Various Artists – “The Duke Of Soul Volume 2” (DUKE CD 402)
By Kev Briscoe
MY LOVER'S VOW - Chuck McLean, BE MY BABY - John Roberts, I'LL MAKE EVERYTHING BE ALRIGHT - Ernie K-Doe, HE'S MINE - Norma Rudd, HEY GIRL - Reuben & the Chains, BLUE MONDAY - James Davis, WHAT HAPPENED TO US - Clarence Green & the Rhythmaires, TIDE OF LOVE - Miss LaVell, TAKE A LOOK AT ME - Al "TNT" Braggs, CALL ON ME - Bobby Bland, WAIT FOR ANOTHER DAY - Junior Parker, COME CLOSER - Mr. Lee & Cherokees, SOMETHING KEEPS TELLING ME - Norma Rudd, YOU WAITED TOO LONG - Bobby Williams, LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING - Ernie K-Doe, HEY IT'S LOVE – Commands, WHEREVER YOU WERE - Bud Harper, SOMETHING REMINDS ME - Melvin Carter IF I EVER NEEDED LOVE - Jean Stanback, I HATE YOU (IN THE DAYTIME AND LOVE YOU AT NIGHT) - Masters Of Soul, THE BIGGEST FOOL - Emorise Kelley, SOMETHING FOR THESE BLUES - Buddy Ace, I'M WAITING - Joe Hinton, GOTTA PACK MY BAG - Ernie K-Doe.
Volume two opens with “MY LOVER'S VOW” by Chuck McLean who sang with the Gospelaires on Peacock before being coaxed by Robey to record his one and only secular side. Listening to his piercing falsetto it’s easy to see how he acquired the nickname “Sky High”. The other side is simply wonderful but we’ll have to wait until volume six to hear it.
John Roberts, Ernie K-Doe, Norma Rudd and Reuben & the Chains follow with an array of fine up tempo tracks but with little to differentiate them from the wealth of dance records available at that time.
However, James Davis slows things down wonderfully with the original version of “BLUE MONDAY” with which Z.Z. Hill rejuvenated his career in the early eighties. Apparently Davis was an accomplished mimic and was used by Robey to demo for Bobby Bland!
Clarence Green’s reputation as a guitarist enabled him to gain session work for Robey. Eventually he was teamed with The Rhythmaires to cut a handful of tracks. “WHAT HAPPENED TO US” shows that he had no mean voice as well.
You have to hand it to Al "TNT" Braggs he certainly threw his heart and soul into his recordings and “TAKE A LOOK AT ME” is another fine example of his ample ability.
File “CALL ON ME” by Bobby Bland under “All Time Classic”, it really is as simple as that!
Herman (Little Junior) Parker was an accomplished harmonica player as well as a fine vocalist issuing over two dozen 45’s for Duke. “WAIT FOR ANOTHER DAY” was his last release and shows his velvet-smooth voice off to perfection.
“COME CLOSER” by Mr. Lee & Cherokees has a jazzy ‘supper club’ feel about and is pleasant enough without being a ‘stand out’ track. While Norma Rudd’s twee “SOMETHING KEEPS TELLING ME” doesn’t offend it doesn’t set the pulse racing either!
Bobby Williams was another of the artists that Robey sourced from Detroit and his half a dozen 45’s all saw light of day via the Sure Shot imprint. Due to their ‘Detroit sound’ a few have become collectable in the UK. “YOU WAITED TOO LONG” has that Latin feel to it that was popular back in the early sixties.
“HEY IT'S LOVE” by The Commands is the B side of their track featured on the first volume. Once again providing a pleasing sweet souled little dance number.
Half of Bud Harper’s sparse recording output was issued on Peacock with “WHEREVER YOU WERE” being his initial release. This first rate up tempo track slips easily in Bobby Bland’s territory and has that same infectious, easy-on-the-ear, appeal.
Recently there was some recent debate on the Southern Soul Forum as to which version of the haunting ballad, “SOMETHING REMINDS ME” is the best. Here we have first one recorded by O.V. Wright’s guitarist Melvin Carter. Those not familiar with the later version will have to wait until volume six to compare.
Jean Stanback was the inaugural artist on Dave Godin’s Deep Soul label and “IF I EVER NEEDED LOVE” was the ‘B’ side of that much revered and sought after disc.
Houston’s Masters Of Soul had several records on the local Ovide label before finishing their days at Duke. “I HATE YOU (IN THE DAYTIME AND LOVE YOU AT NIGHT” is a fine example of their mix of sweet Soul and Funk
“THE BIGGEST FOOL” by Emorise Kelley would appear to be his only recording. This is great pity as he certainly had a fine voice as this ‘R n B’ styled stomper ably demonstrates. Apparently he was killed serving in Vietnam and it’s another case of what-might-have-been.
“SOMETHING FOR THESE BLUES” is perfectly suited for the voice of Buddy Ace and yet another of those easy going, finger clicking records that Duke seemed to issue effortlessly!
It’s not everyday that you get to say a Soul artist ‘sampled Beethoven’ but Joe Hinton managed it with “I'M WAITING”. This opens with the famous intro from “Fur Elise”, bagatelle No 25 in A minor for all you purists out there, before moving into more familiar blues ballad territory!
Ernie K-Doe brings the set to a close with his second track on this volume. While “GOTTA PACK MY BAG” and the earlier track “LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING” are good records and typical of his style he was an artist who never quite ‘did it’ for me.
That said this volume, just like the first, has much to recommend it.