USA

One of the "rarest of the rare" funk monsters you can ever dream and think of, it's also one of the "best of the best" when it comes to the versatility of funk albums! This is a find like the Yeti, I mean, they just does'nt exist! 

The album spans from the hardest driven guitar funk a' la JIMMY NOLEN and LEO NOCENTELLI, via the best MARVIN GAYE mellow, groovy and sexy sounds (great homage to the man in the song "Your Game"), 'til we end at the latin "Funked up" magic ala FANYA. 
This album got it all covered, to say the least. This is one "holy grail" I definitely would put as the best. One of a kind album for sure!!!

If CARL HOLMES had tied all of this supreme tracks into one "concept" album, along with some "more" production, this would be the one album that could have rivaled the best album ever ("what's going on"). This is just how strong the material is on this legendary album!

WHO IS THIS LEN WOODS? This is not a rhetorical question, I'm dying to know anything about the man who wrote all but one of the songs on this "holy grail! -Noobman

Carl “Sherlock” Holmes started gigging in the early sixties forming Carl Holmes & the Commanders with whom he recorded a full length album for Atlantic in 1962 entitled Twist Party At The Roundtable. Later on he recorded a couple of 45’s for the Parkway and Verve labels. In May of 1966 a pre-Experience Jimi Hendrix gigged with the group but never recorded with them. After a final 45 for the local Philly label Black Jack, the group disbanded and Carl formed the Sherlock Holmes Investigation a solid outfit backed by a strong rhythm section packed with congas, vibes, flute, organ and sax. Philly’s Sigma Sound Studio was the place they recorded their sole album and Curtis R. Staten’s CRS Records was the label that released it. 

This album has it all! Smokin funk breaks in Black Bag, Investigation, Get Down Philly Town, It Ain't Right and some syncopated latin-inspired jams in Modesa. All these coupled nicely by some fine mellow numbers in Close To You, Think It Over and Your Game. And all but one (Bacharach/David's Close To You) written by a guy named Len Woods, a remarkable songwriter, no doubt! 

After Tramp Records has released four songs of this album on two 45RPM singles recently, the entire Investigation No.1 album is now available on CD. It even comes with a bonus track which has been originally released on 45RPM single only. -Tramp

The lone LP by guitarist Carl "Sherlock" Holmes is a rarity in terms of both its availability and its virtues -- one of the most eclectic and fully realized LPs of the early jazz-funk era, Investigation No. 1 embraces everything from blistering, razor-edged grooves to lithe, mellow ballads to Latin-inspired jamming with equal dexterity. Holmes is a remarkable guitarist by any measure, with a grittier, more chaotic style than the norm -- the whiplash-inducing "Black Bag" is the most conventionally funky track here, but no less noteworthy is an imaginative cover of the oft-covered Bacharach/David chestnut "Close to You," which completely sidesteps banality thanks to its soulful yet nuanced groove. Highly recommended. -AllMusic Review by Jason Ankeny

1. Investigation 3:54
2. Close To You 5:09
3. Black Bag 2:33
4. Think It Over 3:33
5. Modesa 4:07
6. Your Game 4:11
7. Get Down Philly Town 3:03
8. It Ain't Right 2:47
9. The Pot's Hot (bonus track) 2:28

Chicago

“There are many great soul singers, but few have inspired hip hop from its early beginning to now. Syl Johnson is a unsung pioneer of musical fusion.” – RZA. 

Syl Johnson began the ‘60s a blues singer and session guitarist and concluded it having synthesized his own brand of gritty Chicago soul. Their first signee, Syl Johnson set the tone at Twinight Records, writing and producing fifteen 45s during his four year tenure with the label. This double LP neatly bundles each side of each of Johnson’s Twinight 45s, from the heavily-sampled grunts on “Different Strokes,” to the ghetto-conscious “Concrete Reservation.” (NG)

Veteran Chicago blues and soul singer Syl Johnson (father of R&B singer Syleena Johnson) began recording for Twinight Records of Chicago in the mid-1960s. Thanks to his scorching 1969 rendition of the still relevant “Is It Because I’m Black” (written in response to the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) and his frequently sampled song “Different Strokes” (by Kanye West and Jay-Z, among others), Johnson managed to escape the category of “forgotten soul singer” and is now receiving his long overdue recognition. Though most if not all of his songs have been reissued numerous times, this beautifully produced double LP set from Numero includes 29 tracks with all of Johnson’s Twinight singles. In addition to the previously mentioned songs, highlights include the socially conscious “Concrete Reservation” and the ‘60s anthems “Come On Sock It to Me” and “Ode to Soul Man.” 

1. Come On Sock It to Me 2:27
2. Try Me (1967) 2:04
3. Different Strokes 2:19
4. Sorry 'Bout Dat! 2:15
5. Ode to Soul Man 2:33
6. I'll Take Those Skinny Legs 1:58
7. I Feel an Urge 2:25
8. Try Me (1968) 2:34
9. Send Me Some Lovin' 1:41
10. Dresses Too Short 2:47
11. I Can Take Care of Business 3:01
12. Take Me Back 2:50
13. I Can Take Care of Homework 2:19
14. Don't Give It Away 2:48
15. Going to the Shack 2:42
16. Is It Because I'm Black 3:25
17. Let Them Hang High 2:20
18. Concrete Reservation 2:27
19. Together Forever 2:52
20. One Way Ticket to Nowhere 2:30
21. Kiss By Kiss 2:33
22. Thank You Baby 2:37
23. We Do It Together 2:42
24. Get Ready Original 3:04
25. Same Kind of Thing 2:24
26. Annie Got Hot Pants 3:09
27. Annie Got Hot Pants 2:59
28. Everybody Needs Love 3:37
29. That's Why 2:31

New York City

As Latin boogaloo gun-for-hire and arranger of hardcore mambos and hip Latin jazzers, Louie Ramirez dominated the New York Latin music scene in the '60s, later becoming known as the Latin Quincy Jones. This collection focuses exclusively on a dynamic 10-year stretch from 1960-1970, with the tracks culled from his substantial work within the Fania family. 

Very solid (with some must haves)
By Marco Poloon 

I hate reviews that don't tell me much, so here I am doing something about this one (hope it helps!)

So far this is the only LouRam album I own so I have nothing to compare this to. When I first saw the song lengths I was *very* dissapointed, I'm pleased to say they are all in error on the short side (hopefully this is corrected.) Overall I am very glad to own this album and would buy it again without hesitation. The albums delves a little into the boogaloo as listed on the title but the other tracks are so blistering that you can't ignore this album. Here's my breakdown on the 18 songs.

1. Yroco -Is a what I'll call an Afro-orisha tribute calling out the Yoruba gods. Jimmy Sabater vocals. It's very nice
2. It's not what you say -A tight cha-cha, a bit funny in a 60's sexist way (ex. "Put a wiggle in your strut, and keep your big mouth shut." )
3. Chin Chon Chow -The reason I bought this album in the first place, one of my favorite salsa tunes to dance to.
4. Lusito Mozambique -A high powered, fast song that could easily be used at a salsa congress night demo.
5. Times are Changin' -A social change song with Jimmy Sabater fronting in english (not my cup of tea.)
6. Cookin' with A&J -A boogaloo (not my favorite either.) Great musically.
7. Azucar en Nueva York -A sultry, sizzling Cha-cha, with a very nice musicality transition in the middle that kicks up intensity @1:54 an album diamond that I wasn't expecting. (An example of the wrong song lengths: This song is over 4 minutes long not 2:00 as listed on the back!)
8. Barrio Nuevo -This song turned my musical tastes a bit, it's not what I used to like but this opened my horizons a bit. Louie really shines on the vibes, and it's just a cool mellow jam. Great Latin Jazz.
9. The Oracle -Another blistering jam session, much like #4 it would be at home in a salsa congress demo.
10. Violent's Guaguanco -Another unexpected gift (the title fooled me, I knew it as "Guaguanco de los Violentos"), I wish they let it go longer then 2:45! One of my top 20 salsa favorites
11. I Dig Rhythm -Another boogaloo not my favorite genre if you didn't pick that up by now- It's still good music though.
12. La Flauta -A very nice salsa with Jimmy Sabater once again on vocals. One of the highlights of the collection.
13. Rush Hour in Hong Kong -Louie is letting loose on the vibes once again. Possible congress demo song with the fast tempo. Very strong offering in this album
14. Descarga A&J -The diamond of this album IMHO, my favorite among a lot of great songs. Great Latin Jazz Jam session.
15. Don Maceo -A nice funny slower song to follow up the very serious hard hitting previous two offerings. Very enjoyable.
16. Vitamina -Another instramental, this would normally be very, very, good but it doesn't quite measure up with the others. The unfortunate price of listening to the greatness of previous songs. Great vibe work from Louie again.
17. Fat Papa's Descarga -Charlie Palmieri chimes in for this one. Good, fast song begging for a person to make a congress demo.
18. Sid's Groove -I will never get tired of good vibe work. This one has a tribal feel to it with the percussion. More Latin Jazz and a nice goodbye for this GOOD BUY.

Long winded I know, but it's the kind of review that I like to see. Hope it helps.

1. Yaoco 2:50
2. It's Not What You Say 3:00
3. Chin Chon Chow 2:50
4. Luisito Mozambique 5:09
5. Times Are Changin' 3:10
6. Cookin' With A&J 2:28
7. Azucar En Nueva York 4:17
8. Barrio Nuevo 5:59
9. The Oracle 4:54
10. Violent's Guaguanco 2:48
11. I Dig Rhythm 3:59
12. La Flauta 4:27
13. Rush Hour In Hong Kong 6:12
14. Descarga A & J 4:22
15. Don Maceo 2:54
16. Vitamina 6:17
17. Fat Papa's Descarga 4:01
18. Sid's Groove 2:59

Jamaica

Reggae And Dub XL 138

Reggae Singles Compilation Parts 1-3 (1966-1994) 24-bit/96kHz
Rip by son-of-albion

Reggae Singles Compilation Parts 1-3 (1966-1994)
Vinyl rip @ 24/96 | FLAC | Scans | 4872mb
Ska, Reggae, Skinhead Reggae, Roots, Dub | 7, 10 & 12″ mono & stereo UK, JA & US 45 RPM singles

This is a three part trip through some of the reggae singles I’ve collected over the years. Not exhaustive by any means, but I think (hope!) I’ve selected the best. They are all personal favourites. Some will be familiar and others not, but they’re all good! The majority are original UK pressings, though there are also some later re-issues included. As time passed I bought fewer and fewer singles, so the years fly past in part three…

Please be prepared for considerable variations in sound quality, though, generally, part 3 is a considerable improvement over the previous two parts. However ‘Burn Babylon’ by Sylford Walker, ‘Burning Version’ by The Professionals (tracks 13 & 14) and ‘This Train’ by Culture (track 23) are taken from pretty terrible Jamaican pressings and, despite my best efforts, there is still some noise evident.

