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The Soul Of Spring Volume 2, CD (£11.50)
The quality of Spring’s also-rans is exemplified by this CD’s opening track. Act 1’s Goodbye Love (We’re Through) was the B-side to that group’s early 70s discotheque hit Tom The Peeper and I remember buying the Mercury 45, hammering it to death in my humble bed-sit, but foolishly neglecting to investigate the beguiling flip.
The Spring catalogue is littered with similar gems from a wide array of acts, styles, and eras. The fact that Garland Green’s contribution is top notch doesn’t raise any eyebrows, but Richard Barbary’s moody, Detroit-influenced take on the folk song When Johnny Comes Marching Home is a very pleasant surprise. Similarly Leroy Randolph’s quirky Good To The Last Drop is a nugget that should have been spun on a dancefloor or two over the decades since its inception.
Millie, Joe and the Fatbacks’ hits helped fund a broad spectrum of recording and paid for some talented acts (many well known to us soul aficionados) to join the hot Spring, Event and Posse labels. The Joneses had already succeeded at Mercury before joining the stable and their beautiful ballad Baby, There’s Nothing You Can Do should have charted; given a following wind. Philly veteran Ronnie Walker already had a good track record and his Just Can’t Say Hello saw him at the peak of his singing powers in 1973, aided and abetted by The City Of Brotherly Love’s Vince Montana Jr.
The Mayberry Movement continue to amaze me with the quality of their singing and songs. Like Act 1 they benefited from a talented producer/songwriter, in this case Patrick Adams, but sadly there were fewer tracks cut, otherwise they would be vying for top undiscovered, vocal group accolades with their label-mates.
We’ve been selective with Millie and Joe as we’re working on their “Essentially Soulful Sides” CDs and there are plenty of great alternative acts to put the spotlight on. The two tracks we went for are Millie’s reading of You Can’t Turn Me Off (In The Middle Of Turning Me On, surely an inspiration for Jocelyn Brown’s Somebody Else’s Guy, and Joe’s joyful, soulful, dance track In My Baby’s Arms.
Spring tried to hit the gospel/soul market with Joe Simon’s productions on Jackie Verdell and the Internationals. They failed miserably commercially but made some deeply inspiring and life-affirming music in the process. The company even cut some electrified soul from the great singer songwriter Phillip Mitchell and Phil Flowers’ group Flower Shoppe. Both tracks were unissued at the time but we think the public can just about handle them now.
The Phillip Mitchell track first appeared on a Southbound CD way back in 1990 and was long overdue for a new airing. That disc also featured Eddie McLoyd’s two step classic Once You Fall In Love as well as even sweeter soul from Daltrey Martin with Stay With Me. Clare Bathe’s contribution is the very catchy Turn Yourself Around while the even more obscure Vernon Brown’s I’m A Lover is the aural opposite in an unsophisticated, gritty, southern, “Get Down Y’All” style.
Aural technological advances have meant that we can appreciate the compelling groove and vocal drive of unknown Philly girl group the Equations’ You Make Me Feel So Good, which had had a slight accident on its way to the pressing plant. New York producer Harold Thomas got to stand on the mike side of the mixing desk for his uptempo dancer Ain’t It Amazing as well as doing the honours for Little Eva on her cute as a kitten Mr Everything.
Most of these tracks were new to my ears until I researched the label and I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed compiling this and the previous Kent Spring CD (which is a regular on the Croasdell family CD deck) as much as any in the past 25 years. If Ace forgot to send me one, I’d go out and buy it!
By Ady Croasdell