SHADES OF SOUL #30 - May '02
The Del Larks - Out of the "In" Crowd - Jet 101
What's this, another Del Larks record? A legendary name (and obvious title), so you'd think someone would've picked it up years ago? However, this title only surfaced in the late 90's, found by top vinyl dealer bloke, Adey Pierce. It was quickly snaffled up (from under my nose!) by Ady Croasdell, who immediately turned it into the 100 Club favourite that it is today. A second copy was unearthed which passed through a few hands but now resides with my badself! Now, it's nothing like "Job Opening" at all, but is in fact a big New York production number that could have been on Musicor, Wand or United Artists and nestled nicely on a Kent LP compilation smack up Ady's avenue for sure! It's a real epic track with plenty of dramatic key changes and breaks, with strings, brass and chorus all playing their part in this tale of woe, under the eyes of Charles Callelo. I bet the promotional video would have been just like a scene from West Side Story! There are a few featured male vocalists within, of which the main one has a superb deep and rich voice that opens up proceedings with, "I'm out of the in-crowd, I don't know what, I wish you'd tell me just what a guy has to do, to be part of the group and start talking trash to you!" Wow, how hip and that's what the song is about, being hip, or rather how to be it as our chaps "Don't even know what's the latest dance", hence they're out of the in-crowd. Not a traditional Northern thumper, but more in the 6T's groove that really broke through during the mid to late 80's, and is a much loved division of the Northern Soul scene. Value wise a fair few hundred quid at least, and there's still but two copies known.
B.J.Thomas & The Triumphs - Keep It Up - Joed 119
A real old skool Northern "rumbler" of a track that is very reminiscent of John Leach's Casino monster of '79, "Put that woman down". This has been making the feet move down at the Capitol Soul Club where Irish Greg reactivated it a year or so ago, initially covered up as "Duke Baxter". "You can't cover up a B.J.Thomas record!" I hear you cry, but wait it happened before once upon a time back at the Yate all-nighters with his, "I don't have a mind of my own"! So, dissecting the track itself, it has a drum/piano intro just before the already mentioned rumbling bass line enters in and twangs away throughout. "I could write a book about the way you look", B.J. sings in a gruff manner, or is that "attitude" he's trying to purvey? He continues, "Cuz you were made for love like the star were made for the sky above, keep it up, don't let down." Brass stabs and an able chorus with their "ah, ah, aaaahs" compliment B.J's raw vocal, and all go to make up this great nighter sound. It's one of B.J.'s earliest recordings and isn't even mentioned on his own official web-site, and is proving to be quite a tough 45 to find, although it also appeared on one of his 70's LP's. Sited in a well-known DJ/dealer's box with a £300 price tag.
The Precious Three - I Need A Man - Ref-O-Ree 730
This is a fantastic track and would probably be pigeon holed by most as a "crossover" tune. It's got a sophisticated yet simple backing track of piano, organ, bongos and tight drumming no brass or strings at all...not even one! OK, it has a wild intro of swirling, scaling organ and camp "Ooooh yea's!" from the girls, but that only last a few seconds and can even be omitted by your deejay, but then bang in it goes! "I'm looking for a man, a real He-man. I don't need a boy acting like a toy!" Later she (whom ever she may be?) promises "I'll give you all of my love, my heart, my soul and my mind, not just for a day, I'm gonna give him all I've got to the end of time." At only two minutes, nine seconds long it's too short, and leaves you wanting more. So, it's on a classic Ted Jarrett owned label, penned and produced by Bob Riley, but I can't tell you anymore about the group - is it the only thing they ever did? The 45 is tough to find, with a three figure price tag already, but you can settle for the excellent Kent CD, "Music City Soul" of Ted Jarrett material, as it's on there. By sheer coincidence there's another Ref-O-Ree favourite of mine, Wendell Watts' "You girl", which I reviewed in Shades #29, also on that CD, and the Leevert Allison track reviewed later, as well!
Tootsie Rollers - Give Me Love - Me-O 1005
Some great tight female harmonies set the scene on this ex "Silky Hargreaves" cover up from the mid '80's. In fact the whole thing sounds very Detroity indeed, and is worthy of Silky's name being utilised, but I believe the label is in fact from West Virginia. Some sharp drumming, a tinkling piano and a few burps on the sax accompany the fem. intro chorus before "Tootsie" (?) comes in with his smooth vocal. The label itself doesn't actually say "The" Tootsie Rollers, so I'll assume it's his psyeodonim - what I do know is that a "tootsie roller" is an American candy sweet. "Too much love ain't good for me, but I'd rather have to love than to live in misery". Fair comment, sir, prey continue, "Take the sweetest flower or the tallest tree, they ain't no good without a girl honeybee". Then before you know it, there's a 20 second guitar break starting off, which works well and sounds great (maybe it's Tootsie), but I can't help thinking that they may have peeked too soon. "Oh beautiful love, sweet ecstasy, there's nothing in this World like L-O-V-E". Good lyric, not offensive, should've been a hit! Like I said earlier this discs has had a few spins in the past, but it's certainly one that a lot of people would've missed and is well worthy of more turntable action. At present it doesn't command a sky-high price and is under a ton, if you're lucky enough to be offered one, but I have a sneaky feeling it's a lot rarer than people think and could suddenly jump up in value the way they do.