Part 1 (1966-1969)

01. Eric Morris – I’m The Greatest (1966) Blue Beat BB349 A
02. Buster’s All Stars – Picket Line (1966) Blue Beat BB349 B
03. Baba Brooks and His Band – First Session (1966) Doctor Bird DB1001 B
04. Dandy – You’re No Hustler (1967) Ska Beat JB279A
05. Dandy – No No (1967) Ska Beat JB279 B
06. Ethiopians – Train To Skaville (1967) Rio R130 A
07. Ethiopians – You Are The Girl (1967) Rio R130 B
08. Joyce Bond – Do The Teasy (1967) Island WIP6010 A
09. Ewan & Jerry – The Rock Steady Train (1967) Giant GN9 A
10. Ewan & Jerry – My Baby Is Gone (1967) Giant GN9 B
11. Slim Smith – Beatitude (1967) Lee (JA) 005 A
12. Keith & Tex – Stop That Train (1967) Trojan TJGSE009 A
13. Keith & Tex – Leaving On That Train (1967) Trojan TJGSE009 B
14. Untouchables – Tighten Up (1968) Upsetter (JA) not numbered B
15. Max Romeo – Wet Dream (1968) Unity UN503 A
16. Max Romeo – She’s But A Little Girl (1968) Unity UN503 B
17. Phyllis Dillon & Hopeton Lewis – Right Track (1969) Trojan TJGSE007 A
18. Karl Bryan with Tommy McCook – Moon Shot (1969) Trojan TJGSE007 B
19. Viceroys – Work It (1969) Crab 12 A
20. Viceroys – You Mean So Much To Me (1969) Crab 12 B
21. Upsetters – Return of Django (1969) Upsetter US301 A
22. Upsetters – Dollar In The Teeth (1969) Upsetter US301 B
23. Upsetters – A Live Injection (1969) Upsetter US313 A
24. Bleechers – Everything For Fun (1969) Upsetter US313 B
25. Andy Capp – Fat Man (Popatop version 2) (1969) Randy’s (US) 9002 B
26. Andy Capp – Poppy Show (1969) Randy’s (US) 9002 A
27. John Holt – Ali Baba (1969) Trojan TJGSE006 A
28. John Holt – I’m Your Man (1969) Trojan TJGSE006 B
29. Ranny Williams – Pepper Seed (1969) Unity UN526 A
30. Ranny Williams – Ambitious Beggar (1969) Unity UN526 B
31. Laurel Aitken – Woppi King (1969) Nu Beat NB024 A
32. Laurel Aitken – Mr. Soul (1969) Nu Beat NB024 B
33. Pat Kelly – Workman Song (1969) Gas 110 A
34. Pat Kelly – Never Give Up (1969) Gas 110 B
35. Derrick Morgan – Moon Hop (1969) Crab 32 A
36. Reggaeites – Harris Wheel (1969) Crab 32 B
37. Bobby Dobson – Strange (1969) Punch PH4 A
38. Bobby Dobson – Your New Love (1969) Punch PH4 B
39. Peter Tosh – You Can’t Fool Me Again (1969) Impact (US) 414 A
40. Peter Tosh – You Can’t Fool Me Again (version) (1969) Impact 414 B

NB. The sudden increase in volume just before the fade on tracks 11 and 31 is on the vinyl and not an error on my part!

Part 2 (1969-1972)

01. Count Matchuki & The Destroyers – Movements (1969) Amalgamated TJGSE022 A
02. The Destroyers – Caesar (1969) Amalgamated TJGSE022 B
03. Toots & The Maytals – 54, 56 Was My Number (1969) Beverley’s (JA) BEVS001 A
04. Tender Tones – Devil Woman (1969) Crab 38 A
05. Tender Tones – Nobody Cares (1969) Crab 38 B
06. Boris Gardner – Elizabethan Reggae (1969) Duke DU39 A
07. Byron Lee & The Dragonaires – Soul Serenade (1969) Duke DU39 B
08. Winston Samuels – Here I Come Again (1969) Crab 39 B
09. Little Roy – Without My Love (1969) Crab 39 A
10. Sweet Confusion – Hotter Scorcher (1969) Escort ES812 A
11. Sweet Confusion – Conquer Lion (1969) Escort ES812 B
12. Pat Kelly – How Long Will It Take (1969) Gas 115 A
13. Pat Kelly – Try To Remember (1969) Gas 115 B
14. Claudette & The Corporation – Skinheads A Bash Them (1970) Trojan(?) white label, matrix #TGR3020
15. Dave & Ansell Collins – Double Barrel (1970) Techniques TE901 A
16. Hot Rod All Stars – Skinheads Don’t Fear (1970) Torpedo TOR5 A
17. Lloyd, Dice & Mum – Trial of Pama Dice (1970) Joe JRS5 A
18. Lloyd Terrell – Birth Control (1970) Pama PM792 A
19. Val Bennett – Return To Peace (1970) Pama PM792 B
20. Toots & The Maytals – Pressure Drop (1970) Beverley’s (JA) BEVS001 B
21. Music Specialists – Dynamic Pressure (1970) London HLJ10309 A
22. Music Specialists – Flip (1970) London HLJ10309 B
23. Winston & Rupert – Come By Here (1970) Bullet BU425 A
24. Winston & Rupert – Somebody (1970) Bullet BU425 B
25. Patrick & Lloyd – Return of The Pollock (1970) Big Shot BI550 A
26. Prophets – Concorde (1970) Big Shot BI550 B
27. Fabulous Flames – Holly Holy (1970) Clan Disc CLA224 A
28. Charmers – Skinhead Train (1970) Trojan(?) white label, matrix #TREX2045
29. Dave & Ansell Collins – Monkey Spanner (1971) Techniques TE914 A
30. Gaylads – Seven In One (Part One) (1971) Camel CA79 A
31. Gaylads – Seven In One (Part Two) (1971) Camel CA79 B
32. Hurricanes – You Can Run (1971) Black Art (JA) ART27 A
33. Winston Scotland – Buttercup (1972) Philips 6000 050 A
34. Slim Smith – Take Me Back (1972) Camel CA89 A
35. Slim Smith – Where Do I Turn (1972) Camel CA89 B
36. Slim Smith – Time Has Come (1972) Lee (JA) 005 B

Part 3 (1972-1994)

01. Geffery Chang & All Stars – U.F.O. (1972) Harry J HJ6645 A
02. Nicky Thomas – Have A Little Faith (1973) Trojan TR7885 A
03. Cornell Campbell & The Eternals – You’re No Good (1973) Jackpot TJGSE013 A
04. Cornell Campbell & The Eternals – Pity The Children (1973) Jackpot TJGSE013 B
05. The Heptones – Book of Rules (1973) Island WIP6179 A
06. The Cimarons – Check Out Yourself (1973) Trojan TR7890 A
07. I. Roy – Sound Education (1973) Ackee ACK510 A
08. The Versalites – Cutting Razor (1974) DIP DL5039 A
09. Lee Perry & The Upsetters – Black Belt Jones (1974) DIP DL5039 B
10. The Gaylads – Love Me With All Your Heart (1974) Third World TW05 A
11. King Sporty – Year Full of Sundays (1974) Green Door GD4063 A
12. Max Romeo – Red House (1974) Tropical AL039 A
13. Max Romeo – 2,000 Years Ago (1974) Tropical AL039 B
14. Carl Malcolm – No Jestering (1975) Horse HOSS74 A
15. Barrington Spence – Jah Jah Train (1975) Horse HOSS77 A
16. Carl Malcolm – Miss Wire Waist (1975) Black Wax Wax7 A
17. Toots & The Maytals – Dog War (1976) Island WIP6269 B
18. Barry Biggs – Work All Day (1976) Dynamic DYN101 A
19. The Gladiators – Pocket Money (1977) Virgin 12” VS19312 A1
20. The Gladiators – Money Version (1977) Virgin 12” VS19312 A2
21. Althia & Donna – Up Town Top Ranking (1977) Lightning LIG506 A
22. Doc. Alimantado & The Rebels – Still Alive (1978) Greensleeves GRE5 A
23. Culture – This Train (1978) High Note (JA) not numbered A
24. Tribesman – Astrodub (1978) Boa BOA101 B
25. Dennis Brown – Money In My Pocket (Pt. 1) (1979) Lightning LIG554 A
26. Dennis Brown – Money In My Pocket (Pt. 2) (1979) Lightning LIG554 B
27. The Gladiators – Struggle (1979) Virgin FLS118 A
28. The Gladiators – Praises To The Most High (1979) Virgin FLS118 B
29. Peter Tosh – Johnny B. Goode (1983) EMI 10” 10RIC115 A
30. Sophia George – Girlie Girlie (1985) Winner 12” WINT01 A
31. Dawn Penn – You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No) (1994) Atlantic A8295 A
32. Dawn Penn – You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No) Remix (1994) Atlantic A8295 B

Technicals:

Knosti RCM.
Pink Triangle LPT with
Funk Firm Achromat.
Moth Arm 1 (Rega RB 250).
Audio Technica AT33PTG MC Cart.
Harman Kardon PM660 Integrated Amp.
Gold Interconnects. Creative S80300 external ADC
Recording, split and manual de-click with Adobe Audition 3.0.1
Click Repair.
Vinyl transfers by son-of-albion, June and July 2011.
Black Is Soul: Pama Singles Collection (iTunes)

London-based Pama Records was founded by brothers Carl, Harry, and Jeff Palmer in 1967 -- begun as a soul and R&B imprint, the label soon began waging war on Chris Blackwell's Island Records by licensing reggae and rocksteady material directly from Jamaica. In all, Pama issued 150 singles prior to its 1973 demise, all of them now much-coveted by collectors -- the first volume in the Black Is Soul series compiles many of the most legendary, spanning from sweet soul to blistering funk to lilting Caribbean grooves, and while Pama's output may not rank alongside Island, Trojan, or other likeminded labels of the era, this collection is well worth seeking out. Probably the best-known songs here are the Mohawks' much-sampled "The Champ," and the Crowns' dancefloor cult classic "Jerking the Dog,". -AllMusic Review by Jason Ankeny

1. Beverley Simmons - What a Guy 2:32
2. The Crowns - Jerking the Dog 3:00
3. Beverley Simmons - Broadway Aint Funky No More 2:55
4. The Crowns - Call Me 3:08
5. Roy Docker - Everyday Will Be Like a Holiday 2:52
6. Norman T Washington - You've Been Cheating 3:04
7. The Milwaukee Coasters - Oh Babe 3:00
8. Rico Rodriguez - Soul Man 2:07
9. The Classics - Honey Bee 3:02
10. The Crowns - Since You've Been Gone 2:50
11. Betty Lavette - Feel Good All Over 1:41
12. Roy Docker - I'm an Outcast 2:53
13. Norman T Washington - Same Thing All Over 2:38
14. Max Romeo - She's but a Little Girl 2:29
15. The Classics - History of Africa 2:46
16. Norman T Washington - Tip Toe 2:26
17. Bob Paterson - The Good Ol Days 2:29
18. The Imperials - Black Is Soul 2:56
19. The Gruvy Beats - Kent People 2:52
20. The Beas - Dr Gooldfoot & His Bikini Machine 1:56
21. The Imperials - Always with Me 3:18
22. The Mohawks - The Champ (Extended Mix) (Extra Track) 5:08

Info: click on the picture
⬇⬇

Los Angeles

4 J Records
Profile:
Los Angeles r&b label run by Jesse Jones & Jesse Johnson. Label name appears with variations 4 J Records and Four-J Records. The Label Ran From 1962 - 1964


1. The Four J's - Will You Be My Love 2:08
2. The Extremes - How I Need Your Love 2:02
3. Lonnie Russ - Flip Flop 2:35
4. James Conwell - The Trouble With Girls Today 2:08
5. Bobby Valentino - How Deep Is The Ocean 1:56
6. Lonnie Russ - Those Greens 1:50
7. Mr. Tears - Excuse Me Baby 2:36
8. James Conwell - I Know I'm Sure 2:22
9. Jimmy Lewis - Feelin' In My Bones 2:25
10. Lonnie Russ - My Wife Can't Cook 2:37
11. Little Alice - So What If I Can't Cook 2:41
12. The Four J's - The Nursery 1:55
13. Lonnie Russ - Lil Evette 1:33
14. Lonnie Russ - Tell Me How 2:45
15. Jimmy Lewis - Koppin' A Plea 2:24
16. Little Alice - Why Oh Why 2:00
17. Mr. Tears - Don't Lead Me On 1:57
18. Bobby Valentino - Special Delivery 2:25
19. Jimmy Lewis - Wait Until Spring (Part 1) 2:08
20. Lonnie Russ - Something Old Something New 2:27

