Oh my, do we have a treat for you. We issued Spencer Wiggins’ “The Goldwax Years” to critical acclaim in 2006. Hardly surprising really, as the tracks within were southern soul at the highest level. Spencer’s wonderful baritone soared across the disc, from uptempo rave-ups like ‘Soul City USA’ to the heart-wrenching beauty of ‘I Never Loved A Woman (The Way I Love You)’. Even at that point we felt that there was unfinished business. Spencer had recorded seven tracks for Goldwax that had been sold on to Fame Records in Muscle Shoals. It proved impossible to license these at the time, but once we had done a deal with Sounds Of Memphis to release their catalogue, which includes six Spencer cuts, we thought that it might be possible to compile a second volume. In the last year, discussions with Fame have led to the opening of their tape vaults to our intrepid team of archivists. The result is that we are now able to compile this volume of a total of 22 tracks.
Spencer Wiggins was very much part of Memphis’ post-war explosion of musical talent. He grew up with or went to school with an incredible array of future recording talent, including Isaac Hayes, David Porter, Homer Banks and Dan Greer. Spencer’s background was singing in church before moving onto the vibrant Memphis club scene of the era. It was from his residency at the Flamingo that he secured his deal at Goldwax. Over four years eight singles were issued, all of an exceptionally high standard, without ever breaking through. When Rick Hall signed him to Fame in 1969, there was a concerted effort to make Spencer a star, with three sessions producing a further nine tracks to add to the seven they had bought from Goldwax. Only two singles were issued, without success, despite the music being jaw-dropping. From the southern soul ballad sound of ‘Water’ or ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ to the unbelievable dance floor sounds of ‘Breaking Point’ or ‘Let’s Talk It Over’, this is music from the top drawer.
After Fame, Spencer signed to Sounds Of Memphis, where he recorded six sides with his old Goldwax colleague Dan Greer at the controls. The quality was as high as it had been before, with the peerless ‘I Can’t Be Satisfied’ and the wonderful ‘Feed The Flame’ stand outs for me. Only one single was issued, although two others appear to have been scheduled. Spencer decided to call it quits at this point and headed off to Florida for a new life. With the release of “Feed The Flame” his complete secular recordings are now available.
By Dean Rudland