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I have decided to add this page at the site, mainly because of the enormous amount of excellent re-releases there are out there right now. The last few years have seen some excellent reissues, that I could have added to the 'Been Missed' page at the site, however, such is the high quality of many of these CD's (and CD's are what they are, not vinyl) I felt they deserved some recognition in their own environment. A cynic (such as myself! LOL) might look at the national pop charts and, for the more discerning, disheartened, listener, the need to look retrospectively is irresistable. You make up your own minds. For me, it is important that folks just like music, even if it isn't your bag. O.K., here goes...



Brenda and the Tabulations - The Dionne Singles Collection 1966 - 1969 / The Top and Bottom Records Collection 1969 - 1971


Brenda and the TabulationsBrenda and the Tabulations


Brenda and the Tabulations are a group whom, whenever you mention their name to another Soul Music follower, always raise a cheerful (retrospective) smile. Brenda Payton passed away in 1992 at the youthful age of 46. During the Sixties her, along with Maurice Coates, James Rucker and Eddie Jackson released several Sweet Soul sides for the Dionn Records imprint. Some of these have become highly collectable. Later the group were to record for the Top and Bottom imprint. These are the periods these CD's are concerned with.


Brenda was barely into her twenties when she and the guys released their first sides for the Dionn label. These two magnificent CD's are a most welcome introduction to those who are new to Brenda's earlier material. There are those who will be aware of the groups dancers released in the mid Seventies (which is where my journey into their music began), and those who may catch the group by chance on listening to their parents collection or on a T.V. show. Wherever you are coming from, I think that you'll love the innocence of the group's overall sound and feel, almost Blue Magic mixed with Dusty Springfield in overall sound. Funny thing with much of the Sixties Soulful output is the sound of that decade. Phil Spector had a great deal of influence in constructing the environment. It's as if the groups were placed in a large warehouse with the sound being allowed to resonate in the surroundings. The 'Wall of Sound'? Who knows?


The first of the CD's cover the period from 1966 to 1969. It features the production skills of Bob Finiz, with the latter track chores taken over by Gamble and Huff. CD two picks up from the latter year and takes the listener on to 1971. The first album kicks off with the group's debut 45 'Dry Your Eyes' (number 8 on the U.S. R & B chart, number 29 on the pop chart, with an album of the same name which was later to follow). This has echoes of the evergreen floater, 'Gonna Take A Miracle'. 'When You're Gone' is a simply gorgeous piece of Smokey Robinson sounding balladry. The slow Soul sounds of the Sixties never got any better than this melody. Talking of Smokey, there is the inclusion here of the groups version of the Miracles song 'Who's Lovin' You', which made the number 19 position on the R & B charts in April 1967. 'That's In the Past' is a more uptempo offering, with hints of the sound to follow in the early part of the Seventies. 'I Wish I Hadn't Done That' completes the first half of proceedings, the sound maturing and preparing the listener for the entry into the Seventies section of their careers.


For the second CD, Bernard Murphy joined the line-up in 1969, and, re-organized in 1970 around Brenda Payton, Pat Mercer, and Deborah Martin, the group achieved their biggest hit the following year with 'Right On The Tip Of My Tongue' (number 10 R & B, number 23 pop) on the Top & Bottom label. This label's production chores landed in the lap of one Van McCoy for the second period of the groups career featured here. 'Don't Make Me Over' has been covered by many Soul Artists, with Dionne Warwick's take of this Bacharach / David evergreen being the version, probably best remembered. There were versions by the late Lyn Collins, Petula Clark and even the Swinging Blue Jeans! 'Why Didn't I Think Of That' brings the second CD, penultimately, to a close. Mention this track as it is a personal favourite melody by the group of mine. I am not sure who are still around of the groups original members, although I suspect Maurice Coates may be one, as he is mentioned in the sleevenotes as a contributor.


This, as you will guess by now, is a pair of CD's which I believe ought to be in the collection of any discerning Soul Music collector. Not going to bully you. You pays your money and you makes your choice. If I hadn't been sent these by that nice Mike Ward from In Da Soul, I would have payed my money and picked these up as an essential addition to my personal Soul canon! Fine music from a hugely underrated combo. Check the link below.


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Webster Lewis....his essential Epic albums....


On The Town / Touch My Love / 8 For The 80's / Let Me Be The One


On The TownTouch My Love

8 For The 80'sLet Me Be The One


Webster Lewis is undoubtedly one of the most unsung of all Soul, Funk and Fusion performers.


During the mid Seventies and early Eighties, Webster released these four gems, that should have taken their place amongst some of the finest releases of that particular era....however, they arrived and departed with a non existant fanfare, which is a crime against the Soul of all we hold dear musically. Webster passed away 6 years ago in Barryville, New York, after suffering from diabetes for a while. The man did record other albums, than these four offerings, during his 59 years down here, perhaps the most notable being the Barry White collaboration 'Welcome Aboard', however, it is these four you need to get to grips with, if you are new to this man, and want to find out a little more about the man and his music.


'On The Town' hit the streets in 1976. At that time I was a 20 year old, who had been buying Black Music for several years and was in the midst of, what had become, a renaissance of all Black Musical styles, all of which merged into a soup of Soul and Fusion, which turned out to be a real delight throughout that very long and very hot summer that year. At the time, the likes of Donald Byrd had left the straight ahead jazz circuit and had leapt the musical divide into Funk and Soul, manifesting itself, in his case, with the majestic 'Places and Spaces'. Webster was travelling a similar musical path, releasing Jazz from the confines of the elite and placing it square onto the dancefloor. 'On The Town's' title track is pure Disco. A very fine version of that ilk. A fine example of the need to maintain an analog version of these recordings, judging by the rambling bassline on show here. What interested myself at the time were the flip sides of that 45, namely the much more fluid 'Do It With Style' and the summery 'Love Is The Way', which glided along effortlessly and made the album a must have back at the time.


'Touch My Love' came and went out of the import stores on it's release some year or so later. I remembered a 45 of that song, but never even saw the cover until several months later, when a friend of mine was raving on about a dancer called 'Barbara Ann'. When he showed me the cover and played that song to me, it blew me away. I knew that this set would be as rare as rocking horse deposits, therefore any future albums from Webster I HAD to keep an eye and ear open for. It was only in the early 80's that I did manage to pick up a copy of this album, which, with retrospective listening, is probably the man's finest overall recording. Mind you, that depends on your own musical leanings, as there are those who would rate either of the following sets as being superior. You pays your money as they say.


By 1979, we were preparing for the year 1984. Perviously David Bowie had already warned us of the year about to arrive (on his 'Diamond Dogs' album), and I guess folks looked understandably, to the new decade with some aprehension. Problems for the U.S. with Iran (hostages etc), change of World leaders, it was a time for some deep reflection. Webster served us up 8 songs for the new decade, enlisting the help of Herbie Hancock (amongst others) constructing a third in this series of masterpieces. Two songs leapt out of the grooves for the Soul folks. 'Give Me Some Emotion' and 'The Love You Give To Me' (the former of which the man was to pass on to Merry Clayton for her own album release on MCA, namely, 'Emotion'). Later the D.J. Rogers song 'Heavenly' was to become a Quiet Storm classic. Three albums down, three classics in the portfolio.


