tempo uptown number “Baby, baby, baby (you’re my heart’s desire)” by Tokays. It was written by Clarke and has the same credits as Buddy Smith.
Tony Clarke is best known in the UK for the northern monster “Landslide”. Other self-penned sides of his, which I prefer, include: “The entertainer”, “Joyce Elaine” and “You’re a star” issued in ’65 on Chess; “You made me a V.I.P. (very important person)” issued in ’66 on Chess and “(They call me) A wrong man”, issued in ’68 on M-S, with a tune partly the same as “Wade in the water” (trad.). He also wrote and co-produced another massive Detroit sound “Just like you did me” by Yvonne Vernee, issued on SonBert (see list included on Soulful Detroit thread).
McKinley Jackson arranged numerous good soul sides. “(Please) Take a chance on me” by The Arabians is in my Top 100. For others see the entry for Louis Curry.
I doubt very much that this Buddy Smith is linked to the 50’s artist on Hanover, Bell and Ridgecrest. A Buddy Smith produced the second version of “Where is that rainbow” by Dee Dee Warwick which is in my Top 50, but I’m unsure if it’s the same guy. Contrary to what I once read, Buddy Smith was not half of Detroit duo Chico & Buddy, that Buddy was William Farrow.
The O’Jays are best known as one of the three major groups on Gamble & Huff’s Philadelphia International label, along with The Three Degrees and Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. To soul fans they are one of the most prolific acts with an extensive discography, ranging from doo-wop to disco, across three decades. My focus is on the period 1965 to 71, before their international stardom.
The following singles were issued on Imperial. The first side of interest to northern fans was their version of Allen Toussaint’s “Lipstick traces (on a cigarette)”, issued in ‘65 as a single and included on their LP “Comin’ Through”. In the UK it was issued on Liberty and became a 60’s mod sound. It was included also on US/UK Sunset LP “Full of Soul”. I prefer the mid-pacer “I’ll never let you go”, which is the earliest of my choices to feature Eddie Levert’s distinctive lead vocal. It was written by Edwin Starr, LeBaron Taylor & Don Mancha and issued later in ’65. The flip “It won’t hurt” is a tad more mellow, written by Lori Burton & Pam Sawyer, both sides were produced in Detroit by Taylor (under his Solid Hitbound arm). “It won’t hurt” was included on the “Full of Soul” LP. The original of ‘Lipstick traces’ was by Benny Spellman on associated label Minit. Other smooth versions of “It won’t hurt” were by The Gentlemen Four on Wand, and Bogen Richard on Birth.
One of their most popular northern numbers is the pacier “I’ll never forget you”, which keeps us in the Motor City – it was written by the Pied-Piper team of Jack Ashford & Mike Terry, produced by Taylor and issued in ’66. A later version by The Metros was a Pied-Piper production and included on their RCA Victor LP “Sweetest One”. The next 45, “No time for you”, is another smooth dancer, written by The Commands’ Dan Henderson & Sam Peoples, produced by Ed Wright with Levert’s cousin Larry Hancock, arranged by Pied-Piper’s Herbie Williams and issued in ’66. The Commands were from San Antonio and their own version was issued earlier in ’66 on Dynamic, later on Back Beat, both were Texan labels. Another version was made by Pittsburgh blue-eyed group The Jaggers (better known as The Jaggerz) which surfaced on an acetate cut in Cleveland.
In ’67 the group signed over to Minit with one single and an LP. On the flip to the frantic “Working on your case” is the delightful mid-pacer “Hold on”. It was co-written by group member Bobby Massey, produced by their manager Ed Wright, arranged by Williams and included on the “Full of Soul” LP. It was included also on UK Minit LP “The Big One”. Another popular version is by white group The Generation, issued in ’68 on North Carolina label Mockingbird. All these sides, except “I’ll never let you go”, were included on their US LP “Soul Sounds”. There is much speculation about where some of their Imperial/Minit numbers were recorded, so I’ll move on to surer ground.
My favourite spell of O’Jays music is the one in the Big Apple working with East Coast maestros George Kerr & Richard Tee. The following were produced/arranged by Kerr/Tee and issued on Bell. “I dig your act” was co-written by Richard & Robert Poindexter, issued in ’67 as a single on Bell in the US, and Stateside in the UK. It’s the group’s only entry in Kev Robert’s “Northern Soul Top 500” and may still be their most popular number on the scene, but it has its rivals. The smooth “Look over your shoulder” was written by Kerr with New Jersey veteran Larry Roberts, and issued in ’68 as a 45 in the US and UK. It was recorded originally by The Implements, issued in ’67 on Philips, and covered by The Escorts issued in ’73 on Alithia. The flip on the O’Jays 45 is another northern hit “I’m so glad I found you”, which was covered by Linda Jones & Whatnauts.
These sides were included in ’68 on the LP “Back on Top” which was recorded at Broadway Studios. The set was marred by ludicrous over-dubbed applause which, thankfully, was removed on the Sundazed CD “I’ll Be Sweeter Tomorrow”. The subtle “Now that I found you” was written by O’Jay Walter Williams and issued also in ’68 as a single. The LP includes both my top sound and a sweet soul favourite. “Just another guy” is a mid-tempo gem, written by Kerr (as a Motown staffer) with Luke Gross & Jerry Harris. The first version by The Spinners was unissued until included on Kent CD “Truly Yours”. The O’jays was the first to be released, decent covers were by Timothy Wilson on Buddah and Stage IV on Millie. “You’re too sweet” was co-written by the Poindexters. Two covers titled “Too sweet to be lonely“ were by Ray Lewis and The Internationals, both issued on D’ar. The LP was mixed by Pat Jacques who produced “I don’t know about you” by The Constellations which is in my Top 50. “If only (we had met sooner) by Linda Jones, which was written by Kerr & Harris, produced by Kerr, arranged by Tee and mixed by Jacques, is in my 50 Bubbling Under – as is the flip to the Ray Lewis 45.
A much under-rated dancer is “The Choice”, omitted from the Bell LP but issued as a 45 in the US/UK – it did get included on UK LP “Bell’s Cellar of Soul ‘88”. Another omitted dancer recorded at these sessions, “Be my girl”, was included in ’74 on Stang LP “The O’Jays Meet The Moments”. A fine number similar to ‘another guy’ is “Sure would be nice”, which was unissued until included on the Sundazed CD.
Their next venture was their first in the City of Brotherly Love with Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff. The following were produced by Gamble & Huff, arranged by either Thom Bell or Bobby Martin, recorded at Sigma Sound and issued on G&H label Neptune. Three numbers written by G&H include; another under-rated dancer “Branded bad” issued in ’69, crossover tunes “I’ve got the groove” and “I should be your lover”, both issued in ’70. These were included on the LP “In Philadelphia”, as was “It’s too strong” written by Levert with fellow O’Jay Walter Williams. Another G&H song omitted from the LP is the ballad “There’s someone (waiting back home)” which was issued in ’69 as a single.
It was another two years before they teamed up again with G&H, but before that they had a complicated series of xover releases, produced by Massey with Los Angeles legend H.B. Barnum and assembled on the LP ”Super Bad”, which was recorded between Music Record Inc in L.A. and Motion Picture Sound in Cleveland. The tender “LaDeDa (means I’m out to get you)” was written by members Massey & Williams with Bobby Dukes, produced by Massey & Williams and issued in ’71 on Cleveland label Saru. “Crossroads of life” co-written by Levert “Just to be with you” by Massey & Dukes “Little brother” co-written by Williams “Now he’s home” co-written by Massey & Dukes and ‘LaDeDa’ were on the LP, issued in ’71 on labels Little Star and Trip. “Just to be with you” was issued as a 45 on Little Star. Better known versions by Elements and Bobby Dukes were issued in ’71 on Saru. “Now he’s home” was issued on Little Star and Trip singles. To add further confusion the LP was re-issued in ’75 on DJM and Power Exchange in the UK with a different title “Peace”.
My introduction to Reggie Soul & the Soul Swingers reads “Ah yes, this is what it’s all about, obscure artist, minor label, modest production, and it’s a crossover killer!”. Ditto for this one from Virginia and, as far as I’m aware, not available officially on any LP or CD.
I have virtually no info on Kelly & Soul Explosions. The group made two singles and one of them has been one of my xover favourites since I first heard it, which was about 5 years ago. “Talking about my baby’s love” starts with a cool brass and spoken intro and launches into a sophisticated piece of light funk with group harmonies. It was written by the group, produced by labelmate Willie “Flip Flop” Stephen, and issued c. 1971 on Norfolk label Dynamite. The flip sounds looser and more of a funk jam session.
