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Mark Barry "Mark Barry" (London)

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Say Hello To The Band
Say Hello To The Band
Price: £12.08

5.0 out of 5 stars "...Shine Away..." – Say Hello To The Band by DECAMERON (2012 Esoteric Recordings Expanded CD Remaster), 1 April 2015
This review is from: Say Hello To The Band (Audio CD)
Describing Cheltenham’s DECAMERON as a UK Folk-Rock Band kind of pigeonholes their worth – and frankly they're better than a single genre description. But in order to get a handle on what they did/do sound like - think Lindisfarne meets Ronnie Lane's Slim Chance meets Matthews Southern Comfort meets Fairport Convention with touches of Stealer's Wheel and The Strawbs thrown in – and that’s a better broad stroke. Here are the murky details...

DAVE BELL – Guitar, Vocals
JOHNNY COPPIN – Guitar, Vocals
AL FENN – Lead Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals
GEOFF MARCH – Cello, Violin, Vocals

Guest Musicians
PAT DONALDSON (of Fotheringay) – Bass
ANDY ROBERTS (of Grimms and Plainsong) – Dulcimer on "Byard's Leap"
IAN WHITEMAN (of Mighty Baby) – Piano on "Say Hello To The Band" and Organ on "Shine Away"
B.J. COLE – Dobro on "Judith"
TIMI DONALD (of Blue and Trash) – Drums

"Say Hello To The Band" was their debut album in 1973 for the Progressive Rock label Vertigo and was sold alongside acts like Magna Carta and Tudor Lodge – bands with a Folk-Rock leaning (in fact Magna Carta's wonderful "Lord Of The Ages" LP was issued in the same month – September 1973). This gorgeous expanded CD reissue by Esoteric Recordings of the UK (part of the Cherry Red group of labels) on Esoteric ECLEC 2320 (Barcode 5013929432048) remasters the album, adds on a rare non-album 45 as a bonus track and breaks down as follows (42:23 minutes):

1. Say Hello To The Band
2. Byard's Leap
3. Judith
4. Innocent Sylvester Prime
5. Crows [Side 2]
6. The Moon's In 'A'
7. Stoat's Grope (All I Need)
8. Ride A Lame Pony
9. Shine Away
Tracks 1 to 9 are their debut album "Say Hello To The Band" – released September 1973 in the UK on Vertigo 6360 097 (no US release).

10. Friday Night At The Regal – Non-album B-side to the only 7" single released off the album - "Stoat's Grope (All I Need)" - released September 1973 in the UK on Vertigo 6059 086 (no US release).

Conceived and co-ordinated by MARK POWELL - the 12-page booklet boasts excellent liner notes by MARCO ROSSI that feature new interviews with founder members Dave Bell and Johnny Coppin. The insert photo that came with original copies of the album is reproduced, as is the label of the 7” single and a lone trade advert. But the big news for fans is a beautiful remaster by BEN WISEMAN at Audio Archiving from original master tapes – this CD sounds fabulous – really full and warm and clear – everything you’d want the transfer to be.

Produced by Sandy Robertson (Steeleye Span, Plainsong, Liverpool Scene, Hard Meat) – the record opens with the chipper title track "Say Hello To The Band" which feels very Lindisfarne with a harmonica warble and heavy on the Hollies layered vocals. We then get into a very Fairport Convention "Liege & Lief" track called "Byard's Leap" – a seven and half minute English History folk jaunt about a "bonny wench called Meg that became a witch" (very nice). Structurally it bears a striking resemblance to L&L's "Matty Groves". As the story tells of "crops failing" and the suspicious townsfolk people wanting a scapegoat and revenge - the acoustic guitars build and build – mandolins join in – then electric guitars – it’s excellent stuff and the remaster lends it amazing power as the instruments blend and cascade. "Judith" is pretty enough with B.J. Cole’s distinctive playing style evident on his Dobro contribution – the song sounding similar to Matthews Southern Comfort going a bit Country.

But for me the debut album then offers up its first piece of genuine melodic genius – the lovely acoustic layers of "Innocent Sylvester Prime" – the Side One finisher. Beautifully produced and sounding clear as a bell – it’s one of those rootless melodies that feel strangely sad and wistful and hurting – all at the same time. And yet it’s lovely somehow too – even gorgeous. Side Two opens with the very Richard Thompson sounding "Crows" and excellent too is the intimate balladry of "The Moon's In 'A'" which pours on the multi-tracked acoustic guitars as it builds in mood and atmosphere. "Stoat's Grope (All I Need)" is the shortest tune on the album at 2:30 minutes and easy to hear why it was chosen as the single. "Ride A Lame Pony" is a song about 'suits' and broken dreams while the finisher "Shine Away" has those Clifford T Ward "Gaye" Cello moments complimenting the song. The first-time on CD B-side "Friday Night At The Regal" is similar to its A-side – a poppy bit of Folk Rock that feels very much like Lindisfarne circa "Dingly Dell".

Decameron made 3 other albums – “Mammoth Special” (September 1974 on Mooncrest CREST 19), “Third Light” (October 1975 on Transatlantic TRA 304 and “Tomorrow’s Pantomime” (September 1976 on Transatlantic TRA 325) – all are on CD in one form or another. The “Garden Of Delights – A Folk Compilation” CD of 2006 picked out their cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “Rock And Roll Woman” (written by Stephen Stills) as its chosen track – all Acapella Vocals with Folk Arrangements.

A lovely reissue of a great beginning and highly recommended...well done to all involved for getting this criminally forgotten band the dues they deserve...

Greatest Hits
Greatest Hits
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £5.84

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...On The Outside Looking In..." – Greatest Hits by LITTLE ANTHONY & THE IMPERIALS (1995 CEMA CD Remasters), 1 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Greatest Hits (Audio CD)
US budget-priced CDs like this do my head in (if you'll forgive the pun). The inlay is a single slip of paper - rear side is blank and the front cover is a bad photocopy of a bad photocopy. There are only ten tracks and it's imaginatively called "Greatest Hits" for God's sake - with bugger all info as to where anything came from. On paper it's not good.