Los Angeles

Viscojon (1960s-1970s) - soul and funk label that started in the mid 1960s and lasted until at least the late 1970s, maybe later.
Lovers of Los Angeles soul, please take a moment to enjoy a digital representation of the Viscojon Records catalog:

1. Earsley Young - I'm a Winner 1:40
2. April Yen - Beware 2:29
3. Vince Howard - If You Need Somebody 1:51
4. Ralph "Oopie" Taylor - It's Spring Again 2:43
5. Ralph "Oopie" Taylor - You'd Better Ask Somebody 2:18
6. Charles Taylor - Didy Dum Dum Didy 2:18
7. Earsly Young - Please Call Me Sometime 1:35
8. April Yen - If and When It Happens 2:52
9. Ralph "Oopie" Taylor - I Need Your Love 2:29
10. Ralph "Oopie" Taylor - Let Me Be Your Guide 2:16
11. Vince Howard - A Million Tears Ago 2:24
12. Big Daddy Hoover & the Original Hi-Lites - Do the Move 2:42

USA

The formula was simple: Merge bubblegum and soul with the crackling sincerity of an enthusiastic child, cross your fingers, and pray for airplay. Throw in a publicist, stylists, dance instructors, and a crack songwriting team and the next thing you know you’ve got a Neverlander dangling a small child out a window in Bahrain. That's provided you're a one-in-several-billion Gary, Indiana, Jackson. For our Home Schooled performers and their overly ambitious adult promoters, the path to kid soul stardom wasn’t anywhere near as “simple as do-re-mi.” Home Schooled: The ABCs Of Kid Soul unfolds like a map of American dreams derailed early. More energetic than funky, more passionate than soulful, whether fastidiously trained or shockingly green, these kid performers laid down nothing less than absolute honesty. (NG)

The Jackson 5 were not the first group of kids to sing soul -- teenagers were having hits with R&B stretching back to Frankie Lymon, after all -- nor were they the only band of their kind in the late '60s. Most major metropolitan centers across the United States had a few groups that were like Gary, IN's Jacksons and some even had a hit or two, such as the Five Stairsteps, but most of them never made it out of their hometown and were forgotten to everyone outside of hardcore collectors. Numero's 2007 compilation Home Schooled: The ABC's of Kid Soul rectifies that situation by rounding up 17 of these obscurities from the late '60s and early '70s, all offering proof that the Jackson 5 were an anomaly in no way other way than their sheer talent. There's plenty that's likeable among these 17 songs -- anybody with a fondness for classic soul is bound to enjoy the basic sound and feel of these sides, and it's hard to not be won over by the open-hearted enthusiasm of the kids, who always seem happy to be making music, never possessing any of the crass careerism that characterized kiddie bands after Maurice Starr. So the basic sound of Home Schooled is appealing, but the songs are less so, never quite managing to rise above the generic. Where the Jacksons were blessed with the good fortune to be brought into Motown's hit machine, where there were songwriters sharp enough to write around the group's youth without ever directly addressing it, much of what Numero has chosen to showcase on Home Schooled are songs about being young or in school, songs that aren't so much juvenile as they are cluelessly calculating and bereft of a hook, either melodic, rhythmic, or lyrical. They may not be lost gems -- and the rhythms are too wobbly for sampling -- but they are remarkable cultural artifacts, a portrait of a lost era, and that may be enough for some hardcore soul and pop collectors. -AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Following the runaway success of the Jackson 5 at the turn of the 1970s, the search was on for more talented kids playing soul, funk, and r&b; this Numero Group compilation gathers some of the more interesting small-label obscurities from the era.

In 1969, Berry Gordy gave an instrumental track that had originally been intended for Gladys Knight & the Pips to the Jackson 5. His new writing team of Alphonso Mizell, Deke Richards, Freddie Perren, and Gordy himself, officially christened The CorporationTM, wrote "I Want You Back" for the Jackson brothers to sing over the track. It was the first of four straight number one hits for the group and is pretty easily the greatest kid soul tune ever recorded. The sight of those four straight number ones set off light bulbs in the heads of controlling fathers, gangsters, housewives, DJs, and opportunists across the country, who were convinced that they had the next Jackson 5 playing hopscotch down the block.

There are thousands of records out there featuring soul kids, from the somewhat obscure, like Foster Sylvers, to the totally unknown, which is where this compilation comes in. This is a tough compilation to judge relative to other soul anthologies, or even other kids' music anthologies. For one thing, though these songs are sung by children ranging from pre-K all the way through high school, they are in no way intended for children. It's a bizarre world where kids who still believe in cooties are handed songs by adult composers who think nothing of projecting their romantic troubles and the sexual tension of their relationships onto their pintsize scions.

The tension between childhood naïveté and sexual awakening is what makes this music compelling. In terms of technique and listening enjoyment, these tracks are all over the place, but they all have a special, even faintly tragic sense of misplaced hope and hijacked innocence that makes them affecting. There are a couple of minor masterpieces here. "I'm Not Ready For Love", by a quartet of teenaged Maryland girls named Promise by their producer, is a tightly arranged number with a stellar vocal arrangement, a captivating melody and amazing lyrics like, "I'm not ready to fuss and fight/ I'm not ready to cry all night/ Waiting by the phone," certainly not a glass-half-full view of adult love.

Tampa's Triads appear with an astounding track called "If You're Looking For Love" that features great close harmonies and a walloping funk backing-- the vocalists sound reasonably mature, and this could have been a small hit if it had received any distribution at all. Cindy & the Playmates look forward to summer vacation on "Now That School Is Through", but the backing vocals have an initially incongruous noir vibe that takes the song to another level. The conversation that pops up over the fade is priceless: "What are you doing this summer?" Cindy asks her boyfriend. "I'm just gonna lay around and take it easy," he replies, and naturally, she asks, "Can I come too?"

Some of the material is less directly grabbing, and more interesting from an intellectual standpoint. The 3 Stars' "Jersey Slide, Pt. 1" is a would-be dance craze track ambitiously written so that the three extremely young singers trade off rapid-fire lines, but for all their effort, the kids can't pull it off with authority. Altyrone Deno Brown, previously heard on the second volume of Numero Group's Eccentric Soul series, sounds like he has a head cold, and while nine-year-old Jack of Jack & the Mods has incredible control over his voice, he still doesn't sound like he knows what he's singing about on "One Is Enough For One".

The Atons' "Yellow Ribbon" is just bizarre, opening with a teenaged guy chatting with his friends over a funk instrumental and kicking into a high-tempo, slightly keyless cover of "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree" that defies the imagination. Even odder is Jr. & the Soulettes' instrumental "2009 Cherry Soul Sound", not because it features an eleven-year-old shredding through a wah-wah pedal, but because almost no child groups made instrumentals-- the market for the music was built around voices. Patrizia & Jimmy open the compilation with an astonishing track from 1974 that is essentially hip-hop. "Trust Your Child, pt. 1" rides a sharp mid-tempo funk beat while Patrizia authoritatively raps out a lecture to parents admonishing them to respect their children.

Different people will listen to this music for different reasons. Some are voyeurs looking for the garish train wreck, some are drawn to the fragile hope and sense of possibility in the recordings, others are just looking for a good drum break or even something genuinely great. You get a little of all of that here. The eclectic range of the material is remarkable, but the big draw is the confluence of innocence and experience we've all lived through. Think about it another way: when the Beatles got all starry-eyed about holding hands, they were faking or remembering innocence to a degree. These kids actually have it. -Joe Tangari

1. Patrizia & Jimmy - Trust Your Child Pt. 1 2:33
2. Promise - I'm Not Ready For Love 2:45
3. The Eight Minutes - Here's Some Dances 2:49
4. Jack & The Mods - One Is Enough For One 2:30
5. Little Murray & The Mantics - Don't Leave Me Mama 4:31
6. 3 Simmons - You Are My Dream (School Time) 1:56
7. 3 Stars - Jersey Slide Pt. 1 2:10
8. Cindy & The Playmates - Now That School Is Though 3:32
9. Man Child Singers - Right On 3:01
10. Altyrone Deno Brown - Sweet Pea 2:24
11. Atons - Yellow Ribbon 3:13
12. Triads - If You're Looking For Love 2:44
13. Quantrells - Can't Let You Break My Heart 3:03
14. Jr. & His Soulettes - 2009 Cherry Soul Sound 3:03
15. Michael Washington - Little Girl 2:34
16. Otis The 3rd - Time 3:47
17. Step By Step - Time After Time 4:54

USA

School is back in session! The formula was simple: marry bubblegum and soul to the absolute sincerity of an enthusiastic child, cross your fingers and pray for airplay. But while the youthful sums of that formula may have grown up and walked away from their illusions of stardom, their permanent records remain. A decade removed from our acclaimed Home Schooled compilation comes a fresh batch of talent show titans. With enterprising parents, neighbors, and teachers turning play dates into recording dates, groups like Magical Connection, Little Man and the Inquires, and Five Ounces of Soul emulated the Jacksons, who'd made grade-school stardom appear easy as ABC. Afterschool Special: The 123s Of Kid Soul contains 19 tiny tunes ranging from bilingual D.A.R.E. anthem, to James Brown bio, to young love and life beyond the playground. (NG)

Afterschool Special: The 123s Of Kid Soul picks up a decade later where Numero Group’s previous kid soul compilation, Homeschooled: The ABCs Of Kid Soul, left off. The two compilations showcase the influence of the Jacksons on the musical landscape. Numero Group describes the artists featured on Afterschool Special as talent show titans. It’s a comparison that feels apt with the presence of anti-drug anthems (“I Am Free, No Dope for Me”), a children’s choir doing a call and response number (“I’m a Special Kid), or the requisite Jackson 5 imitators (“Every Where You Go”). It’s a fascinating document cut from the similar cloth as the Langley Schools Music Project’s Innocence & Despair, the Shaggs’ Philosophy of the World, or Donnie & Joe Emerson’s Dreamin’ Wild.

In Afterschool Special, one finds the fascinating juxtaposition found in the Langley Schools Music Project of young kids grappling with ideas and emotions that are likely foreign to their experience at that age. And just as with the Langley Schools Music Project, there’s something beautiful about it all, and it lacks the icky, voyeuristic element found in so much outsider music. It forces the listener to grapple with uncomfortable questions regarding exploitation or if the artist is the butt of the joke. There’s certainly an element of the latter in Philosophy of the World as the three Wiggin sisters were pushed into performing music by their father, Austin Wiggin. The kids featured here have a little more polish than the Shaggs and feelings of second-hand embarrassment are few and far between.

Second-hand embarrassment is a fascinating topic where consuming music is concerned, raising questions about agency. If the artist does not seem perturbed, who are we as listeners to decide how they should feel. Per the liner notes, the kids featured here were encouraged, perhaps pushed a little, to pursue music. Perhaps their guardians had dollar signs flash across their eyes following the success of the Jacksons and realizing their own charges had the spark of talent. But it may also be a case of an adult really going to bat for the children in their lives and supporting their interests as best they can. The Emerson brothers’ father Don Emerson, Sr. built his sons a $100,000 recording studio as a way of encouraging their musical interest. It nearly cost the Emerson’s the family farm. Dreamin’ Wild never sold much, but record collector Jack Fletcher stumbled across it in 2008. He fell in love with it and eventually the album was reissued by Light in the Attic Records and the Emerson’s were being covered by the likes of Ariel Pink. It didn’t come when they had hoped, but fame, of a sort, eventually found Donnie and Joe. Like the artists on this compilation, the Emersons were driven by a passion for music and fascination to what they could hear on the radio.

