Various Artists “Lost Deep Soul Treasures Vol 5” (SOS 2001)
by Pete Nickols
Bobby Lee ~ I’m Just A Man ~ Port 3022; Johnny Steele ~ Can’t Go On ~ Golden City 1010; Claude Huey ~ Just Won’t Believe ~ MIOB 1283; Sonny Rhodes ~ Finding Out For Myself ~ ESIOBUD RH 713; Billy ‘Guitar’ Davis ~ As I Grow Old ~ A&M 1105; The Internationals ~ Push Button Love ~ D’ar Recording Co. Inc. J 102; Billy Dearborn ~ Friday’s Child ~ LHI 1210; Rudi Stewart ~ A Strong Man’s Tears Fall Dry ~ Uptite 253; Jimmy Richards ~ My New Found Joy ~ A&M 917; Reggie Taylor ~ Anna ~ Boss-Town 4-1-68; The Superiors Band & Their Soul Singers ~ Amateur Lover ~ Barvis 125; Nate Holmes ~ So Am I ~ ABC 11223; Helene Smith ~ True Love Don’t Grow On Trees ~ Deep City 2375; Dynamic Adam ~ She’s Gone ~ Anla 113; The Hesitations ~ That’s Where It’s At ~ Kapp LP 3561; Johnny Sayles ~ Nothing But Hard Rocks ~ Chi Town 001; Marcell Strong ~ Mumble In My Ear ~ Fame 1475; The Isonics ~ He Needs Her ~ Kammy 369; Lou Pride ~ We’re Only Fooling Ourselves ~ Gemco 118; Exciting Changes ~ Falling In Love Again ~ West Hill 1001; Billy Woods ~ If I Could Only See ~ Verve 10484; Major Lance ~ I Have No One ~ Dakar 1450; Bob & Earl ~ Deep Down Inside ~ Tempe 104; Andre Williams ~ I Can’t Stop Crying ~ Ric-Tic 124.
The CDs in this series often include several tracks which can be sampled on the artists pages of this website and this particular Volume actually features no fewer than 13 of such tracks out of the 24 on offer.
Bobby Lee opens the proceedings with his mid-paced but deeply-sung Port side, “I’m Just A Man”, also producing a nice line in falsetto as the track progresses. Next up, the tempo slows for Johnny Steele’s very appealing deepie “Can’t Let Go”. Its simple musical backdrop effectively gives centre-stage to Steele’s expressive vocal, which reminds me a touch of Sam Cooke’s on the original of “A Change Is Gonna Come”.
From Claude Huey’s second West Coast-produced MIOB forty-five we get “Just Won’t Believe”, the melodic flip of his dance-floor winner “Drifting”, which sees its CD debut here.
Generally known as a blues man, Sonny Rhodes’ “Finding Out For Myself” is probably the deepest piece of soul thus far into the CD. There’s a lovely mid-track sax-break too. This one was cut in ‘Frisco in 1969 for the Esiobud label, though Rhodes clearly thought enough of the piece to re-cut it in 1976 for Cherry, a label owned by the interestingly-named Screwboy Cleve.
Billy ‘Guitar’ Davis’ A&M side “As I Grow Old” is sung pretty ‘straight’ by deep-soul standards but the simple beauty of the melody and the subtle organ-led backdrop make it a quiet-fire winner for sure. It’s followed by a stone deep classic from the Internationals, “Push Button Love”, a Poindexter Brothers production which sees the group’s lead-singer really ‘getting down’ and interpreting the storyline lyric with genuine power and intensity. Great stuff.
Nor is Rudi Stewart’s New Jersey-cut contribution if you like blues-edged deep-soul with no added ‘frills’. Stewart tells his tale of woe just like it is – and what a great title: “A Strong Man’s Tears Fall Dry”. It just had to be a ‘deep’ song with a monicker like that!
For A&M records, Jimmy Richards comes up with a fine, Harold Ott-arranged hard-soul version of Prince Harold (Thomas’) song “My New Found Joy”, Harold himself producing it. The Prince’s own version was quieter-fire and had a Bert DeCoteaux arrangement. That came out on Kapp – but the strange thing is, it was released a year later than Richards’ version, so I really do wonder whether the song’s writer was the first to cut it.
Reggie Taylor only recorded two known 45s and this is his second, cut for a Boston label. A slow blues-edged piece of deep-soul, the higher-register work taxes Taylor’s vocal range at times and I enjoy best the parts where the fine femme back-up chorus join with Taylor to chant the title-line.