That is until you start to "play it" and suddenly gorgeous sound sails out of your speakers - track-after-track – with music that is sublime, timeless and hugely evocative (hence the plethora of 5-star reviews Stateside). I suspect the audio is top notch because CEMA (the label who put out this CD) is a Division of Capitol Records - so these tracks may indeed be the EMI or Rhino remasters of the late Eighties that are now quite hard to find on other CD compilations (and pricey in places). Here are the outside looking-in details...

Issued Stateside in June 1995 (reissued since) - "Greatest Hits" by LITTLE ANTHONY & THE IMPERIALS is a 10-track CD on CEMA Special Markets S21-56751 (Barcode 077775675122) and breaks down as follows (29:23 minutes):

1. Goin’ Out Of My Head – 1964 USA 7" single on DCP International CDP 1119, A
2. Tears On My Pillow – re-recording of his 1958 End Records classic for the "Forever Yours" US Stereo LP on Roulette Records SR 42007
3. Hurt So Bad – 1965 USA 7" single on DCP International DCP 1128, A
4. I Miss You So – 1965 USA 7" single on DCP International DCP 1149, A
5. Shimmy, Shimmy Ko-Ko-Bop - re-recording of his 1959 End Records classic for the "Forever Yours" US Stereo LP on Roulette Records SR 42007
6. I’m On The Outside (Looking In) – 1964 USA 7" single on DCP International DCP 1104, A
7. Take Me back – 1965 USA 7" single on DCP International DCP 1136, A
8. Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind – 1969 USA 7" single on United Artists UA 50552, A
9. The Ten Commandments Of Love – 1969 USA 7" single on United Artists UA 50598, A
10. Help Me Find A Way (To Say I Love You) – 1970 USA 7" single on United Artists UA 50720 S, A

There are no credits of any real kind on the rear-inlay – nor does it say if these tracks are remasters – but a listen to any song and its pretty obvious they are (and were done with care). I’m guessing on "Tears On My Pillow" and "Shimmy, Shimmy Ko-Ko-Bop" – so if anyone out there knows better – please advise/correct.

What’s not open to debate is the 'listen' – there’s something about the way these 10 tracks are sequenced that makes it a perfect audio experience – gorgeous from start to finish – and so evocative of the period and youthful romance (even if the last track “Help Me Find A Way (To Say I Love You)” sounds more like The Chi-Lites or early Philly than a Vocal Group classic).

There’s better compilations out there for sure – but this one is so cheap and so cheerful (online in some places for a little as two quid) that five stars is given gladly – especially with that fabulous audio...

Future Legends
Future Legends
Price: £12.58

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...Day Breaks..." – Future Legends by FRUUPP (2009 Esoteric Recordings CD Remaster), 31 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Future Legends (Audio CD)
Hailing out of Northern and Southern Ireland’s notorious show-band circuit – Guitarist and Vocalist Vince McCusker of Co. Derry dreamed of bigger and better arrangements. So he turned his back on cover versions of insipid chart hits and formed his very own Progressive Rock unit delightfully called FRUUPP - taken from a Letraset Sheet that didn’t have the letters FRUP used (he added the extra U and P).

"Future Legends" is the first of four albums FRUUPP made for England’s Dawn Records – all of which are held in Proggy affection by those who bought the platters at the time or witnessed FRUUPP as a band in their impressive live form (they backed up huge bands like Supertramp, Queen, ELO, Man, Focus, Hawkwind and the Peter Gabriel line-up of Genesis). This CD reissue/remaster (47:25 minutes) gives us their debut album plus one very rare bonus track withdrawn from the album at the last minute. Here are the details for Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2104 (Barcode 5013929720428):

1. Future Legends
2. Decision
3. As Day Breaks With Dawn
4. Graveyard Epistle
5. Lord Of The Incubus [Side 2]
6. Olde Tyme Future
7. Song For A Thought
8. Future Legends
Tracks 1 to 8 are their debut album "Future Legends" – released October 1973 in the UK on Dawn Records DNLS 3053

9. On A Clear Day (Withdrawn Track only featured on the first 100 copies of the LP)
[Note: originally intended to be on the album as the last track on Side 1 - the song uses a part of Holtz’s “The Planet Suite” which was not cleared in time for Copyright purposes (a relative of Holtz objected) and so had to be withdrawn at the very last minute and replaced with "Graveyard Epistle"]

FRUUPP were:
VINCENT McCUSKER – Guitars and Vocals
PETER FARRELLY – Bass and Lead Vocals
STEPHEN HOUSTON – Keyboards, Oboe and Vocals
MARTIN FOYE – Drums and Percussion

Organised and Co-ordinated by MARK POWELL - the 12-page booklet reproduces the beautiful hand-drawn gatefold artwork of Peter Farrelly (front and back pages) and the inner gatefold with its photos of the suitably serious longhaired musicians and their "tales of tomorrow" stories and lyrics. The affectionate, witty and highly informative liner notes are by PAUL CHARLES who was their "Manager and general fixer" at the beginning - and is today a published author of the Christy Kennedy mystery books (Charles in fact wrote the original liner notes for the LP). There’s some concert fliers, press clippings and tour schedule adverts – but the big news is a BEN WISEMAN remaster from original master tapes that brings out the dense playing of all eight Vince McCusker originals.

It opens with a gorgeous and beautifully produced string-piece that lasts 1:32 minutes. It then goes into the wild and eclectic guitars of one of their best tunes – the six and half-minute "Decisions" that features sophisticated vocal work ala Thijs Van Leer’s Focus and a blistering McCusker guitar solo similar in places to Steve Howe on "Relayer" (the band reckon they got signed on the strength of this one piece alone). The timing-changes onslaught continues with "As Day Breaks With Dawn" – a flirty piece dominated by cymbals and piano at first only to break into a vocal/guitar romp – and then back again to ethereal and mellow (the playing and cleverness of it is impressive). Side One ends with the frantic/slow/frantic "Graveyard Epistle" which sounds like Procol Harum on a couple tabs of acid – a very sophisticated piece actually.