'Let Me Be The One' was a more relaxed affair. 1980 arrived and we didn't all blow up! LOL Webster served us up his final masterpiece for Epic, which was, actually, a much more Soulful affair for the pundits consumption. 'El Bobo' was the main exception, being a highly infectious latin tinged affair, which preceded the Fusion rediscoveries pioneered in London by the deejay Paul Murphy, who paved the way for the Acid Jazz crew, formed by deejay Chris Bangs and continued by the now legendary Gilles Peterson. The Real Soul crew loved Webster's song 'Open Up Your Eyes', a ballad, and the mid tempo 'Love Won't Harm No-one'. With these albums certain additional tracks have resurfaced, left on the shelves by Webster, and rediscovered by Soul Music's own Hercule Poirot, Ralph Tee. This album see's two new songs. 'Reach Out', which is a very nice mid tempo toe-tapper, however, the killer track is the latin breezy number entitled 'Boston'. A female singer takes the lead vocal chores, very Phyllis Hyman in sound, and very appealing indeed. No name on the playlist, so your guess....This song is as strong as any other song from the original release of this album. 'On The Town' has an additional track, which is a 10 minute version of the Staples/Curtis song 'Let's Do It Again'. No vocals, so I guess this was work in progress. Who knows?


One thing I do know, is, if you want to embark on a journey alongside a musical genius, who was criminally taken from us at a relatively young age, then do enjoy the journey I began 30 years ago with this man and his music. For me, 'indispensable Soul'. Now there's and album title if ever I heard one! LOL.


Trina and Webster


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• Sly and the Family Stone - Greatest Hits / Kevin Rowland Presents Motown Made To Measure


Sly and the Family StoneKevin Rowland


Two releases with one thing in common. You know everything on each of these. All told, we as punters sometimes can't see the wood for the trees. I spoke to one diehard Northern Soul buff about a really obscure Soul track, what label it was on, how many copies were pressed up and just who owned them. At the end of the conversation I asked him what he thought of the Temptations 'Just My Imagination'? He looked at me as if to say 'You caught me bang to rights, guvnor' (imagine that in a Dick Van Dyke, 'Mary Poppins'esque accent those reading Stateside! LOL), my friend then got a great big smile on his face and said 'that is one great record isn't it' Both of these sets have that effect on me. As Bootsy Collins once said about Stevie's 'Superstition'....'man Stevie was in Funk heaven right there', well you know that Sly is in Funk Heaven right here. The album with listings is here. If you've got kids, this is a great introduction to the Funk Master who lost his way.....


Kevin's take on the Motown tapestry is here, listings and all. These are all winners, with one nice break in the dance proceedings in the shape of Marvins personal obituary, 'If I Should Die Tonight', which highlights in my humble opinion. You pays your money....


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• Diana Ross And The Supreme's - The Number One's


Diana Ross & The Supremes


With the release of the musical, 'Dreamgirl's', imminent (and that being a story nothing at all related to the musical history of an all girl group, successful during the Sixties, called the Supremes! LOL), a release by these three songstresses was inevitable. I, almost, don't need to list the songs that are on show here, they are so much part of Black Music's heritage, eminating from the twentieth century, they almost choose themselves. Like them or not, there is no denying the indelible musical marker the group carved for Motown, and music generally, from that period. I was lucky enough to meet Lamont Dozier a few years ago. The man responsible for these timepieces simply described these songs as his 'ditties'! Well longevity often goes hand in hand, musically, with children. Look at any child and ask them after Michael Jackson, and their faces light up. The same can be said about the Supremes' music. I found my daughter 'borrowing' this, beautifully packaged CD, and dropping a song or two into her i-pod. The CD went on in the kitchen, then the living room, finally resting in my computer! Nothing much to say, once you have seen the teamsheet on display below. As mentioned, the liner notes and imagery have been very tastefully constructed, therefore, all you have to do is go pick up a copy of the real deal, and leave those who pale into comparison to their own devices. Essential, all told.


Diana Ross & The Supremes


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• Gladys Knight - Everybody Needs Love / Feelin' Bluesy - Silk N'Soul / The Nitty Gritty - If I Were Your Woman / Standing Ovation - Neither One Of Us / All I Need Is Time - Knight Time / A Little Knight Music


Everybody / Feelin' BluesySilk N'Soul / Nitty GrittyIf I Were Your Woman / Standing Ovation

Neither One Of Us / All I Need Is TimeKnight Time / Little Knight Music


As I said about Miles below, the same applies to Gladys Knight and her Pips. What is not to like about this singer? Gladys has been blessed with some of the greatest vocal dynamics of any woman of her generation. Alongside her vocal expertees, and the excellent guys at Planet Earth Publicity, we are graced with this glorious collection, basically, running through Gladys' first 10 releases, from the late Sixties until the early Seventies. Planet Earth's blurb describes this fine set of albums as 'heralding in a new era of Motown original album compiling'. I am not going to argue with that statement in the least part. With excellent liner notes and imagery by Lois Wilson and the Planet Earth people, we are treated to some of the greatest recordings released, originally, over 40 years ago. The first album saw Gladys' original take on 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine', along with her anthemic 'Take Me In Your Arms and Love Me'. The second album sees her making a defiant stand on tracks such as 'It Should Have Been Me'. Album three brought us her version of 'I Wish It Would Rain' and the 'The Look Of Love'. Four and Five saw 'If I Were Your Woman', 'One Less Bell To Answer' and the emotive, 'Help Me Make It Through The Night'. The final two CD's (four albums) saw 'Neither One Of Us', 'Heavy Makes You Happy' and 'Put A Little Love In Your Heart' all breaking new musical territory, and leaving us all with a hugely satisfying body of work. The bonus ball with each of these CD's are the unreleased gems that Planet Earth have decided to grace us with. All told, you don't need me to tell you these are essential, and the company are promising us Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson retrospective releases throughout next year. Makes an old Soul Boy look forward to the postman knocking on the front door thesedays! Fine, fine albums.


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• Miles Davis - Cool And Collected


Miles Davis


What's not to like about Miles Davis? Well, apparently, the folks that met the man said it was him as a person. Miles was almost an early Punk Rocker, rebelling at everything left, right and centre and having little or no patience with people (especially those whom he considered one trumpet short of a full band!). Miles drifted in and out of all styles of Jazz, then declaring the whole genre as 'dead' and then checking into hospital, for what he described, as a 'tune up'. That tune up never worked and we never saw the man again. His last album was, basically, a Rap affair with Easy Mo Bee. Funny road, musically, when you consider he was 'Mr. Cool', then 'Mr Experimentation' (Bitches Brew' etc) and finally a rapper. Whatever folks take is on the man, one thing that cannot be denied is his volume of work. Made me laugh that, when I was told this album was on it's way here, I knew exactly what was going to be on the set. 'Milestones', 'So What' etc, and yet, even if you have several copies of his tracks, he still demands the listeners attention. You also get some of the more 'Tu Tu'-esque material here as well and an unreleased track with Carlos Santana. Miles' 'barrel' always leaves one track or two worth adding to any compilation. If you are a diehard Miles fan, you'll want this collection. If you are younger and are looking for a good platform and welcome mat into Miles' musical garden, well you could do worse than picking up this album. Out on Sony BMG. Guess Miles is up there giving some of the man upstairs staff a hard time and getting the angels to play out of time with each other on their harps, whilst swearing at them! LOL. Very important, irritable musician.


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• Lorraine Ellison - Sister Love / Various - What It Is


Lorraine EllisonWhat It Is


Firstly, before I take a look at these two wonderful re-releases, I must thank everyone for their kind wishes regarding my last 3 weeks in hospital. A blood disorder led to liver problems, which were compounded by stress related issues. Many things were done to me in that dreadful place. I saw folks come in and not leave. Good time to take stock. My wife and daughter came in each day and bought whatever had landed through the mailbox. These two albums were amongst them.


