Atlanta – Hotbed Of 70s Soul

Label: Kent Records
Catalogue Number: CDKEND 518
Release Date: 29rd March 2024  
Format: CD

The GRC Records set-up in Atlanta produced a wealth of great soul music. Because of the sudden curtailment of the company, due to owner Michael Thevis’ incarceration, so much of it never saw a release.

The tapes were preserved though and with many tracks being issued. This latest batch of tape discoveries is of shockingly high quality. Sam Dees’ presence is a major cause of this.

Standouts include Miss Louistine’s original version of ‘Con Me’ – surely a contender to be a Deep Soul Treasure, had Dave Godin heard it. Her take on Dees’ ‘Extra Extra’ is possibly the opposite emotion – sheer joy at finding her lover; equally well expressed. ‘Paperman’ is a classic mid 70s Dees’ composition, well sung by Wes Lewis with his group Alpaca Phase III. Dees collaborated with another major GRC talent, Joe Hinton, for the funkier ‘Shouldn’t I Be Given The Right To Be Wrong’. Hinton co-penned two songs with backing singer Louvain Demps who left her job with Motown’s backing girls the Andantes to move to Atlanta with Hinton. Their ‘Grant Me One More Day’ is a beautiful track and ‘Depend On Me’ is another worthy find.

Personally, I was stunned by a tape from one Kenneth Wright, who seems to be unknown and unfindable these days. Back in the 70s he wrote a reel of great demo songs for GRC and cut a couple on himself. ‘The Souls Of Black Folks’ is a tour de force. Apart from the quality of the song and Wright’s singing, it features an ethereal female vocal that takes it to another level.

Detroiters Deep Velvet travelled down to Atlanta to sing ‘Is There Someone Else’ a poignant ballad written by Counts member Moses Davis. They also contribute their original recording of the uptempo ‘I’m Tired Of Dreaming’. The Joe Hinton and Marlin McNichols number was later issued as by Pure Velvet on Osiris.

Other highlights abound, there are two ballads from Lorraine Johnson, one previously unheard and an alternate version of ‘Keep On Walking’ by the Detroit group the Steppers. Southern soul purveyor Joe Graham has two newly found songs and the unknown Shirlean Fant delivers an amazing performance on ‘Sure Could Do With Some You’ that she co-wrote.

Lomita Johnson, from the first Side Effect group, sings the original version of Dee Dee McNeil and Dee Ervin’s ‘There’ll Always Be Forever’, which was later a hit for Nancy Wilson.

Dorothy Norwood, King Hannibal, Jean Battle, Dee Ervin and Dee Clark all have excellent and historically interesting tracks and a long-speculated, unknown song’s writer is revealed to be … Sam Dees – who else?

Several interviews helped fill in the details for the 5,000 + word sleeve notes and some newly found photos also help the package shine.

Ady Croasdell

01. Con Me – Miss Louistine
02. Paper Man – Alpaca Phase III
03. Is There Someone Else – Deep Velvet
04. The Souls Of Black Folks – Kenneth Wright
05. Grant Me One More Day – Joe Hinton
06. Keep On Walking – The Steppers
07. Time Is Winding Up – Dorothy Norwood
08. Love Making – Jean Battle
09. Extra-Extra – Miss Louistine
10. I’m Tired Of Dreaming – Deep Velvet
11. Depend On Me – Joe Hinton
12. Me And Jen – Kenneth Wright
13. What Am I To Do – Joe Graham
14. Sure Could Do With Some You – Shirlean Fant
15.Someone To Run To – Alpaca Phase III
16. Can I Hold You To It? – Lorraine Johnson
17. When Will I Stop Loving You – Lorraine Johnson
18. I Need Me Some More Of You – Dee Ervin
19. Shouldn’t I Be Given The Right To Be Wrong – Joe Hinton
20. Fight Fire With Fire – King Hannibal
21. Talk’s Cheap – The Surprise Sisters
22. Loneliness Hurts Just A Little Bit – Joe Graham
23. There’ll Always Be Forever – Lomita Johnson
24. My Peaceful Forest – Dee Clark