The transition from the 1950s to the 1960s signalled the commercial decline of some record companies. Not so with the Chess group of labels of Chicago, whose progression to sophisticated soul from raunchy R&B and blues was seamless. For lovers of vintage female soul, there are few better sources. Always rootsier than Motown in not so far away Detroit, Chess and sister logos Argo, Checker and Cadet boasted a truly spectacular stable of soulful sisters.
Sugar Pie DeSanto
The complete Chess singles of one of the original female stars of soul, including three great duets with her homegirl Etta James and a corking previously unissued bonus track. Many titles new to CD.
All of the elegant Mitty’s Chess A-sides, plus a dozen great previously un-reissued flips, together painting a portrait of an artist whose work will illuminate the life of any soul music lover. Spans the whole of the 60s.
Where the Girls Are Volume 3
This delicious compendium of pop-soul augments Chess’ hometown sound with masters licensed from indie producers in Washington, New York, Philly and Detroit, adding a dash of variety to the company’s already formidable female roster.
“Who’s Blue?” comprises an eclectic selection of B-sides and album cuts, most of which make their CD debut, plus the previously unreleased ‘Can’t Shake It’. Etta’s stock-in-trade blues shouting comes to the fore on the Willie Dixon-penned barn-burners ‘Nobody But You’ and ‘Fire’, while she indulges her passion for smooth jazzy crooning on ‘It Could Happen To You’ and ‘I Worry About You’, tackles 70s-style rock on ‘Only A Fool’ and offers a few country standards, most notably a sublime reading of Mickey Newbury’s ‘Sweet Memories’ and a surprising take on Don Gibson’s ‘Look Who’s Blue’. Reissues of Etta’s “Queen Of Soul”, “Call My Name”, “Losers Weepers” and “Etta Is Betta Than Evvah!” albums are also available on Kent, each with copious bonus tracks.
Leonard Chess, founder of the record label that bore his name, was mindful of happenings at Motown in 1964. As did Berry Gordy’s company, Chess had its own family of musicians, writers and producers who were turning out a stream of fine product for the hungry soul market, but rarely scoring with a solid crossover smash. Enter former Sam Cooke protégée Jackie Ross, whose label debut, ‘Selfish One’, became one of the most memorable hits of the year. This collection includes her complete Chess output, including the previously unissued ‘Stick To One’ and ‘My Square’.