I had almost forgotten that Lorraine Ellison's daughter had been in touch. Lovely woman, who thought it was about time her mother received her dues. I agreed and worked on Lorraine's page at the site. David Nathan, independently, had the same idea as the daughter. He e-mailed me for information, I passed on Lorraine's daughters e-mail address, and totally forgot that I had done so until this lovely retrospective arrived. There are 3 CD's here, beautifully packaged, containing all of Lorraine's released output. The third CD is a series of unreleased songs, or versions, if you like. You can't get better packaging than this. Really lovely, and I'd like to thank David for the shout in the liner notes. What a nice man. Unmissable is the word for this album. Long may her name be held in the highest regard. This is another release from those excellent Rhino Records people. There is a link below.


The 'What It Is' box set would make a perfect Christmas present for anyone who likes 'getting down'. This series of 4 CD's covers the years 1967 to 1977. The whole shebang gets underway with the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band's 'Spreadin' Honey' and complete's it's journey with Eddie Hazel's take on 'California Dreamin'. Along the way, you are treated to several lesser known funk artists along with those you know. Curtis makes an appearance, so do Faze-O, Johnny Harris, Wilson Pickett, Fred Wesley, Beginning Of The End...I guess you get the picture. As we approach that time of year when everyone forgets it is Christ's birthday, but remembers just exactly what they want folks to buy themselves as expensive presents, and there is that bloke on every street corner, white beard dressed in red due to Coca Cola, perhaps placing a few royalties in these artists coffers may be a good way of remembering folks and being public spirited. This is a great box set, comes with a lovely book that works its way, and describes a background to each song. Available at most outlets. Essential.


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• Aretha Franklin - Live At Fillmore West / King Curtis - Live At Fillmore West


Aretha FranklinKing Curtis


Two live performances of real note by two great Soul Artists. Both sets are recorded at the Fillmore West venue back in the early 70's and are fine live sets, capturing both artists, probably at their prime.


Aretha Franklin? Well I have a joke with my wife, that I wish she sang with a little more Soul! Both gets us laughing. Aretha is definitely, the 'Queen Of Soul'. On here, you get the full original album on one CD. On the second, there are unreleased gems, which are all of the highest quality. 10 tracks on the initial release. The second CD contains 13 alternate takes and unreleased songs. You don't need me to recommend this set to you. You know that it is of the highest Soulful standard. Produced by Jerry Wexler and the, recently passed away, Arif Mardin, this is part of the building blocks of the genre we all know and love. Just listen to her take on Bread's 'Make It With You' and tell me that this doesn't disarm you, and I know I will be looking at a liar and what are you doing at this website anyhow! LOL. Nice sleevenotes, by the way..... are the sleevenotes on the King Curtis Fillmore session. This was released in July 1971, one month before the man was tragically murdered. King's CD is only a single disc, and another great release. As with Aretha's set, you get the full original album release along with further alternate takes and unused material. You get Billy Preston recording 'My Sweet Lord'. I remember back in the day there being a law suit involving Phil Spector accusing George Harrison of copying 'He's So Fine', of which you do have to say there are striking resemblances (allegedly! LOL). Anyhow, Billy takes this way off into a Gospel ball park, and his voice is in fine form. Produced by the King and Arif Mardin, another lovely bookmark in Soul Music's rich library of music, which has been heavily borrowed from over the years.


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• Soul Legends Series- Four Tops-Curtis Mayfield-Diana Ross-Isaac Hayes-Jackson Five-James Brown-Lionel Richie-Marvin Gaye-Smokey Robinson and The Temptations


Four TopsCurtis MayfieldDiana RossIsaac HayesJackson FiveJames BrownLionel RichieMarvin GayeSmokey RobinsonThe Temptations


Yikes! I go away for two weeks and, then on our return, my neighbour starts banging on the door, three sheets to the wind, and shoves this little package in my hands! He had inadvertantly opened the envelope by mistake. Luckily he doesn't like music in any form. Weird that, but it kept my CD's all in one place.


This 10 CD set is part of a mid price range, aimed, not at the true connoisseur of Soul, but an interesting retrospective, probably aimed at the Christmas mass market, probably, leaning towards those folks who may have bought the originals back in the day, but their vinyl has seen better days.


What is nice about this collection, is you do get a few obvious selections, however, there are a few gems thrown in, which the trainspotters out there may not have, which might in turn tempt them to take a second look.


The Four Tops set, has all the usual suspects, along with some personal favourites ('Ask The Lonely', 'Love Has Gone' and 'What You Gonna Do With Me Baby?' being some).


Curtis Mayfield can do no wrong in my book. Again some more personal faves ('I Gotta Keep On Movin', 'I Ain't Supposed To' and 'Ten To One').


Diana Ross? Well she either does it for you, or she doesn't. For me, she misses me completely, although I do love 'You're So Wonderful To Me' by her and the Supreme's. Shame it didn't make this set.


Isaac Hayes is a different 'kettle of poisson', so to speak. I think Isaac would be the first to admit that he isn't in Otis Redding's vocal league, however, his arrangements are second to none. Full length versions here of all of the songs on offer ('I Can't Help If I'm Still In Love' and 'Make A Little Love To Me' are very nice melodies)


The Jackson Five have become a group ridiculed by many within the real Soul Scene, however, childhood or none, no-one can deny Michael Jackson's Soul credentials. If many of these songs were sung by other groups, they would be heralded as the next 'big thing'. (Some nice surprises here, including their take on 'It's Your Thing', if you think Michael can't sing Soul, then check 'A Fool For You' and I have always liked their song 'I'll Be There').


James Brown? Well, if you are a deejay, as a friend of mine once said, 'When in doubt. James Brown out'. Enough said. All you need for a great party, all on one CD.


Lionel Richie is a singer that I either love, or really can't abide. The love side of matters comes in the guises of the likes of 'Love Will Conquer All' and 'High On Sunshine'. The downside rears it's ugly head with the likes of 'Hello' and 'Truly'. Middle ground is, possibly 'Easy' and 'Three Times A Lady'. There will be diehard fans, who would buy Lionel singing 'My Old Man's A Dustman', however, all told, this isn't too badder set. Lots of Commodores tunes, which is nice to see. Seems Lionel's first two solo albums had some merit, however he dug himself a ditch of syrup back in the mid Eighties that he is still coming to terms with. This set ain't half bad.


Marvin, as with Curtis, could sing my weekly shopping list, and make it sound as if something had fallen from heaven. Yes, there are many of your evergreens served up here, ranging from 'What's Going On' through to tracks from his own personal favourite set, 'Vulnerable'. Nice inclusion is a Jazz Mix on the song 'Lucky, Lucky Me'. This alone ought to make the diehard Marvin fan want this set. Very, very nice take on this song, previously unreleased.


Eight down, two to go. Smokey Robinson and the Temptations. Smokey, Bob Dylan once described as the 'greatest living poet'. I wouldn't disagree to that at all. All the songs here are Sixties offerings. I have always loved his song 'A Fork In The Road'. That is included here. Nice retrospective.


You get 24 tracks on the Temptations CD, which may be the last, but certainly not the least. Again, this is everything any discerning Temps fan would wish for. Sometimes, as Soul followers, we don't see the wood for the trees. This is very much the case with the song 'Just My Imagination'. That is a tune I can listen to over and over again, and never tire of the melody. Really is musical perfection. Eddie Kendricks and Norman Whitfield at their musical peaks. Not everything has to be as rare as rocking horse doo doo to have a place in any Soul fan's collection. Quite superb.


