Slick West Coast uptempo soul music for dancers ONLY. 12-inch vinyl LP.
Known primarily as the label of soul groups the Superbs, Whispers and Entertainers IV, it has taken at least 40 years for Dore’s fluttering feather on the light blue background to reveal its full Northern Soul content. The Entertainers IV’s ‘Gettin’ Back Into Circulation’ was soon noticed, as it shared the same backing as the Whispers’ original of ‘Doctor Love’. Kenard Gardner was Lew Bedell’s right-hand soul man and his ‘Do The Skin’ also crossed theAtlanticin the 70s; the raucous dance-craze oozed soul and sported an irrepressible beat. Then came the Northern Soul behemoth – Rita & the Tiaras’ ‘Gone With The Wind Is My Love’. Released in 1967 in very small numbers, it took a decade to be discovered by the rare soul scene. It grew from a Wigan Casino floor-filler into a byword for all that is best in uptempo US soul. Plaintive vocals, atmospheric, imaginative production, a relentless beat and a melody and lyric like no other.
By the early 70s, the Fidels already had the classic stomper ‘Try A Little Harder’ under their belt, so it was no surprise when ‘I’m Givin’ You Notice Baby’ turned out to be a sassy 60s mover. The Superbs had around 30 releases on the label, mainly beautiful ballads, but hiding in the middle was the great uptempo dancer ‘I Wanna Do It With You Baby’. Their early 70s release ‘Wind In My Sails’ has found favour among funk-edged dance fans in recent years. Little Johnny Hamilton made his name on the scene with ‘Oh How I Love You’. Hamilton was part of the Creators group who wrote and played on this; many of the members would go on to become stars in the band War.
Come the early 80s, Wigan Casino had closed and up-and-coming DJs had to scour record lists, junk shops and flea markets all the harder as the supply of new titles faltered. The sounds sometimes veered away from the norm, and mid-tempo rarities such as Ray Marchand’s ‘Your Ship Of Fools’ went big at the Stafford all-nighter. Kenard Gardner returned to the dancefloor without his surname for the quirky social comment of ‘What Did You Gain By That?’. The Puffs’ soulful update of an old Lew Bedell torch song ‘I Only Cry Once A Day Now’ benefited from a great Gene Page arrangement and a solid uptempo beat.
Then came the super-rarities. Milton James’ ‘My Lonely Feeling’ was out of left field but catchy as hell – dynamite on the dancefloor of a dark, sweltering nightclub. Little did we know James was part of that soon-to-be War entourage; the Creators had his back. They were also on another even rarer discovery – Little Johnny Hamilton was back with ‘Keep On Movin’’, a mid-tempo beauty in that slick Chicago style. LA maestro Miles Grayson arranged the music for the Swans’ ‘Nitty Gritty City’, which like the later Little Johnny Hamilton release exists on only one known copy: quality and lack of quantity – the perfect mix.