SHADES OF SOUL #29 - October '00
Soul Incorporated - My Proposal - Coconut Groove 2031
I've collected Northern avidly for over twenty years now and believe me when I tell you that to me this is one of the finest examples of that genre that I've ever come across. Immaculate instrumentation, great vocal performances and a wonderful lyric in fact it ran a close second to Chuck Jackson's "Hand it over" as the record that my wife was to walk down the aisle to! For the anoraks among us (and let's face it if you've bought this fanzine you might just well be one), I have to point out that it has the "Mastered at Frankford & Wayne" and the "ARP" stamps in the run out grooves! The label address/credits/layout/numbering system run hand in hand with the "Prophonics" label out of Mt.Morris, Michigan thus its from the same stable as Searling's old Wigan monster, "Joe Matthews - I don't like to lose", which of course is really "The Group featuring Cecil Washington". Indeed, Cecil is present again on this disc not only as the second vocal to enter the song (duetting with an unknown male vocal), but he also wrote and co-produced it as well, the talented so and so. Recent research tracked down Soul Inc.'s old manager, who credited the lead voice as "Bobby someone or other” - time will hopefully reveal his identity. So, what's it like tight drumming and stroking guitar work are complemented by an organ breathing away, as it builds and just gets better and better. "Sit yourself down dear, I've got something to say. Girl we have been living right, things have been going right and started to go our way. We've got blessings to be counted girl, true love has been founded on a solid foundation (enter Cecil) with every indication that it will last as years go pass, temptations may mount, but I will never cheat on you, no I won't." FANTASTIC, but it gets even better, "Now that we know for sure, that our love will always endure, now that you have fulfilled my life, I'm asking you to be my wife. This is my proposal". Let us hope that he gets what he wants and that she'd accept his declaration of undying love. For us punters who still like to throw ourselves around the dance floor it has a perfect Northern instrumental break and a couple of crucial key change chucked in for good measure as well. Originally played on an Emi disc by Rob Marriott and more recently on proper vinyl via Scotland's Keith Money and Richie Conn, of whom I both thank for letting me finally own an original copy - you can count the number of copies found on one hand. This is a MONSTER SOUND and I can't fault this disc, or recommend it enough priceless!
Wade Flemmons Two Of A Kind Ramsel 1002
By now you can guarantee hearing the late Mr.Flemmon's "Jeanette" at every soul doo up and down the land, but how many times do you actually get to hear this one from him? We all know that "Jeanette" has been easy to pick up over the years, and its current (over inflated) price tag is purely based on demand rather than rarity. However, in true Northern Soul twist of fate, this number on the same label has never been found in big quantity, and when copies do come onto the market place they generally command upwards of £400. So, what do you get for your money a quality production, vocal performances and a decent lyric well quite frankly yes to all three. It's a non-frantic up tempo mover which reminds me of several other Northern tunes, including certain brass and bass aspects from Mr.Bland's "Yum yum tree". A very polished and full brass led intro sets up Wade to tell us that, "You've been hurt by the one you love, and so have I, and you're nursing a broken heart girl, just like mine. I know we've both lost a very special lover, so why can't we comfort each other? Now can't you see that you and I are two of a kind?". Yes, it's a story of two jilted lovers coming together to comfort each other, although we never get to know whether they do eventually get it on. For all you anoraks out there please note that It's quite a long track by our standards at 2 minutes 53 seconds, and the 15 second saxophone break arrives on time at the 1.50 mark. Unlike "Jeanette", the label also states that Chess were responsible for the distribution of this disc, or not as the case may be. Wade eventually ended up in the early line up of Earth, Wind & Fire after his fairly long stint at VeeJay, which began back in the fifties, before he then moved on to cut the couple of discs for his own Ramsel label. There are still plenty of soulies yet to hear or indeed have the opportunity to dance to this track, so I'm sure there is a lot of mileage left in this one.
Benny Spellman - This Is For You My Love - Alon 9031
I think it is fair to say that Benny's "Fortune Teller" suffered from too much exposure during the early 80's, and has since seldom picked up many spins at all nighters. However, I also believe people still have a soft spot for it which is why it's maybe time to unleash this track from him as it is just as charismatic and infectious indeed I'm getting right behind this one so expect to hear me play it, often. Fast and furious with Alan Toussaint's trademark piano bursting out at you in the many instrumental breaks throughout it imagine the piano breaks at the beginning of "Fortune Teller" meet the break at the end of Willie Harper's "But I couldn't"...nice! You've then got the rest of the New Orleans house band, The Meters, doing the business especially on the brass work and pumping bass, all in all producing a Northern tune that will stand out if you hear it at a doo, which I've never done in the past. Ironically, I actually bought the disc for its other side, "It's for you", which was featured on a Benny Spellman Charly LP in the mid-eighties. That too is well worthy of exposure, and is set at a mid tempo pace with a big menacing rumbling break similar in construction to Little Johnny Hamilton's "Oh how I love you" on Dore. It also features the Rose St.John / Joey Heatherton tinkling piano bits as well! It has taken me years to track this disc down, so it's fair to say it's quite rare and "not around", and certainly worth much, much more than the paltry £25 I paid for it from my old mate Adey Pierce...cheers mate!