We go a bit too Focus and "Trespass" on "Lord Of The Incubus" where Farrelly’s vocals aren’t quite Peter Gabriel even if the tune is good musically (especially the clever string arrangements). Better is the truly excellent Prog of "Olde Tyme Future" where guitar and organ blend to make a melody that would make Genesis proud. And on it goes to another all instrumental string passage of "Future Legends" that ends the album with its under-a-minute duration. And at last fans get to hear the withdrawn track "On A Clear Day" which runs to a crowd-pleasing 7:46 minutes – similar in fact to "Olde Tyme Future" in its composition (great double lead-guitar work half way in).

So there you have it – Hairy Ulstermen and Celtic Legends ahoy – FRUUPP were/are an acquired taste for sure. But if you were a fan – this fab-sounding CD remaster will remind you and your receding hairline why you loved em in the first place...

PS: Esoteric have also reissued the other 3 albums - "Seven Secrets" (1974), "The Prince Of Heaven's Eyes" (1974) and "Modern Masquerades" (1975)

Battle Hymn
Battle Hymn
Price: £12.67

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "...Sanctuary..." – Battle Hymn by WILD TURKEY (2013 Esoteric Recordings CD Remaster), 31 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Battle Hymn (Audio CD)
Formed by Glen Cornick, Jethro Tull’s Bassist for their first three albums ("This Was", "Stand Up" and "Benefit") along with talented newcomer Guitarist Jon Blackmore – WILD TURKEY promptly pumped out two albums in the early Seventies on Terry Ellis’ Chrysalis Records to favourable press but commercial indifference.

The rest of the band featured Jeff Jones the former Drummer with Man, Lead Vocalist Gary Pickford-Hopkins from Eyes of Blue (to whose memory the reissue is dedicated) and new Lead Guitarist Alan "Tweke" Lewis. Produced by Roger Bain of Budgie and Black Sabbath fame – their debut album "Battle Hymn" actually dented the top 200 in the USA in early May 1972 (they were touring with Sabbath as their opening act) and that’s where this straightforward CD remaster comes in. Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2413 (Barcode 5013929451346) pans out as follows (41:07 minutes):

1. Butterfly
2. Twelve Streets Of Cobbled Black
3. Dulwich Fox
4. Easter Psalm
5. To The Stars
6. Sanctuary [Side 2]
7. One Sole Survivor
8. Battle Hymn
9. Gentle Rain
10. Sentinel
Tracks 1 to 10 are their debut album "Battle Hymn" – released April 1972 in the UK on Chrysalis CHR 1002 and in the USA on Reprise MS 2070

The 16-page booklet repro’s front and rear artwork, the inner gatefold and new liner notes from MALCOLM DOME that features an interview with Glenn Cornick on the formation of the band from out of British pubs and the difficulty of recording the album with an indifferent producer. The BEN WISEMAN remaster is typically excellent – great audio – remastered from original tapes.

As much as I want to like this band and this album – it’s not Budgie by any means. I say this because unlike Budgie – Wild Turkey neither rocked nor rolled and didn’t really have any great tunes of worth. Stuff like “One Sole Survivor” had some swagger for sure while the ballads “Dulwich Fox” and “Gentle Rain” feature pretty acoustic guitars accompanied on the latter by Cornick on Harpsichord. But tracks like “Butterfly” and “Battle Hymn” sound laboured musically and vocally. Better is the Side One finisher “To The Stars”.

If you’re a fan – don’t think twice – the presentation and audio is top notch...others I would advise a listen first...

PS: Esoteric Recordings have also reissued/remastered their 2nd and last album "Turkey" from 1973 on Chrysalis onto CD in 2013 (ECLEC 2414) with two bonus 7" single tracks...

Price: £12.14

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...Whack It Up..." – Snafu by EAST OF EDEN (2008 Esoteric Recordings Expanded CD Remaster), 31 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Snafu (Audio CD)
With hippy-dip titles like "Uno Transito Clapori" and "Nymphenburger" – England’s East Of Eden weren’t exactly aiming for Top Of The Pops or Radio 1's playlist with their second Progressive Rock album release "Snafu" in February 1970. Yet that’s exactly where they ended up more than a year and two months later (via a circuitous route).

To draw attention to the LP - East of Eden and Deram popped out the non-album 7” single "Jig-A-Jig" in May 1970 and by way of slow radio play and build up - they eventually entered the UK charts in April 1971. It wasn’t long before they were giving it a bit of Rock-Fiddle instrumental on Top Of The Pops while Pan’s People danced about in scantily clad outfits to its cod-Irish rhythms (lovely). More importantly the single got them noticed. Taking a clever edit of "Marcus Junior" (the 2nd part of the 2nd track on the album) as its B-side – this most weird and Prog of British bands suddenly found they had a hit on their hands – a little like Thin Lizzy would do in 1973 with the Traditional Irish air of "Whisky In The Jar". And that’s where this 2008 CD remaster comes in. Armed with a generous seven bonus tracks (five of which are Previously Unreleased) and a near eighty-minute playing time – here are the jiggy details

UK released March 2008 – "Snafu" by EAST OF EDEN is a CD remaster on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2034 (Barcode 5013929713420) and breaks down as follows (78:04 minutes).

1. Have To Whack It Up
2. (a) Leaping Beauties For Rudy (b) Marcus Junior
3. (a) Xhorkom (b) Ramadhan (c) In The Snow For A Blow (Medley) Part I (d) Better Git It In Your Soul (e) In The Snow For A Blow (Medley) Part III
4. Uno Transito Clapori
5. (a) Gum Arabic (b) Confucius [Side 2]
6. Nymphenburger
7. (a) Habibi Baby (b) Beast Of Sweden (c) Boehm Constrictor
8. Traditional: Arranged By East of Eden
Tracks 1 to 8 are their 2nd album "Snafu" – released February 1970 in the UK on Deram DML 1050 (Mono) and SML 1050 (Stereo) and in the USA on Decca DES 18043 (Stereo only)

9. Jig-A-Jig (May 1970 UK 7" single on Deram DM 297, A – charted April 1971)
10. Petite Fille – Previously Unreleased
11. Biffin Bridge – Previously Unreleased
12. Blue Boar Blues – Previously Unreleased
13. Nymphenburger – First Take
14. Marcus Junior (Single Edit) – B-side of "Jig-A-Jig"
15. Jig-A-Jig (Take Nine) – Previously Unreleased

Co-ordinated and Produced by MARK POWELL - the 12-page booklet features trade adverts and reviews for UK and French Music Magazines, three rare foreign pictures sleeves, colour live shots of the band on the centre pages, track-by-track musician credits and the album’s original liner notes. There aren’t liner notes per say – but all that pales into naught when you clap your ears on the PASCHAL BYRNE remaster from original tapes (done at Audio Archiving in the UK). This CD sounds amazing - making the dense flute, electric violin and saxophone playing seem somehow more open (same crew did the debut album from 1969 "Mercator Projected" – also on Esoteric Recordings).