So you get all this, along with some tastefully written liner notes and something to buy your friends at Christmas. Out on the 21st of August at all decent retailers. I'd try Amazon first. Full listings below.




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• J.R.Bailey - Just Me N' You / Diana Ross - Blue


J.R.BaileyDiana Ross


I must say it is an absolute delight to see the J.R. Bailey album being reissued, mainly as it is one of best albums released over the last 50 years. It is up there with 'What's Going On', 'Extensions Of A Man', 'Innvervisions' etc. Last year J.R.'s son Gregory got in touch with me. At the time I was trying to locate an image of J.R. The cover of this album only had a painting of the man. Ace Records kindly allowed me to use an image they had. So I put together a page on J.R. as I felt it criminal that this album wasn't receiving 'it's props'. Released in 1974, originally, not many albums you can put on and just leave on for the ride, and what a wonderful ride this music takes you on. J.R. was once a member of the group, the Cadillacs. This album is a real rare groove, reaching $400 pricewise. That is because this material is simply pure quality. There are lovely original recordings of 'Love, Love, Love' and the title song covered a few years back by Erasmus Hall. The track on that album has made that set highly collectable in it's original incarnation. If you buy only one CD this year, do go buy this one from Soul Brother, oh and get the CD with that wonderful previously unreleased Donny Hathaway track on it. Mine's a double!


The Diana Ross album is a strange release. Thesedays albums of old Jazz standards are commonplace. Rod Stewart, Sting, Jamie Cullum, George Michael, Michael Buble...hold on, I think I am about to be very ill! LOL Wouldn't surprise me if even 50 Cent had a go at making one! It would give Snoop Dogg an excuse to go and shoot the bloke, because he is making one as well! LOL. Anyone can make them thesedays. Very nice release, in this type of format, by Queen Latifah a couple of years back. At Motown back in the day, well you had Marvin wandering around with a few songs he wanted to put together in a similar style to this set. That eventually ended up as the 'Vulnerable' album. Diana was doing the same thing two years before J.R.'s set back in 1972. Quite why Motown wanted to archive this album seems strange to me, however, they were getting the jitters about releasing anything that strayed from the 'Motown format', thus we almost didn't see 'What's Going On'. I guess human beings don't like change, however nothing ever get's achieved without taking a risk or two. Well love or hate Diana, this album is a very nice selection of standards. I especially like her take on 'I Loves Ya Porgy' and I have always loved the Gershwin's song 'Our Love Is Here To Stay', taken from the movie 'An American In Paris'. Melody and heartfelt lyrics. That is what that song was all about. Not ashamed to say I have that soundtrack here. Always really liked that tune. Diana was about to embark on the movie 'Lady Sings The Blues'. Perhaps this set was a prelude, who knows? If Motown are sitting on more of this material, they could do worse than let the rest of us hear it. If you are into Diana, or albums of Jazz standards, this one of the better one's I have heard. Check Amazon for copies.


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• Dusty Springfield - At Her Very Best / Marvin Gaye - Legend, Live and Forever


Dusty SpringfieldMarvin Gaye


Well, these guys just don't know when to throw the towel in, do they!


Dusty Springfield, is one of those rare singers that everyone likes, Black, White, Male, Female, everyone likes Dusty. This Double CD arrived last week. What with my daughter's rehearsals for her school play and half term, I have finally managed to get round to reviewing a genius, in many ways. There are 45 songs on this set, which, basically, make this a set to listen to whilst you are cooking (which I was! LOL) or hanging with friends. Dusty had a pleading in her vocal styling that, unintentionally, turned her into one of the greatest Blue Eyed Soul Singers of any generation. You all know these songs, so I am just going to 'cherry pick' a couple of personal favourites.'Some Of Your Lovin' has been a personal 'Eighth Wonder Of The World' since I was a child. If anyone doesn't like that song, well I know a very good doctor they might want to see. Ditto, for the 'Look Of Love'. Incredible song. Her take on Carole King's 'Going Back' is lovely as well. You all know her work, so what can I say, other than, I have never met a woman that doesn't love's Dusty's song archive. A real one off. Maybe a gay icon. Who can say? All I know is that she is someone that is sorely missed and could sing anyone off the stage out there thesedays.


Marvin's CD is a funny old set. Whilst we have had a few gems unearthed by the great man recently, many songs are being unearthed, from his back catalogue that are still worthy of your attention. This is one of those. The CD comprises of concerts from 1979, 1980 and 1983. The latter show only being a year before his father and he fell out, and his Dad shot him. Marvin had travelled to Ostend, as with many of us human beings, trying to make sense of life. Problem is life is nonsensical, all told, however, he had made some good friends out there. He liked them and stayed for a while, however, the lure of his hometown, the unhealthy lifestyle, put pay to a man that, well, a bit like a Laurel and Hardy flick, you just want to get in the action and try to help sort things out. These recordings are, in a way, clumsy entries into a musical life diary. Not great, but a unique access to another part of his repertoire. I personally, love his take on the 'Lord's Prayer'. The other shows are taken from Europe, Japan and his home country. This is the sort of CD you'd want to own, not to play too much, but be part of the library of one of Soul Music's great's. He would have been 67 this year. Out on Art's International Records. No Web address, so you may need to go hunting.


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• Bobby Taylor - The Motown Anthology / Larry Levan -Journey Into Paradise


Bobby TaylorLarry Levan


Two more compilations to look out for this year.


Bobby Taylor is a real unsung hero in my humble opinion. He recorded some great sides, many of which appear here. Of the 46 songs on offer here (2 CD's), Bobby covers songs by Otis Redding, Gladys Knight, the Temptations and even the Beatles, amongst others. There are several excellent unreleased songs, along with my favourite two tracks, those being 'Malinda' and the gorgeous summery 'Don't Be Afraid', a song that made it to Richard Searling's first 'Motown Connoisseurs' compilation. I believe Bobby is in the U.K. for some dates right now. Judging by this compilation, he is a very welcome guest. Check Amazon for copies.


Larry Levan is a very different character. He was really one of the first deejay's that turned the genre into an artform. Thesedays deejays are considered superstars, however, if it wasn't for the likes of Larry doing his thing at the Paradise Garage nightclub, back in the Seventies and Eighties, none of todays deejay pretenders would be making the enormous amounts of money they are doing (and being a pale comparison of this man at the same time). This is another double CD offering, so you need to make sure you have the day off work, and go for a lay down after proceedings. As with the other compilations on this page, there are far too many tracks to list, so I have scanned the rear sleeve for you guys to scrutinize. Very nice set of dancers and highly recommended. Check for copies.


Larry Levan


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• Cameo Parkway Series


Cameo Parkway


I had sent 7 of these Cameo Parkway CD's a week or so ago. Been so much e-mail that I just haven't had time to get round to reviewing these until now. My apologies. There isn't a team of folks here, it is just myself, so things get updated more slowly as the place has more and more visitors, that's all.


This 8 CD set is really 'a game of two halves' as soccer commentators have a habit of saying. Most of this material has never made it to CD before. Of the first half that didn't really get going for me were the CD's by the Captain Scarlet sounding '? And The Mysterians'. Blue Eyed Soul, very the Animals sounding. Never heard of them before. Bobby Rydell's material was probably great at the time, however, I come from a different era, that was brought up on Motown, and later, Philadelphia. I think Bobby's looks had a lot to do with his success. The sound of the Dovell's is very much in the same bag for me. I kept waiting for them to break into a rendition of Henry Winkler's show theme 'Happy Days'! If you were there, then, this is for you. Lastly, as we reach half time, is Chubby Checker's CD. Great at Christmas time after several beverages. Chubby came out with so many dances and 'twisted' so much back then, today the poor bloke must in in traction and under constant supervision today! LOL. Again, different strokes. There will be folks out there already loading their 45's and flying to the U.K. to locate me and fill me full lf lead! Chubby did his thing, and good luck to the man. Million's out there would disagree with me, but how many 'Twists' does it take to make a CD?