Ed Cooper - Just Like The Hero - Nimrod 904
Hey, do you appreciate a quality mid to late sixties Detroit production you do, then my friend this one's for you. How has this one escaped through the net and been overlooked for so long as it's such a classy sound, and will appeal to many fractions of the Northern collecting scene that now exist? A military sounding start with male group harmonies ooo-ooing over a beating snare drum and then a truly wonderful tight brass scale introduces Ed. Now, this guy has a great voice, yes just like dare I say Levi? "Just like the hero, I'm gonna win", right on, "I'll be right by your side, to love you and be your guide, and maybe make you forget the other guys". For sure he's gonna win her love, and proceeds to tell us how and why, whilst a lead guitar picks along and the male chorus give their responses right on time, all together creating it's late 60's classy feel within it's Joe Hunter arrangement. I've only just got my original copy back after letting it go in a trade years ago, and I've taped it for a few friends recently, and all agree it's a very "now" sounding disc. So, get it quick if you can, before this one gets its long overdue break, and the price jumps safely well into three figures.
Ruby Andrews - I Just Can't Get Enough - Zodiac 1003
This is nothing like Ruby's "Just loving you", in fact it's practically the complete opposite being the real powerhouse "rumbler" that it is! Recorded in January '67 according to the run out grooves, and written and produced by one of our heroes, Mr. Andre Williams. He gives it some stick with some great solid brass work and tinkling ivories throughout, practically relegating poor Ruby's vocal to the background. Indeed, I wish she could have stood a little bit closer to the microphone, as she sounds a little lost in the production. The song is basically about the fact that, "it seems I just can't get enough of your l love, and each and every day on my mind you seem to stay". She's solid gone on her man! I recall that during my time at Charly Records we were offered the Zodiac, Boo and family labels catalogue, but the deal never happened, much to my disappointment! I did have a couple of copies of this once upon a time (where are the other two now?), and I wouldn't be surprised to hear that most collectors don't actually know this one. A decent enough Vietnam song on the reverse, "Johnny's gone away". Not just a label number I can assure you. Wonder what it would sound like at an all nighter?!
The V.I.P's - Strange Little Girl - Congress 211
Known on the collector's circuit for a while without receiving too much turntable action, although Dean and Kitch tried it under the guise of "The Chaumonts" in the early 90's, and that no good Roger Banks has just started to give it the odd play or two. The V.I.P's are a male group outfit and most likely nothing to do with the group of the same name (with a female lead), who cut a couple of discs for New York's "Big Top" label. The lead singer has a great clean and crisp voice similar to the lead vocalist of The Ascots on Mir-a-don / M.B.S. (who is he?), and indeed I can imagine them doing this track. He spins us the tale about the strange little girl, "Every night you walk down my street, you throw me kisses, but our lips never meet." He is reticent about her as he continues the tale, "Are you an angel or the devil in disguise?" Great production from the "Daruck" team (Jay Darrow and David Gluck), whose name crops up on several other labels, - maybe they are the V.I.P's? I love the way the lead guitar is accented by a glockenspiel reminiscent of pizzicato strings. They create an almost "comically spooky" feel in the main break which I particularly like, and that led to fellow London collector Tony Smith to describe it as that "Fairground sounding record"! Not too easy to locate (DooWop-ish flip maybe the reason?), and expect to pay anything from £200 due to its rarity alone.
Bernard Harper - I'm not gonna lose it - Action 3
Took me a couple of plays to get into this a few years back, but it's definitely one of my favourite discs nowadays. I have been dee jaying with it recently under the guise of "Billy Arnell - The greatest story ever told", so now you know the truth. A chugging nagging beat, with a simple yet strong sounding production, without the aid of any added brass or strings or kitchen sinks! The chopping lead guitar and swirling organ play the major parts, as Bernard tells his ex that he's over her, "I never thought that I could face you again, after I was so hurt". He's strong as, "now you can even flirt 'cause I've found me a love so strong", and more than that, "it's better than the greatest story ever told". That put her in her place. "I'm not gonna lose it, no matter how good you look to me". Never seen or heard of another copy, but I'm not saying that it's a one off, but it definitely deserves to be more well known and loved. Come and hear it at The Dome!