In truth - the album "Snafu" couldn’t be more different from the crowd pleaser of "Jig-A-Jig". What you get here is Flute and Saxophone Prog Rock with the Fiddle Playing of Dave Arbus taking centre stage. Four of its long tracks come in parts – often going off into Free Jazz passages. Stuff like "Uno Transito Clapori" with its near 3-minutes of backward tape-effects are unlistenable nonsense now – but far better is the Jethro Tull Flute-Rock of "Gum Arabic/Confucius" which boogies along impressively for eight minutes or so with some hippy talking pieces inbetween. “Nymphenburger” has Arbus playing six violins while Geoff Nicholson plays four guitars and its awkward rhythms are a bit laboured. It ends on the 1:35 minutes of Piano and Voice on "Traditional" which is "Xhorkom" played the right way around.

The bonus tracks are going to please especially the surprisingly soft “Petite Fille” which is almost madrigal in its simplicity. “Biffin Bridge” is closest to the album’s Prog Rock – a slow intro arrives at a great Fiddle and Guitar workout – while “Blue Boar Blues” sounds like Mick Abraham's Blodwyn Pig circa "Ahead Rings Out".

Fans who remember the band with affection should jump at this reissue – especially given those excellent extras and that great audio upgrade...

PS: Esoteric Recordings have also reissued their 1969 debut album "Mercator Projected"

Northern Soul's Classiest Rarities Volume 5
Northern Soul's Classiest Rarities Volume 5
Price: £10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...Sending Vibrations..." – Northern Soul's Classiest Rarities Volume 5 (2015 Kent-Soul CD Remasters), 30 Mar. 2015
It never ceases to amaze me just how deep and rich the vein is that runs through American Soul Music. In 2015 we’re a good 50 years after the event and still the goodies keep coming at us. "Northern Soul's Classiest Rarities Volume 5" does pretty much what it says on the tin – you get eighteen uber-rare/desirable homemade American 45s (worth a fortune and impossible to attain on actual vinyl) complimented by one 2014 CD find - and a further six previously unreleased cuts for this 2015 release. And frankly Frank – Northern Soul fans are gonna love it hook, line and sinker. Here are the low-down productions that produced big-bucks collectables...

UK released 30 March 2015 (7 April 2015 in the USA) – "Northern Soul's Classiest Rarities Volume 5" on Ace/Kent-Soul CDKEND 432 (Barcode 029667243223) pans out as follows (65:06 minutes):

1. When The Boy That You Love (Is Loving You) – THE AVONS (A Bob Holmes Recording – Previously Unreleased)
2. Hang Around – MARVA HOLIDAY (1968 USA 7" single on GNP Crescendo GNP-411, A)
3. That Same Old Feeling – THE VOLUMES (1966 USA 7" single on Impact 1017, A)
4. Just Beginning To Love You – THE STEELERS (1967 USA 7" single on Crash 430, A)
5. I Can’t Get Hold Of Myself – CLIFFORD CURRY (1968 USA 7" single on Elf 90013, A)
6. Losing Control – MARY SAXTON (1965 CANADA 7" single on Pace 8-18-1166, A)
7. They Didn’t Know – TERRI GOODNIGHT (1966 USA 7" single on Phelectron PH-701, B-side of "The Fighting Is Over")
8. It’s All In The Way (You Look At It Baby) – MOUSIE & THE TRAPS (1966 USA 7" single on Toddlin Town 8204, A)
9. It’s Alright To Cry Sometime – J.J. BARNES (1 1964 Ring Recording – Previously Unreleased)
10. Lover Man – THE SOUL BROTHERS (1967 USA 7” single on Sho-Biz 402, A)
11. How I Got Over – DARONDO PULLIAM (1972 USA 7” single on Ocampo 001, A)
12. Hook, Line And Sinker – ROY WRIGHT (1966 USA 7" singles (first) on Vick 210, (then on) Mica 2016, A)
13. Just Another Smile – MEL DAVIS (1969 USA 7" single on Golden State GSR 4-69, A)
14. I’m Sending Vibrations – THE WEBB PEOPLE (Extended Version of USA 7" single TCB Records 1446 – A Rob Keyloch Mix – Previously Unreleased)
15. Butterfly aka I Wish I Knew – THE BALLADS (1975 USA 7" single on Music City 897, A)
16. It Ain’t No Achievement – THE MILLIONAIRES (1971 USA 7" single on Specialty 719, A)
17. Two Loves Have I – BIG JOE TURNER (1970 USA 7" single on Blues Time 45001, A)
18. Wrong, Wrong, Wrong – RAY & DAVE (1966 USA 7" single on Mica 501, A)
19. Pins And Needles – EDDY GILES (an originally unissued Murco recording firs issued in 2014 on the Eddy Giles CD "Southern Soul Brother: The Murco Recordings 1967-1969")
20. I’m The Reason – CLEO JACKSON, HUCK & THE SOUL PATROL (1969 USA 7" single on Mar-Kee 711, A – mistakenly credited in the booklet and on the inlay as Mar-Kee 717)
21. If You Don’t Know, You Just Don’t Know (1967 USA 7" single on Dial 4054, A)
22. Do The Popcorn – LITTLE JOHNNY HAMILTON (1969 USA 7" single Soul Shack 531, A)
23. Break Someone Else’s Heart – JEANETTE JONES (a Golden State Recorders recording – Previously Unreleased)
24. This Man Wants You – JESSE COWAN (Golden State Recorders recording – Previously Unreleased)
Tracks 1, 9, 14, 23 and 24 are (2015) PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
Track 19 only released in 2014
All tracks in MONO except 1, 12, 14, 15, 17, 23 and 24 – which are STEREO

Compiled and Annotated by long-time Soul Nutter ADY CROASDELL – his 16-pages of liner notes are the usual plethora of repro labels (and a Jeanette Jones Acetate) with rare publicity photos for Mel Davis, Darondo Pulliam and J.J. Barnes snapped in full flow at the 100 Club in London. Marva Holliday gets three photos in the booklet, front cover top left, Page 4 and a full colour plate on the rear – not surprising given her great homemade voice and Tammi Terrell-gorgeous looks. NICK ROBBINS has done the remasters/transfers and given that much of the material sounds decidedly lo-fi and is in Mono – most sound good to great – with the Stereo cuts being particularly great.

