Sunday, 25 January 2009
Irma & The Fascinations - Lost Love
Maxine Brown - Let Me Give You My Lovin'
Dancing 'Til Dawn
256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Kent 026
Soundological is experiencing technical difficulties at the moment (power supply blew and shorted the motherboard) and now new components have to be purchased and a system built from scratch. Luckily a few LPs were prepared before the meltdown and I can use wifey's old PII laptop when she ain't, so postings will be forthcoming but have to be short 'n' sweet for the next week or so. It'll also mean a slower response to any comments you leave but rest assured they are read and greatly appreciated nonetheless!
In the meantime, here's another OOP Kent compilation for the soulsters out there, this time focusing mostly on Wand & Scepter records and including tunes penned by towering infernos such as Ashford, Simpson, Gamble, Huff, Dozier & Holland. AMG is a little hard on this particular collection but obviously the reviewer is not so down with the Northern Soul scene in general - which makes me wonder why bother reviewing it in the first place. Ummm, we all know The Shirelles, Al Wilson, and Chuck Jackson had bigger hits Richie, but the scene is all about catching the tracks that fell through the cracks and rescuing them from obscurity . Nevermind the fact that when this Kent compilation popped up, 60s soul didn't have much of an outlet outside of The Big Chill soundtrack or golden oldies collections of Billboard hits.
To begin with, back in 1984 this was the only place you could hear what would turned out to be one of my all time favourite 60s soul tracks, "Lost Love" by Motor City's mysterious Irma & The Fascinations. Chunky beats teetering on funk and the use of raw guitar stabs where most songs of the era would employ a horn section, all wrapped around a plaintive lead vocal that drew from the depths of Irma's emotion with a message about moving on from a mindset of misery have made this a masterpiece of the mid-60s sound IMHO. This was also the first place I heard "Let Me Give You My Lovin'" by Maxine Brown (who's still going strong and released a new LP called From The Heart just a few months ago - details at her official website). Wikipedia sums it up quite nicely: "Despite her lack of hits, Brown is acknowledged as one of the finest R&B vocalists of her time, capable of delivering soul, jazz, and pop with equal aplomb."
Since we're lacking time to go into details on other artists included, it's highly recommended you check out the links in the artist/track listings below for some serious lessons in soul history. You'll find out some of it surprising (like the fact Clarence Reid is also the legendary Blowfly, wrote both Betty Wright's "Clean Up Woman" & Gwen McRae's "Rockin' Chair" and introduced KC & The Sunshine Band's Finch & Casey to Bahamian junkanoo beats) and some of it heartwarming (how Darryl Stewart only found out a few short months ago that folks have been grooving to "Name It & Claim It" for 40 years thanks to his son showing him the track on YouTube) but all of it edifying if you're interested in the history of soul music. In fact, I'd say it's exactly that aspect of the Kent compilations that makes them extremely essential - they were passionately assembled and acted as launch pads for discovering the deep past of R&B, soul & funk.
AMG Review by Richie Unterberger
There are numerous 1960s soul compilations on the Kent label that seem geared for the Northern Soul crowd in the U.K.: soul music with a danceable tempo -- a trait to be prized above all others, including content. This assemblage of 25 tracks from the 1960s and early 1970s, all originally issued on the Scepter/Wand label and subsidiaries, is average or maybe a bit below average as far as such collections go. Much of Scepter's output epitomized the poppy, uptown New York soul sound, which is heard often here. Though the stomp-beats might be reliable, the songs are run-of-the-mill, and sometimes derivative, particularly of Motown. Some of Scepter's best acts are here -- the Shirelles, Maxine Brown, Chuck Jackson, and Tommy Hunt -- but they're not represented by their best tracks. If you really like those singers and/or the Scepter sound in general, you're far better off getting into their single-artist compilations. But of course that's not the point; those comps would be too diverse for nonstop, dance floor action. There's a smattering of cuts by singers known for things other than their Scepter work. A reissue like this is not all it should be, though, when it's more interesting rattling off the oddities from the track listings than it is describing the music.
1 Stemmons Express - Woman, Lover, Thief
2 Clarence Reid - I'm Your Yes Man
3 Irma & The Fascinations - Lost Love
4 Ivorys - Please Stay
5 Nella Dodds - Come Back Baby
6 Bobby Bradshaw - Show Me A Man
7 The Charts - Livin' The Nightlife
8 Candy & The Kisses - Out On The Streets Again
9 The Shirelles - Last Minute Miracle
10 Judy Clay - You Busted My Mind
11 Maxine Brown - Let Me Give You My Lovin'
12 Darryl Stewart - Name It And Claim It
13 Billy Thomspon - Black Eyed Girl
14 George Tindley - Ain't That Peculiar
15 Chuck Jackson - These Chains Of Love (Are Breaking Me Down)
16 Al Wilson - Help Me
Trying something new this post: the song title links go to YouTube so you can hear the track, while artist links go to bio info as usual.
Reissued by Ace Records on CD as Kent 106 with 9 extra tracks, can often be found for less than $5 online. Most of these tracks are also available on Metro's Soul Allnighter double CD package as well but this ol' soul boy will be the first to tell you these 60s tunes always sound better on vinyl. Collecting the individual 45s would set you back at least $5K but you can dance 'til dawn with Soundological for less than a dime HERE or HERE.