O.K. We've brought on the substitutes at half time, and gone for a 4-4-2 formation, and things improve immensley. I am guessing the final CD has some of these better offerings on it, so, of the others. Well, to show I am not being 'date-ist', I really like the Orlons. This CD covers their recording era at the label, between 1961 and 1966, and I, pretty much, love everything on this set. The CD's do take a bit of wading through, as the songs are so short, so you are having to be patient and persevere with the huge content. If you don't, you don't get to songs such as the fantasic 'Envy (In My Eyes)'. What a great song. Dee Dee Sharp's CD is similar in standard to the Orlon's CD. Some lovely melodies on this CD. Really liked 'That's What My Mama Said' on this set. Highly recommended. Probably the pick of the bunch here is the Tymes collection of recordings. When folks describe music as 'timeless', well these recordings are, probably, a very good example. Funny that, all of these tunes only cover a two year period, between 1963 and 1964. 'Words Written On Water' is really lovely. The whole set is excellent throughout.


All told, if you like the label, you'll probably want all of these CD's. Very kind of the guys at Planet Earth Publicity in sending me this collection.


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• Stax Series


Stax Profiles


The Planet Earth guys, also, sent me this delightful set of material by various artists based at the Stax label. You will find that the listings are quite excellent here as well. I think these are coming out in a month or so. In this set, well there are no CD's I didn't like. What is unusual about these albums are they are compiled by some great musicians. Mable John compiled the Carla Thomas set. Steve Cropper compiled Otis's CD. Dan Akroyd compiled the set on Eddie Floyd, and even Elvis Costello put together the Booker T & The MG's CD. These are lovely additions to any collection. Obviously, some songs have to be in there, for instance, 'Mr Pitiful' on Otis's album, however, Steve Cropper hasn't taken the easy route and chosen 'Dock On The Bay', for instance. I loved Otis's version of the late Sam Cooke's, 'Change Is Gonna Come', for instance.


Not really a bad album, as I said, in any of these releases. Next year, it will be Stax's 50th anniversary. Amazing really. Label is the same age I am. There are events already being organised in Memphis. Check this URL:


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• Northern Soul - The Essential Collection


Northern Soul


This double CD is a great beginners compilation regarding getting the younger listener into Northern Soul. I guess a good way of describing this double CD set is, these are many of the songs utilised by many television adverts thesedays. Most of the songs are on various compilations spread around the house here, therefore, it is great to have many Northern Classics all pulled together in one place. Released by Union Square Music (who released Peter Young's excellent 'Soul Cellar' CD reviewed below, you get the usual suspects (Frank Wilson, Donnie Elbert, The Whispers, along with many more great dancers). A personal favourite is Timothy Wilson's 'Wedding Ring'. Very catchy. Nice liner notes by the excellent Bill Buckley from Blues and Soul magazine. Basically, if you are going to buy a Northern Soul CD, you could do a lot worse than picking up this album. Highly Recommended.


Rear Cover


Soul Brother Records


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• Atlantic R & B Series


Atlantic Vol 1Atlantic Vol 2Atlantic Vol 3Atlantic Vol 4Atlantic Vol 5Atlantic Vol 6Atlantic Vol 7Atlantic Vol 8


This lot fell on the door mat on Saturday morning. Nearly 200 of the finest Atlantic releases from 1947, up until 1974. Nice switch around in number dates there, guys! LOL. I had to sit down, whilst my daughter did her school homework, and wade my way through the listings here. Gobsmacked is the word. This is the most fantastic selection of songs from Ahmet Ertegun and Herb Abramson's stable you would ever wish for. Although the liner notes could have been more elaborate, the engineer's have done a wonderful job in restoring these masterpiece's to their original quality. The sound restoration is lovely, considering some of this material is half a century old right now. Where do you begin? Well the answer is 1947 with Joe Morris's 'Lowe Groovin', ending up with Major Harris's standard 'Love Won't Let Me Wait' in 1974. The meat in the sandwich is filled by the likes of Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, the wonderful Ruth Brown, The Clovers, you name it, all the Atlantic the folks are here. Atlantic's output was so prolific, that even these 8 wonderful CD's don't do the company justice. Quite an amazing collection of the real deal. Westlife? Eat your heart out! LOL. Absolutely essential and out on Warners right now. Check Amazon for copies.


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• Prince - Ultimate Prince




Prince? Love him or hate him, one thing you cannot deny, is he is a fabulous employer. The likes of Rosie Gaines, Mavis Staples etc have all benefitted from his musical assistance. I believe the man to be a very generous person. Personally, there is material that totally misses me as a fan of the man. 'When Doves Cry' and 'Little Red Corvette' are prime examples, however, many of you guys love these songs. Different strokes etc. I prefer the material when the man gets funky. 'Sign Of The Times', '1999' and, his early release 'I Wanna Be Your Lover' do it for my old ears. Funnily enough, his least popular material is probably his finest, in my humble opinion. Whatever standpoint I take, regarding this unique individual, one other thing that cannot be denied is Prince / Symbol, or whatever name he wants to describe himself as, his contribution to music cannot be denied. Similarly to Michael Jackson, folks knock the guy, ridiculing him for his appearrance at the Brit Awards a few years back, however, we need these guys around. Hell, we don't want any more 'Girls Burst Out Uncontrollably' or 'Boyz Aren't Good' on the block. We need these one off's to keep us on our musical toes. This is a lovely retrospective of a major influence in R & B over the last 25 years. Beautiful liners notes as well. Anyone's birthday coming up? Check Amazon for a copy. Highly recommended.


Rear Cover


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• Roberta Flack - The Very Best Of Roberta Flack


Roberta Flack


Roberta Flack is one of the finest singer songwriters of the last 30 years or so.


I remember being at school, towards the end of our time there, and the school used to take the older kids to various places. Day out's if you like. One day they took us to see a play in a place called Epsom in the U.K. There was an hour before the play was due to go on, so we were allowed an hour or so to go and look around the town. A good friend of mine and I went into a local 'watering hole' and, although under aged (yikes!), we had a beer and put some music on the jukebox. Two songs, we listened to, that have stuck with me to this day, in the grey matter, were Stevie's 'You've Got It Bad Girl' and Roberta's 'Killing Me Softly With His Song'. What music is all about. Memories.


Roberta has made some glorious music over the years. Genius in parts. You have many of her finest recordings here, with some lovely sleevenotes by David Nathan. The whole package is beautifully put together. You know many of the songs here, so I have added a list below. It would have been nice to have seen a mention regarding her contributions to the film 'Bustin Loose', but that really is nit picking. Just enjoy this CD. Make a nice Valentine's present. I don't need to recommend this CD. The music speaks for itself. Available at Amazon. Link above.