It opens with a 1-2-3 count in and we’re off into Girl Group territory with Motown affectations. Marva Holliday lays into a Sherlie Matthews song called “Hang Around” on GNP Crescendo GNP-411 and gives fabulous insights into its creation (her inexperienced and young vocal only lend it more charm). Record labels like Phelectron, Toddlin Town and Ocampo aren’t exactly rolling off the tongue or household names even in knowledgeable Soul circles. Mary Saxton comes on like Tina Turner’s younger sister "Losing Control" over her man (great dancer and apparently only available in Canada). The 2nd release on the Phelectron Records label by Terri Goodnight ("They Didn't Know") went to nearly $3000 on Auction in 2010.

Croasdell rightly praises the vocals and arrangements on the Millionaires cut "It Ain't No Achievement" – a rare Soul outing for Specialty Record. How weird is it to hear Atlantic’s Big Joe Turner take the Ted Murrell oldie "Two Loves Have I" (covered by crooners like Nat King Cole) and turn it into a successful upbeat brassy Soul dancer! Another that I like is "Pins And Needles" by Eddy Giles – a nice groove and a great voice. And on it goes to an Unreleased Jeanette Jones recording (their ninth issued on Kent).

I can’t honestly say everything on here is my bag – but the goodies outweigh the negs by a mile. Another winner from Kent-Soul...

Looking For You ~ The Complete United Artists & Veep Singles
Looking For You ~ The Complete United Artists & Veep Singles
Price: £10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...Precious Love..." – Looking For You:The Complete United Artist & Veep Singles by GARNET MIMMS (2015 Kent Soul CD Remasters), 30 Mar. 2015
Now here’s something well tasty for lovers of classic American Sixties Soul – the A&B-sides of fourteen Garnet Mimms singles gathered together in one place for the first time. Everything about this CD release smacks of quality – gorgeous audio – equally sweet presentation coupled with the real deal - classy, moving and uplifting music. For me "Looking For You" is already a contender for SOUL REISSUE OF THE YEAR 2015. Here are the details to make you "Cry Baby"...

UK released 30 March 2015 (7 April 2015 in the USA) – "Looking For You: The Complete United Artists & Veep Singles" by GARNET MIMMS on Ace/Kent-Soul CDTOP 423 (Barcode 029667242325) will allow fans to sequence his singles as follows (77:01 minutes):

US and UK SINGLES – [7] = track number
1. Cry Baby [1] b/w Don’t Change Your Heart [2]
October 1963 USA 7” single on United Artists UA 629
October 1963 UK 7” single on United Artists UP 1033

2. Baby Don’t You Weep [3] b/w For Your Precious Love [4]
November 1963 USA 7” single on United Artists UA 658
December 1963 UK 7” single on United Artists UP 1038

3. Tell Me Baby [5] b/w Anytime You Want Me [6]
February 1964 USA 7” single on United Artists UA 694
April 1964 UK 7” single on United Artists UP 1048

4. A Quiet Place [7] b/w One Girl [8]
May 1964 USA 7” single on United Artists UA 715

5. Look Away [9] b/w One Woman Man [10]
October 1964 USA 7” single on United Artists UA 773

6. A Little Bit Of Soap [11] b/w I’ll Make It Up To You [12]
1964 USA 7” single on United Artists UA 796

7. It Was Easier To Hurt Her [13] b/w So Close [14]
1965 USA 7” single on United Artists UA 848
May 1965 UK 7” single on United Artists UP 1090

8. Welcome Home [15] b/w Everytime [16]
1965 USA 7” single on United Artists UA 868 – WITHDRAWN

9. Everytime [16] b/w That Goes To Show You [17]
1965 USA 7” single on United Artists UA 887

10. Looking For You [18] b/w More Than A Miracle [19]
1965 USA 7” single on United Artists UA 951

11. I’ll Take Good Care Of You [20] b/w Prove It To Me [21]
March 1966 USA 7” single on United Artists UA 995
March 1966 UK 7” single on United Artists UP 1130 with “Looking For You” as the B-side

12. It’s Been Such A Long Way Home [22] b/w Thinkin’ [23]
June 1966 USA 7” single on Veep V 1232
August 1966 UK 7” single on United Artists UP 1147

13. My Baby [24] b/w Keep On Smilin’ [25]
September 1966 USA 7” single on Veep V 1234
September 1966 UK 7” single on United Artists UP 1153 with “It Won’t Hurt (Half As Much) as the B-side (not on this compilation)

14. All About Love [26] b/w The Truth Hurts [27]
February 1967 USA 7” single on Veep V 1252
February 1967 UK 7” single on United Artists UP 1172

Tracks 1 to 4, 7 and 8 credited to GARNET MIMMS & THE ENCHANTERS
All other tracks credited to GARNET MIMMS
All tracks are in STEREO except 22 and 26 – which are MONO
Track 28 is from the USA Stereo LP "As Long As I Have You" on United Artists UAS 6396 and the A-side of a rare French 45 from 1964 on United Artists 35012
There is a British 45 of "As Long As I Have You" released July 1967 on United Artists UP 1186 coupled with a cover of The Beatles' "Yesterday" as its B-side – but both cuts are Live Versions from the 1967 UK-only LP “Live” on United Artists ULP 1174 (Mono) and SULP 1174 (Stereo) and not the Studio Version.

