Label: Kent Records
Catalogue Number: KENT 526
Release Date: 28th April 2023
Ace Records is proud to announce the purchase of the Shrine label and Eddie Singleton’s independent productions.
To celebrate we have compiled an album of the very best dance recordings the label made in 1965 and 1966, primarily in Washington DC.
The business’s failure made this music incredibly hard to find for record collectors and Shrine is rightly known as the rarest soul label.
It is much more than that though. The music was made by some one of the original founders of Motown, Raynoma Liles Gordy and her Motown-schooled cousin Mike Ossman, New York music business luminaries Eddie Singleton and Harry Bass and the up-and-coming talents of Washington’s Keni St Lewis and Maxx Kidd. The acts included the hugely respected Ray Pollard and fellow New Yorker J.D. Bryant, talented and established Washington and Baltimore acts Eddie Daye & The Four Bars, Bobby Reed and the Enjoyables. Importantly, they discovered and developed the local talent of the area in the shape of the Cautions, Les Chansonettes, the Prophets and Shirley Edwards.
It took decades for UK Northern Soul fans to realise the significance of the label. It finally clicked for Stafford’s Top Of The World all-nighter DJs who searched out the incredibly hard to find later releases and played them to the cult-following of the rare soul scene. The scarcity was caused by Shrine pressing up a batch of fourteen future singles but only getting a handful released before they folded. The vast majority of the later releases were destroyed in a warehouse fire or simply binned as stillborn commercial failures.
Such was the scarcity that when the first Shrine compilations were issued in 1990, the Prophets tracks from Eddie Singleton’s master tapes were assumed to be unreleased – until Shrine sleuth Andy Rix later obtained one from a group member.
The music captures the exuberance of soul music in its peak years. The rhythms are pounding, the vocals soaring and the songs positive and cleverly composed. Undeniably Motown-influenced, they never copy others’ songs but feature the group harmonies of New York City on the Counts, Enjoyables and Prophets singles, while the Ray Pollard and J.D. Bryant tracks have that city’s big ballad soul sound. Les Chansonettes and the D C Blossoms are shimmering femme group sounds at their most tantalising.
The label produced soul in many shades but here we’ve concentrated on its in-house dance specialties. Don’t worry about the price-tags; just listen to that quality.