New Breed R&B – Various Artists CD (Kent)
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This CD aims to entertain soul fans who like R&B and R&B fans who want to pick up on some of the more obscure sides that have recently been creating interest in a fledgling dance scene which has ‘borrowed’ a few of their tunes to play.
Of course there are countless black music fans who go for any style of music under that broad umbrella. But for many serious collectors the huge amount of recordings and information now available on their favourite genre within black music, has meant that at some time a conscious decision has had to be made to concentrate on that form. For myself, working in soul music has meant neglecting the blues fan within me, which ironically was the route that brought me here in the first place.
OK I get the chance to listen to BB King if the mood takes me, but I’m not going to hunt down an obscure Big Mama Thornton 45 unless there’s an economic need. Similarly a lot of blues fans will have their Ike & Tina Turner Kent/Modern recordings but won’t be scouring sales lists for lesser known Jackie Shane recordings.
Using the new interest created by Manchester’s Hideaway nightclub dance crowd is a convenient way of getting these sometimes neglected early to mid 60s blues sounds out on CD. That in itself can’t be a bad thing and the research for this CD has also thrown up unreleased nuggets from Marvin Phillips, Jimmy Robins and Vernon Garrett, which will get plays at the clubs before being used on a subsequent volume. So it’s been a worthwhile exercise on several fronts.
Broadly speaking, R&B collectors like their CD compilations to focus on one artist at a time, whereas us soul types are more at home with these Various Artist deals. This is probably because most of our heroes had sporadic careers of about eight singles spread over half a dozen labels: artists seemed to move about much more in the turbulent music business of the 60s.
Having given us a raison d’?©tre for this series of compilations, we now need to know is it any bleeding good? Well actually…
There’s an old Northern Soul number by Larry Davis called I’ve Been Hurt So Many Times, but don’t worry, Helen Shapiro doesn’t guest on it. In fact there aren’t any girls, strings or sax solos, just grinding R&B that had the right tempo for the more discerning stomper of the mid-1980s. OK you may have left it on Sailor Vernon’s list for ¬£1.50 but it’s still damn good. And if it’s any consolation, I’m sure Larry didn’t have a seedy ballroom in Stafford in mind when he recorded it many years previously.
Little Joe Hinton comes up with a great mover called Tired Of Walkin’ from 1962 before his conversion to a soul brother at Don Robey’s Backbeat label.
That Jackie Shane bloke we were talking about earlier gives a brilliant performance on an organ led Stand Up Straight and Tall: it’s moody, groovy and bluesy.
A treat for lovers of soul groups comes from the Newports whose Dixie Women, which was also cut in 1962, illustrates how black groups were getting out of doo wop and into a more soulful sound by then. Incidentally the sleevenotes to the CD give a rough explanation of what the hell the Belgian Popcorn scene is all about! In case you’ve been wondering.
One off instrumental grooves from Frank Armstrong and Booker T Averhart veer from jazz to blues to soul and back again. This is the ideal setting for such worthy slabs of vinyl that would otherwise get neglected on US record lists.
We’ve managed to find a Marvin & Johnny single that didn’t make it on to the Ace Kent/Modern CD, a Big Mama Thornton track that the tape hadn’t even been copied for and an early Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland just looking for a home.
Add some better known artists like ZZ Hill, BB King, Vernon Garrett (with and without the missus), Arthur K Adams and Jimmy McCracklin at the height of their powers, Mary Love with her biggest, most smouldering hit and King Solomon, Willie Headen, Al King and Jimmy Holiday on well crucial and collectible 45s and you’ve got a compilation for everyone.
Everyone that is who has a collection of singles into four or five figures, photos of men with guitars from Chicago on their living room walls and a wife who wishes they would grow up some time soon. By Ady Croasdell. – Ace Records