This release heralds the biggest unearthing of Detroit and Northern Soul masters for decades. It is as important and thrilling as the Scepter, Wand and Musicor cache, the Dave Hamilton tapes or the unissued RCA treasure of the 80s and 90s.
On this volume there are previously unheard gems from the Cavaliers, September Jones, Lorraine Chandler, Nancy Wilcox and Willie Kendrick; not forgetting two great instrumentals from the Pied Piper musicians. There are also the original Giant label releases issued in 1966 on Tony Hester, the Sandpipers and Mike & Ray and the first Pied Piper productions for indy labels.
Working with the master tapes was a pleasure and to hear these wonderfully produced Detroit masterpieces as they were laid down has been a revelation.
The original, faster version of Lorraine Chandler’s Northern Soul classic ‘I Can’t Hold On’ is a fresh take on a record played solidly for nearly forty years. Her alternate ‘Mend The Torn Pieces’ is quite a shock. It is in a very different, deep soul style to the poppier, girly version we issued on the “Rare, Collectable And Soulful” CD. Nancy Wilcox had one 45 but cut six tracks for the company and ‘Gambler’s Blues’ has been played to great acclaim at Northern dances over the past eight years.
Pied Piper’s own imprint was Giant, the earlier Detroit version as opposed to the later Chicago label. Tony Hestor’s first single, prior to teaming up with writing partner Popcorn Wylie, is a masterpiece of lilting, anguished soul that has grown in stature. The Sandpipers’ atmospheric ‘Lonely Too Long’ and Mike & Ray’s ‘If You Only Knew’ on the label also fetch big money, as does Mikki Farrow’s ‘Could It Be’.
Pied Piper is so highly esteemed because of the number of its Northern Soul classics played in the scene’s 70s heyday. The Hesitations’ ‘I’m Not Built That Way’ and Freddy Butler’s ‘That’s When I Need You’ were massive records and, along with the other tracks mentioned, meant Pied Piper is spoken of with reverence. What also makes this release so exciting are new tracks by established Northern stars such as Lorraine Chandler’s haunting ‘I Hear Music’ and Willie Kendrick’s special vocal applied to the Metros’ number ‘Time Changes Things’.
Mid 60s Detroit recordings rarely slowed below mid-tempo but Sam E Solo’s ‘Tears Keep Falling’ has a lazy, catchy beat that bucked the trend. The Cavaliers’ ‘We Go Together’ is a classy mid tempo take on a song written in the 50s for the Moonglows, later cut by Jan & Dean. This 1966 soul version has excited the North’s top DJs and is certain to be a monster sound in 2013.
The most exciting discovery for a lot of people will be the original of Rose Batiste’s ‘I Miss My Baby’ which Pied Piper recorded several months before the Revilot release. It is titled ‘This Heart Is Lonely’ as the song was originally written.
Finally, September Jones gives us four of eight Pied Piper sides that resulted in just one solitary 45 release, licensed to Kapp. This single ‘I’m Coming Home’ is as fine an example of Detroit’s soul craft as was ever committed to wax; tortured and moody, superbly produced and delivered with a hypnotic beat. The unissued sides are equally fine and with another four gems to be featured on the second volume, her time in the spotlight is assured.
By Ady Croasdell