The other 45 is a bit of a mystery. I’ve not heard either side of the single by Pat Bryan (with) Kelly & the Soul Explosions, recorded at Brockington & Guess in Norfolk and issued on Portsmouth, Va label Talent. I’ve found no other releases on this label. The studio was opened by Dorsey Brockington & Lenis Guess in ’70, so it’s possible that the Dynamite single was recorded there. Lenis Guess is well known to northern fans for his stomper “Just ask me” issued on another Norfolk label Legrand.
The only other sides on Dynamite I’ve heard are frantic funk numbers by Flip Flop Stevens & the Psychedelic Soul Orchestra, the label was probably run by Mr. Flip Flop. He made a similar 45 on Shiptown, which is Norfolk’s most recognised label to xover fans thanks to several numbers by Barbara Stant, some of which were recorded at Brockington & Guess.
I doubt that Kelly & Soul Explosions have anything to do with Johnny Ross & the Soul Explosions on Chirrup and La-Cindy, or Willie Henderson & the Soul Explosions on Brunswick (both Chicago).
This is one of the most popular sounds discovered this century, adored by traditional northern and crossover fans alike.
The Paramount Four were from Gallatin which is where their only contemporaneous single was made. “I’ve made up my mind” is an Impressions style ballad c/w a northern dancer “You don’t know (till it happens to you)”. Both sides were written/produced by Harold Gilbert & Bobby Brinkley, recorded c. late 1967, led by Cat Turner, backed by The Fantastic Dukes and issued in ’68 on local label Southern City. Shortly after this Turner left the group.
Two more numbers were discovered more recently. The group teamed up with Nashville stalwart Bob Holmes in ’70 at Sound Shops Studio. “Sorry ain’t the word” is a mid-paced gem with undulating pace, sweet lead vocal by Caldwell Jenkins and harmonic backing. It remained in the vaults until issued on the 31st 100 Club Anniversary single on Kent 6T’s, followed by a Kent Select 45, and included on the CD “Best of Kent Northern 1982-2012”. At the same session Caldwell sang lead on the ballad “You must leave her because you love her”, which was also unissued until included on Kent CD “Deep Shadows”, followed by a Kent Deep Soul single. I’ve no idea if there are any plans to update the Northern Soul Top 500, I wonder if ‘Sorry’ would manage to creep in.
Bob Holmes was a key figure on the Nashville soul scene, often collaborating with Ted Jarrett, on sides issued on local labels including A-Bet, Excello and Ref·o·Ree. The artists for whom Holmes wrote, produced or arranged include; The Hytones, The Avons, Peggy Gaines, Freddie Waters, Eddie Frierson and Gene Allison. “You never had it so good” by Frierson is one of my favourite deep soul numbers.
In 1967 the Pied-Piper team produced two highly collectible LPs in Detroit which were issued on New York label Kapp. The first was “A Dab of Soul” by Freddy Butler, with several fine tracks including mid-tempo nuggets “That’s when I need you” and “You’d better get hip girl”.
The next was “Soul Superman” by The Hesitations which includes my top track by them. The LP was produced by Pied-Piper team Jack Ashford, Lorraine Chandler & Joe Hunter, and arranged by Mike Terry. According to the liner notes accompanying the CD version, on Goldmine subsidiary X-Clusive, the set was recorded at Tera Shirma in Detroit. Ray Monette, who wrote one track and was one of the musicians used, recalls sessions at United Sound. It’s likely that both studios were used.
A few singles were issued on Kapp with the sides being included also on the LP. Their most popular side is probably the poppy stomper “I’m not built that way”, issued in ’66. The next single included the sophisticated “Wait a minute”, which builds gradually into a mid-paced gem. George ‘King’ Scott delivers an earnest performance over uncluttered backing and female harmonies. It was written by Scott with Ashford, Chandler & Hunter. The flip “Soul kind of love” is an average foot-tapper but still managed to be the plug side. My top up-tempo track by them is “I’ll be right there”, written by Monette with Fred Baker of The Dynamics, and issued on the next single c/w the superb mid-tempo “She won’t come back”, written by Ashford & Chandler. The backing track of the latter was used on “Tell me you’re mine” by The Four Sonics-Plus One, written by Ashford & Terry, whilst the tune was used initially for Lorraine Chandler’s version. “I’ll be right there”/ “She won’t come back” was issued as a single on Spanish label Vergara, and were included on a French Kapp EP.
A fine LP only track is the mid-paced ballad “I believe to my soul”, written by Ashford with Bobbie Croft, which has the unmistakable stamp of Motor City soul. Another great tune written by Ashford & Croft is “Easy living” by Steve Mancha, which has been mis-credited as both Hollidays and J.J. Barnes.
The following numbers were recorded on the East Coast. A decent beat ballad “Love is everywhere” was written by Ray Lewis, Richard Poindexter & Robert Poindexter, produced for GWP by New York stalwarts Teacho Wiltshire & Larry Banks, arranged by Wiltshire, issued in ’67 as a single and included on their next LP “The New Born Free”. This LP was issued in the UK on London. A cover version by The O’Jays was included in ’68 on their Bell LP “Back on Top”. “Sitting at home with my baby” by Ray Lewis, co-written by Lewis and produced by Lewis with the Poindexter brothers, is in my 50 Bubbling Under.
Next up is an enjoyable piece of mid-paced crossover. “Is this the way to treat a girl (you bet it is)” was their most heavily orchestrated number. It was written by Wesaline Hopson, co-produced by her hubby George Kerr and issued in ’69 on GWP. A rather saccharine reversal titled “Is this the way to treat a guy you bet it is” was made by Soft Touch and issued in ’73 on Shout. Finally, another couple of GWP recordings from c. ’69 which remained hidden in the vaults until unearthed by our archaeologists at Kent. “Go away” is probably my second favourite, this mid-tempo gem was written by Eddie Jones & Arthur Mitchell and issued on a 100 Club Anniversary single. “Gotta find a way” is another superb ballad, written by Raymond Dahrouge & Billy Terrell and included on the CD “GWP NYC • TCB”.
I know it seems obvious, but these Hesitations should not be confused with Dorothy & the Hesitations on Philly label Jamie.
Willie Newsome made several records in the Windy City, covering a range of styles, much sought-after by northern and rare soul fans including this classic oldie (see Dave Moore’s excellent article “The Willie Parker Story” on the Soul Source website).
His first 45 was a Sam Cooke styled number “Lookin’ in from the outside”, issued as Little Willie Parker (&) Lorenzo Smith, written by him with Smith, produced by Harry Glenn at Chess studio, and issued in 1964 on Glenn’s Indiana label Mar-Vel. Willie took the name of Parker from his stage manager.
He made four singles, as Willie Parker, on M-Pac! which was one of a trio of associated Chicago labels (along with Mar-V-Lus and One-derful!) which had its own One-Der-Ful studio. The second of these 45s, “Don’t hurt the one you love”, was one of my favourite sounds from a tape, back in the 70’s, and has enjoyed some revival spins. This classy uptown dancer, sung with great confidence, was written by Chicago stalwart Eddie Silvers with Frank Williams, produced/arranged by Silvers and issued in ’67. The flip “Salute to lovers” is a tad pacier. Next up was a rather frantic “I live the life I love”, co-produced by Silvers which was issued also in the UK on President. His last 45 on M-Pac! takes the tempo right down with his version of “The town I live in”, co-written by McKinley Mitchell, produced & arranged by Silvers and issued in ’68 c/w “Don’t hurt the one you love”. Mitchell’s own version of “The town I live in” has more raw energy and, in ’62, was the first single issued on One-derful!.
Willie went on to make a number of releases as Frankie Newsome (his father’s name). “Taunting love” is a mid-paced shuffler, written by Zono Sago and issued in ’68 on U.S.A. “You’re gonna need me” is a deep soul number he wrote with Sago – it was co-arranged by Sago and issued in ’71 on Savern, which seems to be one of Sago’s labels. It was backed by labelmates the Mod Singers (a.k.a. Mod Swingers) – who backed Little Sherman (Sherman Nesbary/Verble Domino) on his superb crossover dancer “The price of love” issued on Sagport, another label co-owned by Sago. An uplifting ‘modern’ number by Newsome is “We’re on our way Part I”, written & produced by Johnny Moore and issued in ’74 on Warner Bros. “Such a wonderful feeling” by Johnny Moore is in my Top 100.
