As I’ve mentioned before, it’s always wise for a blogger to pick artists that either have plenty of biographical details already out there or new, original stuff that you have unearthed yourself. In the face of this sound advice my next disc is by an artist that, like Jackie Ivory only appears to have issued one 45 before sinking into oblivion and he is RUSSELL EVANS & THE NIGHT HAWKES who gave us ‘The Bold’ on UK Atlantic 584010 / US Atco 4611.
THE ‘5’ ROYALES – The Complete Apollo Recordings. History of Soul Records. SOUL016
A while ago, I warned you about those lunatics at History of Soul and how they were complete obsessives and if they say they are going to cover a group they know no bounds. Along with the last 5 Royales CD I reviewed plus this and the next HOS Records CD set below, they have provided us with almost 180 tracks. The 5 Royales were the very first group to merge secular and sacred musical influences into a coherent whole, laying down the future guidelines of soul music. These CDs contain some of the very best early soul and R&B ever recorded and the Royales’ music still has the power and the passion to move us all.
I must admit to never having heard of today’s choice until I came across the disc at a record fair about ten years ago, ODELL BROWN & THE ORGANISERS ‘No More Water In The Well’, Cadet 5591. Odell Elliott Brown was born in Louisville in February 1940 and was another relatively late starter in the business after he moved to Tennessee and met up with some likeminded State University music students and got a scratch band together comprising himself, Artee Payne, Curtis Prince, Henry Gibson and Tommy Purvis. His aspiration to enrol for university himself was curtailed when he was drafted into the 179th, 5th Army Band which led to the group disbanding.
The disc kicking off part 2 is on UK Sue 313 / US Sue 795, ‘So Far Away`’, one of my all-time favourites from Henry ‘HANK’ JACOBS, who amazingly did not even contemplate sitting in front of a piano until he was seventeen. Oozing talent, Kent Harris who had fronted Boogaloo and His Gallant Crew soon recruited Hank to gig with him as a duet traveling all over the States and co-wrote ‘Sting Ray’ with him for Hank’s first release appearing on Imperial.
While touring the pair stopped off in NYC and signed for Juggy Murray’s Sue label which resulted in Harris and Jacobs penning my featured side, which debuted on the R&B charts in January ’64. The original track had a piano lead but Jacobs later over-dubbed a Hammond B3, but even with this enhancement the track is effectively a two instrument affair, a B3 and a cymbal.
I recently had the good fortune to be invited to the recording of a BBC Radio 2 show presented by Paul Gambaccini, with the guests being Berry Gordy Jr. and Vicki Wickham. As you may know, Vicki was the programme editor of Ready Steady Go! in the mid-60s and along with friend Dusty Springfield was a champion of the Motown Sound in the early days.
I spotted a few familiar faces in the audience including David Nathan who was a co-founder of the Soul City record shop in 1966. The interviews were punctuated by live vocalists performing Motown hits and never having been a fan of Motown tribute acts I must say that they were all very good.
100 Proof’s blistering ‘Somebody’s Been Sleeping’ was an R&B and pop hit in the summer of 1970, and arguably one of the finest 45s to emerge from Holland, Dozier & Holland’s Invictus/Hot Wax stable.
Easy to dismiss as lightweight pop soul, everything about this 45 is class. From the chiming guitar introduction, doom-laden bass line and ‘Fee Fi Fo Fum’ chant the tone is set perfectly. An adult twist is given to the Goldilocks and Three Bears fairy tale, with lead vocalist Steve Mancha on fine form as he rasps his dismay at the telling evidence of an unknown visitor to his marital home – ‘Cigarettes in the ash tray, and I don’t even smoke’ and ‘My brand new silk pyjama’s, They’re rolled up in the chair’.
As is well known, the late Dave Godin was an early champion of the Motown Sound.
After hearing Mary Well’s ‘You Lost The Sweetest Boy’ in 1963, he wrote to Berry Gordy asking for permission to form a fan club for her and the labels’ other artists. From the initial typed newsletter it grew into the Tamla Motown Appreciation Society, with upwards of a thousand members who helped to spread the word leading up to the Motown Revue’s acclaimed tour of the UK in 1965. The story behind this influential network of Motown fans is the theme of Keith Rylatt’s forthcoming book with the working title taken from the masthead of the society’s newsletter Hitsville USA!
Mary issued a great album in the summer of 1964 on US Motown and British Stateside, Mary Wells Sings My Guy both containing the same twelve marvellous tracks. The UK release came a few weeks after the US version and no sooner had British record shops took stock of the record did Mary depart Motown with little love lost on either side.
She had divulged this information on the eve of her joining the Beatles autumn tour of Britain and so although her tour repertoire consisted of her Motown songs she was in fact a 20th Century Fox signing by then. Her remaining, unissued Motown tracks later saw the light of day on her Vintage Stock LP issued in ’66 but that would be the last time her name would grace a new Motown record.