There are moments that border on cringe-inducing, such as the cover of Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. The Brother’s Rap lack Scott-Heron’s rhythmic sensibility and ease of delivery but their audacity is to be admired and it ends up being quite the charming number. The production on many songs is thin-sounding, but part of the charm of the album is the scaled-down versions of the stuff on the pop charts. The highlight of the album is easily “Runnin’ Wild (Ain’t Gonna Help You)”, which ticks all the right boxes for a pop/soul number and it sounds very much like something the Jacksons would have recorded.

Afterschool Special won’t be your go-to to sate a need for pop-soul, but it’s hard not to fall in love with these kids and their passion for music. “James Brown”, the cut that ends the compilation, is a bio of the musician and from the lyrics and the way the kids sing, you can just tell that’s who they want to grow up to be. -popmatters

1. Bethlehem Center Children's Choir - I'm A Special Kid 1:26
2. The Scott Three - Runnin' Wild (Ain't Gonna Help You) 2:26
3. Jimi Hill - Guessing Games 3:18
4. Leonard (Lil' Man) Kaigler - You Got Me Believing 3:17
5. Cash - I Love You Still 2:45
6. Brighter Side Of Darkness - Because I Love You 3:37
7. The Next Movement - Every Where You Go 2:46
8. The Bennett's - I Want A Little Girl 2:25
9. The Future Kind - Simon Says 3:50
10. The Dynamics - I'm Free, No Dope For Me 2:30
11. The Brother's Rap - The Revolution Will Not Be Televised 2:49
12. The Greer Brothers - We Don't Dig No Busing (The Busing Song) 3:36
13. Little Man And The Inquires - Funky Breakdown 2:13
14. The Five Ounces Of Soul - Love Got A Piece Of Your Mind 4:35
15. Magical Connection - Girl Why Do You Want To Take My Heart 2:59
16. Soul Emotions & Co. - It's Time For Love 3:07
17. The Brotherly Five - Losing My Girl 4:18
18. The Mighty Mustangs - The Other Guy 2:49
19. Nancy Dupree With A Group Of Rochester, NY Youngsters - James Brown 2:48

Greece

These are the songs of the joy and despair of Greece's urban refugees and ghetto dwellers in the first half of the century, featuring the violin, oud, baglamas and other Greek and turkish instruments.

This is a welcome collection. There are some musical and conceptual cavils, but each is more than balanced by a strength. Some of the cuts are far from their singers' best, and The Papaioannis piece is plain unworthy. But there's a great deal of fine music from unfamiliar as well as familiar artists (including the first recorded bousouki solo -- check out the "Moonlight Sonata" piano!). -AllMusic Review by John Storm Roberts

The Roots of Rebetika
This album is a keeper because it is a rarity - displaying the Rebetic style before it became commercialized, before it even "migrated" into the underworld. This is a CD of Rebetika that show its origins, its base: Asia Minor music. It is the prehistory of this genre, except that I heard a cover of "Ime Prezakias" while visiting Greece in 2000. (Seventy years after the song was created!!! Some things simply refuse to fade away.) Much of this music has the instrumentation and modes of the Greek musicians who had to flee the East in 1922-24, and went on to essentially create rebetika. In any case, "Sousta Politiki" is a potent song of exile, Ime Prezakias (I'm an addict) is an evergreen song about the drug addict's anguish and yearning for the powder, and Manes Chiotikos displays that simultaneous vitality and fierce vulgarity that is the signature of Rebetika. This is the music of the people, by the people, for the people. I'm not giving up my copy! -A. Argerison

1. Andonis Dalgas - Sousta Politiki 3:17
2. Agápios Tomboúlis - Horos Dervishikos 3:15
3. Yiannis Tsanakas - Rast Gazel 2:54
4. Róza Eskenázi - Ime Prezakias - Tsifte Telli 3:17
5. Márkos Vamvakáris - Taxim - Zembekiko 3:17
6. Apostolos Hatzichristos - Vassilis Tsitsánis - I Xenitia 3:16
7. Stratos Pagioumitzis & Stelios Kiromitis - Baglamadhes 3:14
8. Ioannis Papaioannou Glendi Ke Horos - Serviko 3:18
9. Rita Abatzi - O Psilos - Zembekiko 3:22
10. Ioannis Chalkias (Jack Gregory) - Minore Tou Deke 4:07
11. Ogdhondakis - Diplochordo Tsifte Telli 3:12
12. Marika Papagika - Ta Kommena Ta Malia Sou - Tsifte Telli 3:53
13. George Macreyannis (Neseros) - Zeimbekiko Aivaleotiko 2:58
14. Marika Kanaropoulou (Tourkalitsa) - Manes Tsifte Telli 3:26
15. George Katsaros - Mes'tou Manthou Ton Teke 3:20
16. Andonis Kalivopoulos & Yiovan Tsaous - I Eleni I Zontohira 3:09
17. Márkos Vamvakáris - Syros - Zembekiko 3:01
18. Stratos Pagioumitzis - Opios Orfanepse Mikros 3:21
19. Lambros Leondaridhis - Taxim Hetzaskiar Kiurdi 3:15
20. Yiangos Psamatianos - Manes Chiotikos 2:32

Greece

From hashish dens, prisons and the teeming shanty towns of Piraeus sprang an underground music which was to become Greece's most widely loved art form. Here we present the finest performers in the idiom recorded in their prime.

Rembetica is the style of popular music that developed in the 19th century in port cities of Western Asia minor, particularly in Turkey. It usually featured a male vocalist, and accompaniment by bouzouki and guitar. Rembetica was popular in the Greek city of Piraeus, where many Turkish refugees had moved to after the Greco-Turkish War of 1922, and was often performed in the most disreputable sectors of society: hashish dens, prisons, and shanty towns. It was recorded frequently between 1932 and 1937, which is when the bulk of the 22 recordings on this compilation were made; after 1937 a dictatorship imposed censorship upon such material, although some other such tracks dribbled out in the 1940s. The performances are plaintive and earnest, stressing minor melodies, occasional harmonies, and skilled bouzouki picking. If you're the kind who can only handle bouzouki in limited doses, you should give this anthology a wide berth: the instrument's at the forefront almost all the time, and while the music is moving and emotionally delivered, the melodies and arrangements aren't too diverse. The lyrics (translations are included in the sleeve notes) were often shockingly grim and realistic, sometimes with explicit violence and drug references. On "The Junkie's Pain," An. Dhelias (who would die of a drug overdose in the street) sings, "First I started snorting dope, then I began the needle/And my body did begin slowly to waste away...Since heroin, it has caused me to die out here on the street." Lou Reed, eat your heart out. The sound, remastered from old 78s, is surprisingly good given the obscure sources. -Allmusic Review by Richie Unterberger 

1. The Sucker - Markos Vamvakaris 3:15
2. It's Just Your Luck - Y. Batis 3:23
3. The Junkie's Pain - An. Dhelias 3:25
4. Tough Chick - Stellakis Perpiniadhis 3:17
5. Lament In The Minor - Stratos Payioumdzis 3:19
6. The Jonah (The Jinx) - M. Vamvakaris 3:06
7. My Only Consolation - Stellios Keromitis 3:18
8. It Showed I Was A Mangas - M. Yennitsaris 3:24
9. Don't Be Stubborn With Me - Markos Vamvakaris 3:12
10. Down There In Dhrapetsona - M. Vamvakaris 3:43
11. I Gambled All My Change - Stratos And St. Keromitis 3:20
12. Mother - Hadzichristos/Stamoulis 3:17
13. You've Wounded Me, My Flirt - Markos Vamvakaris 3:02
14. Batis The Dervish - Y. Batis 3:28
15. Crazy Nikos - N. Dhelias 3:26
16. Jealous Woman - M. Vamvakaris/K. Roukounas 3:11
17. Mother, They've Stabbed Me - M. Vamvakaris 3:20
18. Dance From Smyrna - I. Papaioannou 3:12
19. When I See Your Two Eyes - I. Papaioannou 3:21
20. I'll Hire Myself A Boat - Y. Kavouras 2:52
21. Serbian Dance - A. Hadzichristos 3:23
22. The Dope Pipe - S. Payioumidzis/K. Kaplanis 3:07

Cleveland, Ohio

In a sweet soul and northern R&B vein. A very rare album, but it is also a very good one. Including 12 storming Detroit tracks From the Pied Piper production team. Here's a hot one for fans of Northern Soul.

Over the last fifty years, Cleveland, Ohio has produced many talented and successful groups. One of the earliest of the Cleveland bands were The Hesitations. They began work on their debut album Soul Superman in 1967. One of the songs they recorded, was I’m Not Built That Way, a Jack Ashford, Ed Hillert and Joseph Hunter composition. Later in 1967, Soul Superman was released by Kapp Records. One of the highlights of Soul Superman was I’m Not Built That Way, an irresistible Northern Soul stomper.

“If we had a Berry Gordy in Cleveland, we would have been stars,” stated Art Blakey, recalling the famed Motown Records founder and Blakey’s own vocal group from the 1960s, the Hesitations. Blakey isn’t just blowing smoke. Cleveland’s Hesitations dented the Top 40 Charts without Gordy’s help. In 1968 their soulful rendition of “Born Free” reached number 38, and songs such as “Soul Superman” (number 42, 1967) and “Climb Every Mountain” (Number 90, 1968) made the Hot 100. Other Hesitations tracks like “The Impossible Dream” and “Who Will Answer” made the R&B charts. As one can see by some of the titles, the group specialized in taking middle-of-the-road songs and adding a little soul to make them their own. “There were a lot of good singers in Cleveland back then,” Blakey said, getting back to his point that Cleveland needed a local Gordy. “We had singers like Edwin Starr (who later hit with “War” on Motown), Bobby Womack and the O’Jays (the latter two Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees).” Back in the early 1960s, the aforementioned singers provided some of the competition for Blakey’s vocal groups. “Every (Cleveland) neighborhood had a bunch of vocal groups back then,” he said. “We would have battles of the vocal groups (competitions) every Sunday at the Circle Theater.”

Singing on the streets

Like so many singers who reached prominence during the early rock’n’roll/rhythm and blues era, Blakey began singing on the street corners. He first teamed with William Carter and George Hendricks in 1955 to form The Collegians. The Collegians and Blakey’s subsequent groups, the Crown Imperials and the Sahibs, each with revolving and evolving memberships, entered those vocal group battles. “If you couldn’t sing, you couldn’t live in our neighborhood,” said the singer who grew up on the east side, near Central Avenue. Other groups followed in Blakey’s career — the Orientals, the Cleveland Flames, Willie Parker and the Vandors and, at the start of Bealtemania and the British Invasion, when long hair was the in thing, the Wigs.

On to Detroit

Finally, the beginnings of the group that would become the Hesitations went to Detroit in 1965 to try and get a recording deal. Some of the singers with whom Blakey associated — and Blakey, himself, when he was with the Sahibs — had tried to get signed by Motown in the past, but none had any luck in those attempts. So, the men needed a fresh place to start. “Our friend, Edwin Starr, put us in touch with (the label) Golden World in Detroit. He had recorded ‘Twenty-Five Miles’ for them before they eventually were bought by Motown,” Blakey said. Jack Ashford, one of Motown’s famed Funk Brothers (the band that backed singers on many classic hits) liked something he heard in the Cleveland group. “We sounded terrible,” Blakey said. “I don’t know what he heard in us.” The group, now called the Hesitations, through Ashford, signed a deal in 1967 with Kapp Records, the 1960s home of such acts as Akron’s Ruby & the Romantics, crooner Jack Jones, and the British group the Searchers. The next thing Blakey knew, he was in the studio with producer Teacho Wilshire performing with the backing of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. “They blew me away just tuning up,” he said of the orchestra, not accustomed to such grandeur when singing with his groups.