Eddie Silvers is another prolific figure in Chicago soul. Among those written, produced or arranged by him are: “He’s got nerve” by Truetones; “Mr. Shy” by Billy McGregor; “You left me” and “Wait til I get to know you” by The Admirations; “That’s how it is (when you’re in love)” and “A lasting love” by Otis Clay; “Behave yourself” by Miss Madeline; “Come alive” by Chuck Ray; “One day girl” by Harold Curington; “Let’s get the show on the road” by Sheryl Swope (printed also as Sherl Swote); “Looking for a love (of my own)” by The Classics; “You can’t help but fall in love” by The Contributors of Soul; “Broken promises” by Essence and “Can’t let you go” by Bill Perry – all class sounds.
Chubby Checker is world famous thanks largely to dance hits like “The Twist” and “Let’s Twist again”, promoted on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand show. As the 1960’s progressed he moved from shameless dance novelties to soul, and made a small handful of sides treasured on the northern scene. The following were recorded at Cameo-Parkway studio in the City of Brotherly Love, issued in the US on Philly label Parkway and in the UK on Cameo-Parkway.
For me, the northern period starts with the steady mover “The weekend’s here”, co-written by Philly veteran Thom Bell and issued in 1964. The first of his northern dancers that I heard was “(At the) Discotheque”. It was written & produced by The Strangeloves trio of Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein & Richard Gottehrer and issued in ’65, some US copies printed as “(Do the) Discotheque”. Its pulsating rhythm changes and brass arrangement found favour at clubs throughout the UK and, over the years, it’s become his second most popular sound on the scene. Another popular side is his original version of “Everything’s wrong”. This lightweight shuffler was issued in ’65 and covered by both Diana Newby on Kapp and The Cooperettes on Brunswick.
His biggest sound by far is “You just don’t know (what you do to me)”. From its instantly recognisable opening guitar licks it launches into a solid dancer, with infectious beat and sax break. It was a Conlo Production written by Robert Miller, and issued at the tail end of ’65 as demos only in the US, although stock copies were issued in the UK. It became an established ‘oldie’ from the Golden Torch/Blackpool Mecca era. On several occasions in the mid 70’s, I’d head up to the monthly oldies all-niter at Wigan with £50 in my pocket, which was about three to four weeks wages for me back then. My sole mission was to get hold of a UK demo of ‘You just don’t know’ which, for a while, was more sought after than a US copy. I failed. The mid-paced flip “Two hearts make one love” is another Conlo production written by Barrett Strong.
After this, his output descended into a hotchpotch of pop and novelty stuff until a pleasant crossover number “The rub”, co-written by Checker and issued in ’76 on Amhurst in different formats.
Feldman, Goldstein & Gottehrer wrote “Sorrow” by The McCoys which provided UK hits for The Merseys and David Bowie. They wrote also one of the biggest beat ballads, “The drifter” by Ray Pollard, and the northern hit “Hey girl, do you love me?” by Timothy Wilson. Gottehrer produced the slower version of “Indication” by Eddie & Ernie and another of my northern favourites “Determination” by Dean Parrish, which props up this chart.
Philly northern hits produced by Conlo Production include “Standing in the need of love” by Dee Dee Sharp and “Envy (in my eyes)” by The Orlons, both issued on Cameo.
The Professionals recorded only one song and it’s a piece of all-time Motor City dynamite!
After years of fruitless speculation on my part, I finally learnt who these guys were (thanks to contributors to the Soul Source website). They were Steve Calloway (lead), Fred Anderson & Reggie Swiggle, and recorded “That’s why I love you“ c. 1965, but the single on Detroit label Groove City may have been issued a year or two later. This classic up-tempo oldie was an instant dancefloor hit at Wigan in the late 70’s, but who wrote it is still a puzzle. The label credits Bruce, Jack & Leon, which doesn’t tie in with the members’ forenames. Over the years it’s been credited to the names printed on the label, its producer Don Davis or unknown. An alt. take was issued recently on Record Shack with writing credit going to The Professionals.
The flip “Did my baby call”, credited incorrectly as the group, is actually an alt. take by Steve Mancha. This sublime mid-tempo gem was written by Davis & Mancha. The first version to be released was Mancha in ’65 on Wheelsville U.S.A. Other versions are by: Joey Kingfish, recorded c. ‘66 but unissued until included on Goldmine CD “Thelma’s Detroit Collective”; and The Mad Lads in ’72 on Volt. “He stole the love that was mine” by Mancha is in my 50 Bubbling Under.
Don Davis co-produced “Open the door to your heart” by Darrell Banks which tops my chart. He co-wrote “Call on me baby” by J.J. Barnes which is in my Top 50, and co-wrote/co-produced “I must love you” by Melvin Davis which is in my Top 100.
These Professionals should not be confused with The Professionals (a.k.a. The Hollywood Saxons) on Action Pac (Los Angeles).
Ronnie McNeir made one of the most sought-after northern double-siders, which keeps us in the Motor City. All four of his songs featured here are self-penned. This is also my last look at the work of Doctor William Kyle.
At the age of 17 McNeir made his first record at Kyle’s Detroit Sound studio, and it’s been a top sound, ever since the mid 1970’s, when it took off at Blackpool Mecca and everywhere else. The instantly recognisable classroom ramble of “Sitting in my class“ leads into a steady up-tempo number with irresistible drum beat and sax arrangement. It was issued in ’66 on Kyle’s De•To label c/w another solid dancer “Isn’t she a pretty girl”, which took longer to become established on the scene, but is now a firm favourite. Both sides were produced by Kyle with Floyd Jones and arranged by Jones. There’s another (ligit?) version of “Sitting in my class” by McNeir with bongos which I’ve yet to hear. “(I can) Deal with that” by Dee Edwards, written/produced by Kyle, arranged by her hubby Floyd Jones and issued on De•To, is in my Top 50.
In Los Angeles McNeir made a very competent eponymous LP, in the light disco/sexy soul mode of the period. Probably the best tracks from the LP, issued in ’72 on RCA Victor are “Young girl”, which was issued later on a 45, and “I’m so thankful”. After this McNeir made several popular ‘modern’ numbers on various labels including Setting Sun which he owned. He also found success writing for other artists including Kim Weston, Johnnie Taylor and Bobby Womack.
In 2000 Ronnie became a member of The Four Tops, and even has a street named after him in Pontiac where he was brought up.
To the outside world Loleatta Holloway is known as a disco queen thanks to some Philly/Salsoul productions in the late 1970’s. Prior to that she cut some stunning numbers, ranging from the purest deep soul to disco, and most points in between. All her tracks featured here were recorded at the Sound Pit in Atlanta, produced by her hubby Floyd Smith and, with one notable exception, issued on Atlanta label Aware.
On the flip to the powerful disco number “Mother of shame” is my top track. The beautiful mid-paced ballad “Our love”, has an almost gospel feel with sympathetic female backing and string arrangement. It was written by Marvin Yancy & Chuck Jackson (not the baritone legend on Wand etc.) issued in ’73 as a single, and included on her first LP “Loleatta”, which was arranged by the ubiquitous Mike Terry. The LP includes a superb deep ballad “Part time lover, full time fool”, written by Smith and one of the best versions of the Tyrone Davis hit “Can I change my mind”, other groovy versions are by Ernie King and Joe Johnson.
A popular number on the modern scene is the almost disco “I know where you’re coming from”, issued in ’75. It was written by Sam Dees, produced by Smith and included on her second LP “Cry to Me”. My favourite track from this set is the mid-tempo “I can’t help myself”. Sam Dees’ own version of “I know where you’re coming from” was included on Kent CD “Holding the Losing Hand”.
One of the most stunning vocal performances I’ve ever heard, and the epitome of deep soul, was kept under wraps until included on the Kent CD “The Hotlanta Soul of Loleatta Holloway”. The self-penned “What are you gonna do about tomorrow” features a slightly cool jazz-like backing on piano, lead guitar, and percussion.
Other personal choices issued on Aware include Delia Gartrell’s version of “Beautiful day (keep moving on)” and John Edwards’ version of “Messing up a good thing” – it was included on the LP “John Edwards”, which was recorded at the Sound Pit and produced by Smith (Bobby Womack’s version is in my Top 20). Another fine crossover track on the “John Edwards” LP is “Spread the news”.
One of the best songs written by Floyd Smith has two titles: “The look on your face” and “Your love has got me” (see the entry for Magnetics in my 50 Bubbling Under).
This is one of the northern scene’s most enduring classics from the Windy City, but what I know about the artist can be written on the back of a postage stamp with a thick marker pen.
“Soul self satisfaction” by Earl Jackson is another solid dancer with familiar opening guitar lick, drum beat and female chants, and it maintains a determined beat throughout with tight brass arrangement. It was written by Jackson with Mr. Uptown Johnny Pate, produced & arranged by Pate, and issued in 1968 on ABC. It was picked up in the early 70’s at clubs like Blackpool Mecca and the Golden Torch, and has remained a top sound ever since.
