Album Reviews – October 2012 by Colin Bryce

King Northern Soul, Volume 3 (Kent/Ace)

I love it when the compiler of the collection does a track by track lowdown and in this case it’s none other than Kent’s man in the know Ady Croasdell filling us in on the artist, composition and little known facts. Very handy.

Out of Cincinnati, Ohio King Records, and its imprints Deluxe and Federal, was the home to everything from country to jazz, early rock and roll, gospel, doo-wop, soul and funk. The list of artists who recorded for the King family of labels is long and a virtual who’s who of legendary artists. This collection features a number of those well-known King greats in Hank Ballard, Marva Whitney and Little Willie John but it also features a number of lesser known, though equally loved, artists in the likes of Charles Spurling, Oscar Toney Jr., and Otis Williams. Not everything is strict four to the floor dance-floor friendly Northern and as Ady points out in the liners the fact that a smattering of funk has crept in here and there to the Northern scene so it has been included here. Marva Whitney’s take on Ballard and Spurling’s “Unwind Yourself” and Royal Flush’s “Mama’s Baby” being a couple of the funkier things. The collection works as much as a strong King Records soul collection as anything else.

I must say I was surprised the notes for “You Got to Prove It” by Dan Brantley failed to mention how much the track owes to Darrell Banks’ “Open the Door to Your Heart”. Highlights for me are Dave and Vee’s “Do You Love Me” which is a straight up driving dancer, “Out of Control” by L.H. and the Memphis Sounds and Willie Hatcher’s  funky “Who’s Got a Woman Like Mine” with its fab tambourine work. (24 tracks.)

Hot Sauce featuring Rhonda Washington: Good Woman Turning Bad, the complete Volt Recordings (Stax/Ace)

Little is known of Rhonda Washington and Hot Sauce and according to the liner notes there has been nothing heard of her since the final Hot Sauce recordings were released back in 1975. The Ace soul sleuths have done their best (as always) to piece together the group’s history and in fact this album as originally planned is only seeing the light of day – finally – here now. Stax and its subsidiary labels were on the verge of total collapse at the time of the planned release and so the Good Woman Turning Bad LP was canned alongside a number of others.

This is a solid soulful release and while not earth shattering the songs and performances cover the ground from deep ballads to strong funky southern-flavoured groovers ala Aretha, Dorothy Moore and others. (11 tracks.)

Manhattan Soul, Volume 2 (Kent/Ace)

Kicking off with the jumping “That Girl” by Porgy and The Monarchs then straight into the Tommy Hunt big city soul cool dancer “New Neighbourhood” is the way to start a compilation. From the vaults of Scepter, Wand and Musicor comes this second volume of great uptown soul. New access to multi-track tapes to improve any of the previously disc-dubbed tracks and some of the other rarities contained within is given as Ace’s reason to get back to the series. I certainly won’t argue with them because this really is a dynamite collection of classy and great sounding movers. Folks like Nella Dodds, Jimmy Radcliffe, Big Maybelle and Freddie Hughes deliver and whether or not you know any of the other artists included intimately or not you’re sure to be impressed. (24 tracks.)

George Jackson: Let The Best Man Win, The Fame Recordings Volume 2 (Fame/Kent/Ace)

Collection number two of soul song-writing legend George Jackson’s previously unreleased sessions done at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. His songs have been recorded by Clarence Carter, Candi Staton, Wilson Pickett, the Osmonds and many others and listening to this collection it is easy to see why. Jackson’s writing is excellent and his honest, emotive delivery easily translatable. Grab Volume One and the other Ace collection In Memphis 72-77 for more of this classic southern soul man’s stellar work.(24 tracks.)

Hall of Fame, Rare and Unissued Gems from the Fame Vaults (Fame/Kent/Ace)

Fame Studios is one of the great studios based in the American south (Muscle Shoals, Alabama) and the crew there produced countless soul, pop and even country classics.  This latest collection from the folks at Ace rounds up twenty-four superb rarities and unreleased gems from a number of artists who recorded at Fame including the great Clarence Carter, Jimmy Hughes, Otis Clay, Bobby Moore, Travis Wammack, Joe Simon, O.B. McLinton and many more. The quality is so high here I found myself shaking my head over and over wondering how these, either never made it out of the vaults, or weren’t straight up soul smashes. Big Ben Aitkens’ “Tell It Like It Is”, James Barnett’s take on the Falcons’ “You’re So Fine” and June ‘s (Weaver) take on the great “Almost Persuaded” alone had me hooked for days. Then I got ‘round to Prince Philip’s dance-floor killer “Keep On Talking”, Otis Clay’s pumping “I’m Qualified” and O.B. McLinton’s saucy “Two Big Legs and a Short Red Dress”.  Trust Ace to put out another “must have” just when you thought the soul vaults of the world were exhausted. (24 tracks.)

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Colin -Mohair Sweets- Bryce

One of Canada’s late 70’s “punk” rock crowd and from 1997 to 2007 the fellow behind Mohair Sweets print and webzine. Currently passes the time by playing the odd gig or two, shaking his head, wringing his hands and pondering whether or not the tape vaults of the legendary Pirates are really exhausted.

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Originally posted 2012-10-24 10:23:39. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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