Various Artists "Soul Gems" (Greenline CD3VINO3 - 1989)
By Pete Nickols
A SIGNIFICANT 3-CD SET FROM 1989 – ONE OF THE FIRST TO REISSUE SO MUCH ‘REAL’ SOUL IN ONE PACKAGE
Robert Parker ~ Barefootin’; Sam Dees ~ Lonely For You Baby; Eddie Bo ~ Our Love Will Never Falter; Bob & Earl ~ Harlem Shuffle; Johnny Adams ~ You Made A New Man Out Of Me; Roscoe Shelton ~ Soon As Darkness Falls; Joe Simon ~ The Chokin’ Kind; Mighty Sam ~ I Need A Lot Of Lovin’; Jimmy Church ~ My Faith In You; Earl Gaines ~ Takin’ All The Love I Can; Irma Thomas ~ I’ve Been Loving You Too Long; Etta James ~ Security; Ruby Winters ~ I Don’t Want To Hurt Nobody; Mitty Collier ~ Together; Lee Dorsey ~ Working In A Coal Mine; Jackie Beavers ~ Hold On; Joe Tex ~ You Keep Her; The O’Jays ~ I Can’t Get Enough; Bobby Patterson ~ One Ounce Of Prevention; Gwen Davis ~ I Can’t Be Your Part Time Baby; Etta James ~ Tell Mama; Maurice & Mac ~ You Left The Water Running; Sam Baker ~ Coming To Bring You Some Soul; Fontella Bass ~ Rescue Me; Johnny Adams ~ Real Live, Livin’ Hurtin’ Man; Joe Tex ~ Baby, You’re Right; Billy Mills ~ Sad Memories; Moody Scott ~ We’ve Got To Save It; Syl Johnson ~ Dresses Too Short; Albert Washington ~ If You Need Me; Eddie Bo ~ Fence Of Love; Joe Simon ~ Baby Don’t Be Looking In My Mind; Mighty Sam ~ Sweet Dreams; Paul Vann ~ Just The Touch Of Your Hand; The O’Jays ~ It’s Too Strong; Earl Gaines ~ Turn On Your Lovelight; Mitty Collier ~ My Babe; Irma Thomas ~ Cheater Man; Robert Parker ~ The Hiccup; Tommie Young ~ Everybody’s Got A Little Devil In Their Soul; Percy Sledge ~ When A Man Loves A Woman; Peggy Scott & Jo Jo Benson ~ Lover’s Holiday; Eddie Bo ~ From This Day On; Syl Johnson ~ I’ll Take Those Skinny Legs; Otis Redding ~ These Arms Of Mine; George Perkins ~ When You Try To Use A Good Man; Albert Washington ~ Loosen These Pains And Let Me Go; Joe Simon ~ No Sad Songs; Mighty Sam ~ Silent Tears; Joe Tex ~ Don’t Play; Gwen Davis ~ My Man Don’t Think I Know; The Capitols ~ Cool Jerk; Johnny Adams ~ Proud Woman; Maurice & Mac ~ Lay It On Me; Joe Perkins ~ I’m Not Going To Leave; Ella Washington ~ He Called Me Baby; Earl Gaines ~ Keep Your Mind On Me; Robert Parker ~ Let’s Go Baby (Where The Action Is); The Lost Souls ~ I’m Your Love Man; Maurice Williams ~ Don’t You Ever Leave Me.
3-CD sets of any kind of music were pretty rare back in 1989, let alone a various-artists one which repackaged a bevy of soul winners that most collectors then only owned via rare 45s or LPs, assuming they had even been able to locate (and afford) these in the first place. The number of (then) rarities included here is clear from just how sought-after this set was at the time, for, although most of the tracks were licensed from UK Charly, it was only fully issued in Italy, with copies making their way to other countries chiefly via specialist importers and mail-order dealers.
A few less-rare albeit quality soul hits like Percy Sledge’s “When A Man Loves A Woman”, Robert Parker’s “Barefootin’”, Fontella Bass’ “Rescue Me”, Syl Johnson’s “Dresses Too Short”, Joe Simon’s “The Chokin’ Kind”, Lee Dorsey’s “Working In A Coal Mine” and Bob & Earl’s “Harlem Shuffle” were included but even the one Otis Redding track featured was his first-ever smallish hit (and deep winner) “These Arms Of Mine”, a track probably only previously awarded CD release on Atlantic’s impressive (and expensive) 3-CD “Otis Redding Story” set from two years earlier.
Elsewhere, some of Etta James’ Fame tracks from her wonderful “Tell Mama” LP saw early CD release as did Irma Thomas’ great versions of “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” and “Cheater Man” from her own Fame sessions. The gospel-soul vocals of Mitty Collier are here too on “Together” and “My Babe”, while there is also some top-drawer southern soul from the likes of Roscoe Shelton (with his fine atmospheric piece “Soon As Darkness Falls”), Geater Davis (“I Can’t Be Your Part Time Baby”), Earl Gaines (“Turn On Your Lovelight”, “Takin’ All The Love I Can” and “Keep Your Mind On Me”), Jimmy Church (“My Faith In You”), Bobby Patterson (One Ounce Of Prevention), Mighty Sam (“I Need A Lot Of Lovin’”, “Silent Tears” and “Sweet Dreams”), Sam Baker (“Coming To Bring You Some Soul”) and Tommie Young (“Everybody’s Got A Little Devil In their Soul”).
There’s an emphasis perhaps on quality mid to up-tempo items but there are also plenty of slow winners too, like Ella Washington’s “He Called Me Baby”, Paul Vann’s fine deep reading of “Just The Touch Of Your Hand”, Joe Perkins’ strong soul-ballad “I’m Not Going To Leave” and namesake George Perkins’ wonderful “When You Try To Use A Good Man”.
Throw in some Johnny Adams, Maurice & Mac, Eddie Bo and Peggy Scott & Jo Jo Benson and you can readily see that this set had a lot going for it, not least for its inclusion also of Sam Dees’ terrific early side “Lonely For You Baby”, a perfect example of when a Northern Soul favourite can also be classed just simply as a terrific piece of soul music by any benchmark.
By now, of course, most of these appealing tracks have seen subsequent CD exposure; but back in 1989 many were debuting in this format, hence the scramble at the time to try to acquire this hard-to-find item.