Lew Bedell’s Doré label only occasionally dabbled with black music in its early years. It was not until the British beat invasion of 1964 that soul acts were consciously sought out, so the company’s releases would not have to compete with those limeys for radio plays, on black stations at least.
The Superbs were Bedell’s main act throughout the soul era. He stuck with the group, despite them scoring only one hit from over 20 releases, some of which he composed. They later produced offshoots the Whispers, who would become a major soul act in the 70s, the Entertainers IV and Natural Resources. Group members Bobby Swayne, Kennard Gardner and Lawrence Lockard would all return to the label years after their first efforts and spoke highly of the eccentric but inspired Bedell.
The nascent soul scene is represented here by Slim & the Twilites and Tommy & Leon, whose releases have a New Orleans feel but were most likely recorded in Los Angeles. Bedell also cut deals with independent producers such as Lou Baretto, whose ‘Gone With The Wind Is My Love’ by Rita & the Tiaras sold poorly at the time but became a northern soul classic in the UK in the mid-70s. Bedell’s deal with New Orleans singer-songwriter Toussaint McCall produced a very worthy ballad 45 and the unreleased ‘I’ll Laugh Till I Cry’, which has been acclaimed as a masterpiece by the modern soul fraternity. That breed of soul fan will also be enamoured of Natural Resources’ unissued ‘If There Were No You’, an upbeat 70s soul dancer. Ultra-rare 45s by Milton James and Little Johnny Hamilton were cut by a tight outfit of musicians who would eventually become War. Other high quality rarities include Ray Marchand’s ‘Your Ship Of Fools’ and Betty Turner’s ‘The Winds Kept Laughing’, a co-production with the Crescent label. Better-known Los Angeles acts the Fidels, Shades Of Jade and Vel-Vetts were happy to get singles issued on a respected label in their quest for fame, while for Eddie Kool and Friday’s Child’s their Doré 45s were to be their sole releases.
Having purchased the Doré label, we have access to documentation that sheds light on some of these revered records. Interviews with several of the participants have further increased our knowledge, making the notes extensive and illuminating, while the music is presented in the best possible sound quality, with half the tracks being new to CD. Previously thought of as a Northern Soul or ballad outlet, this compilation shows there was more to Doré.
By Ady Croasdell