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When the highly respected MOJO and RECORD COLLECTOR magazines gave the Ace Records/Kent Soul 3CD Book Set "Take Me To The River: A Southern Soul Story 1961-1977" their 'Reissue of the Year' tag in 2008 (even going as far as saying that it was the 'greatest' soul compilation ever assembled) – many lovers of the genre sat up and took notice. And like me – having loved "Take Me To The River" to death ever since – we've been awaiting VOLUME 2 like a child with a sweet tooth.

Well here it is - and I'm thrilled to say that "The Fame Studios Story 1961-1973" doesn’t disappoint…and will easily be up there as one of 'the' Soul reissues of 2011.

Here are the details: UK released Monday 14 November 2011 - Ace/Kent SOUL KENT BOX 12 is a 75-track 3CD Card-Wrapped Hardback Book Set and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 – "Steal Away" (61:08 minutes):
1. You Better Move On – ARTHUR ALEXANDER (1961, Dot 16309)
2. Laugh It Off – THE TAMS (1963, ABC-Paramount 10502)
3. Night Rumble, Part 1 – THE MARK 5 (1963, ABC Paramount 10433)
4. Everybody – TOMMY ROE (1963, ABC Paramount 10478)
5. I Hope They Get Their Eyes Full – ARTHUR ALEXANDER (Unissued 1962 Fame Recording – Previously Unreleased)
6. Steal Away – JIMMY HUGHES (1964, Fame 6401)
7. Let Them Talk – DAN PENN (1964, Fame 6402)
8. Hold What You've Got – JOE TEX (1964, Dial 4001)
9. A Man Is A Mean, Mean Thing (Alternate) – BARBARA PERRY (Unissued 1965 Goldwax Recording – Previously Unreleased)
10. Fortune Teller – THE DEL-RAYS (1965, R and H 1005)
11. Funny Style – BOBBY MARCHAN (1965, Dial 4007)
12. Almost Persuaded – JUNE CONQUEST (1964, Fame 6406)
13. Too Much – THE ENTERTAINERS (1966, Chess 1951)
14. Keep On Talking – JAMES BARNETT (1966, Fame 1001)
15. Searching For My Love – BOOBY MOORE and THE RYHTHM ACES (1966, Checker 1129)
16. I Wish I Didn't Have To Go – SPOONER & THE SPOONS [featuring Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham] (1964, Fame 6405)
17. Let’s Do It Over – JOE SIMON (1965, Vee-Jay 694)
18. Neighbor, Neighbor – JIMMY HUGHES (1966, Fame 1003)
19. Feed The Flame – BILLY YOUNG (Unissued 1966 Fame Recording – Previously Unreleased)
20. I'm Your Puppet – JAMES and BOBBY PURIFY (1966, Bell 608)
21. I Can't Stop (No, No, No) – ARTHUR CONLEY (1966, Fame 1007)
22. Gonna Make You Say Yeah – TERRY WOODFORD (1966, Fame 1002)
23. Two In The Morning – SPOONER'S CROWD (1966, Cadet 5533)
24. Why Not Tonight – JAMES GILREATH (Unissued 1966 Fame Recording – Previously Unreleased)
25. Land Of 1000 Dances – WILSON PICKETT (1966, Atlantic 2348)
NOTES: Tracks 5, 9, 19 and 24 are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED

