Dave Hamilton’s Detroit tape cache reveals hitherto unknown soul dimensions to the great producer’s work.
Uptown yet edgy Motown soundalikes, blues with a beat, sweet soul harmonies, jazz grooves, drug-influenced funk and uplifting gospel – these are just a few of the categories in store on “Dave Hamilton’s Detroit Soul”. A career of over 50 years in one of the hotbeds of black music meant that Dave could sway with the musical punches and counter as well as any. The sides here span 20 creative years, all of them of interest to soul devotees who are intrigued by how the music flourished and developed. After three volumes of “Detroit Dancers”, we felt “Detroit Soul” to be a more apt title this time, although there are plenty of dancers on here too.
Starting with Dave’s first label, Temple, we have early examples of the emerging soul sound from his daughter Charmaine with the plaintive ‘Don’t You Listen’ and the bluesy ‘Won’t You Come On Home’ by Harry Reid. Frenchy & the Chessmen get an organ groove going, but I don’t think it shook up Booker T too much. Moving on to his most famous imprint, Topper, we have the logo’s final two soul recordings to be digitalised, which involve Priscilla Page solo and as half of a duo with Rony Darrell, Dave’s then partner. We then investigate later labels Da Da, Demoristic, TCB and New Day, all of which had gems of soul dotted among them.
Three ballads are featured: the churchy, southern style ‘Look Up And Smile’ from Gene Cooper, nightclub jazz in the shape of ‘Missing You’ from Sue Ann Jones and ‘All Because Of You’, high quality male harmony soul from the unknown Moderations. The latter is one of four numbers that have been discovered and mixed from multi-track tape. ‘I Don’t Play Games’ by male vocal quartet Nightchill is commercial enough to have charted if only they’d have pressed it up, and the female led New Experience’s ‘Here I Am (Come And Take Me)’ will also thrill modern soul fans. Romeo & Juliet get it on a la Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway on ‘You Got What It Takes’. Funk is touched on in the form of Billy Garner’s raucous ‘You’re Wasting My Time’.
A track that will excite traditional 60s soul fans is Ortheia Barnes’ performance on Dave Hamilton and Joe Hunter’s mid-tempo ‘Never Ever Leave Me’, originally destined for the Mickays label. J.T. Rhythm’s Palmer 45 on CD for the first time and Bobby Dee’s ‘Sweet Thing’ is grabbed from the clutches of BGP to reclaim a real soul dancer for the silver sliders. Any lover of black music will dig Dave Hamilton’s harmonica-led ‘Take Care Of Your Own Business’, while bluesman Chicago Pete’s ‘I’m Begging You’ grooves and grooves and grooves. O.C. Tolbert devotees are treated to ‘Too Late’, which was discovered too late to include on his recent solo CD. Chico & Buddy cover the narcotics side of the business, while the Webb People sound a little as if they’ve been investigating that area themselves.
This is wonderful music from a revered musician who attracted great talent and knew his business well enough to leave a major body of work for his followers so many years on.
By Ady Croasdell