Making a record

That first album, “Soul Superman,” included songs from various sources and did not employ the formula that would bring the Hesitations into the limelight — covering well-known tunes. It was in the following year when things would get really exciting, especially when “Born Free,” featuring lead singer Blakey’s soulful tag, turned the tame movie theme into something more. “When we were doing ‘Born Free,’ we were doing it with a gospel thing,” Blakey said. “‘Born Free’ was originally the B-side (of the 45 rpm record). The A-side was ‘Love is Everywhere.’ The record company thought ‘Born Free’ would only appeal to black folks.”

Stardom

DJs Ken Hawkins and J.L. Wright from Cleveland R&B station WJMO turned the record over, pushing the group along on its way to stardom. That stardom included performances in Europe (on a Dick Clark tour), appearances on TV in Cleveland (“The Big 5 Show”) and Philadelphia (in which they appeared with famed trumpeter Al Hirt as both acts shared manager Gerry Purcell), and performances on the ‘chitlin’ circuit’ of black theaters at venues like Washington D.C.’s Howard Theater and New York City’s The Apollo. The Hesitations line up included Blakey, Leonard Veal, Charles Scott, King George Scott, Robert Shepherd, Philip Dorrow on guitar, bass player Jimmy Vaughan and a drummer.

Tragedy strikes

Like many groups of the time, tragedy found the Hesitations. “It was two or three weeks after ‘Born Free’ became a hit and we were going to a wedding (in Cleveland) together,” Blakey said. “I remember (King) George saying that night, ‘I can die now. We’ve got a hit.’” The group members and a couple of wives were in one car and a band member had with him a gun he showed to the rest. As that band member was about to put the gun in the glove compartment, it went off. “Somebody just told a joke and we were all laughing,” Blakey said of the moment baritone George Scott was shot in the side of the head as he sat in the front seat, laughing along with the rest. “(Scott) had a smile on his face as they took him to the hospital,” Blakey remembered. The shooting was deemed accidental, but a group member was dead, and the feelings that ensued nearly broke up the Hesitations. Instead, Bill Brent, a Cleveland native who had been singing with the Drifters was brought in to sing bass and the group persevered.

Life without hits

The hits, however, stopped before the 1960s were through. As Blakey said, “It’s quite a shock after staying at the Fountainbleau (Hotel in Miami) to come home and have to look for work. I had to support my family (which included 14 children).” Another sad fact, as Blakey said, is that, “We never saw a dime from any of it. Not a cent. That’s the way things went in the sixties.” The Hesitations continued to sing, however, until the early 1980s. They regrouped, thanks to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which, in the fall of 2006 asked Blakey if the Hesitations would perform as part of a doo-wop show. Blakey called Charles Scott and Veal, but they were not available. He then turned to his original singing mates Carter and Hendricks, who agreed for one night to be the Hesitations. Blakey’s singing life had come full circle.

A new start

What was supposed to be a one-time performance ignited a spark that led to the group staying together, eventually adding Blakey’s second wife, Joyce, to the act. Since its reformation, the group has played at banquets, weddings and special occasions around the country, and, in 2010, at a soul music festival in Wales. In Wales, Blakey had to re-learn the songs from “Soul Superman” as they are the best remembered of the group’s output in Europe. Blakey, 69, now drives a truck to supplement his income, but he won’t ever get singing out of his system. “Singing is an addiction,” he said. “I’ll never quit.” -Jeff Piorkowski

1. She Won't Come Back 2:27
2. You'll Never Know 2:33
3. You Can't By Pass Love 2:33
4. I Believe To My Soul 2:52
5. That's What Love Is 2:36
6. Soul Superman 2:30
7. Soul Kind Old Love 2:33
8. I'm Not Built That Way 2:45
9. I'll Be Right There 2:33
10. Wait A Minute 2:50
11. Soul Superman No.2 2:34
12. Clap Your Hands 2:25

USA

First time on CD. Volumes 5 and 6 of Stag-O-Lee's Exotic Blues & Rhythm series were released on limited edition 10" vinyl and sold out in next to no time. Enjoy 24 amazing and danceable tunes from the late '50s and early '60s - a handful of popcorn dancefloor smashes, a few grinding tittyshakers, awesome rhythm & blues - most of them with an exotic twist.

Ultra-hip work from the end of the 50s and start of the 60s – the kind of weird, wild, and unusual singles you'd be likely to find way down on the list of singles available on a jukebox – often with hand-written title cards, because the music was so obscure. The tunes here are all at a midtempo groove – the kind of vamping, bad-stepping work that's been rediscovered by the funk collecting underground in recent years – tunes that were originally issued on 45s and 78s, mostly on small labels – in modes that are heavy on R&B, soul, and blues elements.

1. The Clare Sisters - Cool Cool Cool 2:27
2. Earl Hooker - Apache War Dance 2:22
3. Chuck Daniels - Tiny Tim 2:14
4. Otis Blackwell & His Band - My Josephine 2:21
5. Lance Robertson - Gonna Have Myself A Ball 2:10
6. Willie Wright & His Sparklers - Gibble, Gobble 3:08
7. Bob Calloway & The Chicks - Native 2:01
8. Sonny Day - Beyond The Shadow Of A Doubt 2:23
9. Howlin' Wolf - Wang Dang Doodle 2:28
10. Toussaint McCall - Summertime 2:13
11. Titus Turner - Coralee 2:42
12. The Voodoos - Voodoo Walk 2:56
13. The Rhythm Kings - Exotic 2:23
14. Kenny And Moe - I Want To Love You 2:25
15. Titus Turner - Big John 2:45
16. Young Jessie - Big Chief (King Of Love) 2:34
17. Bracey Everett - Lover's Curse 2:15
18. Johnny & The Hurricanes - Sheba 2:20
19. Johnny Williams & The Singing Cowboys - Sadaba 2:23
20. Little Jimmy Ray - You Need To Fall In Love 2:33
21. The Mark Five - Cleo 2:29
22. Cosmo - I'm A Little Mixed Up 2:53
23. Steve Karmen - River In My Blood 2:35
24. Otis Blackwell - Let The Daddy Hold You 2:26

Chicago

Numero Group create their most lavish package yet-- a look at the 1970s Chicago soul scene, complete with a book full of Michael Abramson photography.

A camera is a window through which a photographer interacts with the world, and it's up to the operator to decide whether his camera will be a barrier or a mirror between he and his subjects. In the 1970s, Michael Abramson chose the latter path when he brought his camera to Pepper's Hideout on Chicago's South Side. Following in the footsteps of his acknowledged influence Gyula Halász, a Hungarian photographer better known as Brassaï who became the pre-eminent chronicler of the Paris nightlife he loved so much, Abramson insinuated himself into the nightlife of Chicago's predominantly black neighborhoods. He was very much a part of the scene he documented on film, drinking, laughing, and dancing with his subjects into small hours and becoming as much a part of the atmosphere as the locals who frequented the same nightspots he did.

Numero Group has done a fair amount of work to preserve and document the South Chicago music scene of the 60s and 70s, releasing Eccentric Soul volumes on the Twinight and Bandit labels, reissuing Boscoe's phenomenal self-titled LP, and now giving us this set, which pairs a huge book of Abramson's striking photographs from Pepper's Hideout and its more risque counterpart, Perv's House, with a disc of music that mirrors the photos' sexuality and good humor. Abramson contributes a very short explanatory essay, but his black-and-whites are presented on their own, without captions, which is the best way to present them in this context. The intent of the project isn't journalistic after all. The whole package is built to include you in a party you likely never got to go to.

In addition to Abramson's photos, there are scanned flyers for blues and soul shows, the front and back of Abramson's own Player's Playground Card-- which granted him admission to Perv's House-- and an assortment of business cards from the old regulars. The picture here is of a lively, vibrant scene where people came to have fun and forget about daily problems. They clown, preen, and pose for the camera at times, but for the most part they just do their thing while Abramson snaps away, capturing them in half-lidded, off-balance, smiling, yawning, ecstatic, and joyful moments. In a Facebook era, this might not seem unusual, but it's not often you see a cameraphone grab that preserves a moment with such honest artistry as the images included here. There's a reason Abramson's work is owned by museums.

The accompanying disc of music is aptly subtitled Pepper's Jukebox, and though it lacks the archival and informational thoroughness that's become Numero's hallmark, it does provide a perfect soundtrack for the images. These are the songs they danced and laughed to, and the emphasis is one gritty, funky blues tunes. There's plenty of wailing harmonica and scratchy guitar, a hefty dose of double entendre and lots of plain great songs. Bobby Rush's classic "Bowlegged Women, Knock-Kneed Man" is a roaring and not really veiled tribute to the joys of doing it, and it's just the tip of the iceberg. Arelean Brown's "I Am a Streaker" works in similar territory, and she's not afraid to talk up her attributes: I'm built like an outhouse/ With not a brick out of place.../ Chest like headlights on a pimp's car..."

There are cool oddities, like the instrumental version of Syl Johnson's epochal soul cut "Is It Because I'm Black", and a bit of social commentary on Lucille Spann's gravel-voiced "Women's Lib", but the best songs get right to the heart of the blues. Willie Davis' "I Learned My Lesson" is flat-out powerful, with deep, dark verses and a ragged, finger-blistering guitar solo; it's a masterclass of smoky Chicago blues. On "You Made Me Suffer", Andrew Brown brings his blues noir into the funky 70s, mixing his lead guitar with heavy soul vocals and a popping drumbeat.

Taken together, the photo book and the disc offer a taste of what it might have been like inside Pepper's Hideout on a good night, and it seems like most nights at Pepper's were good nights. That scene is long gone today, so the opportunity to get an outsider's peek in is appreciated. It's also a rarity in the mp3 era to make such a complete experience out of music and packaging, and the package here is outstanding. Come for the sights, stay for the sounds. And don't be afraid to have a good time. -Joe Tangari

Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon: the trifecta of Chicago blues. Magic Sam, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells: also men of stature in the Windy City tradition. Elmore James, Little Walter, Jimmy Reed: the list of blues giants in the Chicago style goes on.  When the blues moved out of the country and into the city, plugged in and packed clubs, these were the men that defined the sounds that came out of Chicago. But there’s another chapter in the legacy of the genre, an often-overlooked crop of artists that slathered the original stomp ‘n’ swagger with gobs of funk and soul in the mid-1970s, turning South Side venues like Pepper’s Hideout and the Patio Lounge into havens for club-goers hungry for blues that didn’t so much swing as it slithered.

Formed in 2003, the Chicago-based Numero Group has been “dragging brilliant recordings, films and photography out of unwarranted obscurity… we’re on a dirty, labor-intensive mission… and it’s urgent as all hell. Time kills of precious bits of passed-over sound, story and ephemera every day, just as fast as we can haul this sprawling archive of under-heard recordings—along with the musicians, writers, and entrepreneurs who created them—out of exile.” Light on the South Side, the latest addition to the label’s collection of about 60 officially released titles, ranging from power pop to vintage New York disco and rap, soul, gospel, folk, and more, is an enthralling look into the lost South Side nightclubs, patrons, and musicians through a 12"x12” book featuring 132 pages of remarkable black-and-white photos, a few essays, and “Pepper’s Jukebox”, an accompanying compilation soundtrack with 18 of the nastiest blues-funk tunes ever laid down.

