A huge three quarters of this CD is comprised of previously unissued tapes and though the tracks are obviously unfamiliar, they demonstrate the depth and quality of Detroit producer Dave Hamilton’s work.
Dave is a revered name among Detroit musicians; he was a gifted guitarist and his work around the city from his early R&B combos, to his part in the very first Funk Brothers, and then his three decades of studio productions, made him a local legend. His tapes, though jumbled and loosely documented, are a glorious over-view of a typical small-scale Detroit label’s output from the early 60s to the 80s soul years.
Dave had two artists on whom he concentrated in the late 60s and early 70s. First was Little Ann (Bridgeforth) who started this whole Kent series of CDs off with her What Should I Do. This CD sees a totally different vocal take of the song which is much lighter in feel aurally and emotionally. There are added tambourines to the version soul fans know and it’s a good bet that this was the intended release. Her reading of Sweep It Out In The Shed is more haunting than Tobi Lark’s issued cut that currently fills Northern Soul dancefloors and she also sings a more funk-styled original in Possession.
By the early 70s Ann had moved to Canada and Dave concentrated on the deep growling vocals of OC Tolbert. Along Came A Woman was a remake of Clarence Reid’s 1967 Tayster single but he made the song his own by changing it from a light-hearted, almost jocular, number to a dark and brooding, horn-laden powerhouse of a song. He lightened up for his vinyl release of Goodness on New Day Records and that is a lovely piece of the type of country influenced soul that was popular in the early 70s. His 80s number is a disco-influenced, uptempo church song called Ride The Gospel Train. It was recorded with the rest of his extensive family.
The find of the CD for me is Simon Barbee’s The Wind, whose discovery involves Mickey Stevenson, the Velvelettes and Louis Curry; it’s a Detroit soul mini-documentary that is full explained in over a thousand words in the booklet.
The opening track is the most uptempo of the two sides Dave cut on the mystery group the Additions. Slated to be a Topper single, it was bumped off its release number by the insanely conceived Throw The Poor Dog A Bone by Priscilla Page and Pepe The Poodle. I have to admit that it’s on here and, even worse, I quite like it. Feel the guilt!
Chico & Buddy’s I Don’t Know What You Got is a very strong song and production which would undoubtedly have sold well had it ever made it into the record shops. Elayne Starr’s In The Morning (When I Rise) is a beautiful two step 70s ballad and Tobi Lark’s True True Love is a raucous storming uptempo raver.
We’ve dubbed the £2,000 + Temple 45 of Love, Friends And Money by James Lately to get the swirling strings that were left off the Volume 1 master tape and at the other end of the arranging spectrum there’s a beautiful, simple ballad featuring the wonderful harmonies of the Tokays and just a solitary piano.
In my quest to make an idiot of myself, I’ve managed to include the exact same track of Little Ann’s The Smile On Your Face that I put on Volume 2. The ensuing seven years has obviously affected my memory, so I apologise profusely and will make up for it by making the final volume of this series a 25-tracker. It is a beautiful song though so hopefully you’ll get to enjoy it all over again.
By Ady Croasdell