Lela Martin & The Soul Providers - You Can't have Your Cake (and eat it too) - Melatone 401
"Sounds like an oldie", is the most common complement upon hearing this, as it's so "obviously Northern" it could have been on Mirwood! Pat Brady gave it a few spins at Stafford upon the guise of, "Gwen Owens & The Servicemen"! A West Coast stomper out of Los Angeles with a fine pedigree behind it, being directed by Leon Haywood, co-produced by Carol King and penned by William "Heartache Souvenirs" Powell. Classic chopping guitar and vibes run all the way through this up tempo mover with an all too brief break and key change, but then again it's only one minute forty-eight seconds long. Lela reminds me of Yvonne Baker vocally and tells us that, "You can't have a cake and eat it too, you can't love her and love me too". So, it's make your mind up time as, "if you love her, let me know, if you don't need me, I'll gladly go", and a further warning to follow, "let me know where I stand, don't play with fire you might get burnt". Decisions, decisions! Note the flip side is her version of Bobby Mac's "Shy Guy", albeit set at a slower pace and not really right for a Northern dance floor. There's another disc by Lela on Stigers, but it's not up to much, and I was recently played another track on Melatone, which was OK, but was set at a wrong kind of shuffling R'N'B beat to appeal to a wide Northern audience, if you know what I mean? With regards to "You can't have your", I've seen it listed at £100 a few times over the last couple of years, which I consider to be worth it.
Cleveland Robinson - Boy - Nosnibor 1003
Cleveland released this track four times on his Nosnibor (Robinson back wards) label. The second release was #1003, which is the raw "bare bones" take, and indeed was the one spun by Gary Spencer once upon a time covered as "Bud Harper - Lonely Boy". Its big striding sound is courtesy of Bert DeCoteaux, so you get the picture already. The third time of asking version was on the pink label design with bongos and a harmonica laid over the original backing track which some people actually prefer? The fourth release had a completely different approach to it, being a brand new funky cut, so beware the bluey green issues unless you wanna get down! The lyric itself tells us the tale of a poor misunderstood lonely lad whose life had been tough, but he had a plan to, "Take me a wife and have us a couple of kids". However, after he had succeeded in his plan his woman was gone at the first hint of hardship, "The going got rough and you guessed it the girl went right out the door". Cleveland sympathises and says, "I for one understand everything that he's tried to do". Finally, he wishes that the lonely boy, "finds the girl who'll help him see it through". The original copies seem to be proving very scarce, rarer than "Love is a trap" maybe, and I sold my copy (Gary's old one) for £250, if I recall correctly. It's on "For millionaires only vol.4.
Bob Marshall & The Crystals - I'm Going To Pay you Back - L.Rev 968
Old fashioned stomper or sixties newie - it fits into both categories well. Nice sharp trumpet led brass break riding on top of rattling tambourines, pumping bass and organ. It some ways the production reminds me of some UK productions in a Geno Washington/Jimmy James fashion. The Crystals must be his backing band as there are no other voices present on either side, and speaking of the B side sometimes I prefer it to this side! It's called "You got me cryin'", and is more polished, but hasn't the raw energy of "IGTPYB". Now Bob is pissed, and kicks in with, "Yes you shot a hole in my soul, said I was getting' too old, girl yeah you've put me down, but you better leave this town, 'cause I'm gonna pay you back." Later he tells her that she can run but can't hide blimey is he upset!? There are a few other releases on the label on both yellow and/or blue labels, but not as good as this one.
...and here are a couple of extra reviews which didn't make my final selection at the time...
Pat & The Neurotics - I Like The Way You Do Your Thing - Crown 113
First heard this played by Gary Rushbrooke in his final set upstairs at the Stafford All nighter, and thought he introduced it as Patti & The Emblems damn that distorted system! Another one to go on the wants list that would hopefully eventually turn up after years of searching, or so I thought. However, later that same nighter I went through Mr.Hennigans' sales box, and blow me there was the actual copy there for £15! Cash exchanged without delay, ta very much Guy, for this scorching track set at 100+mph. The instrumentation is on the whole quite sparse and light apart from the almost overproduced brass stabs that literally blow out your eardrums. "You're really, really very groovy baby, you really, really turn me on", our gal Pat kicks in with, and off she goes to tell us about her guy, who really is quite good on the dance floor apparently! Indeed, it's a great dance track that deserves to break through from being a "collector’s piece" to a "dance floor request". Its quality coupled with rarity, so expect to part with £150+ to secure, if you can find one.
Gene Anderson - Do You Love Me Baby - Nu Tone 6501
Heard this played at Albrighton not too long ago, which was the first time I'd ever heard outside of my front room. I know that there are a few copies nestling in collections, but not too well known, yet. More Northern than gene's "Baby I dig you" on Royal Tone, as good as that is, and it is on listening to it again recently, but "DYLMB" definitely has the edge over it. It's quite long at 3 minutes and 25 seconds, but that gives plenty of room for manoeuvres and there's a few good breaks including a nice sax solo. Gene isn't the bet vocalist you'll ever hear, in fact he seems to lose it at one stage due to laughter/being smashed/boredom or all three!? A heavy bass line bites along and some great brass and chopping guitar make this an ideal dance track set at its not quite up tempo pace. Seen listed recently at £250.