Disc 2 – "Slippin' Around" (67:25 minutes):
1. You Left The Water Running – OTIS REDDING
(An 'Unedited 4:09 Minute Demo Version', Recorded 1967, Originally Released as an Edit on the US 45 of Stone 209 – Previously Unreleased In This Form)
2. A Shot Of Rhythm & Blues – CLYDE McPHATTER (1966, Amy 968)
3. Slippin' Around With You – ART FREEMAN (1966, Fame 1008)
4. Without A Woman – KIP ANDERSON (1966, Checker 1145)
5. Sweet Soul Music – ARTHUR CONLEY (1967, Atco 6463)
6. Thread The Needle - CLARENCE & CALVIN [Clarence Carter & Calvin Scott]
(A 1968 Fame Recording – First Released On "The Stars Of Fame" 7" 4-Track EP on Kent Records LTDEP 009 in April 2011 – Previously Unreleased on CD)
7. I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You) – ARETHA FRANKLIN (1967, Atlantic 2386)
8. Miss You So – TED TAYLOR (1967, Ronn 15)
9. You Put Something On Me – DON COVAY and THE GOOD TIMERS (1966, Atlantic 2340)
10. Tell Mama – ETTA JAMES (1967, Cadet 5578)
11. Keep Your Cool – TERRY & THE CHAIN REACTION (1967, United Artists 50199)
12. Cheater Man – IRMA THOMAS (1967, Chess 2010)
13. Don't Make Me Hate Loving You – JEANIE GREENE (Unissued 1966 Fame Recording – Previously Unreleased)
14. Everytime – LINDA CARR (1967, Bell 658)
15. I Stayed Away Too Long – THE WALLACE BROTHERS (1969, Jewel 800)
16. As Long As I Got You – LAURA LEE (1968, Chess 2041)
17. Don't Lose Your Good Thing – THE BLUES BROTHERS (1968, Shout 235)
18. Slip Away – CLARENCE CARTER (Unissued 1967 Fame Recording – Previously Unreleased]
19. Do Right Woman, Do Right Man – OTIS CLAY (1968, Cotillion 44009)
20. Once In A While (Is Better Than Never At All) – SPENCER WIGGINS
(Unedited Version Of A 1968 USA 45 on Goldwax 337 – Previously Unreleased)
21. Thief In The Night – BEN & SPENCE [Ben Moore & Spencer James]
(A 1967 Fame Recording – First Released On "The Stars Of Fame" 7" 4-Track EP on Kent Records LTDEP 009 in April 2011 – Previously Unreleased on CD)
22. Take Me Just As I Am – MITTY COLLIER (Unissued 1968 Chess Recording – Previously Unreleased)
23. Why Don't You Try Me – MAURICE & MAC [Maurice McAlister and Green McLauren] (1968, Checker 1206)
24. Search Your Heart – GEORGE JACKSON
(A 1968 Fame Recording – First Released On "The Stars Of Fame" 7" 4-Track EP on Kent Records LTDEP 009 in April 2011 – Previously Unreleased on CD)
25. Ten Miles High – DAVID & THE GIANTS (1968, Crazy Horse 1300)
NOTES: Tracks 1, 6, 13, 18, 20, 21 and 24 are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED

