Underrated Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama give us 23 southern soul scorchers – raw and refined.
The cities of Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama were never major recording hubs but in the early 70s they were the source of many fine examples of southern soul. The Moonsong and Clintone labels of Birmingham and the GRC, Aware and Hotlanta imprints from Atlanta sported artists of the calibre of John Edwards, Bill Brandon, Lorraine Johnson and Loleatta Holloway. Those acts are all included on this CD, but it is the lesser-known performers who complete the labels’ story.
Judy Green recorded only two singles with local producer Tee Fletcher. Her Aware sides, the groovy ‘Face To Face’ and the beautiful ballad ‘I Still Love You’, are here. Delia Gartrell’s powerful recording of Al Braggs’ ‘If I Had My Way’ is the rarest of the labels’ releases. Another notable female singer, Dorothy Norwood, combines a gospel message with the soul sound of the day on the previously unreleased Deke Richards-penned ‘Big Boat Ride’. Lorraine Johnson sang on many demos for the publishing arms of the labels and her performances of the jazz-soul gem ‘A Love Like Yours’ and the previously unheard ‘The Best Of My Years’ show her talents were underused until later in the decade when she had hits with Prelude. Two great Clintone label female artists are also showcased: Rozetta Johnson with an alternate take of Sam Dees’ ‘I've Come Too Far With You (To Turn Back Now)’ and Jean Battle with another great Sam Dees’ number, ‘When A Woman Loves A Man’, as licensed out to the small Red Lite label.
There was a Los Angeles side to the GRC set-up; Dee Ervin, Joe Hinton, Lee Brackett and Jimmy Lewis from that city are all featured on rare or previously unissued recordings. Detroit and Chicago also provided a few acts; Deep Velvet’s take on ‘Complain To The Clouds’ is much more harmonious than Ripple’s funk take on the song, while producer Floyd Smith goes all Barry White on his interpretation of the Ripple-penned ‘I Want ‘Cha To Let Me Come Home’ and the Steppers were an interesting amalgamation of Detroit musicians and singers whose one-off 45 ‘Come And Get It’ made a lot of noise but failed to chart.