Jay Bee & The Mighty Sensations feat. Dezzie Dee - Praying For An Answer - Thunderbolt
This got but a handful of spins back in the '80's via Rob Marriott, as "Billy Arnell", but it has been dormant since then, until now! Look at that label, how sparse almost Jamaican in appearance, and all those people involved getting a credit! It's not a Gospel song, but a tale of a guy chasing his girl for an answer, as it seems it's all over between 'em. "Knocking on your door, praying for an answer” cue the cute knocking sound from the percussionist! He then sends her a letter, a telegram, but never gets an answer, but accepts "it's plain to see she don't love me". The sound itself is overall very New York-y mid to up-tempo and would fit well on the Sue label, if you know what I mean with it's fantastic brass stabs, ever-present organ and it's trombone break (Jamaican touch!). The track sounds slightly unfinished, like it's never gonna end for the last 20 seconds, and I wouldn't want it too either, but eventually it comes to a halt. no fade, just stops. It's obscure, it swings, and deserves its 2.32 being exposed more. My first copy had an annoying click on the vinyl, so I let it go, but it then took me about five years to replace it thanks go to that all round good egg, Mr. Andy Dyson!
Donna Loren - Blowing Out The Candles - Capitol 5250
I've loved this one for years, and believe it could become a very popular track when more folk get to hear it - it's already been well received every time I've featured it in the last six months, so fingers crossed! It trots along in a fashion not a million miles away from Timi Yuro's "It'll never be over for me" and has a fully orchestrated backing track under the guise of H.B.Barnum and Dave Axelrod. A long spoken intro a la Gerri Diamond's "Only you", so the dancers will have to "wait for the beat", unless the deejay cues it up right! "I'm blowing out the candle, putting out the flame, but I'll keep the matches handy till you want my love again!". OK, the lovey-dovey lyric continues, but let's hop forward to the instrumental break as it's stunning, really stunning! The orchestra really kicks in and gives it some jostling with the angelic female chorus going up and down the scales very effective at larger hall venues, OK, it's blue-eyed well brown eyed actually when you check her out on the picture cover that exists, but it's quality Northern Soul. There are copies out there to be found in theory, as Donna was in fact a Dr.Pepper advert girl, teen model and actress, appearing in several TV/movies in the '60's, including Batman, The Monkees, and various Beach Party movies! It currently floats between £50>£75, but this will surely rise, double even, once exposed to the masses. The official A.side isn't too bad either, "Just a little girl", and note that it's much better than her "Ninety day guarantee" oldie for the same label.
The Brym-Mars - Keep On Goin' - E.E.E. 69000
From the same stable as The Embers, indeed it' on their label, comes this Carolina sound. Don't know who they are, and yes I have been trying to find out more for a while now as have my US friends into this kinda sound and they haven't got copies, note. Yes, it's like the Embers, might even feature them, but, and it's a big but, it's possibly too fast for most on the dance-floor - unless one plays it at minus 2 to 4 - is there a sacred rule being broken by doing this - answers on postcards to the editorial address! The lyric is a pick yourself up, and get on with life one, "If your little girl finds someone new, then you got no time to be blue, you just gotta keep on going!" Strong brass work throughout and a bubbling bass line accompany the smooth male harmonies typical of the Carolina sound, but what's make this one special are the vibe breaks - ah vibes, mmmmm, and the crucial key change in the middle. Again, this track probably sounds better in a larger venue allowing it to echo around. If you're into the Magnificent Men, The Outsiders, the Embers, you'll love this one rare, probably, value, three figures for sure.
Rarity doesn't always equal quality, as we all know, and there's always a cheapie around that may appeal to most, but is often over looked due to its low "going rate". To finish my piece this time around, here's a few to comb the Internet for that won't break the bank balance, but may damage your speakers -
Majestic - Send My Baby Back To Me - Equator 1401
Relatively cheap at under £30, although it was once "around" at £8 for quite a while. This track swings as well, but not in an aggressive way, more in a controlled fashion with each musician and backing singer knowing their place. It's fairly sparse instrument wise, yet the sound is strong with a guitar strumming to the fore during the breaks, and a few brass stabs later on to look forward to. Majestic has a fine tenor voice, refined even, as one can understand every word he, and indeed the backing blokes, sing. This is a grower and super soulful!
Leevert Allison - I Want To Give My Heart To You - Poncello 7004
Real swinging R'N'B (yet still Northern) flavoured stuff and another Ted Jarrett label track, but this one's a real down-home no nonsense mover! Leevert has a strong almost over produced in-the-red vocal, and the backing is big with swinging drum and cymbal work, powerful brass stabs and guitar work. The instrumental break lasts a minute with its change of key and direction mid way through, and a wailing woman adding to the mystery! A minor Stafford spin that has been forgotten by most yet not even heard of by the masses?
Wallace Brothers - Girls alright with me - Sims 304
As with Leevert's track above, this will appeal to R'N'B/Northern fans. It reminds me somewhat of the Phonetics' "Pretty girl" on Trudel with its bubbling and high in the mix bass line. The brother's vocals are excellent, as usual, and ride the bass line well, as it swings along. There are some brass bits but it's mainly guitar driven throughout its brief 1:50. I've spotted this at a mere £15 or less on the occasions it's turned up at nighters even cheaper from the US. Note it's not the Temptations song.