Disc 3 – "Get Involved" (77:42 minutes):
1. Lady In The Rain – LOWELL FULSON (1969, Jewel 801)
2. Hey Jude – WILSON PICKETT [Beatles cover, features Duane Allman on Guitar] (1968, Atlantic 2591)
3. Another Man's Woman, Another Woman's Man – UNKNOWN FEMALE (A 1972 Fame Recording – Singer Not Identified - Previously Unreleased)
4. Snatching It Back – CLARENCE CARTER (1969, Atlantic 2605)
5. I Got You Babe – ETTA JAMES [Sonny & Cher cover] (1968, Cadet 5606)
6. Wanted Lover (No Experience Necessary) – JAMES GOVAN (1969, Fame 1461)
7. Find 'Em, Fool 'Em And Forget 'Em – GEORGE JACKSON (1969, Fame 1457)
8. I'm Just A Prisoner (Of Your Good Lovin') – CANDI STANTON (1969, Fame 1460)
9. Grits And Gravy – THE FAME GANG (1969, Fame 1458)
10. One Bad Apple – THE OSMONDS (1970, MGM 14193)
11. I'd Rather Go Blind – SPENCER WIGGINS (1970, Fame 1470)
12. Take Me Back – BROTHERS UNLIMITED (1970 USA LP called "Who's For The Young" on Capitol ST-600)
13. Walk A Mile In My Shoes – WILLIE HIGHTOWER (1970, Fame 1465)
14. Patches – CLARENCE CARTER (170, Atlantic 2748)
15. Fancy – BOBBIE GENTRY (1969, Capitol 2675)
16. Double Lovin’ – GEORGE JACKSON (Unissued 1971 Fame Recordings 'Demo' – Previously Unreleased)
17. Greenwood, Mississippi – LITTLE RICHARD (1970, Reprise 0942)
18. What Color Is Love – ROSCOE ROBINSON (1970, Fame 1469)
19. Bring It On Home To Me – LOU RAWLS [Sam Cooke cover] (1970, Capitol 2856)
20. I Can't Let You Break My Heart – BETTYE SWANN (1971, Fame 1479)
21. Back Road Into Town – WILLIE HIGHTOWER (1971, Fame 1477)
22. The Thanks I Get For Loving You – CANDI STANTON (1972, Fame 91009)
23. Get Involved – GEORGE SOULE (1973, Fame XW 302)
24. Put On Your Shoes And Walk – CLARENCE CARTER (1973, Fame XW 179)
25. You Better Move On – TRAVIS WAMMACK (1972 USA LP called "Travis Wammack" on Fame FAS 1801)

Subtitled "Fame – Home Of The Muscle Shoals Sound" – the compilation, notes and archive research on this Southern Soul retrospective has been carried out by an experienced team of three - ALEC PALAO, TONY ROUNCE and DEAN RUDLAND. Soul buyers will have seen their names across a myriad of top-quality reissues – especially throughout the 00’s. And like its predecessor – the hardback book is housed in a flimsy card-wrap that has to be opened carefully to get the book out without tearing it – but when you do – WOW! The 84 colour pages are jaw-droppingly GORGEOUS. Each song is given paragraphs of detailed information (liner notes shared by the 3 compilers), colour photos of the artists are featured, US and UK 7" singles pictured (stock and demo), trade adverts, in-studio shots never seen before... The 3 CDs are housed in different card slots at the rear and the hardback leaves (front & rear) picture those rare DEMO labels in full colour. Droolsome – and that's before we even get to the content and the great SOUND…

SOUND - even the more familiar songs like "I'm Your Puppet", "Steal Away" and "Sweet Soul Music" – tracks I know many fans will have heard too many times – have their audio improved here to an exceptional clarity. The Aretha Franklin gem "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)" for instance has been drenched in emotion for decades we all know, but its CD version has also been drenched in overbearing hiss in some transfers. Well on this Ace set its clearer than on any other CD I have – which is saying something. The aural whack coming off Otis Clay's stunning rendition of "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man" is just incredible. Song after song - it's all warm and clear throughout...

CONTENT - genius choices go to the fabulous Mod instrumental "Night Rumble, Part 1" by The Mark 5 while the Soul Doo-Wop vibe of "Too Much" by The Entertainers sounds like Jackie Wilson as his joyful Sixties best – lovely stuff. "Keep On Talking" by James Barnett and "I Can't Stop (No, No, No)” by Arthur Conley (lyrics above) are the kind of floor-dancers that Northern Soul aficionados go nuts for – while the intro to Spooner Oldham's "Two In The Morning" is very cleverly done – a man walks up to a door where there's a Booker T & The MG's "Green Onions" type tune going on inside. The door opens – and the cool Soul instrumental suddenly hits you with a wallop – brilliant. Even Tommy Roe's "Everybody" and Bobbie Gentry's "Fancy" are far more soulful than you would credit. The high falsetto of Ted Taylor on "Miss You So" is brilliantly transferred – and the talking slink of "Keep Your Cool" by TERRY & THE CHAIN REACTION is surely going to turn up in a "Mad Men" episode soon (has crystal clear sound too). "I Stayed Away Too Long" by The Wallace Brothers is stunning Sixties Soul – full of pleading and passion. There's so much more too…

