Kent’s “Birth Of Soul” series has always thrown its spotlight on the great music of black America that emerged in the R&B and doo wop years. Some cities were more influential than others in ushering-in the sound of soul and in recognition of this, a new sub-series of Special Editions has been designed around their output. Kent could hardly have picked a better place to start than Chicago.
I believe that Chicago was the birthplace of soul music, and that the Impressions’ ‘For Your Precious Love’ is a major contender as the very first soul record. The version included here has not been available anywhere before because it’s the demo that the group made before they got their deal with Vee-Jay. Originally entitled ‘Your Precious Love’, it was cut for Bandera and featured only their voices accompanied by the guitar of Curtis Mayfield. Along with Carl Davis, Jerry Butler, Johnny Pate, Riley Hampton and a few other key players, Curtis was responsible for creating the Chicago Sound. He wrote many of the early classics, including ‘Phyllis’ and ‘I’ve Got A Girl’ for Major Lance, two rarities that also feature the Impressions in the background, as do several of the other recordings on this CD.
Curtis is the thread than links so much of this early music. Jan Bradley had the benefit of his guidance from early on. ‘Behind Curtains’ is an ambitious song, confidently presented. Jan would get her biggest hit with Curtis on ‘Mama Didn’t Lie’ but when Chess acquired her masters Mayfield declined further involvement.Another unusual Mayfield song, ‘Isle Of Sirens’ by Jerry Butler, was based on the Greek myth of beautiful female voices luring unsuspecting sailors to their deaths in the perilous seas surrounding their home. Curtis’ first lead A-side after Butler left the Impressions was ‘Senorita I Love You’ also featured here.
While I had read about most of these artists, I hadn’t heard the Accents’ ‘Enchanted Garden’ or Don & Bob’s stunning ‘Good Morning Little Schoolgirl’ (although I’ve owned the Yardbirds’ version for years) or even the Radiants’ Smokey-influenced ‘Father Knows Best’, but I’m glad I have now. Eugene Record’s Chanteurs echo shades of the early Drifters on ‘You’ve Got A Great Love’ and the insistent Kavetts, who later appeared on OKeh were practically unheard outside Chicago on ‘I’ve Got A Story To Tell You’.
Other highlights include Eugene Record’s Chanteurs, who echo shades of the early Drifters on ‘You’ve Got A Great Love’ and the insistent Kavetts, who later appeared on Okeh but were practically unheard outside Chicago, on ‘I’ve Got A Story To Tell You’. The bluesy ‘I’ll Weep No More’ features Betty Everett’s beautiful voice, but her style had not really developed until her work on VJ with Calvin Carter. Gerald Sims certainly made many valuable contributions to Chicago Soul behind the scenes, but he also made records out front too such as ‘Cool Breeze’ with the Daylighters.
There are some other superb rarities. Gerald Sims certainly made valuable contributions to Chicago Soul behind the scenes and also made a couple of records out front too, such as ‘Cool Breeze’ with the Daylighters. There are so many great tracks on this collection: by Barbara Lewis, the Mighty Mighty Dells, Gene Chandler, Dee Clark and others that I haven’t the space to review. Tony Rounce’s excellent compilation and Bill Dahl’s comprehensive notes make this fine 24 track CD mandatory for any soul music fan who will find it a fascinating and informative trawl through the early days of Chicago Soul.
by Peter Burns