Various Artists “Hall Of Fame Volume 2” (Kent CDKEND 386)
By Pete Nickols
Unknown Female ~ Another Good Woman Gone Bad; James Barnett ~ It Tears Me Up; Ben & Spence ~ Long Ago; June Conquest ~ Don’t Let It Be Said; George Jackson ~ Take Me Back; Unknown Male ~ Don’t Count Me Out; Ben Atkins ~ I Can’t Stop (No No No); Billy Young ~ Have Pity On Me; George Jackson ~ I Smell A Rat; Ralph ‘Soul’ Jackson ~ Don’t Tear Yourself Down; Linda Carr ~ Are You Teasing Me; Ben & Spence ~ No One Left To Come Home To; Phillip Mitchell ~ Fool For A Woman; Unknown Male ~ Got To Get Over; Clarence Carter ~ Take It All Off; Marjorie Ingram ~ I’m Gonna Start Checking Up On My Man; Phillip Mitchell ~ How Much More Can A Poor Man Stand; Unknown Female ~ My Dreams Don’t Ever Come True; George Soule ~ Midnight Affair; Otis Clay ~ That Kind Of Lovin’; Clarence Carter ~ They’re Gonna Find Us (At The Dark End Of The Street); O. B. McClinton ~ You Can't Miss What You Can't Measure; Joe Simon ~ Get In A Hurry; Jackie ~ Unfortunately.
When I reviewed Volume 1 of this series for this web-site here I said that it was good enough to make one readily anticipate a second one. However, as so often happens with cutting room floor material, the second helping doesn’t quite match up to the first, albeit there are certainly highpoints and we are told there are still enough further unissued Fame items worthy of release to ensure yet further outings in the future.
“Another Woman Gone Bad” is a nice piece of gently-lilting deepish soul from the pens of Mickey Buckins and Earl Cage. This opus opens the proceedings, courtesy of an unknown female vocalist. I’ve heard more interpretive voices - this one is a tad tough, yet still certainly appealing.
Ben & Spence’s “Long Ago” is arguably an even better version of Dan Pen and Bob Killen (of the Wee-Juns’) song than other admittedly good Fame-cut released interpretations by Bobby Patterson (Jetstar) and Ted Taylor (Ronn). The same duo’s “No One Left To Come Home To” is a ‘nothing’ piece of lay-back country-pop-rock to my ears, penned by the Wyker Brothers, John Wyker having brought his pals to jam at Quinvy in the early 70’s as I recall.
June Conquest’s “Don’t Let It Be Said” is almost a torch ballad, very much after Timi Yuro in style, the African-American June sounding just about as Caucasian here as the Caucasian Timi could sound ‘black’ (if that makes any sense!). An unknown female vocalist who later offers up “My Dreams Don’t Ever Come True” is also compared to Yuro in the sleeve-notes but this latter outing is much too ‘straight’ and neither souful nor torchlike enough to sound all that like one or other of those particular favoured Yuro styles of delivery. Indeed “My Dreams” is a quality-lacking piece of late-40s style pop and is probably the worst track on this CD.
I love nearly all of George Jackson’s soul-related work but I can’t get very excited by the pop-soul of “Take Me Back”, which Brothers Unlimited cut at Fame. Somewhat better to my ears is George’s bouncy and mildly humourous “I Smell A Rat”, cut for, and then by, Clarence Carter.
Dan Greer’s song “Don’t Count Me Out” is a nice piece of lyrically meaningful southern-soul sung with plenty of empathy by an unknown vocalist who nonetheless does struggle a bit in the higher registers – UK Kent think it could just be Dan himself singing it. Subsequently, this appears to have been confirmed by Dan Greer himself.
The Motown influence on some of Penn and Oldham’s earlier outings as songsmiths shows up in the pacy and much recorded “I Can’t Stop”, here represented by a demo from Big Ben Atkins. Catchy but not really my thing.
Next it’s Billy Young’s Chess ‘B’ side “Have Pity On Me”, which is a very tasty piece of deep storyline southern-soul, penned by white popster and session-man Tommy Roe, an early visitor to Fame as part of Blll Lowery’s temporary uprooting of his Atlanta crew to the Shoals to back up The Tams and others.
