We present for your delectation 26 mid to late 60s classic soul tracks, only six of which are currently on Ace CDs. Inevitably many are uptempo but the CD is designed to capture the spirit of 60s soul rather than its later UK dance-centric revision. Several were R&B hits and a few made the Pop Hot 100 too. Most were released in the UK, some on groovy little labels such as Action, Spark, Soul City, Direction, B&C and Pama. They were the type of records the pirate radio stations would plug from their off-shore floating studios. It was mod music in the sense of new, hip and in the groove, rather than of any elite, exclusive in-crowd. If it was groovy you bought it.
I remember exotic names such as Cliff Nobles & Co, the Maskman & the Agents and Peggy Scott & Jo Jo Benson being raved about on the radio. When you got your newly released records home you’d play the top side a few times and then try out the flip – always a worthwhile exercise. With the Show Stoppers you got ‘What Can A Man Do’ as a big, big bonus.
Fellow compiler Tony Rounce and I grew up in the exciting times of late 60s Britain, so it is inevitable that this compilation has some Anglo Saxon nuances. Gene Latter was born in Wales and his great 60s soul pastiche ‘Sign On The Dotted Line’ was recorded in London. It gained a US release on Liberty but it was the spins in the clubs of the UK on the Spark label that won it admirers who danced to its gritty grooves. The Show Stoppers also found fame through the UK clubs and went to #11 with their ‘House Party’ top-side without even denting the US R&B charts. Brenton Wood had a hit on all the record sales listings, but surprisingly reached the highest over here.
Cliff Nobles’ ‘The Horse’ was an instrumental that had that indefinable something which made it stand out from the rest; there are probably legions of fans who never knew the song’s title. Bill Moss’ funky ‘Sock It To ‘Em Soul Brother’ is a fine example of early rap and something of a period piece with it’s eulogising of OJ Simpson for his football rather than courtroom skills. Jesse James’ first R&B hit ‘Believe In Me Baby’ didn’t get a UK release; possibly just as well as there are some heavy sexual problems featured towards the end.
There’s girly group soul from the Ikettes and Inspirations, funky stuff from Clarence Carter, Thelma Jones and Lowell Fulsom and soulful balladry from Carl Henderson, the Ad Libs and Bob & Earl. The soul group roots of Northern Soul are demonstrated by the Platters, Esquires, Showmen and Volumes, while Ruby Andrews and J.J. Barnes feature the subtler productions that were the foundation stones of the 70s modern soul scene.
No false categories are needed; it’s all truly great soul music that will be appreciated by any music lover.
By Ady Croasdell