The 16-page booklet is the usual visual gourmet of American and British 45’s repro’d on almost every page – complimented by in-studio snaps of the great Songwriter and Producer Jerry Ragovoy working with Garnet and the Enchanters. There are rare American Picture Sleeves – Billboard Trade Adverts and Reviews – even a colour photo of Garnet looking pensive in Central London in 1971 (wondering where all those Northern Soul royalties went). Speaking of the UK and the affection Mimms is held in here - despite any Top 50 chart action – the British side of United Artists believed in Mimms so much that they released a staggering 10 singles between October 1963 and July 1967 (with a further 3 on Verve up to 1968) and three full albums into the bargain (see Discography attached to this review in the comment section). Relistening to them now – it seems cruel that none took to the charts.

Long-standing go-to Soul Man TONY ROUNCE provides the affectionate and informative liner notes – quite right stating that Garnet is a long overdue contender for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. The remasters carried out by expert Engineer DUNCAN COWELL are exceptionally good. With all but two tracks in glorious STEREO – the punch off these beautiful slices of Soul is full on – tingly indeed.

It opens with the game-changer "Cry Baby" which virtually introduced torch-song Soul with its huge production values and melodrama pleading – Mimms sounding like an equal to Jackie Wilson (a compliment most Soul singers would take any day of the week). Despite the strength of his second heartbroken release "Baby Don’t You Weep" (another Jerry Ragovoy penned pleader) – US DJ’s took to the Jerry Butler cover version of "For Your Precious Love" on the B-side which made it chart at 9 on the American R&B charts in November 1963 with the A reaching only 11. And it’s easy to hear why – its just beautiful – and presented in Stereo here – packs an emotional wallop that transcends 50 years plus since it was released.

Things go into a dancer shuffle with the clapping hands of "Tell Me Baby" - but again it’s the torch song B-side "Anytime You Want Me" that impresses more – his vocals soaring like Jackie on a roll. Things go shuffling Sam Cooke with Johnny Dollar trying to get away from the man next store with a radio in "A Quiet Place". Songwriting heroes Bert Berns and Jerry Ragovoy provide the walking-down-the street ache in both "One Girl" and "Look Away". His cover of The Jarmels "A Little Bit Of Soap" feels too poppy by far - but Production values soar on the chipper "Everytime" with a melody and hook that’s not a million miles away from "It's Alright" by The Impressions.

His pairing of the Northern Soul dancer "Looking For You" with the beautifully delivered ballad "More Than A Miracle" are seen by Soul collectors and connoisseurs as the pinnacle of his masterful art (both sides penned by Ragovoy with Doc Pomus sharing a credit on the B-side). Beauty and double-sided genius crop up yet again on "I’ll Take Good Care Of You" b/w "Prove It To Me". While "I’ll Take Good Care Of You" is undeniably hissy in places – it has so much emotion going on - that you’re swept away in the passion of it all. Countering the smooch of the A-side - cool groove of the month goes to its flipside "Prove It To Me" – a really wicked mover. Janis Joplin covered both "Cry Baby" and "My Baby" on her magnificent “Pearl” album in 1971 – tapping into Garnet’s impassioned delivery for both cuts. And on it goes through to "As Long As I Have You" – a fantastic floor-filling stepper including here as a sort of CD bonus because it turned up (not in his native America) but in France on an uber-rare United Artists 45 that now commands big bucks.

So there you have it – class from start to finish. Ace Records of the UK have reissued some corkers in their time with the Kent-Soul imprint – but "Looking For You: The Complete United Artists & Veep Singles" by Garnet Mimms will surely be up there for years to come.

Well done to everyone involved for treating the man and his music with the respect and affection they both deserve...

Grits & Gravy ~ The Best Of The Fame Gang
Grits & Gravy ~ The Best Of The Fame Gang
Price: £10.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...Sax Appeal..." – Grits & Gravy: The Best Of The Fame Gang by THE FAME GANG (2015 Beat Goes Public (BGP) CD Remasters), 30 Mar. 2015
Motown had its in-house band in The Funk Brothers - Muscle Shoals had The Swampers - and Alabama’s Fame Studios had THE FAME GANG. And that’s where this haul of 25 Groovy Soul nuggets comes in (a whopping 19 of which are Previously Unreleased). Here are the Funky and Then Some details...

UK released 30 March 2015 (7 April 2015 in the USA) – "Grits & Gravy: The Best Of The Fame Gang" is on Ace/Beat Goes Public CDBGPD 288 (Barcode 029667528825) and pans out as follows (74:15 minutes):

(Except where noted all tracks are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED recordings from 1969-1970):
1. Grits And Gravy (Extended Version of a 1969 USA 7" single on Fame 1458, A)
2. Twangin' My Thang (1970 USA 7" single on Fame 1471, A)
3. Cannonball
4. Stand
5. Snortnin' Bread
6. Groove Killer
7. Crime Don’t Pay
8. Your Good Thing (from the 1969 USA LP "Solid Gold From Muscle Shoals" on Capitol SKAO-4200)
9. Soul Feud (1969 USA 7" single on Fame 1458)
10. Shaolin'
11. Turn Your Chicken Loose (1970 USA 7" single on Fame 1471)
12. It’s Your Thing (from the 1969 USA LP "Solid Gold From Muscle Shoals" on Capitol SKAO-4200)
13. Choice Of Colors from the 1969 USA LP "Solid Gold From Muscle Shoals" on Capitol SKAO-4200)
14. Hey Joe
15. Soul Stutterin'
16. Sunrise
17. Walk Tall
18. Twenty Five Miles
19. Rang’s Thang
20. Smokestack Lightning
21. Sax Appeal
22. Shufflin'
23. Cantaloupe Island
24. Muscle Soul
25. Twangin' My Thang (Alternate Version)

THE FAME GANG (Mk III line-up) were:
RONNIE EADES - Baritone and Tenor Saxophone
AARON VARNELL - Tenor and Alto Saxophone
HARVEY THOMPSON – Tenor Saxophone and Flute
HARRISON CALLOWAY - Trumpet and Trombone
CLAYTON IVEY - Piano and Organ
All Fame Sessions Produced by MICKEY BUCKINS and RICK HALL

The 16-page booklet has Compiler and Archive Researcher ALEC PALAO waxing lyrical about the three incarnations of The Fame Gang (Mark III is listed above) – one of three in-house groups Rick Hall had organised for his many studio projects (The Swampers were under his dutiful eye too). Reminiscences from Guitarist Junior Lowe, Percussionist Mickey Buckins, Keyboard Player Clayton Ivey and others who were there - enliven the story with a sense of the excitement they felt on a daily basis. The mixed-race band of nine stand proudly outside 603 East Avalon Avenue in Alabama (Fames Studios) in glorious colour on Page 7 looking like well-dressed hoodlums/mods. Their lone American album from December 1969 called "Solid Gold From Muscle Shoals" on Capitol SKAO-4200 is pictured in Cashbox advert form on Page 12 with a couple of their rare 45s from the same LP peppering the hugely affection text.

