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Goldwax Northern Soul, CD (£11.50)
I felt just a little awkward suggesting this one; particularly as Goldwax has been claimed by southern soul fans as the ultimate label where soul and country meshed and made musical magic. With country musician and songwriter Quinton Claunch directing operations and Roosevelt Jamison and others bringing in such great black talent, the resulting soul was the epitome of soul a la south.
Quinton and co-owner Doc Russell were also very serious businessmen and nobody can run a label that boasted over sixty releases across soul music’s finest five years without trying differing styles of music. Coming from the other side, the Northern soul scene has broadened its tastes since the days of “have you got any stompers, mate?” Records that would have produced blank looks and an empty dancefloor at Wigan can now summon their own band of fans, if not always onto the boards, then at least over to their hi-fis.
There is one Goldwax recording however that is totally Northern in the best possible sense. Spencer Wiggins cut ‘Let’s Talk It Over’ in 1967, it then stayed on a tape spool for over twenty years when it sneaked out onto CD in Japan, only to be clutched to the soulful heart of Northern England when the DJs got to hear that magnificent music. First it’s the brass fanfare, then the clean expectant piano break, an underlying guitar phrase joins in, accompanied by some glorious girly “Oooooohs”, before Spencer Wiggins’ soul-drenched voice and a superb pounding rhythm track take over the world. “Have you got any stompers?” “Yes mate, we have.” The track’s provenance is explained in the booklet; let’s just say that this is the recording’s first ever legal release.
One of the company’s contributors to the smoother side of the soul world was George Jackson, a supremely talented young writer, whose melodies suited the dancefloor to a T. We have found George’s own version of James Carr’s ‘You Gotta Have Soul’ which might even be better than his master’s voice here. Speaking of JC, he was the most prolific artist on the label and though his forte was the ballad, he could match Otis, his most obvious rival, and others in the moving and grooving stakes. ‘A Losing Game’ is my personal favourite but ‘That’s What I Want To Know’ is more popular and ‘Coming Back To Me Baby’ more stompier.
It’s been a privilege going through the masters. For me a particular pleasure has been the two unissued ballads ‘Now Girl’ by the Lyrics and ‘If You Love Her’ by Phillip & The Faithfuls. The flip of what would have been the Faithfuls’ second Goldwax release is actually mainstream group soul dance music and 'What'Cha Gonna Do' just reeks of Chicago’s big soul influence. It’s a major discovery and one all progressive soul fans are going to love.
There’s more rare and collectible group harmony from the excellent Vel Tones and the Lyrics, Percy Milem’s old group. Percy himself gives us his classic dancer ‘Call On Me’ as well as ‘I Slipped A Little’ which features a big slice of country and like several of the tracks here, was only available on an impossible to find deleted series of Japanese CDs. Another one that is going to set tongues a-wagging is George & Greer’s ‘To Me It’s Storming’ a fabulous mid tempo tune that captivates then moves along smartly as the song progresses; a sleeping giant methinks!
By Ady Croasdell