Ralph ‘Soul’ Jackson’s self-penned Bell ‘B’ side “Don’t Tear Yourself Down” is toughish and funky. The sleeve-notes call it ‘northern-soul’ but it stands up well in its own right as a potent piece of mid-paced assertive soul.
“Are You Teasing Me” was written by one of country music’s greatest harmony duos The Louvin Brothers but, frankly, Linda Carr’s version, with its sugary sweet accompaniment, is just too pop-country for my taste and offers no real ‘soul’ element at all.
Phillip Mitchell uses his trademark high-tenor to good enough effect on the storyline and slightly Mayfield-esque “Fool For A Woman”, with a simple, probably self-played, piano being the only accompaniment on this interesting demo. His other unissued cut here, “How Much More Can A Poor Man Stand”, sees his voice in much tougher mode in front of a pacy “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” riff.
“Got To Get Over”, by a unknown male singer, is an appealing piece of commercial lilting soul, somewhat reminiscent (as the sleeve-notes say) of Young Holt’s Chicago-styled “Soulful Strut”. Deserved a release.
Clarence Carter’s “Take ‘Em Off” was later cut by the man for ABC as “Take It All Off”. Clarence just wants his girl to take off most everything and ‘get back to nature’. Catchy, foot-tapping nonsense but hardly essential soul. The other Carter demo we get here is a working-up of what would become his controversial ‘take’ on “The Dark End Of The Street” as his rap-dominated “Making Love”. Historically interesting but not my thing I’m afraid – just too much rap and not enough music.
Marjorie Ingram, much used as a demo singer for Candi Staton’s songs penned by George Jackson, had a really impressive voice in her own right and “I’m Gonna Start Checking Up On My Man” is the kind of no-nonsense Jackson storyline southern-soul which would have ably served the likes of Candi, Laura Lee or Ann Peebles. One of the standout tracks of this CD for me.
Next we feature that direct descendant of the Pilgrim Fathers, George Soule. Now, I rate Dan Penn as a fine blue-eyed soul singer but I think George Soule was even better (sorry, Jerry Wexler). Here we have Soule, a truly great writer himself, recording an older Dan Penn (and Rick Hall) song, “Midnight Affair”. However, to be fair, George increases the tempo of the piece to a really pacy level and it tends to lose much of the wonderful soulfulness of Jummy Hughes’ magnificently atmospheric slow-paced earlier Fame version. However, it was certainly good enough to act as a catalyst for Quinvy-studio purchaser David Johnson to cut a terrific version in this style on Sandra Wright (Truth 3201), which you can hear here.
Otis Clay’s Cotillion ‘B’ side “That Kind Of Lovin’” is another highlight of this CD – a wonderful, driving piece of steaming Fame soul from one of the genre’s truly great vocalists. Terrific.
O.B. McClinton’s strident “You Can’t Miss What You Can’t Measure” was a success for Clarence Carter in 1969. Here we can enjoy O.B’s own fine demo of the piece, fully arranged with back-up singers too. Apparently, George Jackson also cut it and his unreleased version is likely to emerge from Kent in due course.
Joe Simon only had one “Let’s Do It Over” session with Rick Hall and from that comes the lovely (if just a tad repetitious) lay-back storyline-soul of Joe’s self-penned “Get In A Hurry”, later released by Ben E. King on Atco 6431 in 1966. You can listen to Ben’s version on You Tube (Atco 45 crackles and all) here.
“Unfortunately” is perhaps an apt title for this final track: a piece of early-Fame young-girl melodic pop from Jackie, whom Kent speculate may be the early Fame back-up singer Jackie Weaver who had even earlier enjoyed one teeny style 45 for Chess (#1797) way back in 1961. Well-enough sung in its youthful style but soul it certainly ain’t.
So, as one would probably expect, something of a mixed bag but certainly some rewarding finds from the Fame vaults, especially those from James Barnett, Ben & Spence, Billy Young, Ralph Jackson, Marjorie Ingram, Otis Clay, O.B. McClinton and Joe Simon.