In common with the other volumes in this series, this collection consists of rare tracks that didn't make any significant impression when they were released and have largely been forgotten. If you are a casual fan of sixties music just looking for hits, you should look elsewhere. You won't find them here. There are a few familiar names here, but their famous songs are not included. This compilation focuses on the Chess family of labels. The first lady of Chess was Etta James, represented here by Pushover. Tammy Montgomery may not seem familiar, but she eventually achieved fame as Tammi Terrell. On this collection, she sings This time tomorrow. Fontella Bass, famous for Rescue me, is represented here by the markedly less successful, but still wonderful, Safe and sound. Although not obvious from the credits, Minnie Riperton makes two appearances here – one as a member of the Gems and another as a solo singer under the pseudonym Andrea Davis. The Gems began as the Lovettes and ended as the Starlets, with line-up changes along the way. All three are represented here, though Minnie was only in the Gems. The overall sound of this collection is early sixties girl-group. If you are already familiar with this type of music and you have a significant collection of such music, you may find this fascinating. If not, you are probably not ready for this.
This is a thorough trawl through the singles archive between 1962 and 1969 for the Chess group of labels, with particular reference to Billy Davis, who guided many of the acts successfully through the changing marketplace, and also had a close relationship with Motown. Most of the records were homegrown but some were bought in from small labels such as Barbara, Tuff, Katron and North Bay. Many of the tracks have never been available on CD and have sometimes been chosen in preference to better known examples. Jo Ann Garrett's A Whole New Plan, produced by husband Andre Williams, was chosen over the A-side Stay By My Side, and the Kolettes (thought to be the Soul Sisters moonlighting) are also represented by a B-side. Sugar Pie De Santo wrote She's Got Everything but the intended single release was pulled to give a clear run to the version by the Essex. It was unreleased until the 1989 out of print Down In The Basement compilation, but is here in an alternative double-tracked vocal version. She also wrote You Gave Me Soul, the first solo single by Minnie Riperton (under the name Andrea Davis), who also appears here singing lead on the Gems' He Makes Me Feel So Good; as a backing singer on Jackie Ross's You Really Know How To Hurt A Girl and probably also in the Starlets on My Baby's Real from 1967. Of course Chess did not operate in vacuum and there are nods both to Spector and, especially, to Motown. The Lockets' Don't 'Cha know is so Spectorized I'm surprised it hasn't surfaced on one of Ace's Phil's Spectre compilations, while the Honey and the Bees with all the jingling bells and Christmas references sound as if they were auditioning for A Christmas Gift For You. Jean DuShon had previously been produced by a young Phil Spector but here covers a British single (on Pye) by Martha Smith. Tammy Montgomery, as we know, went on to be Tammi Terrell at Motown. Timiko (later better known as Tamiko Jones) was based in Detroit and Is It A Sin? was produced by the BrianBert team of Brian Holland and Robert Bateman, who of course did a lot of work at Motown. Tawney Williams' Pretty Little Words gives more than a passing nod to Please Mr Postman by the Marvelettes, who also seem to be the inspiration behind the Lovettes' A Love Of Mine. Geraldine Hunt had Motown's Dave Hamilton involved in her chosen single and both she and Jan Bradley owed more than a little to Mary Wells. Mary Dixon from Mary and the Desirables could probably be done for stalking, so closely does she sound like Diana Ross. The Clickettes' resemblance to the Jaynetts, of Sally Go Round The Roses fame, could be explained by their being the same line-up, though this likelihood has not been confirmed. Fontella Bass's highly successful tenure at Chess is well documented on the compilation Rescued but that omitted just one of her singles, perhaps because it was too reminiscent of Rescue Me, but that track, Safe And Sound, is included here. From the opening track by Mitty Collier to the closer by the Starlets, every track has a very good reason to be included, and the expansive notes by Malcolm Baumgart and Mick Patrick make their case very comprehensively. A recommended purchase for R'n'B and girl group afficianados
My favourite from this series of female-fronted 60s groups. Mary +The Desirables...The Kittens... Honey + The Bees...Ace records have chosen short and tangy singles to present here. Etta James sums up the mood of the tunes with her classic 'Pushover'...you don't want to tangle with these ladies. You'll love the cover.