Every now and again this wonderful music scene we have going on in this country pulls from relative obscurity a piece of music that has quietly been revered by a few and raises its profile to the masses.
This sad torrid tale which borders on total desperation as our hero loses the love of his life in a car accident just after getting married, has been a regular play over the years in the legendary ‘Jim Wray Lounge’ at Soul Essence for a great many years and has also seen plays at the ‘Cotton Club’ Bilbao, Spain at the Soul 4 Real doo’s, it commands total silence by the stalwarts present many of whom listen eyes closed with pained expressions of there own and others who just have that knowing look that they are in the presence of greatness, but recently it has broken out to a much wider audience.
Earlier this year Garry Cape and his excellent Soulscape Records put out the simply stunning “A penny for your thoughts” long player which contained 22 cuts from the man including a number of unissued sides.
Two of the countries premier league radio jocks, Mick O’Donnell (Soul Discovery) and Mark Merry (Soul Sermon) immediately pounced on this tune and gave it repeated airtime on there shows and the rest is history, I have had so many calls asking me whether I have a spare, the price has risen and now the internet cupboard is also bare.
Its easy to see why “How” has captured so many people’s imagination, Willie’s output on the whole is sparse, gritty and at times tough to listen too unless you seriously covet southern soul and in particular deep soul, full of horns etc but “How” is different in the sense that the production is fuller with beautiful strings that bathe the whole 5 minutes 24 seconds and with the added bonus of a female chorus creating a ‘lusher’ sound. Now this didn’t happen too many times to Willie, in fact both Sound Stage 7 45’s have this fuller production.
Written by Dan Brantley and sweetened by top Philly giant Bobby Martin this really is one special affair.
Check out the cd or dig your old 45 out and wallow in pure genius.
"HEAVEN AT LAST"
I would like to thank Mick ODonnell, for the kind invitation to join this wonderful Soul site dedicated to people who love soul music.Over the coming months i hope i can introduce new tracks to people who like my musical tastes. I intend to concentrate the 1980s, a decade in my opinion which is very underrated in the soul world.
My collecting days started back in 1977 when i left school and joined my home town football club Peterborough United as an apprentice. Having £8 a week to spend on myself, more times than not it would end up on records. So from time to time i will delve back to that period and also look into the 1990s and beyond.
This months two selections are in my opinion great examples of 1980s soul at its best.
C.COULTER "I JUST CANT FIGHT THE FEELING" (Dyco 45)
An awesome record from ,which i only obtained 6 years ago.
Well worth the wait as it is one of those records that just gets better as it goes along.
Clarence puts so much emotion into his performance and with a memorable tune it just cant fail.
Flip it over and you have "YOU CHANGED ME" which is a wonderful slow paced record that makes it a quality 2 sider.A desert island disc for me no question.
Third selection this month is a very obscure early 80s duet between these two vocalists.
Was hoping to play this at Morcambe this year,but that same weekend i have a golfing get together with the 1987 FA Cup Final team, where no doubt a few beers will be had by all.
If i get an invite next year to the Weekender this track will be on my playlist for sure.
If anyone needs any extra info on anything i recommend just contact me on
Also could you please thank my good friend Phil Ward on helping me with the scans.
Dan Greer “Masquerade” Masquerade” (Sound Of Memphis 45)One question? Why isn’t this a massive and well respected tune on the Northern Soul?
Scene, after all, the so called modern scene” is having its playlists of the last 20yrs plundered by Northern Jocks, so I wonder, what’s wrong with this gem of a dancer?
Dan Greer is of course a much respected southern soul icon amongst collectors world wide on this tune his vocals are a power house of emotion over a southern style backing track that boasts a host of horns, this really is the dogs bollocks of a tune, they thought so at the Soul 4 Real/Soul Essence Weekender in Bilbao too.
The Dynamites feat Charles Walker “If I had known” (Outta Sight Records CD album)
From a very recent album that was only saved by this stunning horn laden crossover monster in waiting, if I had played you this and didn’t tell you it was a recent release, you would swear this was a 70’s tune, real instruments (including a horn section to rival anything heard from Stax or Atlantic) abound and our hero’s voice is as always faultless. Stunning absolutely stunning, there’s even the obligatory sax solo as well. I’ve had this one cut to 45 as well. This too got several plays at ‘Soul Essence’ and really has found a natural home for years to come.
Jimmy Dotson “Come on & Save Me” (Soul House 45)
JD is a hero of the “thinking mans” soul scene for several of his other 45’s, this one though could raise his profile in the more dance orientated arenas. Early 70’s but with enough 60’s influences to make this a very special tune indeed. Not well known at all which is surely a crime in its self.