The flip is one of several covers of Gene Pitney’s beat ballad “Looking thru the eyes of love”, which was written by Brill Building’s Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil. Despite Pate’s supervision this sounds way more New York than Chicago, as is often the case for beat ballads.
I call Johnny Pate ‘Mr. Uptown’ because of the massive influence his simple arrangements have had on Chicago soul and its imitators. He is renowned for his work with Curtis Mayfield on The Impressions and several OKeh artists. He co-arranged “Wherever you leadeth me” by The Impressions which is in my Top 10, and arranged “My heart is hurtin’” by Billy Butler & the Chanters which is in my Top 50. Other artists in my chart that he worked with are Major Lance, The Artistics, The Kittens and The Vibrations. He produced or arranged LPs for many artists including The Mighty Marvellows, The O’Kaysions and Jackie Wilson.
In addition Pate worked on many other soul sides including: “A song called soul” and “If you can’t be true (find a part time love)” by Gene Chandler; “Move on down the line” and “There goes a fool” by The Dontells; “You spoiled my reputation” by Tony Middleton; “Not too old to cry” “If you don’t dig the blues”, “Check my tears” and “Thanks for a little lovin’” by The Trends; “With all of my soul” and “Just to be loved by you” by Willie Williams; “I’m loving nothing” by Nolan Chance; “You’re gonna make it” and “Gee baby” by The Festivals and “Wouldn’t you really rather have me?” by Richard Williams.
Despite being an actress and singer the great unwashed are oblivious to the vocal talents of Ella Woods. Ok, if I’m honest, I only knew one recording until researching for this profile. As far as I’m aware, all her titles were recorded in Los Angeles, and this is my final foray into West Coast soul.
The utterly sublime “I need your love” is a mid-paced ballad, with cool guitar, strings and female backing behind Ella’s stunning soprano voice. It was written by Lewis Peters with Messrs. Gilmore & Mance and issued on West Coast label Merging, probably in the early 1970’s. I first heard this in the late 80’s when I bought the LP “The Northern Soul Story 11” on Soul-Supply, having missed out on the earlier LP “His Way with the Girls”. The flip “Love affair” is another ballad with gospel tones and backing. Both sides were produced by Lewis Peters and arranged by Ron Brown. Other releases on the label are a mixture of r&b and funk with no ties to Ella’s 45.
Probably cut later is her self-penned slice of funk “Will I ever be loved”, produced by Joe Hartsfield, arranged by L.A. stalwarts Greg Middleton & Jerry Peters, and issued on Hollywood label Libra III. It could be the only release on the label. There were several Libra labels in L.A. but I doubt if there is any connection. I believe Ella may have cut other 45s” but these are the only two I’ve seen listed.
Jerry Peters co-wrote the northern biggie “(Countdown) here I come” by The Tempos, but I prefer the more soulful xover version by the same group as The Young Hearts. He co-arranged another delightful piece of xover “Check it out” by The Friends of Distinction.
Ella featured in two US films. She sung a gentle ballad “In your arms”, included in the soundtrack to blaxploitation flick “Slaughter” (1972). She had a character role in the horror movie “The House on Skull Mountain” (1974) and sang a slightly more soulful ballad “Love has gently come this morning”.
An Ella Woods provides backing vocal on a dub number called “Coup de gaz” on the album “Hotel Impala” by Belgian artist Baloji, but I’m unsure whether it’s the same dame.
When I was putting this chart together there were a few selections for which I thought I’d have virtually nothing to add to the info on the label. Such was the case with my final visit to the City of Brotherly Love. Fortunately, some comments on You Tube came to my rescue. I’m not entirely sure that either of these sides, on their own, would be in my top 150 but, as a double-sider, I am.
The all-male vocal group started out with lead singer Pat Gordon and four other members. Several staffers attached to Sigma Sound studio would try out numbers on the group before recording them on other artists. They did, however, cut three singles of their own on Philly labels.
The first is the aforementioned double-sider issued in 1968 on “Broadway” Eddie Warhoftig’s tiny label Fast Eddie. The mid-tempo “Just because”, has a tight brass intro, catchy Billy Stewart style arrangement and close harmonising behind Gordon’s tenor lead. Writing credits go to the group. Although it’s the B side It was a hit on local radio WDAS whose DJ, Butterball, also had a 45 on the label. There are no production credits, so I wonder whether Warhoftig or Butterball were involved. A TV clip from ’68 shows Pat with three other members. The flip is a superior up-tempo version of “(All I need is your) Good, good lovin’” written by Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil. The original was The Blossoms.
By the time they made their next single they were down to three members. The sweet soul ballad “Don’t say you love me (unless you really mean it)” was issued in ‘72 on Gamble c/w with the pacier “(They call me) Candy Man”. Both sides were written and produced by Gamble & Huff. “Don’t say you love me” was issued again in ’74 on TSOP.
Needless to say, this group should not be confused with either group called The Blenders on Mar-V-Lus (Chicago) or Le Sage (New York).
Shirley Lawson made two singles in the Motor City, but tasted more success with The Fascinations (as Shirley Walker).
Her first 45 coupled two routine numbers. “So much to me” is the more up-tempo, written by Harry Gates and issued in 1965 on Detroit label Enterprise. The flip “Sad sad day” is marginally better, co-written by Gates & Dale Warren, both sides were arranged by Warren. Gates co-wrote “You’re just plain nice” by Louis Curry which is in my Top 100.
Her next single is far better. The catchy up-tempo “One more chance” has a solid beat, classy brass arrangement and better suits her strident voice. It was written (& possibly produced) by labelmates The Soul Twins (Johnny Griffith & Richard Green) and issued in ’66 on Don Robey’s Back Beat label based in Houston. Robey gets the credits on the flip “The star”, which was included on Dave Godin’s comp LP “Soul from the City” issued on his UK label Soul City. Both sides were issued in the UK on a Soul City 45 which was pulled due to a contract issue.
The Soul Twins are best known in the UK for the northern biggie “Quick change artist”, issued in ’67 on Detroit label Karen. I prefer the flip “Give the man a chance”- both sides were written by the duo. One of my favourite tunes written by them is “I can’t do without you” by Deon Jackson, issued in ’66 on associated label Carla. All these sides were recorded in Detroit.
The Fasinations (sic) were founded in the Motor City but their recordings were under the helm of Curtis Mayfield in Chicago. Their first two singles were on ABC-Paramount including a cover of “Mama didn’t lie”. After a change in spelling to The Fascinations they signed up to one of Mayfield’s own labels. The obvious Motown influenced dancer “Girls are out to get you” was issued in ’66 on Mayfield in the US, and in ’67 on Stateside in the UK. My preference is for the mid-paced “I’m in love” issued in ’67. These sides were written & produced by Mayfield. Another side on the Mayfield label “Who will do your running now” by Marvin Smith, is in my 50 Bubbling Under.
The whole world knows about Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin, but one of the most powerful voices of them all has remained a virtual secret, shared by the soul community, for the best part of half a century. Like Joplin, Linda was taken from us at just 27 years of age. The following tracks by her were produced by East Coast maestro George Kerr, and we start in the Big Apple.
After one single billed as Linda Lane, Linda Jones cut a couple of beat ballads. “I’m taking back my love” was written by Kerr with Jerry Harris, recorded in October 1964 and issued on Atco. This was followed by her first version of “Fugitive from love”, written by Kerr & Harris, arranged by New York stalwart Robert Banks and issued in ’66 on Blue Cat. The flip “You hit me like T.N.T.” was her earliest northern dancer. Her second version of “Fugitive from love” was recorded in August ’67, but not released until the tail end of ’72. It was produced by Kerr & Harris, arranged by Kerr’s perennial partner Richard Tee, included on her Turbo LP “Let it Be Me” and subsequent 45.
Things started to look up for Linda when she signed up with WB subsidiary Loma. The sweet ballad “Hypnotized” was recorded in April ’67, issued as a single (her highest chart hit) and became the title track of her only LP on Loma. It was issued on a UK Warner Bros. 45. She cut a later version, included on “Let it Be Me”. Another cool ballad “Give my love a try” was written by Richard Poindexter, Robert Poindexter & Ray Lewis, recorded in June ’67, included on the Loma LP, and subsequent single. Ray Lewis and Lou Dargan also cut versions.