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• Kenny Dope Presents Randy Mullers Best


Randy Muller


Randy Muller got in touch with me a couple of years ago. He signed the guestbook at the site, and wrote 'All in all A MUST VIEW', bless him. Randy and the Brass Construction crew hit the scene back in 1975. Back then I was only 19. My friends and I were out dancing places and, one thing I do remember from back then, what their first album was revolutionary. Prior to that release, most dance tunes were 3 or four minutes long. If you wanted more of a tune, you had to flip the 45 over to hear part two. James Brown's songs and Kool and the Gang's fitted into that format. Sure there were other revolutionaries such as Norman Whitfield, however, when Randy and the guys hit the stores with this first Brass Construction album, it was almost like them telling us, 'look here are several brothers changing the scene, we are doing this for the Black person, so if anyone else wants to join in, that's fine, but just remember who this set is exactly aimed for'. In a way, the vocal delivery was almost like a football chant, accompanied by the funkiest of beats. How dare you only have 3 songs on each side of an album? Each only being one word as well. All about a message. Brass Construction's albums are never out of my music bag, if I am deejaying out thesedays. Back in '75, there were Black Clubs and a cross between Black and White Soul clubs in the U.K. Today, we don't really think about colour, although, I do think it is sad that, when I walk past the local University here, generally, the 'brothers of whatever colour' tend to hang with their own skin tone. I think that will take a couple of generations to change, and as Blue Mink once sang, 'we'll be turning out coffee coloured people by the score'.


Randy Muller was classically trained. As Michael Caine might have said in Alfie, 'Not a lot of people know that'! LOL His drive behind the Brass Construction machinery cannot be denied. He went on to be the driving force behind other 'walls of sound'. You get that here with several collaborations with the likes of B.T Express, Raphael Cameron, Funk Deluxe, Skyy and his homeboys. What is lovely about this set is Kenny Dope hasn't messed with the sound too much. Just enhanced it. Each track runs into the next one. When I listen to todays cars driving by, with a sound system bigger than anyone really needs in a dancehall, playing some awful sexist rap track, 'performed' by a guy whose only claim to fame is he was shot several times (and I wonder why!), doors nearly falling off (and that's just in our house!), they ought to listen to a real Funk genius. Randy Muller certainly is that. Be nice to see a follow up album of other mixes. Construction made so many great sides ('Tomorrow Is Now', 'Shakit', 'Do That Thing' etc). If you don't want to dance to this, I know the number of a very good doctor! Copies at Amazon.


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• Various - Peter Young Presents Soul Cellar


Soul Cellar


Peter Young's legendary Soul Cellar Show has been running now for nearly 30 years. Whilst others have gone for whatever musical fad there may be fashionable at the time, PY has just done his own thing. What is Peter's speciality is finding the original of a tune that you thought, all the time, was firstly recorded by another artist. Thesedays his show comprises of the best new material along with 'the Cellar'. You can pick up his show on the Net, so if you are New Malden or New York, can get online, then you are there! Check his page at the site (off the main page).


This fine double CD has a few 'newish' tunes ('Love Stories' by Jennifer Holliday being a fine example and the retro 'What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes' by Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings), but on the whole, this is material from back in the day. Cellar classics if you like. There are, in total, 30 tracks on offer here. Each a sure fire winner. Any one of these would get any party started in fine form.


Below are the complete listings. Highly recommended CD, from a deejay who knows what he is musically talking about! Check out Soul Brother for copies.


CD Listings


Soul Brother Records


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• Johnny Guitar Watson - The Funk Anthology / Various - A Cellar Of Motown Volume 2


Johnny Guitar WatsonMotown Cellar 2


Johnny Guitar Watson was reportedly a very funny man. He made some great sides, from the Fifties up until his untimely passing in 1996. I didn't know much about the man until I hear the song 'I Need It' back in 1976. I was 20 and went out and bought the 'Ain't That A Bitch' album back then. Still here. Looked after this album well. In those days I used to carry records to some places. When that tune came on the sound system, well the place went crazy! This is a lovely double CD retrospective on the man. The liner notes and photography are some of the finest I have seen in ages. I think my only criticism is the omission of a couple of my favourite songs by the man, namely, 'I Don't Want To Be A Lone Ranger' (a later version is included here, however) and 'Since I Met You', but who am I to complain? This is a lovely piece of Soul History to own. On a par with those great Deluxe Marvin reissues of a couple of years ago. On Shout Factory if you are thinking of what to pick up as an early Christmas present....


The Motown CD came as a relief after that funny old remix album. 'Let's Get It On' was a nice remake, but some of the others were like having Jackson Pollock repainting the Mona Lisa! Not a great idea. What strikes me is the huge back catalogue that is still being put out there. This is by far one of the best offerings from the Motor City archive. You, actually, get 42 tracks on this double CD. To be honest with you, you need to go lie down at the end of the second CD, as there is so much quality to travel with on this rich musical journey. Lovely Smokey material here, loved the J.J. Barnes tracks (sounding very Marvin-esque in parts), along with a few lesser known artists, such as Debbie Dean, Connie Haines, The Lewis Sisters, Tommy Good, The Vows and Terry Johnson. Those who love the 'Northern' sound will lap this up. So they should. 10 out of 10. A great release, which doesn't have to be original vinyl for you to appreciate the quality of the material on offer here. Cream will always rise no matter what the medium it is delivered on.


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• B.B. King - The Ultimate Collection / James Brown - Greatest Breakbeats


B.B. KingJames Brown


B.B. King is an artist that I have neglected at this site, criminally. I guess my head was too stuck in the Soul material that, if I introduced the Blues, then in my mind I would think I would have been doubling my workload! The Blues is Black Music, and if you ignore one section of this musical culture, you become all the poorer. I know many of the songs on offer here. The sleevenotes are beautifully penned by Charles Sawyer and the imagery is superb. Got that base covered then! LOL. Each song has a listing on who was where at the time of each recording, and this makes for interesting reading. For example, my favourite cut, 'Chains and Things' has keyboards, back in 1970, played by one Carole King (who was releasing her own majestic album 'Tapestry' at the time). One might have expected to see the likes of Eric Clapton on this set, as the ex Cream man has borrowed way past his bank account limit on this form of music. The nice surprises are seeing the likes of Joe Sample, Paulinho Da Costa (inevitably, as he would appear on a sixteenth century piece of classical music! LOL), The Waters and Stevie Wonder amongst others. If you haven't got any of B.B.'s material in your collection, you should really enhance your library and pick up this CD. Fine rootsy stuff from a consummate performer.


James Brown? I am sure I have heard that name before?..........LOL. I could always say 'Here is a man who needs no introduction', but it has always bemused me as to why folks who 'need no introduction', well, why are they always introduced? O.K. Here is a double CD set of just about the most sampled music on the planet. 15 years ago, just about every track released on the R & B scene featured the drum riff from 'Funky Drummer', and why not? Some of the best songs from that era used that riff as a foundation for what came on top musically. You get 24 tracks here, and for the deejay who is prepared to face the wrath of the vinyl purists, you have to have this in your CD box at any gig. There is a saying that one deejay once told me, that, if the dance floor isn't as busy as you feel it ought to be, well, 'when in doubt, James Brown out'. Amen to that sentiment. I don't think I have ever been to a gig without at least one album by this crazy man in my collection for the night. I, personally, don't think that he is the 'Godfather Of Soul'. Brother James is more like a 'benchmark in Soul history'. This is the sort of CD that you will go out and buy and not play. You know the music so well, but you feel you have to have this, in the way you have to have food to live. Fantastic music from a man that can fill any dancfloor with people from 5 years old to 95 years old. As for me, well I am on the latter end of that age range, so I hope the club has a walking stick! LOL.


Oh yes, as you will know all of the tunes on the James Brown CD off by heart, below is a seldom played tune by the man. The lovely ballad 'Someone To Talk To'.