Light on the South Side bumps along, sounding like golden outtakes from lost sessions where James Brown’s backing band got together with Booker T and the MGs at the Stax studios—all while an insanely talented batch of unknown singers took turns at the mic, wavering from vocal approaches hot, bothered, and throat-tearing to cool, sleek, and silky.

Chicago-style blues harmonica is omnipresent, albeit it in smaller doses; in fact, harmonica and guitar solos are almost completely absent here—the searing, stinging licks typically associated with blues recordings are substituted for tight horn sections, revival-tent organ, and only occasionally, a syrupy string section. Further pushing along the blues paradox, the guitar work here interlocks with the bottomless bass ‘n’ drums groove, employing an impressive range of sounds from a dirty, fuzzed-out tube-amp mess to trebly, clean lines to classic, chikka-chikka wah-wah swells—no slide guitar, no flashy, lightning-fast runs up and down the fretboard, no guitar heroes.

Slow-burners like Little Mack Simmons’ “The Same One” and Willie Davis’ “I Learned My Lesson” are perfectly balanced with straight-up dance numbers like Hugh Hawkins’ “Bring it Down Front” and Artie White’s “Gimme Some of Yours” to incredible effect. Many of these blues pieces sound more troubled than the tunes associated with the aforementioned blues pantheon—yet so much of it sounds even more joyous, celebratory, and uplifting than the cheeriest of tunes in the vast blues catalog.

The only downside? To some, it’s a plus: this beast of a collection is being released (almost) exclusively on vinyl. Only the first 250 copies (already sold out) come with a link to download the album as 320kps MP3s. So if you want to hear this, you better get yourself a turntable—and why wouldn’t you?  This stuff has got to sound unbelievable through a needle. Or find a friend with one of the early copies. Otherwise, here’s hoping that it’s reissued later in digital form. This is such an incredible find, and the music is far too great, to just put it in the hands of those who can summon these sounds out of a stylus. -popmatters

1. Arlean Brown - I'm A Streaker Baby 3:55
2. Bobby Rush - Bowlegged Woman 3:58
3. Ricky Allen - No Better Time Than Now 2:23
4. Little Mac Simmons - The Same One 4:41
5. Lady Margo - This Is My Prayer 2:48
6. Andrew Brown - You Made Me Suffer 3:40
7. Artie White - Gimmie Some Of Yours 3:06
8. Lucille Spann - Women's Lib 3:34
9. Hugh Hawkins - Bring It Down Front 2:34
10. Slim Willis Band - I Sayed That 2:45
11. Little Ed - It's A Dream 2:32
12. Sly Johnson - Is It Because I'm Black (Inst) 2:33
13. Walter "Butterball" Davis - Baby Wacha Doing 2:17
14. Willie Williams - Detroit Blues (vinyl rip) 3:14
15. Little Mack - Goose Walk 3:26
16. Detroit Jr. - Young Blood 2:43
17. Willie Davis - I Learned My Lesson 4:13
18. James Kinds - California Lady 4:00

Greece

This strong collection captures the first above-ground flowering, and final flourish, of street-level rembetica from the rough & tumble port city of Piraeus. 1937 is a definite ending point, the year when censorship was imposed by a military dictatorship followed by Nazi occupation and post-war drift to respectability of what was an outlaw/outsider music, basically equivalent to Greek blues. Along with a ballpark sense of the genre, a bit of Greek music label history and capsule bios of the singers, the excellent notes include lyric translations and a slang glossary so you understand what they're singing about (basically the hooker/hipster/hustler underground and all that implies).

The major names are here, including the big four of Yiorgios Batis, Efstratios Payiomidzís, Anestis Dhelias, and Márkos Vamvakáris. The last holds down the first eight tracks, most of the arrangements are bouzouki with guitar only, but the rough, gravelly vocals bring the stamp of someone who's genuinely lived the rembetica life. Most follow the usual circular build-up that keeps hinting at...hinting at...cutting loose without ever doing it, but "O Márkos o Syrianós" is faster and jauntier than that. "Frangosyrianí" has a sprightly flair and Vamvakáris' most fluid bouzouki picking on the disc, "I Xanthiá" has a spoken interlude and simple melody over a semi-country jog/trot rhythm, and "Chthés Tó Vrádhi Sto Skotádhi" boasts nice melody jumps.

The other three big names are uneven -- Batis goes two to four, thanks to the brisk "Wang Dang Doodle"-like rundown of Mediterranean and regional Greek types on "O Fausolás," and his effective bagalamas licks on the instrumental "Taxími Athenéiko Ké Zeïmbékiko." The singing and melody on Dhelias' "Kousaváki" definitely nags, but "Athinéissa" is stronger, with a second vocalist lending weight on the chorus. That extra dimension of a second voice is important for variety's sake -- Payiomidzís' duet with Stellákis Perpiniádhis is fine, but his track by himself isn't any great shakes. Hell, Andonios Kalivopolous, "the mechanic who enjoyed a brief recording career before family pressure forced him to abandon this 'disreputable music,'" shines brighter and fresher than some of the bigger names on his tracks thanks to lively backing, and maybe because the main string instrument is the Turkish saz.

But those relative minor flaws shouldn't dissuade anyone from Rembetica in Piraeus, Volume II. These are genuinely historic recordings, foundation Greek roots music that offer revealing portraits of a whole other, yet very similar early hipster world, in a place you wouldn't really expect to find one. -AllMusic Review by Don Snowden

1. Otan Pino Toumbekaki - Markos Vamvakaris 3:18
2. O Markos O Syrianos - Markos Vamvakaris 3:14
3. Otan Me Vlepis Ke Perno - Markos Vamvakaris 3:24
4. I Xanthia - Markos Vamvakaris 3:16
5. Alana Pireotissa - Markos Vamvakaris 3:20
6. O Arabadzis - Markos Vamvakaris 3:19
7. Frangosyriani - Markos Vamvakaris 3:12
8. Chthes To Vradhi Sto Skotadhi - Markos Vamvakaris 3:22
9. To Barberaki - Yeorg. Batis 3:25
10. I Sfoungaradhes - Efstratios Payioumidzis 3:11
11. O Fasoulas - Yeorgios Batis 3:22
12. Koutsavaki - Anestis Dhelias 3:31
13. Paraponounde I Manges Mas - Andonios Kalivopoulos 3:24
14. I Eleni I Zondohira - Andonios Kalivopoulos 3:12
15. Taximi Atheneiko Ke Zeimbekiko - Yeorg. Batis 3:12
16. I Phonografitzidhes - Yeorg. Batis 3:27
17. Athineissa - Anestis Dhelias 3:26
18. Mes Tou Vavoula Ti Gouva - Styl. Keromitis 3:15
19. Ean Dhen Isoun Fthisikia - Styl. Keromitis/Tassia Vryoni 3:16
20. I Pseftofilia - Stratos & Stellakis 3:16

Ethiopia

Limited edition of 2,000 copies released for Record Store Day 2017; box set of 6 Ethiopian 7" reissues.

One of the coolest variations on the Ethiopiques series we've ever seen – a release that presents six different records exactly as they appeared as 7" singles – right down to representations of the original covers and labels. The grooves are great – definitely the funkier, more upbeat side of Ethiopian 70s music. Many of the tracks were later included on the iconic Ethiopiques series of albums and compilations, which brought the treasures of the Ethiopian music scene of the 60s and 70s to a wider audience. Includes tracks by Mulatu Astatke, Getatchew Mekurya, Mahmoud Ahmed, Girma Bèyènè, and Alemayehu Eshete. The original 7"s are almost impossible to track down these days and sell individually for jaw-dropping amounts online, including one for over £600!

1. Getatchew Mekuria - Antchi Hoye 3:52
2. Getatchew Mekuria - Shilela 5:13
3. Girma Bèyènè & Mulatu Astatké - Yebekagnale 3:32
4. Girma Bèyènè & Mulatu Astatké  - Yegele Tezeta 3:18
5. Alèmayèhu Eshèté - Afer Yemegnshale 3:25
6. Alèmayèhu Eshèté - Chiro Adarie Negne 4:29
7. Mahmoud Ahmed - Mar Teb Yilal Kafesh 3:40
8. Mahmoud Ahmed - Aynoche Terabu 4:04
9. Tilahun Gésséssé - Sew Manen Yimeslal 4:56
10. Tilahun Gésséssé - Sima 4:19
11. Ali Mohamed Birra - Awash 3:45
12. Ali Mohamed Birra - Sinhanbisin Werri 3:67

USA

Between 1962 and 1971, the One-derful! family of labels released 180+ 45s of stunning soul, funk, and gospel. Over two years of painstaking research and work, including countless hours spent cataloging, transferring, and mastering 250 of the label’s tapes, has contributed to an amazingly extensive reissue collection. In addition, some of the world’s leading experts have contributed liner notes and interviewed virtually every known surviving artist, producer, and otherwise involved party. In total, the six volumes of the One-derful! Collection include 12 LPs/6 CDs with 147 tracks, 57 which were never issued, and 144 pages of 12' x 12' liner notes stuffed full of rare and never before seen photos and memorabilia. Spanning 1962 to 1971, these compilations bring forth a wealth of overlooked and never before heard recordings and history.

deep exploration of an undervalued Chicago '60s soul label: first volume

Independent, black-owned One-derful! Records of Chicago got off to a great start in 1962 when its first release, McKinley Mitchell's emotive and soulful ballad "The Town I Live In," became an unstoppable R&B smash locally (even crossing over to the Top 40 on the Windy City's pop radio giant WLS) while reaching #8 R&B nationally. The imprint's biggest nation-wide crossover hit came the following year with the original version of the R&B dancefloor classic "Shake a Tail Feather" by the Five Du-Tones, which made Top 30 R&B and Top 50 pop. These two breakout hits are here in Volume One, as are two additional R&B/soul-charting hits, the Sharpees' "Shotgun"-inspired dancer "Do the 45" and the disc's closer (Trk 25), the stunningly gorgeous (both in its musical arrangement and vocal interpretation) "A Lasting Love" by the great Otis Clay, the world's finest, still-actively-recording male soul singer from the '60s and '70s. [Check out his superb 2014 "Soul Brothers" CD with Johnny Rawls, as well as his 2013 solo CD "Truth Is".]

The other big name here is Betty Everett, who recorded a pair of singles at One-derful! before moving up the street (S. Michigan Avenue) to rival Vee-Jay Records and becoming a star with the classics "You're No Good," "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)" and "Let It Be Me" (with Jerry Butler). Her early '62 One-derful! release "Your Love Is Important to Me" is far better than its mundane-sounding title would indicate and showcases an alternately smoldering and soaring blues-and-gospel-hybrid influence that heralded the arrival of a major young talent. Author Bill Dahl, in his liner notes, calls it a "spine-chilling ballad."

The two most attention-drawing performances here by unknowns (both one-off singles on One-derful!) came in 1965: Joe & Mack's mid-tempo groover "The Prettiest Girl" highlights its downhome, sanctified-soul, male-duet harmonies that would seem to prefigure the full-fledged arrivals of Sam & Dave and James & Bobby Purify the following year. And then there's the immensely talented Lucky Laws whose "Who Is She" sounds to me as if it could have become the label's definitive, danceable Chicago-style showpiece had it come along two years previously. Lucky's timing proved to be completely unlucky, to say the least, when he was murdered at a Southside bar shortly after waxing this very cool disc.

A dozen tracks are previously unissued; and apart from the two stellar ones by Otis Clay, four female ballad tracks dominate the proceedings, two each by Beverly Shaffer (whom I would place vocally and stylistically in the general vicinity of Barbara Lewis and Baby Washington) and the diminutive vocal dynamo Liz Lands, who had recently had a go at Motown. Her "I'm Guilty" has the One-derful! musical crew in full Motown-esque ballad mode, but unfortunately this one was relegated to the archives when the label shut down not long thereafter (1968) -- only to be rescued for this project.