The “Hypnotized” LP was arranged by Tee and mixed by Pat Jacques. Another track on the LP is my top sound, the first version of the mid-paced crossover number “If only (we had met sooner)”. It was written by Kerr & Harris and recorded in August ’67. Another decent version was recorded later in Englewood and included on the “Let it Be Me” LP. Jacques was based at Broadway Studio, he produced “I don’t know about you” by The Constellations which is in my Top 50. He mixed “Just another guy” by The O’Jays which was recorded at Broadway, produced/arranged by Kerr & Tee and is in my 50 Bubbling Under.
Next up are her two biggest northern numbers. “My heart needs a break” packs a solid punch both vocally and musically. It was written by Sammy Turner, recorded early in ’68, arranged by Banks and issued as a single on Loma. Banks arranged also a funkier version by Brenda Jones, issued in ’70 on NYC label S.S.I. (a different artist from the one on Mercury). Turner’s own version was unissued until included on Goldmine CD “Detroit Soul – From the Vaults Vol. 1”. After Loma folded Linda signed over to its parent Warner Bros. Her most popular sound in the UK is the fully orchestrated dancer “I just can’t live my life (without you babe)”. It was written by Kerr, arranged by Tee, recorded at Broadway studio in March ’69, issued a month later on Warner Bros.-Seven Arts and, following huge spins, issued in the UK in ’75. The flip “My heart (will understand)” is a bitter-sweet xover ballad.
Kerr produced some songs with Linda independently, which he leased to Philly label Neptune, the best of which is another xover ballad “That’s when I’ll stop loving you”. It was written by Vernon Harrell, arranged by Tee and issued in October ’69. Kerr & Tee produced/arranged “Let your heart be your guide” by Al Jones which is in my Top 50.
Linda’s final recordings were made at Sylvia Robinson’s Soul Sound studios in Englewood, and issued on her labels Turbo and Stang. My favourite track from this period is the mid-paced cover of “Behold”, included in ’72 on the Turbo LP “Your Precious Love”. It was originally by Jamaican duo The Blues Busters and written by them (Lloyd Campbell & Phillip James). Shortly after the LP’s release Linda suffered a fatal diabetic coma. The next LP “Let it Be Me”, issued posthumously, included updates of previous numbers and her version of the northern hit “I’m so glad I found you”. It was issued also on a Stang single as Linda Jones & Whatnauts, the original was by The O’Jays.
I didn’t know this sound until the mid-1990’s, but it soon became my top number by The Poets from Brooklyn. The two principal players are lead singer Ronnie Lewis and prolific New York producer Juggy Murray. All their featured songs were written by Lewis and produced by Murray, who had his own studio in the Big Apple called Juggy Sound.
Let’s kick off with their most popular number, the up-tempo “She blew a good thing”. This Twisted Wheel sound was issued in ’66 on Murray’s NYC label Symbol. It got issued twice on UK singles, in ’66 on London (as The American Poets) and ’71 on United Artists. It was included in ’69 on UK United Artists LP “Soul Sensation”. Other versions include an r&b mover by Donald Height and a popcorn instrumental by Art Blakey. The next single brings the tempo down a notch or two. The mid-paced foot tapper, “A sure thing”, was issued later in ’66 c/w the mellow “So young (and so innocent)” which is my second favourite side by them. A groovy cover was made by Calvin Lindsay & the Hysterics from North Carolina. “I’m particular” combines a Chicago style arrangement with a guitar lick not unlike Smokey’s “My girl”. It was their last 45 on Symbol, issued in ’66 c/w the northern dancer “I’ve got two hearts”. All these sides were written/co-written by Lewis & Murray.
My top sound “Wrapped around your finger” was recorded in ’66 and issued in ’67 on another of Murray’s labels. This mid to up-tempo number has just the right feel for me. – cool uptown group harmony, catchy hook-line, tight brass and no strings. It was written by Lewis, arranged by Duke Hall, issued in ’67 on NYC label J-2 and took off in the UK during the 90’s. Regretfully, I can’t comment on the flip because I’ve yet to hear it, but we are talking about a serious 4 figure rarity.
Their final single “The hustler” is a sublime floater, with a slight throw- back to doo-wop. It was co-written by Lewis & Murray and issued in ’68 on Sue.
Lewis co-wrote the northern pounder “Love in my heart” by The Entertainers, issued in ’64 on Symbol. Murray produced another top northern sound “What can I do?” by Billy Prophet, co-written by Sidney Barnes and issued on Sue.
Although both groups recorded in New York, these Poets should not be confused with The Poets on Red Bird, who became both The Insiders and The Main Ingredient.
I must admit that I was surprised to learn how many recordings Joe Valentine made over several decades. Most of his output in the 1960’s is real downbeat southern soul with deep ballads, R&B and a little popcorn (see profile on Sir Shambling’s Deep Soul Heaven site). I guess the main reason for such obscurity, especially on this side of the pond, is that only one number has the ingredients sought-after on the northern scene.
His first three singles were cut in his home state of Louisiana. In 1967 he set up his own label Val based in Austin. The first 45 on Val couples a mid-pacer “One night of satisfaction”, with a typical slice of funereal soul “I can’t stand to see you go”, which was issued locally c. 67 as Joe Valentine & the Imperials. It was released with wider distribution on Ronn, and issued in Spain on CEM. But it’s the next single that has generated most interest.
As already suggested “I lost the only love I had” is atypical, with its mid-tempo uptown arrangement, but still distinctly southern in feel. From the top this is brass laden throughout, with musical backing by the Imperials, and New Orleans influences are discernible. It was issued c. ’68 and took off in the UK in the noughties. The flip is another deep ballad “Surely, I’ll never do you wrong”. As I understand it these sides were self-penned and self-produced.
Valentine made one more single in the 60’s, deep c/w popcorn, issued on Ronn. That seems to be it until a country styled 45 in the late 70’s on Cocoa Studio, followed by a mixture of synthesised sexy/disco stuff on his own label Tee Jay.
Bobby Wilburn took two songs to Bill Haney in Atlanta, cut them and then disappeared as far as the music industry is concerned. One of them is a highly sought-after crossover gem. I’m indebted to an interview with Haney by Rod Dearlove for his “Voices from the Shadows” magazine, re-produced in the notes to Kent CD “Bill Haney’s Atlanta Soul Brotherhood”. Haney produced most, if not all, the tracks featured here.
“I’m a dreamer” is a sublime mid-paced ballad, with simple production, and has been one of my xover favourites since the mid 1990’s. The flip “I’m a lonely man” is a sophisticated mellow sound. Both songs were self-penned, issued in ’68 on Haney’s Atlanta label Chant as Bobby Burn, and issued later on Philly label Gamble as Bobby Wilburn. I believe that these sides were recorded at Haney’s Feathers studio in Atlanta. Another version of “I’m a lonely man” was made by Al Christian, with added female vocals on the same backing track, recorded at Feathers and issued in the early 70’s on Chant.
“You got love” by The Five Jays (featuring Joe Dowell on lead vocal) is a cool uptown mover co-written by Herb Ryals (who wrote for other artists produced by Haney) and issued in ’67 on Chant. “You’ll lose your love” by Randolph Walker is an Otis Redding inspired southern ballad written by Haney, recorded at Fame in Muscle Shoals and leased in ’67 to Mala. Both these sides were produced by Haney.
Arthur Merriwether and James Walker were step-brothers who performed as Dino & Doc. They cut a few tracks for Haney in ’68 in Muscle Shoals and Atlanta. “Devil” is a southern style foot-tapper, written by the duo and kept in the can until included on the Kent CD. Another typical piece of southern mid-tempo is the self-penned “Something wrong with our love” by Joe Graham, recorded at Melody studio in Atlanta, and issued in ’68 on Chant. Another track by Graham “Who are you fooling” (aka “Listen to me”) was recorded in ’68 at Melody, but stayed in the vaults until included on the aforementioned CD.
The Jades were a three-piece vocal group who made just one single together. It’s a sought-after gem from the Crescent City and, whilst it’s a decent dancer, I include it as a bit of light relief.
From the drum roll and brass intro “Lucky fellow” leads into a solid piece of up-tempo group harmony. It was issued c. 1967 on New Orleans label Mode. The flip “And now” is a cool ballad with a distinct flavour of Crescent City soul. Both sides were written by group members Alvin Turner & Arthur Stewart and produced by the other member Hank Sample.
The Mode label produced less than a dozen 45s with a mixture of deep, northern and tight late 60’s funk. “Love is so real” by the Barons fits the last category. “No more baby love” by The Barons is a decent northern dancer written by Ralph Williams, Joe Broussard & Carroll Washington, produced/arranged by Crescent City veteran Wardell Quezergue and issued in ’69 on Mode and Shout in the US, and in ’71 on Jay-Boy in the UK. And, with that, I say bon voyage to New Orleans.