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• Thelma Houston - Sunshower / Bobby Womack - Across 110th Street


Thelma HoustonBobby Womack


Two albums that should be ignored at your peril!


As a child, my parents were into all sorts of music. My father was into Sinatra and Nat King Cole. We had a record deck that was hooked up to a radio, at our place, which had valves inside the thing, that had to warm up before we could get to listen to the music, or the 'Light Wave' as the radio was back then. Whilst my father was doing his musical thing, my mother was listening to the Beach Boys, Dave Brubeck, Dusty Springfield, the Beatles, and one single I particularly remember called 'One Day' by a group called the Sands Of Time. They sounded not too dissimilar to the material that Jim Webb was penning at the time. Jim wrote for all sorts of people. Fifth Dimension and even the late Richard Harris ('MacArthur Park'). Who'd have thought he'd end up in the Harry Potter movies, bless him! LOL. Well, in 1969, Jim collaborated with Thelma Houston, and penned all but the Rolling Stones 'Jumping Jack Flash' on this lovely set of melodies. Oddly that Stones tune is a useful barometer here, as it sits uncomfortably amongst some of Thelma's / Jim Webb's finest ever work. This album is a 'must have' album. Even if you are the slightest bit interested in this genre, you need this in the same way you need oxygen and love. Thelma's delivery is superb throughout and if anyone needed an example of an album that has stood the test of time, this is a perfect state of the art. Patti Austin covered 'Someone Is Standing Outside' on an album of cover versions during the latter part of the Eighties. Thelma's original version of 'This Is Your Life' (later superbly covered by Norman Connors) is a song that always brings a tear to the eye. Personally, I prefer Thelma's take on the song, however, Norman and Eleanor Mills' version is glorious as well. This is simply a stunning album from start to finish.


The Bobby Womack album has now been reissued by Charly Records. One of the annoying things about CD's is you need a magnifying glass to read the sleevenotes. This is something I know that can frustrate the writer and forced me to go dig out the album of this Soundtrack to find out the original label details (United Artists 1972) and read who did what and where. Maybe I need glasses, however, in some cases, the Hubble telescope might come in handy! LOL You will probably know the title song from this album, which has probably become the benchmark for the 'Blaxplotation' genre. The rest of the set should be taking up your time as well. I have always loved the tender 'If You Don't Want My Love', which, at only two and a half minutes, is a simply gorgeous piece of Soul Music. Fusion fans will love the melodic 'Quicksand'. With all soundtrack albums, you are delivered the incidental music from the movie, of course. Of it's type, this is an essential album. As for Bobby, well he is one of those members of an exclusive club, that can sing a tune by the Sex Pistols and turn it into a Soul song. Aretha has that gift as well. Bobby apparently tells many tall stories. LOL Lock up your daughters! Oh yes, go buy this album if you haven't already got a copy. Once you have it in your mucky mits, you'll know why this an essential CD.


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• Various - Motown Hitsville UK / Various - This Is Northern Soul


Motown Hitsville U.K.This Is Northern Soul


Two lovely retrospectives of Sixties material here.


The Motown Hitsville UK CD is a very intelligent compilation of many tunes that will be very familiar to you. The reason that I use the word 'intelligent' is that the guys haven't taken the easy option and focused on material that is rare as rocking horse doo doo, without taking into the quality of the material. The thing is, as I have said a few times before at the site, folks can get too bogged down with, what the label is or how many copies there are out there and how much they cost. Listen to Marvin singing 'Abraham, Martin & John'. Cheap as a bag of peas and probably one of the finest Soul tunes over the last 5 decades. There are 23 tracks on offer here and everyone is a winner. If anyone is after the Earl Van Dyke instrumental 'All For You', well that makes the teamsheet....'Roadrunner', 'Needle In A Haystack', 'Tears Of A Clown', 'A Simple Game' are all tunes you know. In a way, this is very much like one of the Motown Chartbusters albums from the late Sixties and early Seventies. Lovely Motown material and part of the fabric that is Soul Music.


'This Is Northern Soul' is a double CD of Sixties beats that amounts to nearly 50 tracks. There are sleevenotes by ex Blues and Soul scribe, Sharon Davies, who writes some nice liner notes regarding the late and much missed Dave Godin. With 50 tracks to plough through, the listener's attention can drift a little. Not that that is due to the quality of the material, it is just the overall bulk. My tip is to pick up the CD, sit down with a glass of your favourite...whatever...and spend an evening (when there is nothing on the T.V.) and just let this lovely music drift over you. Personally, I hit the repeat button on the lovely Caroline Crawford melody 'My Smile Is Just A Frown Turned Upside Down' and Brenda Holloway's sister, Patrice, doing her thing on the melodic 'For The Love Of Mike'. Lovely surprise to hear that song.


Did make me laugh when I was talking to a good friend of mine who was talking about the home of Northern Soul. They mentioned Wigan Casino. Wigan may have been the 'Mecca', however, the real home is the Soul fraternity in the Black Community in the States, via Covent Garden in London. As I have mentioned previously, Dave Godin's store, called Soul City, back in the Sixties, used to have many visitors from the North of the U.K. They used to ask for a slightly different style of Soul Music than those from the South, so Dave would place the music he thought those in the North might like in a different box than the rest of the recordings in the shop. Whenever a punter from the North of the U.K. came into the store and asked for a particular tune, Dave would ask his assistant to 'dig out the Northern Soul'. Thus the term was formed. The thing that concerns me a little, is the purist will want many of the tunes here, on both of these CD's, on the original vinyl, thus shooting the music down from a great height. Those anoraks that want to keep the music vinyl only, and exclusive to their collections, are doing the originators a great dis-service. It's what's in the groove....or laser....that counts!


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• The Stylistics - The Ultimate Collection / Various - Natural High 4


The StylisticsNatural High 4


At the tail end of last week, these two CD's fell on the doormat. I was particularly pleased to have received the Stylistics CD. The Stylistics are one of a few groups that I receive the most e-mail at the site right now. There are, at the moment, two versions of the group doing the rounds right now. One is fronted by Eban Brown, the second by Russell Thompkins Jnr. Please don't ask me which version is better, just check out the music, after all, that is what this ought to be about. Now, I am going to be totally honest here (and this has been the case since the mid Seventies in my own opinion), the group made a bad career move once they left the wing of Thom Bell and Linda Creed. Hugo and Luigi came on the scene and brought the worse out in Russell Thompkins Jnr. My own humble opinion, that's all. 'Sing Baby Sing' doesn't have the substance of 'Betcha By Golly Wow' or, their finest recording 'Payback Is A Dog'. As I said, purely an opinion, that's all. One very, ironic, inclusion is the song on the second CD of 'You Make Me Feel Brand New', almost thrown in at the Hugo and Luigi 'deep end'. The irony here is that, that particular song is one I have never liked! You are outraged aren't you? Something about that song isn't quite right, again, in my humble opinion. Felt that 30 years ago and I still feel the same way. O.K., so what we have here is a game of two halves. You get the Thom Bell sessions, followed by the 'Star On A T.V. Show' second half. If that is your bag, then good luck to you. My personal belief is that Thom Bell wrote intelligently for the guys, Hugo & Luigi made something heavyweight...lightweight. One other slight criticism is, it would have been great to have the likes of 'Hurry Up This Way Again' included here. All told though, worth the purchase for CD one on it's own. A great ensemble.


