From the 1950s right through to the 1970s Memphis was a record town, awash with studios, record companies and distributors. Its industry proved to be an irresistible magnet for artists from all over the South and often beyond, especially black artists. Country acts would head the few hundred miles up the road to Nashville, and the West Coast was a hub for rock’n’roll’s golden dream, while Memphis – sometimes known as Soul City USA – attracted aspiring soul or R&B performers. The closer you were to Memphis, the greater the pull.
The Minits were from not too far away in Montgomery, Alabama. The three-girl vocal group we celebrate in this CD headed to Memphis and released a mere three singles on the Sounds Of Memphis label. Their records were moments of pure pop-soul magic. Their second 45, ‘Still A Part Of Me’, commands a price of well into three figures due to its dancefloor appeal.
Left in the vault were five further numbers which we have released slowly over the past few years. ‘Hook Line and Sinker’ is a Dan Greer tune with a snappy pop hook that must have been a candidate for a single but remained unissued until recently. ‘Natural Reaction’ and ‘Stepping Stone’ are both in a similar high quality pop-soul vein. The trio’s version of Aretha Franklin’s ‘Pullin’’ is another thing altogether – the rhythm section hits a groove and takes this one straight to the dancefloor. ‘If You Don’t Like My Apples (Don’t Shake My Tree)’ was found in the vaults only last year and has become my favourite Minits discovery so far. It’s a slamming slice of double entendre sister funk that should make it into DJ sets as soon as it starts to become known.
For some reason their records failed to catch on and the Minits never became the stars their records suggest they should have been. The girls are almost completely forgotten today, yet the music they left behind reveals an act that should have achieved more. It may well have been that, despite top of the range production values and high quality songs, there is just too much of the south left in the recordings for them to have sat comfortably on pop radio. Then again, it may just be that they were never championed by the right people at the right time. What is for sure is that their recorded legacy makes for one hell of a listen.
A lot of money was clearly spent on styling and taking wonderful photographs of the girls in a bid to represent them as stars. It wasn’t to be but those wonderful photographs now allow us to give you not just some great music but a stunning booklet to go with it.
By Dean Rudland