There was no dearth of talent at One-derful! at any level (production, arrangements, musicians, vocalists or recording engineers), and all of these recordings, without exception, sound vivid and energized - albeit somewhat lacking in stylistic continuity that could have created a stronger identity for the label. There is no question that I want to hear more of this series.

Tremendous work by Secret Stash in assembling this collection. The sound restoration, mixing and mastering are "A+." Exhaustive research was done, as we can plainly see with the illustrated 36-page (!) accompanying booklet and its 29 pages of notes by the brilliant Bill Dahl covering all the One-derful! artists. This follows four pages of historical background on the company by Jake Austen.

I have but one small gripe, and it concerns the track sequencing: it seems almost totally random to me. McKinley Mitchell's "The Town I Live In" launched the label and his profile is properly first up in Dahl's notes...so why on earth does this record come up as the 17th track instead of leading off? Otis Clay's "A Lasting Love" makes for an appealing and appropriate closer since it was the label's final charting record by its most enduring artist (who, quite remarkably, sounds the same 47 years later!); but other than that, the sequencing seems inexplicably pre-shuffled.

This One-derful! collection is a treat for soul connoisseurs, and we have only seen one-sixth of it! (All five of One-derful!'s sub-labels, such as Mar-V-Lus, are going to be covered in the series.) -TheNoomz83

The One-Derful! Collection Vol. 1: One-Derful Records
1. Otis Clay - Got To Find A Way (Alternate Version) 2:30
2. The Sharpees - The Sock 2:21
3. Joe & Mack - The Prettiest Girl 2:36
4. The Five Du-Tones - When You Get That Feeling 2:34
5. Lucky Laws - Who Is She 2:27
6. McKinley Mitchell - What Love Will Make You Do 2:29
7. Betty Everett - Please Love Me 2:25
8. The Sharpees - Take Me To Your Leader 2:39
9. The Rockmasters - A Wonderful Thing (Love) 2:41
10. Mary Silvers - Here Comes My Baby 2:37
11. Beverly Shaffer - Meet Me Halfway 2:05
12. Liz Lands - Seventh Hour 2:52
13. The Admirations - All For You 2:50
14. The Five Du-Tones - Shake A Tail Feather 2:22
15. The Sharpees - Do The 45" 3:15
16. Otis Clay - Thank You Love 2:09
17. McKinley Mitchell - The Town I Live In 2:46
18. Liz Lands - I'm Guilty 2:47
19. Betty Everett - Your Love Is Important To Me 3:04
20. The Five Du-Tones - Enjoy Yourself 2:51
21. McKinley Mitchell - Now That You're Gone 2:41
22. Jay Jordan - The Man Of The Town 2:25
23. The Admirations - Don't Leave Me 2:34
24. Beverly Shaffer - Happy Times 2:34
25. Otis Clay - A Lasting Love 2:50

Marvelous Mar-V-Lus treasure trove of Chicago sixties soul from Secret Stash

This is the second volume in the Secret Stash series on the independent, black-owned (brothers Ernie and George Leaner) One-derful! Records out of Chicago in the 1960s. It focuses exclusively on its Mar-V-Lus sub-label and provides us with 65 minutes of music described by "Chicago Soul" author Robert Pruter (from his liner notes) as "...deeply soulful, raw and aggressive...hard-soul music as vibrant and rowdy as the urban ghetto streets of Chicago from which it sprang." As I described in my 1/7/15 review of the "One-derful! Collection: One-derful! Records": "The sound restoration, mixing and mastering are 'A+'...and all of these recordings sound vivid and energized." Again we get an excellent 36-page illustrated booklet with superbly written, meticulously researched liner notes. Jake Austen returns to supply the introductory overview and includes an interview he conducted in 2014 with Andre Williams, the top early producer for the company who came from Motown where he had worked with Berry Gordy in the early years there.

One-derful! had broken through on both the R&B and pop charts in 1963 with the dance hit "Shake a Tail Feather" by the Five Dutones; but that one was eclipsed in early '65 by the company's biggest hit by far, Alvin Cash & the Crawlers' "Twine Time" on Mar-V-Lus, produced and co-written by Andre Williams. It skied to #1 R&B nationally in Cash Box and crossed over to #9 pop en route to becoming a 900,000 seller. The relentlessly grooving instrumental came together in a hurry in its amazingly successful attempt to capitalize on a hot new South Side high school dance craze. According to Andre Williams, Alvin Cash "was just a guy trying to get on any kind of label...who happened to be at the studio that day." Someone was needed to provide the dance calls on the instrumental; and Cash, an excellent dancer which much less vocal talent, proved ideal. The record made him an instant star, and unsurprisingly the label's second biggest hit turned out to be the similarly constructed "Philly Freeze" the following year (credited to Alvin Cash & the Registers), which climbed to #7 R&B in Cash Box and #44 pop. Also not a surprise: these are the only two of the 16 previously released tracks here that I had ever heard before. In addition to these 16, there are nine previously unissued tracks; and most of them are quite good.

Aficionados of the "hard-soul" (precursor to "soul-blues") sound that One-derful! was most associated with (and most proud of) should really go for both sides of a terrific Johnny Sayles single, "Don't Turn Your Back on Me" b/w "You Told a Lie." Sayles does some intensely frantic wailing and pleading on the horn-propelled top side; and on the flip side comes off as kind of a cross between Little Johnny Taylor and Bobby Bland. I would rate his blues-driven "Whole Lot of Lovin'" as the best of the nine unreleased tracks. Soul singer Cicero Blake, whose recording career spans more than 50 years, made his only appearance on Mar-V-Lus with "You're Gonna Be Sorry," which despite its powerfully soulful Chuck Jackson-like vibe, could not muster much more than local semi-success.

On the female solo side, Evanston, Illinois native Josephine Taylor should have broken through in a big way in 1967 with "Ordinary Guy," an extraordinarily well-made record (neat horn arrangement and all) with an exciting and enticing vocal performance. Her trio of unissued recordings are all good ones, starting with "For You My Love," which combines a funky beat, cool bass and reverbed electric guitar with a sultry vocal. Local high school girl "Miss Madeline" (Madeline Strickland) could really belt out soul in her clear, high voice, so its surprising that her solid double-sided single "Behave Yourself" b/w "Lonely Girl" never got off the ground.

Of the featured duos and groups, the Du-Ettes, two local cousins, had their soul and pop hybrid "girl-group" sound down pat, but the songs they were given failed to elevate them. The experienced Blenders, who had come from doo-wop and had the recent crossover hit "Daughter" (huge in Chicago, on the local Witch label - not a joke), did not distinguish themselves on their one-off minimally released Mar-V-Lus single. That leaves the Ulti-mations as the group with the best bunch of songs here: their only release for the label, "Would I Do It Over," turned out to be the last one for the imprint in 1968. It's a good one, pretty much in the mold of the Four Tops; and in fact, the Ulti-mations track left in the can is their very fine cover of the Four Tops' "Sad Souvenirs," the B-side of the Tops' "I Can't Help Myself."

In my earlier review (of the first One-derful! volume), I voiced my mild discontent with the seemingly random track sequencing, and this disc continues along those same lines -- although "Sad Souvenirs" does make complete sense for the disc's closer. So, enough said.

Especially given the presence of Alvin Cash with his pair of big-time dance hits, Johnny Sayles, Cicero Blake, Josephine Taylor, and the Ulti-mations, volume two ("One-derful! Collection: Mar-V-Lus Records") of this series stacks up very well with volume one. -TheNoomz83

TheNoomz83 says:
There is what I believe to be a research error in Robert Pruter's liner notes. In his fourth paragraph on Alvin Cash, he claims that Chicago's major Top 40 radio station at the time, WLS (890 AM), refused to play "Twine Time" because the record was too sexually suggestive (due to Cash's "lewd chanting"). It may not have gotten airplay during the housewife-y weekday time slots, but I definitely heard it repeatedly on that station from December 1964 to mid-February 1965. In fact, it rose to #13 on WLS's Top 40 survey and had a six-week chart run. That #13 placement is actually one spot higher than its peak position in the Billboard Hot 100. WLS did clearly have a quota on the amount of R&B/soul records it would allow into its airplay rotation at any given time (highly favoring Motown product by its leading acts), but "Twine Time" was not restricted as far as I could tell during the younger demographic's listening hours.

The One-Derful! Collection Vol. 2: Mar-V-Lus Records
1. Josephine Taylor - For You My Love 2:05
2. Johnny Sayles - Don't Turn Your Back On Me 2:27
3. Alvin Cash & The Crawlers - Sweatin' 2:23
4. The Du-Ettes - Stop, Call The Cop 2:20
5. The Blenders - Love Is A Good Thing Goin' 2:41
6. Miss Madeline - Behave Yourself 2:59
7. Alvin Cash & The Crawlers - Twine Time 2:19
8. The Du-Ettes - If You Need Me 1:32
9. Josephine Taylor - Ordinary Guy 2:04
10. The Blenders - Your Love Has Got Me Down 2:17
11. Cicero Blake - You're Gonna Be Sorry 2:40
12. Miss Madeline - Lonely Girl 2:06
13. The Ulti-mations - Would I Do It Over 3:05
14. Josephine Taylor - Your Love Picks Me Up 3:23
15. The Young Folk - Joey 3:04
16. The Du-Ettes - I'm Gonna Love You 2:06
17. Joseph Moore - I Still Can't Get You 2:29
18. Vicky Clay - Oh It's All Right 2:29
19. Johnny Sayles - Whole Lot Of Lovin' 2:46
20. Alvin Cash & The Registers - The Philly Freeze 2:33
21. Josephine Taylor - I Want A Man 3:13
22. Baby Miracles - I Feel Good All Over 2:47
23. The Du-Ettes - Hello Tommy 2:19
24. Johnny Sayles - You Told A Lie 2:27
25. The Ulti-mations - Sad Souvenirs 3:03


The third installment of the One-derful! Collection focuses M-Pac!, the blues and hard soul imprint of this legendary R&B label group. M-Pac! is preceded by the One-derful! and Mar-V-Lus compilations and will be followed by releases of the Halo, Midas, and Toddlin' Town sub-labels. This series marks the first in-depth study of what was once one of Chicago's most prominent African-American run labels.

M-Pac! Records is available in 2xLP and CD formats, and within the grooves of these 24 tracks lie superb group harmonies from The Ringleaders and The Accents, gritty hard soul leads from Willie Parker and Stacy Johnson, and songs from one of Chicago's most under-appreciated soul shouters in Harold Burrage, plus 10 tracks that were never issued!

Central to M-Pac! is the Leaner family. By 1962 when brothers George and Ernie Leaner added M-Pac! as a sub-label to their One-derful! label, they were revered figures on Chicago's Record Row and beyond. They distributed material from labels like Motown and Stax and they attracted top talent. It wasn't uncommon for a WVON DJ to help the Leaners sign their newest discovery, or for their singers, musicians, songwriters, or producers to have Chess or Motown on their resumes. The Leaner family were among the most important black businessmen of music's golden era, yet much of their history has only been superficially documented until now.