Back to the Jades. After the Mode release, they split up. Sample made several singles on various labels. “So, in love with you” is an uptown dancer issued in ’70 on Harrisburg label Jay-Walking c/w a mid-paced ballad “You’re being unfair to me”. His best side is the superb crossover dancer “Got to find the nerve”, co-written by Sample & Broussard, produced by Elijah Walker, arranged by Quezergue and issued in ’71 on Malaco.
Meanwhile Turner & Stewart joined a couple of Orleans groups before teaming up with The Enticers who made two 45s. The up-tempo xover dancer “Calling for your love”, has been a popular floor-filler for a couple of decades. It was written by Williams, Broussard & Washington, recorded at Malaco in Jackson, produced by Walker, arranged by Quezergue, issued in the US in ’71 on Cotillion, and ’72 in the UK on Atlantic. The flip is a cover of the sweet ballad “Storyteller” by Steve Mancha. “He stole the love that was mine” by Mancha follows this entry. Williams, Broussard & Washington wrote the funk classic “Mr. Big Stuff” by Jean Knight.
The Jades on Mode should not be confused with any other group with a similar name.
Steve Mancha was a major player in Detroit soul and, even though he’s virtually unknown outside of the northern scene, I make no apology for the length of this piece. Mancha sang with several groups, but I’m focussing on his solo efforts (and one duo). All his featured singles were issued on local labels. As a composer he used his real name Clyde Wilson. For brevity’s sake, most of his 1960’s recordings were written or co-written by him and produced by Don Davis.
After a brief period on Motown’s staff Mancha applied his gravelly voice to a string of recordings, working mainly with the producer I call “The Don”, Don Davis. First up is a typical piece of mid-tempo “Did my baby call”, arranged by Detroit stalwart Sonny Sanders and issued in ‘65 on Wheelsville U.S.A. Another take by Mancha was issued later on Groove City and miscredited to The Professionals (the flip “That’s why I love you” was by that group and is in my 50 Bubbling Under). Other versions of “Did my baby call” include those by Joey Kingfish and The Mad Lads.
Mancha signed up with The Don’s own label Groovesville from which came four singles. More mid-tempo magic comes in the shape of “You’re still in my heart”, issued in ’65. It was covered by Melvin Davis, J.J. Barnes and David Ruffin. The next 45 includes my second favourite side, and is one of several that could easily be my top choice. The sublime mid-paced ballad “I don’t want to lose you” was written by Melvin Davis, issued in ’66 and included in ’69 on Volt LP “Rare Stamps”. It was pressed later as “I’m losing you” by John L. Brown w. the Raylettes on Like It Is. The Groovesville flip, “I need to be needed”, is another self-penned glider. “Rare Stamps” was issued in the UK on Stax.
As the Don was getting some hits with his various productions, the instrumentation gets fuller including strings. This is evident on a number of Groovesville sides, including “Don’t make me a story teller”, issued in ’66 and included on “Rare Stamps”. Other versions were made by Eddie Floyd & Carla Thomas, The Enticers and The Dells. The flip “I won’t love and lose you”, has less production – it was pressed later as “My true love” by J.L. Brown on Clifton. His most popular side was his most fully orchestrated. “Sweet baby (don’t ever be untrue)” became his last single on Groovesville in ’67, and included as “Keep the faith” on both “Rare Stamps” and UK Stax LP “Stax Soul Explosion”.
Around this time Mancha cut several numbers which were unissued until included on Goldmine’s “Groovesville Review“ CDs. They include his versions of “Souvenirs” (also by Barbara Mercer) and “Think before you walk away.” The latter was recorded also by The Platters, Herman Lewis (Herman Griffin) and, as “You might need me another day”, by Gloria Taylor. My top sound is the utterly simplistic, self-penned mid-pacer “He stole the love that was mine”. It was produced by the Don, included on “Groovesville Review“ (vol. 1) and issued later as a Groovesville-Goldmine single. Another unissued track on that CD is “I need my baby” by Melvin Davis & Steve Mancha, Jackey Beavers’ version was released on Revilot.
His final 45 as Steve Mancha was his own production. “Hate yourself in the morning” c/w “A love like yours” have typical Groovesville arrangements, issued in ’68 on associated label Groove City. The latter found its way on to Spanish Stax LP “Memphis Soul Story”. Another single on the label has Mancha singing solo on both sides but credited to Hollidays. “I lost you” was written & produced by Motor City veteran Tony Hester. The flip “Easy living”, written by Jack Ashford & Bobbie Croft, has a bizarre history. Some dedicated collectors got together on Soul Source site and concluded that this side on Groove City, the track credited to J.J. Barnes on “Rare stamps” and the side credited again to Barnes on UK Stax single, are slightly different edits of the same recording by Mancha. He cut a funk number under his own name, Clyde Wilson, issued on a label he co-owned SMC (there seems to be some confusion on the issue dates for this label).
Among the many songs he wrote/co-wrote performed by other artists are: “Giving up your love is like (giving up the world)” by The Players (not the Chicago group on Minit) issued also as The Twentie Grans; “Just too much to hope for” by Tammi Terrell; “I could never hate her” and “My love is reserved” by Darrell Banks; “More, more, more” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell; “Bad bill of goods” by The Glass House; “Freedom” by Gloria Taylor and “I’ve come to save you” by 100 Proof Aged in Soul with Mancha on lead. He also produced and arranged “Did you get the message” by Jay Morton.
This is my final entry recorded in the Motor City. Mancha’s labelmate at Groovesville, Melvin Davis, was billed recently as the “Detroit Soul Ambassador”. In a TV interview he said that more R&B/soul recordings were made in Detroit than any other city. New York must come close but, thanks largely to the Hitsville factory at West Grand Boulevard, the Ambassador may well be right.
The Vibrations are hugely popular on the northern scene thanks to several stormers such as “Gonna get along without you now” “Cause you’re mine” and “Surprise party for baby”. My choices are a bit kinder to our leather soles. They started their recording career as The Jayhawks in their home town of Los Angeles, and after a couple of name changes, settled on The Vibrations. Most of their early recordings were along the lines of doo-wop and dance novelties. I’m starting with their OKeh sessions. The dates and locations are those included by Tony Rounce in his first-class notes to the Kent CD “The Vibrating Vibrations”. Unless specified otherwise, the featured songs are mid-tempo and written by a combination of group members Carl Fisher, Ricky Castel & Roscoe Johnson.
The first three were produced by Carl Davis & Curtis Mayfield in July 1964 in Chicago. “Hello happiness” was arranged by Mayfield’s long-time partner Johnny Pate, issued in ’65 as a single and included on their first OKeh LP “Shout”. “Don’t let it hide” is a cover of an Impressions number written by Mayfield – this track and “Follow your heart” were kept in the can until included on the aforementioned Kent comp, the latter was issued more recently in the UK by Outta-Sight.
The most up-tempo of my choices is also my top sound. “End up crying” was written by Fisher, Castel & Johnson, arranged by Riley Hampton, produced by Davis & Mayfield in November ‘64 in New York, issued as a 45 in ’65 and included on two US LPs “Shout” on OKeh and “Disco Teen ‘65” on Columbia. It’s a pity that it gets overshadowed by more obvious stompers. The ‘A’ side flip “Ain’t love that way” is a decent r& b mover, but should have been the ‘B’ side.
The next four were arranged by Hampton and produced by Davis in May ’65 in the Windy City. The mid to up-tempo “Talkin’ bout love” was issued later in ’65 as a single and included on “Shout”, in ’67 it was issued in the UK on Columbia. Another track on the LP, “Finding out the hard way”, was issued subsequently as a 45 in the US and included on UK Columbia LP “Chart-Busters U.S.A.”. “If you only knew” was issued only as a US single. My second favourite, “The searching is over”, was another gem inexplicably unissued until included on the Kent CD, more recently it was issued in the UK on Go-Ahead.
My final OKeh selection, “You better beware”, was arranged by Joe Thomas and produced by Manny Kellem in February ’67 in the Big Apple. It was issued in ’67 on OKeh in the US and Columbia in the UK.
After a spell working with Gamble & Huff in Philadelphia they returned to New York. The catchy crossover dancer “Man overboard” was written by Fisher, arranged by Bob Gallo and produced by Gallo with Vinnie Traina at Soundview studio on Long Island. It was included in ’72 on the LP “Taking a New Step” and subsequent 45, issued on Mandala which was based on Long Island and co-owned by Gallo & Traina.
Fisher wrote/co-wrote northern hits by other artists including: “Storm warning” by both The Volcanos and The Ambassadors; “(It’s against) The laws of love” by The Volcanos; “It’s the beat” by Major Lance; “Ain’t nothing but a house party” by The Show Stoppers and “Good old days” by The Jones Brothers – which shares the same backing track as “What price” by Nathan Williams which is in my Top 100.
