"One in a Million - The Songs of Sam Dees" hit parade (peak national soul and pop positions):
Larry Graham "One in a Million You" (1980) #1 soul (2 wks) / #9 pop
Gladys Knight & the Pips "Save the Overtime (for Me)"  #1 soul (1 wk) / #61 pop
L.T.D. "Where Did We Go Wrong" (1980) #7 soul / #76 pop
Frederick Knight "I Betcha Didn't Know That" (1975) #27 soul/ #135 pop
Rozetta Johnson "A Woman's Way" (1970) #39 soul / #94 pop
John Edwards "Stop This Merry-Go-Round" (1973) #45 soul / #128 pop
The Chi-Lites "Vanishing Love" (1977) #95 soul
The collection of vocal talent on this disc is astounding. General followers of the pop and soul music scene back in the day will instantly recognize the great Jackie Wilson, Esther Phillips, Johnnie Taylor, Gladys Knight & the Pips, the Temptations (with Dennis Edwards's lead vocals), Clarence Carter, Millie Jackson, the Chi-Lites, and L.T.D. with Jeffrey Osborne. Larry Graham, the amazingly innovative bassist with Sly & the Family Stone, who went on to front his own group Graham Central Station, is known especially for his mellow baritone delivery on the biggest hit Sam Dees has ever had as a songwriter, the 1980 million-selling crossover smash ballad "One in a Million You." The other singer here widely known for a single vocal performance is Anita Ward, whose "Ring My Bell" (definitely not written by Dees) became a multi-chart-topping disco classic (if that's not too much of an oxymoron) in 1979. In this collection we have the Dees-penned "Spoiled by Your Love" beauty of a B-side of her forgotten "Ring My Bell" follow-up single. Ward is a mesmerizing singer with a light-as-air Deniece Williams-like soprano, but one that is as charmingly fluttery and quivery as Williams's is clear and soaring. It's likely that disco fans would also know Loleatta Holloway, but here while still in pre-disco mode (1975) she interprets one of the most classic, little-known (although it was the title song of his Atlantic LP), emotive Dees ballads, "The Show Must Go On." The more assiduous soul fans will easily recognize the almost impossibly high tenor voice and note-bending style of Ted Taylor; the deep-soul stylings of Dorothy Moore; the rangy and versatile voice of John Edwards, who became the lead singer of the Spinners in 1977; and the sometime Sam Dees writing and producing partner, Frederick Knight, whose shimmering, insistently tuneful "I Betcha Didn't Know That" was a mid-'70s favorite of mine.
As a soul fan myself since the early 1960s, I was surprised that I only knew four of the songs on this 22-track disc (which, by the way, has a running time of 79:57! -- that's right: two whole seconds go unused) from their initial runs. Frankly, I was having trouble staying with soul radio as the '70s progressed, due to the influx of dance-funk and disco which were crowding out real soul music. This is why Sam Dees is such a hero to me. He refused to compromise his musical and lyrical genius on anything less than the real deal. He wasn't afraid to against the commercial tide (of mediocrity), and thus has earned long-lasting respect in the business.
Getting back to the artists, there are three revelations for me among those I didn't know at all: Sidney Joe Qualls is not only an Al Green contemporary, he was close to being a dead vocal ringer for him on "Run to Me" from 1975. The unknown Ray Crumley (maybe a name change would have helped) is one of the finest "blue-eyed" soul singers I have ever heard, based on "Good Guys Don't Always Win" from 1976. His powerful, smoky tenor is something to behold. And finally, Tuscaloosan Rozetta Johnson's début disc launched Birmingham, Alabama's Clintone label and gave hometowner Dees his first hit as writer/co-producer with her knock-out take on the grooving-and-rapping female-fidelity song "A Woman's Way." As you can see from the above "hit-parade" list, it was not a major national hit, and I don't know where it received airplay in the States in late 1970. (I was living in France at the time and had no chance of hearing it; but thanks to this Kent Soul CD, I can now hear it for the first time 43 and a half years later!) The lyrics may have been out of step with the contemporaneous women's liberation movement, but it's irresistibly catchy and Ms. Johnson sang it like someone with unlimited potential. She later became a gospel singer, and according to the liner notes, remained a performer "right up until her death" in 2011.
Said liner notes comprehensively cover every track and are part of a 16-page booklet with full-color ephemera on every page. Every song is graphically represented by some kind of record picture sleeve, record label repro, or promotional poster. Tony Rounce has done it again with this superb compilation and his highly informative liner notes. And since this is the Kent Soul division of Ace Records [UK], the sound mastering is top-of-the-line as always.