Long-standing Engineer and expert NICK ROBBINS handled transfers/remastering from original tapes and the Audio is the usual top-class affair from Ace – funky as a gnat’s undercarriage on a charcoal grill. This CD kicks in the sound department – it really does – great Stereo Funky grooves – instrumentals and lots of them.

It opens with a total Funky winner – the instrumental Saxophone and Organ "Grits And Gravy" extended from its single playing time of 2:35 minutes to a pleasing 4:01 minutes. It’s like stumbling on the JB's having a blast with Booker T & The MG's – I can’t help thinking this should be reissued as a 7” for 2015. Travis Wammack penned the guitar-funky groove of "Twangin' My Thang" which is broken up with a chorus-line of females voices chanting the title line throughout. Next up is a wild guitar work out called "Cannonball" where someone (the liner notes suggest it’s probably Wammack) goes Eric Clapton’s Cream on his axe to a funky backdrop.

We’re then hit with one of many 1969 and 1970 cover versions beginning with an instrumental of Sly Stone's "Stand". Speaking of covers - some might say that maybe it would have been better to give us all sixteen of the Capitol Records lone album "Solid Gold From Muscle Shoals" tracks instead of just three (nearly all covers). But once you hear the unreleased haul (including more cover versions) – they make for obvious inclusion on a CD like this. They tackle Curtis Mayfield's sublime "Choice Of Colors", The Isley Brothers' funky "It's Your Thing", Hendrix's version of the Billy Robert's tune "Hey Joe", Isaac Hayes and David Porter's "Your Good Thing", Edwin Starr's "Twenty Five Miles", Cannonball Adderley's "Walk Tall" (part penned by Weather Report's Joe Zawinul) and even Herbie Hancock’s classic piano and vibe piece "Cantaloupe Island". Of their own compositions "Shortnin' Bread" and "Sunrise" are provided by Harrison Calloway while Aaron Varnell gives us "Groove Killer" and co-writes with others in the band on "Turn My Chicken Loose" and "Sax Appeal". The Jesse Boyce and Albert Lowe written “Soul Feud” is another instrumental highlight for sure – Harmonica warbling over flick-funky guitar with Saxophones complimenting the utterly wicked groove (yummy).

Some of the covers work less well than you would imagine – Edwin Starr's "Twenty Five Miles" is a dead-ringer for a cover yet their version is a bit weedy really – far better is The Isley Brothers' "It's Your Thing" which has its strut cleverly supplemented by "Doo Doo Bop" backing vocals. Another brilliant rearrangement comes in the shape of their version of Hancock’s "Cantaloupe Island" – utterly cool and brass-funky – the double-whammy.

Not everything on here is genius by any means and after a while the proliferation of same-sounding instrumentals can start to grate – but (and I stress this) – when The Fame Gang hit that mark – they sound utterly brilliant and I’m certain many of these chunks of funk will be filling up homemade compilations real soon.

Another winner of a release from Ace and if you’re a Funky Groove fiend like me – you’re gonna have to own "Grits & Gravy"...

Cast Iron Hits ! 45rpm/ep/ps
Cast Iron Hits ! 45rpm/ep/ps

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...Cast Iron Hits!" by PEANUTS WILSON With The Teen Kings and ROY ORBISON (2014 Rollercoaster UK 4-Track Vinyl EP Reissue), 29 Mar. 2015
PEANUTS WILSON is Johnny Wilson of West Virginia (1938-1980) - nicknamed "Peanuts" because it was thought a release under his real name would clash too much with that of fellow Brunswick label-mate Jackie Wilson. "Cast Iron Hits!" is a limited edition British 4-track reissue 7” single EP on Rollercoaster Records RCEP 135 (No Barcode).

Side One: Silly Lilly (Johnny "Peanuts" Wilson) / Paper Boy (Roy Orbison)
Side Two: Cast Iron Arm (Jim Scott/Norman Petty/Roy Orbison) / I've Had It (Roy Orbison/Johnny "Peanuts" Wilson)

Recorded in May 1957 with Roy Orbison's Teen Queens as the backing band in Norman Petty's Studio in Clovis - the session featured PEANUTS WILSON on Lead Vocals, ROY ORBISON and ROY UNDERWOOD on Guitars (not known who played Lead), JAMES MARROW on Saxophone, FRED DANIEL on Bass Guitar (and "Crazy Vocal") with RAY WAGNER on Drums.

Wilson’s lone release was issued November 1957 in the USA as "Cast Iron Arm" b/w "You've Got Love" on Brunswick 9-55039 - which was in turn picked up by Coral in the UK and issued March 1958 on both 78" (Coral Q.72302) and 45 (Coral 45-Q.72302). It was given a limited edition UK reissue in April 1976 on MCA Records MCA 240 (with Don Woody's "Barking Up The Wrong Tree" as its B-side) - but hasn’t been on vinyl for Rockabilly buyers in decades.

"Cast Iron Arm" was adopted as a Rockabilly favourite in Blighty during the Rock 'n' Roll boom of the early Seventies - hence its legend and staggering UK price tag of £500 for the 45 and £150 for the 78" (should you actually be able to find a copy). It appears Rollercoaster weren't able to get the licensing rights to the B-side for this superb 2014 EP - but have managed to reissue three of the five unreleased tracks Wilson recorded at Norman Petty's Studio in 1958 (the two not here are "My Heartbeat" and "You've Got Everything").