Natural High 4 is another CD that has had the guys at Warner trawling through their vaults and pulling out a few real gems. Many of these tunes you will already know. Personal favourites are the wonderful Debra Laws 'Meant For You', Leroy Hutson's immense 'Nice & Easy', The Staples 'Love Me, Love Me, Love Me', Wornell Jones's tender 'Must Have Been Love', Chaka Khan's lovely 'Any Old Sunday and the brilliant 'Take It Slow' by the Notations. If you are out at your local store, check the listings. Very nice release and another fine addition to Warners ever expanding back catalogue. Recommended.


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• Chris Clark - The Ultimate Collection / Various - After Hours 3


Chris ClarkAfter Hours 3


Following on from the brilliant Brenda Holloway reissue, Chris Clark's CD is another real delight. The After Hours CD is another great Warner compilation filled with material that is as rare as Rocking Horse doo doo!


Chris Clark's output is largely ignored. One of only a few White artists to grace the studio's at Hitsville over some 40 years ago. Visually, one might be not far off the mark in comparing this great singer to Dusty Springfield. Even some of the material runs a two horse race with the late, great singer. On this set, as with Brenda's, you get the albums on one CD followed by a series of unreleased material, along with some 45's that never made the albums on the second CD. Pick of the bunch here is the lovely, flowing 'How About You' from the woman's 'CC Rides Again' album (from the first CD) and the lovely, very Bacharachesque 'I Just Can't Forget Him', from the 'unreleased' CD. This is a lovely, beautifully written, piece of timeless music. Every home.....


The 'After Hours' series are another set of releases that always have something or other worth listening to, and thus are worth the financial outlay. There are 29 songs on offer here. 29? Blimey, we'll soon have to go into training before we set up the stereo. The downside of so many songs on one CD is there is a tendency to hit the forward button, which is a shame. There are a few fillers here, in my humble opinion, however, the sides by Darlene Love, Delilah Keenebruew (hope I have that spelt correctly!), The Soul Brother Six, Life, The Teen Turbans (I am not kidding you!) and the glorious Barbara Lynn, are all well worth investigating. The track 'Contact' by the Three Degrees is a little bit special, here. I think the company knew it as the girls (who I met several years ago at a work function my company at the time were working on) grace the cover of this album. Very Jim Webb in parts. I know Swing Out Sister would die for this tune. Simply lovely. Shame about some of the lesser tracks. In many ways, the Northern Soul Scene can be a little like a guy in the goldrush still panning for nuggets long after the best pieces have been discovered and most of the gold diggers have left the place. I suppose there will always be an undiscovered tune out there someplace, so who am I to criticise? Worth the price of the CD alone for the Three Degrees tune.


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• Nat King Cole - The World Of Nat King Cole / Brenda Holloway - The Motown Anthology


Nat King ColeBrenda Holloway


Two reissues by solo artists and very fine one's they are as well.


Nat King Cole is an artist that has been pigeonholed into a compartment that shouts out 'middle road' to many Soul Purist. In some ways I can understand that. My late father loved the man's music and I bet, if you are around the age of 40, your Mums and Dads also loved the man's music. People forget the enormous contribution and volume of music Nat put together. Most folks today would remember the man and his underrated daughter Natalie's version of 'Unforgettable'. We have all heard these songs many times over. That kind of 'blinkers' the listener somewhat. Nat was a fine instrumentalist in his own right and we should not forget his input within Black Music. You get 28 tracks here that have been remastered beautifully. Personal favourites here are the bluesy 'Send For Me' his live version of 'Thou Swell'. As I mentioned, you'll know these tunes as well as you know your relatives! Lovely stuff from a great artist that is largely ignored by Soul Fans. That shouldn't be the case. On Capitol Records and, well, an essential part of the history of Black Music.


Brenda Holloways double CD is a real delight. She really was an unsung songstress at Motown. There are lovely sleevenotes here. You pays your money and get the 'Every Little Bit Hurts' and 'Hurtin' & Crying' albums in full on the first CD. The title track on the first album is stunning as many of you out there will know. It is easy to see the influence Brenda had on the Fab Four back in the day (the song 'This Boy' being a prime example). I believe Brenda toured as a support act with the band back in the day. The song 'Can I?' was later covered by the excellent David Peaston (and earlier Vee Allen) on his debut album from the late Eighties. These albums don't get much more Soulful than anything out there. Of interest is the second CD, that is described as 'The Artistry Of Brenda Holloway, Singles Rare and Unreleased'. In amongst this bunch is her early take on Stevie Wonder's tune 'All I Do' that he later recorded on his 'Hotter Than July' album back in 1981. There is also the inclusion of the rare song 'Operator' that recently made Richard Searlings excellent 'Motown Connoisseurs' collection recently. Oh yes, 'You've Changed Me' is absolutely gorgeous. Out on Universal Records. Both highly recommended and available at Amazon right now.


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• Archie Bell & The Drells - There's Gonna Be A Showdown, and, Tighten Up & I Can't Stop Dancin' / Willie Hightower - Willie Hightower / Garry Glenn - Garry Glenn


Archie Bell & The DrellsArchie Bell & The Drells

Willie HightowerGarry Glenn


Four very fine releases to start the New Year with. Both of the Archie Bell albums are quite magnificent. Loved listening to these over the last week or so. Of the two I have been, perhaps playing the 'Showdown' CD a little more. 'Mama Didn't Teach Me That' is a glorious slice of the real deal. 'Here I Go Again' and the title tracks you will know very well. The music on this album seems to be more 'fluid' than the 'Tighten Up' set, which has an intensity that is charming and highly uplifting in it's own setting. 'When You Left, Heartache Began' is lovely. Archie and the guys seem more relaxed and artistically comfortable on the 'Showdown' album (my opinion, that's all). The 'Showdown' set has the complete original outing along with 11 non album 45's and 4 unreleased songs. All told, this is a lovely pair of releases, which I can highly recommend. For some odd reason, I have a credit on the sleevenotes. I didn't do anything with regards these re-releases, so pay no attention to that! LOL. Both of these are well worth picking up and would brighten anyone's day. Out on Warner Brothers. Check Amazon for copies. Amazon.


Willie Hightower is a singer I knew little about until this CD arrived here just before Christmas. This a gorgeous album and I feel terribly guilty that I knew little regarding this artist previously. Willie's vocal stylings, at times, are very reminiscent of those of the late Sam Cooke. Honest Jon's are re-releasing some fine material. This set is probably my favourite thus far. There are 18 tracks on show here, which may be too many. Trouble with reissues from back in the day are the tracks are so short, the temptation to add as many songs as possible rather than 'cherry pick' is, I guess understandable and irresistable. However, I recommend this CD wholeheartedly. No fillers and I have been boring the family with the track 'Poor Man', which is Soul Music at it's finest and something I can relate to at the outset of 2005! LOL. Check Soul Brother for copies of this fine album.


Garry Glenn's reissue is an absolute delight. Garry died back in 1991. A real waste of such a young life. Garry wrote 'Caught Up In The Rapture' for Anita Baker and is fondly remembered for his 'Feels Good To Feel Good' album on Motown back in 1987. This album from 1980 has never seen a re-release until now. This, in my humble opinion, is a superior offering to the Motown album. A very nice woman called Dakota from the PPL label sent me this set. I already had the album on vinyl, so this CD will save that album from any further wear, and I am very grateful of that. Thanks Dakota. Do check this album out. Some lovely midtempo moments here, none more so than the excellent 'Heaven Kind Of Love' and 'Got You On My Mind'. Lovely album from this greatly missed and underrated singer. Check Soul Brother for copies of this fine album.



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