Also Chicago-based, the Chess group of labels included at various times Aristocrat, Argo and Cadet. Phil and Len Chess built up their label on the success of their roster of hard-hitting blues artists like Muddy Waters, Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson, but they dabbled in many forms of music including soul. Kent Records' other release this month, Chess Uptown Soul, explores their 60s soul output. However, as the astute among you will have gathered from its title, this isn't an album of stompin' dance toons: no Landslide or In Orbit here. As compiler Ady Croasdell (What him again? Does this man ever sleep?) puts it, "Think sophisticated. Think subtle. Think Slick".
After the exhilarating Saturday night soul of the OKeh set, here's a 24-tracker ideal for a Sunday morning: snuggle down in your armchair, attempt to do the Telegraph crossword and let the soul waves lap comfortably against your feet. Sophisticated? Yes indeedy, check out Marlena Shaw's jazz-tinged slant on Go Away Little Boy. Subtle? Absolutely: Marvel at Spooner's Crowd as they wittily create a sound picture of a whole evening at a hip club in the 2 minutes and 9 seconds of Two In The Morning. Slick? Sho'nuff-.-gasp at The Radiants' inch-perfect harmonies on Ain't No Big Thing. This uptown festival includes such soul beats as Jan Bradley's charmingly naive Mama Didn't Lie, Etta James' assertive Pushover, the Knight Brothers' gospel-flavoured Temptation Bout To Get Me and Mitty Collier's affecting I Had A Talk With My Man. There's a touch of the blues from Johnny Nash and a touch of jazz from Ramsey Lewis. It all adds up to a soul-satisfying Sunday morning's listening. But wait: Jackie Ross' Jerk And Twine, one of the first batch of releases on the UK Chess label back in '65, has an irresistible finger snapping beat, and she's going on about good timing hips are rocking...the build-up to next Saturday night starts here! (Mike Atherton. Mike is a regular contributor to Echoes, Blues & Rhythm and Record Collector magazines)