The Superior Band ’s lead-singer Gary Hairston also doesn’t possess a greatly interpretive voice on this evidence and I’m going to be honest and say I think “Amateur Lover” is a bit ‘run-of-the-mill’ in soul-ballad terms.
Ray Charles band guitarist Nate Holmes brings us back to some unbridled deep-soul with a very strong roughish vocal on “So Am I”, complete with plenty of screaming and a really ‘give-it-everything’ climax. Subtle it ain’t - and there’s not much ‘interpretive’ singing on offer - but powerful and deep it most certainly is.
Miami’s Helene Smith produces a great gospel-styled vocal delivery on her dramatic Deep City side, and she’s well supported too by a strong femme chorus. Her higher-register work is particularly impressive. A fine singer.
I’m sure Dynamic Adam could live up to his name on a fast-paced track but he certainly also makes a good raw-voiced job of this real top-drawer, very slow-paced deepie-weepie, sounding really bereft throughout his telling performance. This is a case where the undisguised angst in the voice is so honestly expressed that you’re not looking for anything more sophisticated.
The Hesitations’ LP track from their Kapp album is a great slowed-down version of Sam Cooke’s “That’s Where it’s At”. I’m going to come clean and say I prefer this to the original. The singer has a fine vocal range but never tries to ape Sam, giving the song his own gospel-honed soulful interpretation, helped by some good support from the group.
Johnny Sayles is a real favourite of mine and his Chi Town side is a stunning piece of slow-paced bluesoul. Sayles is outstanding, as are the wonderful bluesy guitar runs. In mid-track a trumpet break accompanies some real crying and moaning from Johnny before he reverts to high-quality emotional, interpretive singing, although, sadly, the fade comes rather too early for me.
Marcell Strong came from E.St Louis but this wonderful 1970 performance of his “Mumble In My Ear” was cut at Fame for the house-label and is a stone classic, even bettering the fine later cover by Clarence Carter, for whom Strong originally wrote the piece. After a rather ‘over-the-top’ string intro, most of the song goes along in fine slow-paced deep fashion (with at one stage what sounds like a bassoon chuntering away behind Marcell) but the several choruses included ‘up’ the tempo a bit to a wonderful gently swinging, lilting rhythm which is simply irresistible. All round, a masterful recording.
If you dig the Rivingtons’ great Liberty ‘flip’ “Deep Water” (and I sure do!) then you’ll love this similarly-styled, terrific piece of beautifully sung group-deep-soul by the West Coast’s Isonics, complete with superb bass and baritone support behind a high-tenor (and sometime falsetto) lead. A really great recording.
Lou Pride’s very well sung Gemco side is a genuinely top-drawer storyline-deep winner. There’s no histrionics, just superb interpretive singing of a meaningful piece of soul. What more can one ask?
The one-off side by Exciting Changes for New York’s West Hill label features some lyrical vocal back-up by the group but lead-singer Leo Wight’s intensely involved scream-peppered performance is what makes this one a deep winner for sure.
Billy Woods impressively bemoans his inability to see his baby’s face again on his fine Big Apple soul-ballad. Its femme chorus and steady slow beat gives it that kind of quasi-military slow-marching feel prevalent on Vietnam soul deepies, albeit here Billy never actually implies he’s anything other than a regular guy oh-so-regretting the departure of his obviously still much-loved girl.
Major Lance was certainly not revered for deep soul outings and some have questioned his singing ability outside of a pacy dance track. This brooding, deep and genuinely emotively-sung Dakar winner from 1968 should surely dispel any such inaccurate assessments.
The Bob Relf and Earl Lee Nelson incarnation of Bob & Earl cut this good slow-paced duet, “Deep Down Inside” for Tempe, apparently as early as 1962. There’s certainly some fine singing on offer, both individually and in harmony, and the performance as a whole ranks alongside some of the best by the likes of Eddie & Ernie, Pic & Bill, Sam & Bill and the Wallace Brothers. High praise indeed.
It’s back to 1967 for Andre Williams’ Ric-Tic CD-closer “I Can’t Stop Crying”. Williams’ rough-edged voice semi-speaks its way through much of the piece in front of a well-played barrelhouse-style piano but the overall effect is good, with the lyrics coming through strongly.
Yes, this is another CD in this continuing series which is well worth buying, albeit you can sample so many of its tracks on this very website.