Back in 1988, boogaloo bad-boy Adrian Croasdell compiled one of the first Galaxy/Fantasy album reissues for the Kent imprint (Black Music Is Our Business"). This trove became a fave among UK Northern Soul tribes. Fantasy later put out their own Galaxy sets, "All Night Long They Play The Blues" and "Bad, Bad Whiskey" which included some smoking West Coast blues and soul singles. A recently culled collection of vocal group R&B goodies from the same source, "Going Back", was aimed for the most part at the collector completist."
And now, Diggin' Gold", as compiler Alec Palao states in the opening paragraph of his extensive liner notes, focuses on the many rare blues and R&B entries in the Galaxy discography 1963-65 that came from one particular Los Angeles production house, that of producer Cliff Goldsmith and arranger Ray Shanklin, that have escaped reissue. With the help of Fantasy vault-keeper Stuart Kremsky, Alec Palao has mine-swept its deep recesses. Incendiaries include the party-romping Compact Baby by Rob Robinson in dual tempo, infused with strong funky jazz inflections-.-Joe Johnson's frenzied Rattlesnake, Baby, Rattlesnake and crazy steppin' Gold Diggin' Man workouts-.-Good Time Charlie stepping up in Bobby Parker's dancing bucks with the catchy Watch That Stuff-.-Clay Hammond offering Baby It's Alright in a Bobby Bland uptempo bag-.-and Little Johnny Taylor's urgently rendered You Gotta Go On, plus two more airborne movers by the man entitled She's Yours, She's Mine and Kiss Me Baby.
Our intrepid compiler, while catering to the North-County groovers, has not forgotten us wet-faced, deep soul, back-in-the-alley, heavy burden bellowing collector types who wallow in soul-drenched anguish, because he has thoughtfully included many finely-cut blue diamonds, such as the sulky Too Far Beyond Repair by Billy Keene, as well as Keene's You're A Deserter, its clever lyrics pure soulster's poetry. We get the tonsil-twisting There's Gonna Be Some Changes by Clay Hammond, the tear-stained Just Wondering by Del Cunningham, and the sweet, heartaching Talk To You Baby and easy loping Nobody But You, both by Rob Robinson. Not to mention the plea-ridden My Love by Bill McAfee, the sorrowful As Quick As I Can by Little Johnny Taylor, along with his blues bucket My Love Is Real, the tough guitar-infected Del Cunningham vehicle Lay Up In Bed And Read, and Clay Hammond's reinterpretation of Rev Julius Cheeks' New Burying Ground - a church-tinged chart he calls My Baby Left Me Crying, plus one of Clay's foot-draggin', wig-worriers, It's All Over Now (No Use Crying), an opus which should have seen light of day when it was committed to tape way back in 1963.
But you can say the same about Taylor's gritty, mid-paced On My Way Back Home or his knee-dropping Darling I Wonder. Out of twenty-five cuts, eight are born for the first time. My personal favorite is Bill McAfee's screaming yet melodic I Don't Know Why, perhaps a fitting tribute to the profound influence of the late Ray Charles. This leaves us with two worthwhile remakes: Little Johnny's mid-tempo block party mover Looking At The Future, originally cut for the Swingin' label in 1960-.-and Saunders King's SK Blues which, to my mind, is played and sung with more strength and beauty than the 1942 original.
Aside from excellent artist bios, Alec Palao's profiles of Cliff Goldsmith and Ray Shanklin bring us a clear picture of how the duo made magic, while at the same time virtually inventing the blues-coloured early 1960s soul sound. The best thing about this cache is that it is only a first measure of gold dust. Two more equally well-plundered lootings of the Fantasy/Galaxy vault are also released, the "Get Your Lie Straight - A Galaxy Of Funky Soul" is out this month on the BGP label, while "Moaning, Groaning And Crying - A Galaxy Of Soul on Kent is out in September.
(Opal Louis Nations mans the counter at El Cerrito's Down Home Music Store and, in case you hadn't guessed, likes to give whippersnapper Palao a hard time. This world renowned gospel music authority and former Putney resident began his career in music as lead singer of UK R&B legend The Frays.)
by Opal Louis Nations"