With its Roy Orbison tie-ins, sheer Rockabilly joyous sound ("Paper Boy" is fabulous stuff), a tasty gloss/laminate hard-card EP sleeve, superb John Davison-White liners notes and unreleased material into the bargain – Wilson and Rockabilly fans are gonna love this reissue.

Top marks to John Beecher’s Rollercoaster Records for getting these precious sides out there and keeping the flame alive...

Steppin' Stone ~ The XL and Sounds Of Memphis Story Volume 3
Steppin' Stone ~ The XL and Sounds Of Memphis Story Volume 3
Price: £11.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...Got A New Love..." – Steppin’ Stone:The XL and Sounds Of Memphis Story Volume 3 by VARIOUS (2010 Ace/Kent-Soul CD Remasters), 28 Mar. 2015
One that seems to have slipped through the reissue net – 22 Seventies cuts from the Sounds Of Memphis Studios (18 Previously Unreleased) – most in the tradition of Southern Soul. It’s a mixed bag for sure - but there's more winners on here than losers. Here's the nitty gritty on the tape-box discoveries...

UK released May 2010 – "Steppin’ Stone: The XL and Sounds Of Memphis Story Volume 3" on Ace/Kent-Soul CDKEND 339 (Barcode 029667233927) breaks down as follows (73:59 minutes):

1. If You Never See Me – WILLIE WALKER
2. I Won’t Have To Cry No More – WILLIAM BOLINGER
3. Saturday In The Park – THE JACKSONIANS
4. Hook, Line & Sinker – THE MINITS
5. How Can I Get Next To You (Alternate Vocal) – GEORGE JACKSON
6. I’m Your Slave – OTIS WHEAT
7. You’re Slipping Away – DAN GREER
8. I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know – THE JACKSONIANS
9. People Are Talking – WILLIAM BOLLINGER
10. Run Around – WILLIE WALKER
11. Love Letters – THE MINITS (1971 USA 7” single on Sounds Of Memphis 703, A)
12. Sparkle Eyes – THE JACKSONIANS (1973 USA 7” single on MGM 14640, A)
13. Always Treat Your Woman – ART JERRY MILLER
14. Chirpin’ – LOU ROBERTS
15. Take A Look At Yourself – DAN GREER
16. Love Trying To Come – GEORGE JACKSON
17. Love Is Blind – ERMA SHAW
18. Steppin’ Stone – LOUIS WILLIAMS
19. Lover Boy – THE MINITS (1972 USA 7” single on Sounds Of Memphis 706, A)
20. Guessing Game – JIMI HILL (1973 USA 7” single on Sounds Of Memphis 719, A)
21. Because Of You – TEKELIA KELLY
22. The Plumber – THE OVATIONS
[Notes: all tracks are STEREO except 2, 6, 9, 14 and 22 – which are MONO]

For a Kent-Soul release – the 12-page booklet feels strangely slight – even with great detail from number one Soul Man DEAN RUDLAND with reminiscences from Linda Lucchesi who ran the Studios in the Eighties. There’s a photo of the 3 ladies in The Minits, the 7-strong mancrew of The Jacksonians, an in-studio snap of Producers Bill Lucchesi, Tom James and Nick Paladina and a staged shot of little Jimi Hill smiling as he signs a recording contract (Dan Greer overseeing proceedings). The sound is uniformly brilliant – remastered by long-standing engineer DUNCAN COWELL – especially on the Stereo cuts.

As you can see from the track list above – only 4 of the 22 cuts were officially released as singles – the others are previously unreleased songs/versions from the vaults and tape boxes of the Sounds Of Memphis studios. And truthfully the quality count is shockingly high – it really is (track after track impresses).

It opens with two goodies "If You Never See Me Again" (Willie Walker giving it some Terence Trent D'Arby guttural vocals) and the softer "I Won't Have To Cry No More" which is a Northern Soul shuffle. It’s easy to see why “Saturday In The Park” stayed in the can – the instrumentation is excellent but the vocal is all over the place – flat and almost out of tune. Far better is the wicked Ike Turner guitar-groove of “Hook, Line & Sinker” where The Minits blast out a funky winner. Things take a proper Southern Soulful turn with the alternate take of George Jackson’s “How Can I Get Next To You?” – as lovely a tune as he ever put his stunningly emotional pipes to (superb Saxophone solo). It’s the first of two new cuts from him – the other is the awkwardly titled “Love Trying To Come” a slow groove with a good if not unconvincing vocal (both titles will be big draws for fans). Otis Wheat is new to me but he’s a sweet almost-talking voice and the love song “I’m Your Slave” is very good indeed.

A genuine blast is a cover version of Al Kooper’s Blood, Sweat & Tears masterpiece “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” done to pleading Soul heartbreak perfection by The Jacksonians (named after Jackson in Mississippi) where lead vocalist Whitney Jebb, Jr. tears up a storm. As Rudland points out the vocal bears more than a passing resemblance to Donny Hathaway’s version of the song on his

William Bollinger hits those upbeat high notes on “People Are Talking” just like Jackie Wilson in his Sixties prime – a wicked inclusion and shocking it wasn’t issued as a single. “Chirpin’” by Lou Roberts isn’t great – better is the beautifully produced “Take A Look At Yourself” from Dan Greer where he urges his lady to “clean up her mess...” (what a guy!). We get a bit slap-bass funky on “Love Is Blind” where Erma Shaw seems vocally unsuitable to the tune – better is the sweetly string-laden “Lover Boy” by The Minits. Jimi Hill comes across as a young Michael Jackson circa The Jackson 5 (hardly great) but far better is the smooch of “Because Of You” by Tekelia Kelly (who’s pictured in the booklet in the studio with Bill Lucchesi). It ends on the lead singer of The Ovations telling us he’s ready to fix any lady’s plumbing – which you have to admit – is very generous of him...

So there you have it – a mixed bag of the great and the not-so-great. Thankfully the good stuff outweighs the filler. Well done to England’s Kent-Soul for getting this rich mine out of Soul material there...

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