As with Pat & the Blenders, this 45 creeps into my chart as a double-sider rather than either side on its own merit. The Voice Masters were formed in the first half of the 1960’s in St. Louis. All their featured sides were written by group member James Thompson.
Their first singles can be a little confusing, but as I understand it the sequence is thus; “My love was all in vain” c/w “Dance crazy” was issued as The Voicemasters on Texas label Copa. From here their printed name becomes The Voice Masters. The same sides were issued on Frisco. A third 45 couples the ballad “In love in vain” with the mid-paced doo-wopper “Two lovers” on Frisco. These all have the same cat nọ. and were probably issued c. ’65. They were produced by Oliver Sain who used Technosonic studio in St. Louis before setting up his own Archway studio in ’65.
The next four were arranged by Floyd Morris, produced by Karl Tarleton at CBS studio (Columbia) in the Windy City and issued on St. Louis label Bamboo. “You’ve hurt me baby” is a mid to up-tempo crossover number, with soulful group harmonies and infectious brass arrangement. It was issued in ’68 c/w the steady dancer “If a woman catches a fool“, with the same qualities and catchy hook line. The latter was written by Thompson with label exec Gene Chandler, and they were obviously satisfied with the result as it was issued three times.
“Never gonna leave you” takes the pace up, with a more complex arrangement – it was issued in ’69. Their final 45 “Dance right into my heart”, has a similar beat, perhaps a tad more commercial, with a ‘what’s happening’ style ramble at the start and repeated in places – it was issued in ’70. Both sides have “If a woman catches a fool“ on the flip.
As well as Bamboo artists, Thompson wrote numerous sides by other Windy City based artists including Garland Green, Gene Chandler, Impressions, Leroy Hutson, Barbara Acklin and Jackie Wilson. Morris produced both sides of a single by The Earle’s, which was recorded at Archway and is in my Top 100.
Other personal choices on Bamboo are: “At last” by Sylvia Thomas; “You don’t care about me” and “I still love you” by The Profiles recorded at Universal in Chicago; international hit “Backfield in motion”, and “I found that I was wrong” by Mel & Tim, both recorded at Universal; “Girl you turned your back on my love” and “I get high on my baby’s love” by Lee Charles, recorded at Universal and 8 Track in Chicago, respectively.
These Voice Masters should not be confused with The Voice Masters/Ty Hunter & the Voice Masters on Anna, who also backed a side by La Mont Anthony (LaMont Dozier) on Check-Mate.
Marvin Smith had an extensive recording career in Chicago as group member and solo artist. This is my last visit to both the Windy City and the work of Curtis Mayfield.
Smith started out as a member of 1950’s group The El Dorados. Around 1963 he replaced Nolan Chance as lead singer of The Artistics. He wrote the mid-tempo “In another man’s arms”, which was produced by Mayfield with Carl Davis, issued in 1965 on OKeh and included on the LP “Get My Hands on Some Lovin’”. He co-wrote the sweet soul hit “I’m gonna miss you” – it was produced by Davis, arranged by Sonny Sanders, issued in ’67 on Brunswick and became the title track of their first Brunswick LP. Shortly after this Smith left the group. “You left me”, recorded after his departure, is in my 50 Bubbling Under.
Smith had already embarked on his solo career before leaving The Artistics. His first solo number was a well-crafted ballad. “Time stopped” was written by Smith with Davis, backed by the Artistics and issued in ’66 on Brunswick. The flip “Have more time” was written by Barrett Strong and has been his most popular number in the UK since the early 70’s. This single was issued in the UK on Coral. All his Brunswick sides were produced by Davis and arranged by Sanders. Davis often used Universal studio for his Brunswick productions. “I want (something to remember you by)” is another classy mid-pacer, co-written by Smith & Davis and issued in ’67. The flip “Love ain’t nothin’ but pain“ is a little pacier, written by Chicago veteran Gerald Sims. “Hold on“ is a piece of sweet soul which has picked up gradual interest among crossover fans, written by the prolific Van McCoy and issued later in ’67.
After parting with Davis and Brunswick, Smith recorded some more songs at PS studio in Chicago, arranged by Tom Washington, but it’s not clear when. These have been re-mastered in the UK but, as far as I’m aware, remain unissued. See notes to an interview with Smith, by Chicago soul specialist David Box, on Soul Source.
He cut a single on one of Mayfield’s own labels. “Who will do your running now” starts with a signature Curtis intro, typical of his final work with The Impressions, and his own solo numbers, on Curtom. This superb mid to up-tempo xover dancer was written & produced by Curtis and issued on Mayfield. It was issued also on Italian Curtom, but when it was recorded, or released first, is a matter of conjecture. Dates shown on discographies and CDs range from ’69 to ’71, so I’m going with c. 1970. The flip “You’re really something Sadie” is far less tuneful and its selection as the ‘A’ side is just baffling. I believe that, around this time, Curtis used mainly RCA in Chicago before installing his own Curtom studio. Most of the other releases on the Mayfield label are included on Sequel CD “The Fascinations with Special Guests The Mayfield Singers & Players…Out to Getcha!”, but the best one was overlooked.
Smith wrote/co-wrote many tunes for other artists, including two with Artistics member Aaron Floyd; “Check my tears” by The Trends, and “It’s time to settle down” by Gene Chandler. Mayfield wrote & produced “Wherever you leadeth me” by The Impressions which is in my Top 10, and “My heart is hurtin’” by Billy Butler & the Chanters which is in my Top 50.
Bernard Dupree made all but one single under the curiously chosen pseudonym of Cletus Marland. Even the one exception, under his own name, was re-mastered and issued as Marland. It’s an intriguing tale of three cities. All numbers were self-penned unless specified otherwise.
His first two singles were cut in his home town of Pittsburgh, the first was issued on two local labels Bevmar and Wink, and the second on New York label Roulette, in 1961.
Around ’65 he went to New York to record several numbers which have been released in a piecemeal fashion. The mid to up-tempo “Every now and then”, has the most dancefloor appeal. It was produced by former Motown staffer Ernest Kelley and issued on two of Kelley’s labels, Geneva and Terry, with the same cat nọ. The flip on both is a deep ballad “Keep on a loving”. At that time these labels were based in NYC, Kelley moved operations later to Detroit.
Another ballad, “I wish that you were here”, is a cover of “Letter from my darling” written by Charles Singleton and Rose McCoy – it was unissued until included on the Grapevine CD “Kelley’s Soul Heroes”. The original was by Little Willie John in the mid 50’s, other versions include Little Tom & his Valentines and Kip Anderson.
My top side is also his most popular number. From the cool brass intro of “You are going to miss me” we know we’re getting a lovely piece of mid-tempo magic. It was issued c. ’65 under his real name Bernard Dupree on Granger, which was registered in Los Angeles where he finally settled. The flip “Yesterday today and forever more” is another deep number. Both sides were self written & arranged.
Kelley issued another 45 on his Terry logo in the 80’s. “You’re gonna miss me” is the same as the Granger side but better mastered. I understand the flip, “Yesterday”, is a different mix to the Granger flip. Production on the Granger single is credited to Dupree, on Terry it reads “as produced by Ernest Kelley”.
To be honest, I was determined to put something by The Tempests into my chart, and I’ve gone with one of their LP only tracks. They were from Charlotte and grew from a duo (Roger & Michael Branch) to a ten-piece band (with personnel changes the band has had 25 members at various times). All my choices were produced/arranged by Ted Bodnar and issued on Smash.
In 1966 Hazel Martin became the lead vocalist, and their first Smash numbers were recorded at Edgebrook Studios in D.C. The storming “Would you believe” was issued in ’67, became the title track of their Smash LP and was included on French Mercury LP “Rhythm ‘N’ Blues Story Vol.1”. The flip “You (are the star I wish on)” is a ballad – it was the first release featuring Martin’s big city style tenor voice. The furious “Can’t get you out of my mind” was issued later in ’67, and included on French Mercury LP “Rhythm ‘N’ Blues Story Vol.2”. The flip is another up-tempo number “What you gonna do”. These sides were included on their LP.
