on 6 November 2013
Volume 2 of KENT Records compilation of Clarence Carter's FAME singles is not a patch on Volume 1 which had numerous truly excellent tracks. That said however there are some gems here especially when the time period in which they were produced is taken into account - the early 70's decline of Southern Soul, killed off mainly by the rise of slick, soft soul and then disco.
The first problem with this set is that it kicks off with the notorious spoken/sung "Patches" which according to the liners even Clarence wasn't keen on and he was totally correct, the best that could be said for it is that it is a bit of a guilty pleasure. However the next couple of singles tried to repeat the 'corny story spoken bit/sung chorus' formula to try and score another hit and unfortunately these efforts are unremittingly awful (as even the liners kind of admit) and thus the set gets off to a slow start which might try the patience of most listeners.
However about 6-tracks in things start to pick up as Clarence sticks to singing and there are a fair number of his trademark gutsy, funky soul outings with tough back-up by the FAME players and slickness is kept to a minimum. Even the ballads at this stage are OK without too much adornment (strings, backing singers, etc) to overwhelm Clarence. Good'uns at this point include the upbeat "Slipped, Tripped And Fell In Love", the mid-tempo "Getting The Bills (But No Merchandise)" and the slowy "Scratch My Back (And Mumble In My Ear)".
As the set continues as might be expected early-/mid-70's slickness creeps in which doesn't suit Southern soul at all. The worst offenders are the rather underwhelming "Lonesomest Lonesome" (with almost disco femme backing vox) and the closer "Heartbreak Woman" (again too prominent backing vox). However Clarence does his best to keep the slickness at bay and often succeeds even at this late stage as evinced by such superior items as the funky "Put On Your Shoes And Walk", the tightly syncopated "Back In Your Arms" and the earthy "Sixty Minute Man" (probably the final manifestation of Clarence 'classic' sound with his throaty laugh and tremolo'ed guitar licks).
All said and done there is probably about 45-50 minutes of top class music here and 20-25 minutes of lesser stuff so 3-and-a-half stars is probably a fair mark. If however you are an admirer of this great soul man I'd say this is still probably worth picking up - just be prepared to use the skip button 6-7 times to avoid the cheesy/slick stuff.
on 17 April 2014
This is certainly the weaker of the two volumes on Clarence Carter's FAME singles reissues but it still contains strong material such as "Slipped, Tripped And Fell In Love",the unfairly maligned ''Patches'' and the ballad "Scratch My Back (And Mumble In My Ear)". It is hard to resist cuts such as "Getting The Bills (But No Merchandise)" with its classic southern soul storyline. The CD peters out once Carter switches to the United Artists label but then in truth so did classic Southern Soul music.