Various Artists "Lost Deep Soul Treasures Vol 1" (SOS 1001)
by Pete Nickols
Sam Dees ~ It’s All Wrong (It’s All Right) ~ LoLo 2103; Nelson Sanders ~ Tired Of Being Your Fool ~ LaBeat 6608; Clay Hammond ~ No One Else Would Do ~ Liberty 55817; Dicky Williams & The Wisemen ~ Oh Dreamy Me ~ Metro 8168; James K-Nine ~ Counting Teardrops ~ Hot Hit 1919 and Federal 12572; Willie Small ~ Say You Will ~ Jessica 401; Bobby Thomas & The Afros ~ Darling Don’t Come Back ~ Lyndell 999; Winfield Parker ~ Oh My Love ~ Ru Jac 0022 and 200; Betty Bibbs ~ First Come, First Served ~ Geneva 500; Valentine Adams ~ I Found A Love ~ 521 Records 1001; Lee Mitchell ~ Where Does Love Go ~ Sureshot 5030; New Bloods ~ Found A Love, Where It’s At ~ Madley 101; Don Hollinger ~ I Had A Nightmare ~ Jato 7000; Eddie Billups ~ No Love Have I ~ Josie 960; Otis Clay ~ You Hurt Me For The Last Time ~ Dakar 610; Ronnie Mitchell ~ I Don’t Want To Go On Without You ~ Laurie 3395; Billy Young ~ Still My Life Through ~ Joyla 006; Bobby Parker ~ Don’t Drive Me Away ~ Frisky 912; Jimmy Garland ~ Baby One More Time ~ Festival 702; Gene Allison ~ If I Ever Needed Your Love ~ S&H 201 and Del-Nita 1011; Willy McDougal ~ I Can’t Wait ~ Kinard 2318; Curtis Blandon ~ Young Dumb ~ Tower 355; Tommy Collins ~ Oh What I’d Give ~ TNT 1035 and Verve 10565; Bell Brothers ~ Throw Away The Key ~ Sureshot 5038; Lee Moses ~ I’m Sad About It ~ Musicor 1263.
We’re now moving on to review a fine series of nearly always genuinely ‘deep’ soul recordings put out by the Sounds Of Soul label. This label seems to reflect a trend in small deep-soul reissue companies to extract this clearly often rare material from any reasonable audio source that can be found, perhaps without too much concern for licensing or copyright issues. Having said that, I can only surmise as I have no certain knowledge of the facts – however, I’m sure soul fans will understandably not concern themselves too much with this aspect but rather feel grateful about such rare material being made more generally available.
One special point to mention – the CD in question does not provide the original issue numbers of the recordings it features, so I have taken the time to research what I believe are the correct details for each track. Of course, if you find an error, please let us know and we’ll make an appropriate amendment.
So on to the main thing – the music! When first issued, Volume 1 certainly set the scene and left deep-soul enthusiasts clearly clamouring for ‘more’ – a demand readily met by S.O.S. as we shall see when we move on to review the other Volumes in this series (a series which is still continuing on an ‘occasional’ basis at time of writing).
I’m going to take the plunge and first list the five tracks here which, for me, are gold-medal ‘deep’ performances.
Sam Dees sings as well as he writes – and that’s top-notch! “It’s All Wrong..” is lilting rhymically rather than slow-paced but the message in the lyrics and the dramatic way Dees interprets them makes this a stone deep winner for sure – and for a change this track actually ends rather than simply fading away! Meanwhile, Nelson Sanders’ outstanding recording contains just about everything a great deep soul record needs. Powerful, interpretive singing, an appropriate lyric about still being his girl’s ‘fool’, a lovely slow-paced rhythm track and an overall ‘sound’ that just makes you want to stop and listen. Terrific stuff.
Clay Hammond was so much more than the writer of Little Johnny Taylor’s huge R&B hit “Part Time Love”. He clearly also had huge empathy for intensely soulful interpretation and this track is absolutely outstanding. Hammond’s other deep winners include “I’ll Make It Up To You”, “Take Your Time”, “Togetherness”, “You Messed Up My Mind” and “You’ve Got Me Tamed” but the featured track here ‘out-deeps’ them all for me. Simply stunning.
Gene Allison ‘raps’ his way into his piece but once he hits the song-proper he certainly delivers a very potent and very Pickett-like vocal of real quality. This fine deep track is even stronger for me than his better-known hit “You Can Make It If You Try” (not featured here). Then there’s Tommy Collins’ “Oh What I’d Give”, a lovely slow-burning plea for a girl to appear who can fulfil his needs. Collins’ vocal ability is second-to-none and the piece ends in that archetypal anguished ‘fade’. This is genuinely a great deep-soul recording.
