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"...Joyful Stuff..." - Chess Soul Sisters by VARIOUS ARTISTS (2005 Universal/Mojo Magazine CD Remasters)
on 8 January 2015
The respected and much-loved MOJO Magazine of the UK decided in 2005 to use their knowledge and compile a series of rather cool (and cheap) Chess Records CD compilations. Five appeared using generic artwork with the '20 Tracks Hand-Picked By MOJO' logo in the bottom left corner - "Chess Classics", "Chess Originals", "Chess Northern Soul", "Chess Tear Jerkers" and this joyous sucker-punch winner - "Chess Soul Sisters".
The "Soul Sisters" entry is one of those fabulous little CD compilations in a card digipak that somehow slipped through the reissue cracks. Time to grab the talcum powder, don your dancing pom-poms and rectify that unforgivable anomaly by your woefully out-of-touch wallet. Here are the groovy girl details...
Released August 2005 - "Chess Soul Sisters" on Universal/Chess/Mojo 9830155 (Barcode 602498301555) plays out as follows (56:09 minutes):
1. Seven Day Fool - ETTA JAMES (1961 USA 7" single on Argo 5402, B-side to "It's Too Soon To Know")
2. Yes, It's Good For You - KOKO TAYLOR (from the 1969 US LP "Koko Taylor" on Chess 1532)
3. Liberation Conversation - MARLENA SHAW (from the 1969 album "The Spice Of Life" on Cadet LPS-833)
4. Git Out - MITTY COLLIER (1967 USA 7' single on Chess 2035, A)
5. Dirty Man - LAURA LEE (1967 USA 7" single on Chess 2013, A)
6. Take Me For A Little While - JACKIE ROSS (1965 USA 7" single on Chess 1938, A)
7. Don't Knock Love - BARBARA CARR (1967 USA 7" single on Chess 1985, B-side of "Shake Your Head")
8. In Orbit - JOY LOVEJOY (1967 USA 7" single on Checker 1188, A)
9. Cheater Man - IRMA THOMAS (1967 USA 7" single on Chess 2010, A)
10. Don't Mess With The Messer - KOKO TAYLOR (1965 USA 7" single on Checker 1106, A)
11. Fire - ETTA JAMES (1968 USA 7" single on Cadet 5620, A)
12. I Don't Wanna Fuss - SUGAR PIE De SANTO (1964 USA 7" single on Checker 1093, A)
13. I Surrender - FONTELLA BASS (1966 USA 7" single on Checker 1137, A)
14. We Got Something Good - IRMA THOMAS (1968 USA 7" single on Chess 2036, B-side to "Good To Me")
15. It's How You Make It Good - LAURA LEE (1968 USA 7" single on Chess 2062, B-side to "Hang It Up")
16. My Babe - MITTY COLLIER (from the 1965 album "Shades Of A Genius" on Chess LPS-1492)
17. Tease Your Man - MITTY COLLIER (from the 1972 album "Basic Soul" on Chess CH 50018)
18. Rescue Me - FONTELLA BASS (1965 USA 7" single on Checker 1120, A)
19. Sally, Go 'Round The Roses - THE JAYNETTS (1963 USA 7" single on Tuff 369, A)
20. California Soul - MARLENA SHAW (1969 USA 7" single on Cadet 5638, A)
GARY MOORE at Universal carried out the excellent remasters that can dip and jump because of the time frame. For instance the relatively low-fi Northern Soul monster "In Orbit" by Joy Lovejoy isn't an audiophile recording by any means and is followed by the superb production values of "Cheater Man" by Irma Thomas - but the contrast of audio quality is blown out of the water by the sheer joy of the music - recorded well or not. And that's what I love so much about Chess compilations in general - even when someone is being done 'bad' by someone who should know better - the music transcends everything - it's irrepressibly joyful stuff. The 16-page oversized booklet has full-page plates of Etta James, Sugar Pie De Santo, Marlena Shaw and Laura Lee and even pictures the rare "New Look" Chess album by Fontella Bass on Page 7 in colour. Very tastefully done...
Clever song choices abound here - snappy B-sides instead of overplayed A's - combined with crowd pleasers like "Rescue Me" and "Dirty Man" - all sided by rare album cuts and obscure groups. "Soul Sisters" also prides itself in featuring the unsung heroes of Chess, Cadet and Checker like Laura Lee, Marlena Shaw, Koko Taylor and Mitty Collier to name but a few.
The vibe is mostly uptempo - cracking dancers like "It's How You Make It Good" and "Git It" - storming Etta James giving it some shimmy on "Seven Day Fool". Lyrically these sassy ladies also have to deal with cheaters, backstabbers and men of a generally Don Draper shag-around lowlife disposition. Equally - when they're not chastising them - they've forgiving them their trespasses or singing their praises. It's all blindingly good fun as you can imagine - song after song just walloping you with quality and emotion - and so much of it from that unbelievable year - 1967. Even the obscurities are excellent - The Jaynetts (an early New York girl group) who got a lilting Soulful sound on their Tuff Records 1963 rarity "Sally, Go 'Round The Roses" (probably more by accident than design) - such a great tune.
A superb introduction to the Soulful side of a Blues/Rhythm 'n' Blues label - "Soul Sisters" should be the first of the four Chess Mojo titles you get. And it's online for peanuts too...nice...