The unreleased stuff is a mixed bag of the fantastic and the merely great – first up in the champion's corner is an astonishing acoustic driven 'Unedited Demo Version' of "You Left The Water Running" by OTIS REDDING. The 'edited' version has been on compilations before – but this is the full 4:09 minute take with him counting in the song – available for the first time. What a voice, what a presence – its spine-tingling stuff. Another sweetie is the ballad "Why Not Tonight" by James Gilreath – great melodrama and feeling - as is the torch song "Don't Make Me Hate Loving You" by Jeanie Green. A personal joy for me is to find an unreleased 1967 recording by CLARENCE CARTER with his songwriting partner CALVIN SCOTT on here; it’s the beautiful sounding "Thread The Needle" – which descends into laughter half way through it - really great stuff. It's off the 4-track EP "The Stars Of Fame" issued in May 2011 for Record Store Day (1000 copies only). And it’s a shame Ace couldn't find out who 'Unknown Female' is on "Another Man's Woman, Another Woman's Man" because it's a fantastically Soulful vocal.

Niggles – the card-wrap is irritating no matter how good it looks – and there’s some unnecessary crap on Disc 3 – the two terrible covers of The Beatles' "Hey Jude" and Sonny & Cher's "I Got You Babe" by Wilson Pickett and Etta James are best forgotten, while Clarence Carter's "Patches" is surely his weakest outing. The awful saccharine pap of The Osmonds "One Bad Apple" may make many Soul fans look twice at the sleeve to see if they’ve bought the right compilation. But these are minor glitches in what is an overall feast of greatness…

To sum up - is it as good as "Take Me To The River" – absolutely. The combination of the better sounding familiar tracks, the cool lesser-heard gems and a smattering of excellent outtakes and the truly gorgeous packaging - all combine to make it a sonic and visual thrill. In fact I’d swear that if Disc 2 "Slippin' Around" was released as a stand-alone CD compilation – it would cause a sensation all by itself.

I can't imagine the hundreds of hours, days, weeks and months that went into making this beautiful affirmation of American Soul music – but it’s been worth it. Way to go boys - way to go...
33 comments|29 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 8 December 2011
As the other reviewers have pointed out there is some tremendous music on this 3CD set though it has to be said that the very best tracks are well established classics that are easily available elsewhere, even on other KENT/ACE CDs! [Duplicating tracks from albums from the same record label is always a bit unforgiveable in my opinion for a premium product of this type]. Some of the unreleased stuff is also surprising good, most notably the brilliant demo of "You Left The Water Running" by Otis Redding. Unfortunately some of the unreleased stuff should have remained that way in my opinion especially the Arthur Alexander track ('I Hope They Get Their Eyes Full') and 'Why Not Tonight' by James Gilreath which is overwhelmed by cheesy C&W style backing vox (Jimmy Hughes version of this track is a blinder, opt for that instead on his 'Why Not Tonight' compilation also on KENT).

In total I'd say there are about 60 classic down to solid tracks on these 3CDs which isn't a bad strike rate (out of 75) however some of these will likely be already owned by the sort of person who'd be interested in a collectors set of this type. That leaves 15 sub-par tracks quite a few being located on the first half of CD1 where FAME were searching for a unique sound and sharpening their songwriting chops which leads to a pretty choppy start bar two to three deathless classics ('You Better Move On', 'Steal Away', however these have been compiled to death). Once things settle into a groove through the second half of CD1 thru to the end of CD3 the going gets alot more consistent with the odd mystifying choice such as the non-soul tracks ('David & the Giants', 'The Osmonds [!]', etc), and some sub-par soul covers ('Hey Jude' by Wilson Pickett & 'Patches' by Clarence Carter). Ultimately KENT should have realised that the non-soul tracks whilst justifiable for the sake of completeness will not appeal to the vast majority of soul fans who'll be buying this set (put it this way I very much doubt many Osmonds fans will be purchasing this set!).

