various artists, ABC SOUL DIAMONDS (Buried Treasure, France, CDR, 21 tracks)
Few things satisfy (me) as much as a stack of obscure soul 45’s. As someone who actively collected 45’s from the early 70’s through the mid-to-late 90’s, I remember well the thrill of bring home various random 45’s by artists unknown to me…or unknown records by artists with whom I was familiar. The recent SOUL DIAMONDS compilation series provides that same thrill now that most sources of 45’s have been picked clean by collectors and most junk stores and flea markets are connected to Ebay. One good thing about this series is that it specializes in labels, not producers or cities, and the major labels featured so far (MERCURY, DECCA, and EPIC) tended to license in a lot of material rather than focus on in-house productions with a set “house” band and house style. Thus, you get a wide variety of styles and sounds (and on this album, a time range of about 15+ years), so the end result is like some amazing radio station in your dreams that focuses on obscure 45’s. For me, that’s musical ecstasy.
So what’s here? Well, lesser-known tracks by artists who are better-known for their work on other labels (Baby Washington, Maxine Brown, Dee Dee Ford, The 5 Royales); lesser-known tracks by ABC artists such as Ray Charles (a duet with Jimmy Lewis), O.V. Wright, The Tams and Lloyd Price; tracks where the composer is familiar (Rudy Toombs, Earl King, Dee Irvin, George Kerr) but the record unfamiliar; tracks with well-known producers such as Willie Mitchell or Clyde Otis; and performers new to me, such as Demetriss Tripp, Harry M and The Marvels, and Betty O’Brien. Most of the material dates from the 1960’s…although Lloyd Price’s “Just Because” was released in 1957, and O. V. Wright’s “Slow and Easy” dates from 1976 (although Wright could sing the phone book and remain deep and soulful, so don’t be put off by the late date)…and a wide range of styles is found. Again, as ABC-Paramount (and later just ABC) was a major label, these were all professional recordings and surely artists who had been only popular regionally may well have thought that a record on ABC—-the label of BB King and of Ray Charles, after all—-might be their ticket to national success. There were a lot of great records competing for slots in the coveted R&B Top 40, and back in the days when regional charts had so much variety, there could literally be 100+ songs on the R&B “charts” in any one week….so think about how many OTHER singles of quality were aiming at those 100 slots. Ten or twenty for every one that made it? That’s why compilations such as these can be so rich yet have so much material obscure to the non-fanatic.
As always for the Soul Diamonds series, the album is compiled by serious soul collectors, so except for the Lloyd Price and O.V. Wright tracks, you are not likely to own many or any of these 45’s, and also, the compilers know how to mix the material so it’s like something programmed by an ace club DJ spinning his/her rarities.
If the various soul compilations on Ace-Kent, Outta Sight, Goldmine Soul Supply, P-Vine etc. are not enough for you, or if you need an hour of fine and varied 45’s running the gamut of styles within “soul” music, then you should grab this (and the Mercury and Decca volumes in the series–the Epic one was a bit to 70’s oriented for my taste) as soon as possible. Just google the title and you’ll find someone selling this in your territory (Crystal Ball Records is handling it in the USA).
1.JUST BECAUSE / LLOYD PRICE
2.THERE YOU GO AGAIN / JEANETTE BABY WASHINGTON
3.THIEF IN THE NIGHT / CHARLES JAMES
4.I WANT IT LIKE THAT / 5 ROYALES
5.IS THAT THE WAY YOU PLANNED IT / BETTY O’BRIEN
6.I’M COMING HOME / BUDDY LAMP
7.I’LL BE STANDING BY / HARRISON BROTHERS
8.SO AM I / NATE HOLMES
9.IF IT WASN’T FOR BAD LUCK / RAY CHARLES & JIMMY LEWIS
10.I’M CRYING (INSIDE) / TROY KEYES
11.WHAT DO YOU DO (WHEN YOUR LOVER LEAVES YOU) / TAMS
12.SLOW AND EASY / O.V. WRIGHT
13.I CAN’T GET OVER YOU / GLADYS KNIGHT
14.ORDINARILY / TOMMY TATE
15.LOVE IS A WAY OF LIFE / DANNY WHITE
16.JUST LIKE A FOOL / DEE DEE FORD
17.HOW CAN I GET OVER A FOX LIKE YOU / ICEMEN
18.I DESERVE TO CRY / HARRY M & THE MARVELS
19.STRAIN ON MY HEART / DEMETRISS TAPP
20.SO LONG / LITTLE JOE STEELE
21.FORGET HIM / MAXINE BROWN