The One-Derful! Collection Vol. 3: M-Pac! Records
1. Willie Parker - I Live The Life I Love 2:38
2. The Accents - New Girl 2:01
3. The Ringleaders - All Of My Love 2:25
4. Harold Burrage - Bad Situation 2:44
5. Dorothy Prince - Hey Mister 3:23
6. Andrew Tibbs - Change Of Heart 2:46
7. Bobby Davis - Damper Down 2:02
8. Morris Dollison & The Turnkeys - The Earth Worm, Pt. 1 2:42
9. Willie Parker - Let Me Make It Up To You 2:46
10. Harold Burrage - Things Ain't What They Used To Be (Since You've Been Gone) 3:17
11. The Ringleaders - I'd Like To Win You Over 2:18
12. Benny Turner - Angel 2:28
13. Harold Burrage - Mountain Of Soul 2:50
14. Stacy Johnson - I Stand Alone 2:54
15. Willie Parker - Never In A Million Years 3:08
16. The Ringleaders - Baby, What Has Happened To Our Love 2:23
17. Big Daddy Simpson - Lonely Man 3:09
18. The Accents - Do You Need A Good Man 2:20
19. Stacy Johnson - Don't Try To Fool Me 3:00
20. Harold Burrage - Got To Find A Way (Extended Version) 3:50
21. Willie Parker - So Glad 2:08
22. Benny Turner - Come Back Home 2:49
23. The Ringleaders - Let's Start Over 3:18
24. Dorothy Prince - Every Night 2:30

During the 1950s and 1960s, Chicago record men and brothers George and Ernie Leaner helped transform South Michigan Avenue’s famed “Motor Row” (of auto dealerships) into Record Row. In addition to helping Ernie with their record distribution company on Boul Mich, George Leaner organized One-Derful! Records and several subsidiaries, including one exclusively designated for a gospel music series: Halo.

With meticulous detail and in concert with the Leaner Family, Minnesota’s Secret Stash Records has been releasing samples of the prodigious One-Derful! catalog in installments.  The most recent, which focuses on Halo, is the first commercially-available offering of this short-lived but significant subsidiary.  The collection illustrates how One-Derful’s studio musicians, artists steeped in R&B and led by influential producer Monk Higgins, made the hard, soulful sound of gospel quartet and group singing even harder and more soulful.

The Salem Travelers are well represented on the set because the label introduced the quartet to a national audience and the group became Halo’s top seller. Selections include released tracks, such as “Wade in the Water,” which is said to have inspired Ramsey Lewis Trio’s hit instrumental version, and several unreleased issues. The first 500 who purchase the vinyl LP version of the Halo collection get two additional unreleased Salem Travelers sides pressed as a 45 rpm record.

Those familiar with live gospel performance know that songs take time to brew, and three-and-a-half-minutes sometimes just doesn’t do. Another benefit of the collection is the chance to hear long form gospel selections without having to flip the disc over. The listener can enjoy “Man in the City,” the Lucy Rodgers Singers’ two-part cover of Dorothy Love Coates’ “Stranger in the City,” as it would have been heard in live performance: without a break. The same goes for the Gospel Souls’ “The Fire Keeps On Burning in My Heart,” featuring incendiary former Lux Singer Ida Mae Davis. On “I’ve Been Saved,” the Gospel Souls sound like sanctified Supremes.

The unreleased tracks are just as good as the released ones. An example is the Redemption Harmonizers’ “Modern Messiah,” which laments the loss of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy who, like Moses, worked to rescue a captive people.

Full disclosure: the extended essay that comprises the album notes was written by yours truly. The narrative places the Halo sessions in the context of changes taking place in gospel music, musically and lyrically, during the Civil Rights and Black Power eras. Songs such as the Salem Travelers’ hit, “The Children Goin’ Astray,” and the Golden Tones’ “Why Can’t We Love our Fellowman” contain social messages not often articulated on record by gospel artists prior to the early 1960s.

Images of vintage gospel program posters, from the collection of Holy Travelers’ member Leroy Witherspoon, are alone worth the price.

Since the Halo sides were recorded from the original tapes, not only is the audio quality stellar—the music jumps off the disc and out the speakers—but the work of the musicians can be heard more clearly than on the mono singles.

Halo: the One-Derful! Collection offers a survey of group-based gospel music as it transcended the sanctuary toward a more progressive worldview.

Five of Five Stars  --Bob Marovich

The fourth installment of the One-derful! Collection focuses on Halo, the gospel imprint of this legendary R&B label group. Halo is preceded by the One-derful!, Mar-V-Lus, and M-Pac! compilations and will be followed by releases of the Midas and Toddlin' Town sub-labels. This series marks the first in-depth study of what was once one of Chicago’s most prominent African-American run labels.

Halo Records is available in 2xLP and CD formats, and within the grooves of these 25 tracks lie soulful songs from groups like the Salem Travelers, the Gospel Souls, Lucy Rodgers, and the Redemption Harmonizers, plus 9 tracks that were never issued! Halo's focus and determination was to make gospel music that secular ears could hear and enjoy. They were trying to make R&B gospel, and the main producer behind its aesthetic, Monk Higgins, later took this sound and had great success at Chess Records.

Central to Halo is the Leaner family. In the early 1960s when brothers George and Ernie Leaner added the Halo sub-label to their One-derful! label, they were revered figures on Chicago's Record Row and beyond. They distributed material from labels like Motown and Stax and they attracted top talent. It wasn't uncommon for a WVON DJ to help the Leaners sign their newest discovery, or for their singers, musicians, songwriters, or producers to have Chess or Motown on their resumes.

Nearly 20 years prior, George and Ernie started work at their sister's Groove Record Shop. Before long, George was an assistant to legendary blues producer Lester Melrose, and later the brothers helped run Parkway Records – recording historic 78s featuring Little Walter and Muddy Waters. They did all of this before launching United Record Distributors in 1950 – regarded as the nation's first black owned record distributor. In addition, their uncle Al Benson was the most influential Radio DJ on Chicago's South Side. His on-air support and occasional partnerships with the Chess brothers proved crucial to their early success. He also helped many DJs get their start, including Vivian Carter who later formed Vee-Jay Records. In fact, United Record Distributors hosted her wedding. The Leaner name also turns up in connection with many of the greats in blues and soul: George Leaner produced an early release for Berry Gordy's Tamla label, and in the 1970s Ernie Leaner and Stax's Al Bell partnered to form Ernie's Onestop and a chain of Record World stores. The Leaner family were among the most important black businessmen of music's golden era, yet much of their history has only been superficially documented until now.

The One-Derful! Collection Vol.4: Halo Records
1. The Salem Travelers - Wade In The Water 2:54
2. The Gospel Ambassadors - Send Your Cleansing Power 2:40
3. The Redemption Harmonizers - Amazing Grace 3:12
4. Flying Clouds Of Joy - I Have Made A Change 2:36
5. The Golden Tones - Why Can't We Love Our Fellowman 2:51
6. Saints Of Glory - Wear A Crown 2:27
7. The Daytonians - Keep Movin' Along 2:50
8. The Salem Travelers Featuring Little David - The Children Goin' Astray 3:15
9. The Gospel Souls - The Fire Keeps On Burning In My Heart Pt. 1 & 2 5:22
10. The Beautiful Tones - King Jesus Will Roll Your Burden Away 2:37
11. The Redemption Harmonizers - Modern Messiah 2:44
12. Flying Clouds Of Joy - This Little Light Of Mine 3:23
13. Rev. Lofton & The Holy Travelers - Lord I Never Will Forget 2:25
14. The Gospel Souls - I've Been Saved 3:18
15. The Salem Travelers - I've Got A Feeling 3:29
16. The Gospel Ambassadors - He Died For Me 2:44
17. The Daytonians - Mercy Lord 3:14
18. The Salem Travelers - Give Me A Few More Days 3:36
19. The Salem Travelers - Joy 2:48
20. The Salem Travelers - I Won't Let Nobody Turn Me Around 3:29
21. Heavenly Wonders - Jesus Is A Rock 2:20
22. The Original Ensemble - Lord Deliver Me 2:27
23. The Redemption Harmonizers - Why Do Men Treat The Lord As They Do 2:58
24. Lucy Rogers Singers - Man In The City (Pt. 1 & 2) 5:12

The fifth installment of the One-derful! Collection focuses on Midas, the gritty soul & funk imprint of this legendary R&B label group. Midas is preceded by the One-derful!, Mar-V-Lus, M-Pac!, and Halo compilations and will be followed by Toddlin' Town. This series marks the first in-depth study of what was once one of Chicago’s most prominent African-American run labels.

Midas Records is available in 2xLP and CD formats, and within the grooves of these 25 tracks are generous helpings of funk, southern soul, and storming group vocals. As the shortest lived label in the One-derful! stable, Midas also provides an opportunity to dig deep into One-derful!'s vast tape vaults. Among the 11 never issued tracks are gems from Andre Williams, Benny Sharp & The Sharpies, Bobby Mack, and McKinley Mitchell.
Central to Midas is the Leaner family. In the early 1960s when brothers George and Ernie Leaner added the Halo sub-label to their One-derful! label, they were revered figures on Chicago's Record Row and beyond. They distributed material from labels like Motown and Stax and they attracted top talent. It wasn't uncommon for a WVON DJ to help the Leaners sign their newest discovery, or for their singers, musicians, songwriters, or producers to have Chess or Motown on their resumes.

Nearly 20 years prior, George and Ernie started work at their sister's Groove Record Shop. Before long, George was an assistant to legendary blues producer Lester Melrose, and later the brothers helped run Parkway Records – recording historic 78s featuring Little Walter and Muddy Waters. They did all of this before launching United Record Distributors in 1950 – regarded as the nation's first black owned record distributor. In addition, their uncle Al Benson was the most influential Radio DJ on Chicago's South Side. His on-air support and occasional partnerships with the Chess brothers proved crucial to their early success. He also helped many DJs get their start, including Vivian Carter who later formed Vee-Jay Records. In fact, United Record Distributors hosted her wedding. The Leaner name also turns up in connection with many of the greats in blues and soul: George Leaner produced an early release for Berry Gordy's Tamla label, and in the 1970s Ernie Leaner and Stax's Al Bell partnered to form Ernie's Onestop and a chain of Record World stores. The Leaner family were among the most important black businessmen of music's golden era, yet much of their history has only been superficially documented until now.

The One-derful! Collection Vol. 5: Midas Records
1. Benny Sharp & The Sharpies - Wagon Wheel 2:51
2. Andre Williams - Mojo Hannah 3:05
3. Irene Scott - Everyday Worries 2:28
4. No No Starr - Swing Your Love My Way 2:50
5. Lonnie Brooks - Mr Hot Shot 2:28
6. The Danderliers - Walk On With Your Nose Up 2:08
7. McKinley Mitchell - End Of A Rainbow 1:57
8. Andre WIlliams - Football 2:24
9. Benny Sharp & The Sharpies - Hey People 2:37
10. The Inspirations - Your Wish Is My Command 2:10
11. Reginald Day - Lost Love 2:51
12. Bobby Mack - our Love Is A Good Thing For Me 2:30
13. Epics & Larry & The Hippies - My Destination 3:09
14. Benny Sharp & The Sharpies - Music (I Like It) (Part 1) 2:53
15. Big Daddy Rogers - Im A Big Man 3:26
16. Bobby Mack - Malnutrition 2:50
17. Epics & Larry & The Hippies - Call Her Back 3:04
18. The Compliments - Beware Beware 2:46
19. McKinley Mitchell - The World Is In Trouble 2:08
20. Irene Scott - You're No Good 3:05
21. Lonnie Brooks - The Popeye 2:24
22. Reginald Day - My Girl Jean 2:32
23. The Inspirations - I'll Take A Chance On You 2:37
24. Bobby Mack - Lovin On Borrowed Time 2:44
25. McKinley Mitchell - True Love 2:47

Notes

The One-Derful! Collection Vol. 6: Toddlin Town Records
Not yet released. About May 1, 2017 (delayed)

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