Most of the aforementioned LP was recorded at Arthur Smith studios in Charlotte. It was issued in ’67 and includes their most popular numbers. “Someday” starts with a Mexican style fanfare and leads into a steady dancer. It was a big sound in the 80’s at Stafford, initially covered up as Bobby Paris. My top sound is a mid-pacer which sits somewhere between a beat ballad and mid-tempo northern. “I don’t want to lose her” has the familiar combo of earnest vocal and big brass, with a woodwind bridge. It was written by Martin with fellow group member Van Noble. Like “Someday”, it was initially covered up, this time as Cecil Washington, which is a little ironic because Washington’s Wigan biggie, “I don’t like to lose”, was itself covered up as Joe Matthews. Another popular track is the pacier “I cried for you” in their familiar faux-Mex style.
The LP has been much sought-after since their top sounds were uncovered in the 80’s, and contains a mix of styles ranging from crooners to 100 mph dancers. Another of my own choices is their mid-paced version of “Ain’t no big thing”, but more of that later. After the LP, they cut two more singles on Smash in ‘68. The second of these featured Martin on lead for “Out of my life” c/w my final choice. “The way to a man’s heart” is a jolly uptown dancer featuring Otis Adams on lead. Martin made another version of his self-penned “Out of my life” c/w a bouncy crossover number “Southern Ocean sunshine”, written by him with Noble and issued on their own label Marco.
The Tempests provided the backing (uncredited) on the Detroit sound “It’s better to cry” by The Appreciations. Roger Branch produced and co-wrote another of my northern favourites “Your love” by Choice of Colour.
These Tempests (with various line-ups) had vinyl releases on US labels; Atlantic (as Mike Williams & the Tempest Band), Smash, Polydor, Southern Wing and Surfside. Although they both used Edgebrook Studios in D.C., these Tempests should not be confused with Billy Storm & the Tempests on LeMans, who were an eight-piece group from Baltimore, with a completely different line-up. Nor should they be confused with any of the numerous other groups, with the same name, on other US labels.
Now, back to “Ain’t no big thing” written by Gerald Sims. A popular quiz among knowledgeable northern fans is to name as many versions as they can. There’s a couple of informative threads on Soul Source devoted to this (some are totally different songs). So far, I’ve managed to confirm 21. The original was by the Radiants, the most popular version is probably the one by British based Jimmy James & the Vagabonds, followed by The Embers which is one of several by blue-eyed groups. Most are carbon-copies of one another. One of the most distinctive is the funky xover version by Bill Murphy plus One. So, here’s the 21 confirmed; Radiants, Little Joe & Latinaires, Steve Jordan & the Jordan Brothers (also as The Jordan Brothers), Ricky Vee & the Stardusters (also as The Stardusters), Calvin Lindsay & the Hysterics, Little Jr. Jesse & the Tear Drops, The Embers, Scotty Todd, Jimmy James & the Vagabonds, The Electrons, The Tempests, The Fabulous Flares, The Wingtips, The Spontanes, The Sparkz, Bill Murphy plus One, The Cotillions, Ralfi Pagan, The Catalinas, Sly, Slick & Wicked, and Holiday Band. Two I’ve seen listed, but not yet seen or heard, are by Jimmy Cliff and William Dell & Wee Jams. One that puzzles me completely is by British group The Peddlers, the one on You Tube is a cover of Little Milton’s “Ain’t no big deal on you”, but the original CBS LP track is shown as “Ain’t no big thing “ credited to G. Sims (wrong track on You Tube, or wrong song listed on the LP?).
This is my last foray into the rich world of crossover soul. Jimmie Raye made a number of recordings from the early 1960’s up to the 80’s, but I’m focussing on the period mid to late 60’s. All featured tracks were self-penned and, as far as I’m aware, recorded in New York. The chronology follows that given in Raye’s bio on his own site.
The cool mid-pacer “Look at me girl (crying)” was written with Landy McNeil, Abner Spector and Garfield Good. It was recorded in ’64 and issued on Spector’s NYC label Tuff.
There’s no question which of his sides is the biggest on the northern scene, but he cut two quite different variations. “Philadelphia Dawg” is a nice piece of Chicago style uptown, issued c. ’65 on KKC. There seems to be a little mismatch of info on this 45. Production is credited to bluesman Jimmy Reed, for whom the flip “Walked on, stepped on, stomped on” was written originally. The discography on Raye’s site suggests it was recorded at the Evans/Parsons sessions which follow, but the bio details Raye’s meeting with Reed beforehand. I’m uncertain, but these sides may have been recorded earlier than the following sessions.
The next four sides were arranged by Sticks Evans, produced by Matt Parsons (they’re not always credited) and recorded at Broadway studio in the Big Apple, with backing vocals by Ashford & Simpson. The relentless “Philly Dog around the world” was issued c. ‘66 on KKC c/w a soulful mid-paced ballad “Just can’t take it no more” (some copies credit Evans, some don’t). “For the sake of love” is a southern flavoured mid-tempo number c/w a beat ballad “You must be losing your mind”, issued in ’67 on Buffalo label JRE and Scepter subsidiary Garrison (demo). Raye did a live performance of “Just can’t take it no more”, which featured in the movie “Round Trip” (1967).
My top choice is a cool piece of funky xover, with tight brass and percussion arrangement, a Wilson Pickett style lead and a hook line chanted back by The Shirelles. “That’ll get it“ was issued as Jimmie Raye “Mr. Soul Spectacular” in ’68 on NYC label Moon Shot (demo) and was a Stafford spin in the 80’s. The flip “It’s written all over your face” is a country styled ballad. Both sides were produced by Randy Irwin, who worked extensively with The Shirelles. Although not issued in the UK it did get issued in the Netherlands on Injection.
Another soulful dancer on Moon Shot is “Doctor Good Soul” by Landy which was written, produced and co-arranged by its singer Landy McNeil, who co-wrote one of Raye’s releases above. Jimmie Raye & Garfield Good wrote the beat ballad “The change in you” by The Corsairs & Landy McNeil, produced by Abner Spector and issued on Tuff. Another beat ballad written by Raye is “Since I met you” by Paul Sindab, which was arranged by Sticks Evans and issued on two NYC labels, Luap and Hype.
It’s a tradition to close a northern do with a cool-down ‘ender’ which would be a floater or beat ballad. The ones I recall include those by Fats Domino, Ray Pollard, Gene McDaniels and Esther Phillips. But, after a wealth of mid-tempo numbers and crossover, I’ve decided to go in the opposite direction and conclude my chart with a no-nonsense dancer and classic northern soul oldie. In 1964 New Yorker Philip Anastasia settled on the pseudonym Dean Parrish. As far as I’m aware, all his sides featured here were recorded in the Big Apple.
His first 45 as Dean Parrish was an r&b number on Warner Bros. His next single “Bricks, broken bottles and sticks” is a typical New York style big city sound, which became very popular in the 80’s thanks to a string of Kent LPs devoted to them. It was arranged by NYC maestro Bert Keyes and issued in ’65 on Musicor. “Tell her” is a reverse of “Tell him” by The Exciters. It was his first number produced & arranged by the Brill Building partnership of Richard Gottehrer & Leroy Glover, issued in ’66 on Boom. It got released in the UK on Stateside and, hence, became one of the scene’s formative spins at clubs like the Twisted Wheel. His next 45 followed suit, but I’ll leave that to the end. I’ve got nothing to say about “Skate”, his last Boom/Stateside single, so I’ll skip to his most famous sound.
We all know of the folklore that surrounds Wigan Casino’s ‘three before eight’ which, in the late 70’s, became the ‘four before eight’ played at the end of the legendary all-niters. The last of these was “I’m on my way” by Dean Parrish – its instantly recognisable guitar lick leads into his most popular dancer. It was issued in ’67 on Laurie and got released in ’75 in the UK on the back of its Wigan success. The flip “Watch out!” is an interesting bluesy number.
As said previously, Dean’s version of “Tell her” was produced & arranged by Richard Gottehrer & Leroy Glover. A popular northern number is “Hey girl, do you love me?” by Timothy Wilson, co-written/co-produced by Gottehrer and arranged by Glover. Other soulful sounds arranged by Glover include “Grow closer together” by The Impressions, “Since I’ve lost you” by Clay Hunt, “Let me give you my lovin’” by Maxine Brown and “If I had a chance to love you” by Jive (Five) Fyve feat. Eugene Pitt. The flip to “Tell her” is a tender ballad “Fall on me”, written by another NYC duo Jerry Klinger & Steve Feldman. They wrote the sweet mid-pacer “We’re acting like lovers” by The Spellbinders.
Now, let’s tie this all together in one. My chart is propped up by a solid brass laden dancer, with an earnest vocal as befits its title – it’s one of the most soulful numbers by a blue-eyed artist. “Determination” by Dean Parrish was written by Klinger & Feldman, produced by Gottehrer & Glover, issued in ’66 on Boom in the US, and Stateside in the UK. Another Wheel spin, this was always going to be my final choice.