A contributor to the Yahoo Group’s Southern Soul chat list once posted a statement to the effect that he never bought records by female artists as he did not consider that women could sing soul. If the poor, deluded fool should happen to be reading this, I would suggest he buys this combination of Stax recordings by Veda Brown and Judy Clay. It will prove to him how wrong he has been over the years and, with luck, send him down the path to open-mindedness - nay, righteousness.
Judy’s duet of ‘Private Number’ with William Bell might have overshadowed the rest of her Stax output in terms of hitmaking and world-wide recognition but you would have to have cloth ears - or the blinkered attitude of our friend above - not to recognise the soul-dripping worth of the rest of her Stax (solo) output featured here, not least the pounding ‘Your Love Is Good Enough’, issued here for the first time. Judy’s gospel upbringing is overwhelmingly evident on ‘Remove These Clouds’, a marvellous horn-supported ballad penned by Bettye Crutcher and Allen Jones, while the deep ‘It’s Me’ is another triumph, both for Judy as a performer and Ace as an issuer, it only having previously appeared on a somewhat obscure sampler album in 1968.
Veda Brown’s first two recordings at Stax were to become monsters for Luther Ingram, ‘(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want To Be Right’ and ‘I’ll Be Your Shelter (In Time Of Storm)’. The bad news is that Veda’s versions never progressed beyond the demo stage, the good news is that they are making their debut here and the same goes for ‘Help me Make It Through The Night’ and ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord’, together with a very sprightly ‘True Love Don’t Grow On Trees’ and an excellent take on Bobby Bland’s hit, ‘That’s The Way Love Is’. As far as her released product is concerned, surprisingly the infectious, funky ‘Take It Off Her (And Put It On Me)’ failed to chart but, thanks once again to Mister Rounce’s liners, we’re advised the reason might have been due to the fact that the powers-that-be decided to flip the release in favour of the beat-ballad ‘Living A Life Without Love’, a song Veda disliked lyrically. (Got to disagree Veda, sorry!) She didn’t like her answer to Ingram, ‘I Know It’s Not Right (To Be In Love With A Married Man)’ either and again I’m going to strike a contrary note. Fortunately, she did like ‘Short Stopping’, very much in the bag of Jean Knight’s ‘Mr Big Stuff’, third time lucky chartwise and now something of a Stax classic. Just one release later, ‘Don’t Start Loving Me (If You’re Gonna Stop)’ and Veda was off the label, an early victim of the problems that would lead to the company’s demise.
By David Cole