Matthew White “House of Memories” (Treat 45)
I can well imagine some wag playing this from under the paper as Don Gardner, the voice is a dead ringer for him. Recorded at Sceptre Studios, arranged and produced by Bert Keyes and Ed Townsend, the result is a stunning crossover groover that has everything you would wish in a 45. Its one of those 45’s that once heard its never forgotten, the rhythm is very jerky, kicking off with a harp, yes, a harp, drums, more harp, base, bloody hell this is so good. The other side “Stone cold soul sister” is going to fire up those that covet deep soul. What amazes me is how these relatively un-appreciated 45’s keep on popping up. I played this at Yarmouth 28 and it got some serious attention from collectors wanting a look-see.
Neal Brown “She’s a fine Woman” (Chart Sound 45)
A recent acquisition is this, from Brums Mitch Parkin, a man who’s doing a brilliant job of impersonating Old Father Time at the minute with his flowing greying locks and who after all these years is still finding some top tuneage, this doesn’t stomp along but if classy horn driven mid tempo tunes are your bag then this one is for you, you will never hear this out anywhere unless you venture to ‘Soul Essence’ or one of the other open minded venues, if your into your dancers, then you could never understand the sheer beauty of tunes like this. Cheers Mitch.
Three Shades of Soul “Being in Love”
I spun this regularly 20 years ago at places like the Munster’s/Thorne/Pitches those superb Doncaster all dayers and the Derby Big City soul nights, it was huge and then as those venues closed, nothing until recently when I was told Sam is giving this the odd spin, I’m sure you all know this one, but if you don’t or you haven’t heard this in ages, it sounds so right for today.
Steve Bassett “No Good For Her” (Ease Records 45)
Now this is classy, very classy, from 1977and another recent buy from Voices,sounding like David Ruffin in places, this is a stunning subtle dancer that just builds into a very memorable tune. I hadn’t seen or heard about this before.
Lee Wilson “Knockin For A Second chance“(Black Cat 45)
I first heard this brilliant 1977 dancer on the excellent tribute to Neil Hemphill CD, whose Black Cat label was under scrutiny amongst others, once heard, I had to have the 45, again Voices came to my rescue, this wouldn’t sound out of place on a Hi Records compilation, obviously southern, Wilson’s voice comes on in the upper echelons of the vocal range, another top tune and then some. I got a phone call recently from a fellow collector and he played me an earlier, stripped down version of this, no strings etc, Mr Wilson’s vocals still sounded supreme, now then all Iv got to do is get my hands it.
Unhooked Generation Band "Secret Admirer” (Mr Wonderful Records)
An up-tempo dancer that surfaced a couple of years ago on download and when the album arrived, this track was missing, this sounds like it could have been one of Sam’s exclusives when he went with modern tunes all those years ago, I’m having this cut to a 45, its so so good, and sounds brilliant over a big system.
Clay Brown “Why you want to change” (Florentine 45)
Target “Look at me” (K.A.H.A. 45)
This is the one sparse affair, but it moves along at a sprightly pace, years ago the opening synths would cause a stampede to the floor, but I haven’t heard this out for 10 years or more, the lead vocalist copes easily with the relentless drummer and his hi-hat. This is another one that could come back and cause a stir all over again.
Pat Peterman “Love the way you do your thing” (123 45)
If the Soul Serenaders, ET & the Great Potential Band, Denice Chandler, Gene & Eddie are your thing, all very sparse dancers then this busy 45 should be added to your collection, driven by a manic drummer and some fine vocals, a tune that’s great to dance too, this is already an acknowledged want for many collectors as the other side “ You Gonna Reap it” is an accepted deep soul classic of the genre, produced by the sound of Birmingham which is as always a sign of class.
Robert Taylor “Time keeps on ticking by” (Lu Tall 45)
I fell in love with this guys voice 25 years ago and have managed to capture every 45 sung by this guy, this is one of those tunes that just meanders along in its tick tock fashion on a bed of strings, with the now acknowledged wonderful vocals, one of those 45’s that you can play half a dozen times in a row and still want to hear it again. As I type this (March 2010) the word appears to be out on this one, Iv seen it on several wants lists and more recently Bob Cosby played it on Solar Radio, time to but one now before three figures become the order of the day.
Frank Johnson “Weaker than Water” (Dee Cee 45)
My top tune for the past year or so, ever since getting this off Andy Dyson at last years Yarmouth fest. A southern soul stroller that the vocals raise to another level, its suggested that this might be Frank ‘O’ Johnson on his first 45, vocally they are very similar, the B side is deep soul personified in the shape of “You gave your love to a dying man” with a title like that you wouldn’t expect anything else would you? As essential as the air you breathe good luck.