If this review appears slightly negative I'm probably being churlish perhaps to provide a counterbalance to the other reviews of this set on amazon which perhaps are slightly too effusive in my opinion. As I said earlier the strike rate is about 60 out of 75 which I think fully justifies the purchase of this set if you are a fan of 60's/early 70's soul but hopefully in future KENT will take note of the (minor) criticisms made of this set from the amazon reviewers here whom are all singing from the same hymn sheet to a greater or lesser degree.
11 comment|17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 November 2011
If you want a more in depth review please read 'Marks' (Reckless Records) excellent review. This is a bite size review, more of an overview if you like.

Firstly, to all those reissue houses in England and across the globe (you know who you are) THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT! This is an outstanding product from 'Ace Records' - as usual.

This 3 cd box set comes housed in a slip case - slightly bigger than normal sized cd (156x132mm). The 3cd's themselves are housed in a hardback book that also contains an 84 page colour booklet in it. This is extensive stuff of the highest quality. (As a graphic designer) this box set is beautifully designed and produced, its an outstanding product.

As for the music, that also is outstanding for the most part. 3 cd's, 75 tracks (10 previously unissued - including unedited versions)

Cd 1. (1961-66) - 61.19mins. Any cd that starts with 'You better move on' by Arthur Alexander is bound to be outstanding. Track 4 is an unissued track by Arthur Alexander and it's pretty good. Too many great tracks to mention here but a couple would be 'Laugh it off' The Tams and 'Steal away' Jimmy Hughes. Fantastic.

Cd 2. (1967-68) - 67.37mins. Again, so many great tracks by stellar names. Clyde Mcphatters version of 'A shot of rhythm and blues' is very good. overall fantastic stuff.

Cd 3. (1969-73) - 77.54mins. Overall good. A little bit outside my listening comfort zone - i'm more of a late 50's to late 60's person. Even to my ears, there are plenty of good/great tracks here.

Overall, this is an outstanding music product, is it worth £25? MOST DEFINITELY, highly recommended.
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on 7 December 2011
Take it from a longtime Florence ALabama resident, The FAME Studio Story is factual, accurate and well produced. Having grown up in the 60's in the Muscle Shoals area, I am pleased to read about people that I knew and to hear the music that was so popular during that time. Knowing some of these musicians makes the music even more special to me. As a Vietnam vet, many of these songs bring back memories of that experience also. This is a must have Set for all 60's music fans. Some of these songs are available only in this set! Great job ...and true to life! Thanks Kent Records for a great piece of recorded history!

Terry English, FLorence, ALabama, USA
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on 3 April 2013
What a gem!
I have various soul albums from the greats (Otis, Wilson, Marvin etc.) but this is a gold mine and will probably result in me spending a fortune on artists I had never heard of before. The selection is amazing, genuinely there are no "fillers" just solid quality track after track. I am tempted to buy further copies for friends & family who love great music.
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on 24 November 2011
First of all let me say that the music on this box set is absolutely fantastic and I have no fault with that whatsoever.
However getting access to it is another thing. It must have taken me 10 minutes of pulling and messing about to get the inner box out of the cardboard sleeve and once I'd put it back I had the same problem all over again. Also you can't read the book that's inside properly without the possibility of breaking the spine of the thing.
A standard 3 cd jewel box would have been much better, and I think Ace have tried to be too clever with this one.
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on 3 June 2013
Not quite up to the standard of "Take me to the River" but a similarly put together collection. A few fillers but the majority of tracks are top quality.
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on 20 May 2015
Had to have a copy after listening to my pals.
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on 11 March 2016
Incredible product. Fast delivery. Thank you!
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on 20 January 2012
Excellent compilation accompanied by a book beautifully illustrated and well written.
A Must if you call yourself a fan of the southern soul music.
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