Only just missing out on the top five is Lee Moses. He was always an ‘up front’ singer but one able to deliver soul quality of a high degree – his contribution here is more of a deep lament, as he unreservedly bemoans his fate via tough-preaching-style vocals and a mid-track slice of gutsy ‘rap’ too. Fine stuff.
A more melodic approach is taken by Eddie Billups’ on his fine slow-building piece, sung with more than enough interpretive vocal quality to make it stand out from the pack. There’s also plenty of melody in Ronnie Mitchell’s string-sweetened song but Mitchell’s emotive approach to this tale of loneliness and gloom successfully involves the listener and certainly keeps the piece firmly in the deep category. The same comment applies to the high-voiced Curtis Blandon’s offering which boasts a quite lyrical slow-paced rhythm that almost gives it a ‘sweet’ edge; however, Blandon’s vocal-drama increases as this impressive song progresses. Staying with the semi-melodic approach, Billy Young had a great way with deep country-tinged soul and this example with its lay-back main riff but dramatic interludes is one of his best performances. Although still ‘quieter-fire’ deep soul, the lovely, gently-lilting but emotion-drenched Bell Brothers offering, with its great guitar work too, certainly qualifies for that ‘deep’ tag. And finally, on the melodic front, Winfield Parker’s offering is almost ‘sweet-deep’ with its simple triplets. Parker’s vocal is good without being outstanding - this one I would regard as ‘unleaded’ deep-soul rather than the full-octane variety.
Bobby Thomas’ song is certainly to a high standard, albeit the form of the song is very simple, with the backing being fairly repetitious. However, Thomas’ soul-preaching is what makes it so impressive.
Quite a few singers have had a dip at the Falcon’s old gospelly-proto-soul hit “I Found A Love” and the version on offer here from the obscure Valentine Adams is as good and dramatic as any. The New Bloods’ similarly-titled track here is also clearly based on the same Falcons song (the sax ‘sound’ even emulating that of the much earlier original). This is actually Eddie & Ernie and I never fail to be impressed by their great harmonies and gospel-honed vocal dramatics.
Otis Clay is one of soul’s great singers. The later recording date for this track gives it a less raw edge than most of the others on offer here, but this is more than made up for by the fine storyline lyrics so meaningfully sung by such a fine, totally-involved singer.
Betty Bibbs’ “First Come, First Served” is one of the better-known offerings on this set – but familiarity doesn’t breed anything approaching contempt with me! It’s a great song with some really potent lyrics which she delivers expertly as she rails against her unfaithful beau. The brass support is first-class too as well as the nice ‘moody’ piano and organ. I think Bibbs’ “Everyone But Me” for Kent was maybe her best deep outing but that was somewhat lighter in approach than this strong piece and I guess this is the one that most people would know and love the best.
Some deep-soul examples border the blues very closely; indeed some actually sit on the line between the two genres for me. There are several examples here of this style, namely the gravelly-voiced Don Hollinger’s ”I Had A Nightmare; Bobby “Watch Your Step” Parker’s “Don’t Drive Me Away” with its impressive high notes from Bobby and a bit of ‘rapping’ too; Jimmy Garland’s “Baby One More Time” and Willy McDougal’s “I Can’t Wait”.
Dicky Williams was (and remains) a fine singer. He penned most of his own material and had a great feel for songs about relationships. However, I don’t rate “Oh Dreamy Me” as even close to his best – it has an almost childlike, rather corny ‘feel’ to it – like a gently lilting nursery rhyme – and doesn’t ring true (an essential of the best deep soul songs) despite there being nothing wrong with Williams’ (or the fine femme back-up singers’) vocal abilities.
The raw nature of much deep-soul becomes appealing and listenable when dispensed by a singer with clearly strong vocal ability. Sadly, for me, the lack of vocal ability here by James K-Nine shows through and we’re just left with the ‘raw’ bones of a deep-soul song. (I’ll dispense with jokes about K-Nine’s and bones).
Now you can immediately hear the soulful quality in Willie Small’s voice. Unfortunately lyric-wise this song is very repetitious with lots of “say you wills” and not much else, although I have to say the overall ‘sound’, created by the good combination of Small’s fine voice and a very acceptable rhythm section, does make this one quite a good listen.
Even if I’ve left the few not-quite-so-goods till last, you’ll see that the overall standard here is high indeed and the sheer rarity of many of these deep winners makes owning them collected together in CD format a ‘must’ for many ‘real’ soul fans.