The Young Ideas “Losing you has made me a winner” (Jeree 45)
‘Funky’ dancers appear to be the flavour of the month, you know the sound by now , Archie Bell & The Drells “Tighten Up” parts 1 to 40, to these ears most of what I hear of this genre is weak, lacks passion and vocally very poor, bordering on disco music and all sounding very samey, this however, has bollocks in abundance, a danceable beat, some great vocals and one I don’t tire of hearing repeatedly, the bonus is the other side “Put yourself in my shoes” is a stunning ballad, with a vocal to die for, actually I played “Losing” in Bilbao in Oct last year, now those Spanish soulies really know a good tune when they hear one, the dance floor was rammed and so many photographs of the 45 were taken, I guess half of Europe is now on the hunt, good luck with that, it wont be easy. “Shoulder” was dropped in the ‘Jim Wray Lounge’ at Soul Essence and caused such a stir whilst the main room stomped to “Losing”. I suspect this to be a very rare 45.
Now then this guy really can do wrong in my music room, everything he’s done is nestling on the shelves and the mention of a new album creates so much of a buzz with me its unreal, he’s white, has a truly soulful voice and his band is one special affair, creating the sound of southern soul, using real instruments, this aint for the faint hearted, but if you make any claim to be a soul music fan then you owe it to yourself to have a listen, I mean really listen to this man and his music. His latest album “Come on and get it” is a horn laden, drum slapping, base heavy affair that could have surfaced any time in the halcyon days with all the hallmarks of the great studio’s from the deep south. Frank Lynch’s “Young Girl” is considered to be an epic 45 to own at all costs, first coming to prominence at Thorne and getting rave reviews in Voices From the Shadows, my copy came to me some 20 years ago and I cant think of a situation where it would be allowed to leave the collection, crossover perfection in the true sense of the word, well the main man Eli Reed has done a version and fuck me if it aint sheer brilliance then I don’t know what is, yes you can hear the original riffs in there but its been updated just enough to appeal to a whole new crowd. New soul music for 2010 with a more than a nod to our past, right up my street that for sure.
A Personal Choice
Each month I will be detailing a few tracks that are either current faves or that have been enjoyed by myself over the last 25 years. I mainly listen to music from the 80s through to the present day and have a particular love of mid to late eighties independent soul. My selections will be across the board and are not here for egotistical bravado only to share with you some of the tracks that I enjoy.
Derrick Lee McKizzie – Forever
A track from a few years ago now that can be heard in full on the artists website. Nice simple production on this one. I guess Derrick is singing about his god. However, this could easily be his loved one that he wants to be with FOREVER! The track comes to life vocally towards the end. It is worth checking out the other tunes on this album too. The album can also be downloaded from www.amazon.com for about a fiver the same price I paid for a pint of Fullers’ London Porter in London last week (hell it’s expensive down there!).
Valerie McNair – This Love Is For Real (REAL RHYTHM 12”)
Picked this one up on vinyl recently after lots of searching. I originally heard this track off a Soul Sam sales audio cassette back in the late 80’s when he gave it to one of my soul mates Buska. Unfortunately for me I had been internet searching for “McNeir” instead of “McNair”........ The track is full of driving synths and keyboards however this is not a dance track without a vocal backbone. Once the vocal kicks in it grabs you and holds itself well alongside the production. The lead could easily be cutting tracks alongside Shirley Brown or Pat Cooley. If you were collecting around the late 80’s you may remember another cut from the Real Rhythm label out of Detroit by “Sja’Nay – Tell Him” another worthwhile purchase. This is a corker!!
The Bottom Line – Bottom Line (GREEDY LP)
The Bottom Line (I want the goods) from the LP of the same name. I do not actually own a physical copy of this LP but was lucky enough to obtain an mp3 version of it a while back. The track opens up with explosive sax and bass just how I like it. Vocally the brothers tend to be hidden behind the sax breaks however this does not detract from the quality of the track itself. The Bottom Line are two brothers the Watts brothers and they are still recording gospel tunes today and currently have a Cd on www.cdbaby.com . A sad story accompanies this track, the sax player Gerald DeClue was tragically killed in a car crash shortly after recording this LP "OASIS". The group originally featured Reggie Thomas, Tom Byrne on guitar, John King on bass, the late Tony Saputo on drums, and the late Gerald DeClue on saxes”. This track was played out by Soul Sam at the famous Canal Tavern Thorne. Unfortunately, the rest of the LP is complete dross to the soul fan.