MOANING, GROANING, CRYING is the last of three sequential examinations of Galaxy, the much maligned R&B subsidiary of San Francisco's Fantasy Records, which operated from the late 1950s up until 1973. Last month we served up Diggin' Gold" on Ace and "Get Your Lie Straight" on BGP, sets which chronologically bookend this fine imprint's discography. This latest volume on Kent focuses on what I consider the golden era of the Galaxy catalogue, the mid-to-late 1960s, and also includes items from associated outlets of the time like Early Bird, Soul Clock and M.I.O.B. In order to accurately reflect the tenor of these labels' collective output in that time period, the contents are equal parts R&B and soul, with an admitted bias toward the upbeat (ie you just gotta shake a tailfeather to this stuff). That was the Galaxy sound: somewhat disparate by today's stricter genre definitions, but a distinctive, eminently soulful sound nonetheless."
I might not know as much about soul as some other folk but I sho' nuff know what I like, and this is my favourite kind. Bluesy, uptempo stuff, punchy rather than smooth, rough-hewn but still sporting production values. Outside of my taste however, I also genuinely believe this is a comp that ought to appeal to a lot of soul-fanciers. Some of these records are collector items in other fields (funk or Northern), but to me they all fit into this same basic format. Poking my nose in the Fantasy tape vault these past few months in order to bring these collections to fruition has been a lot of fun-.-even if the crypt-keeper Stuart must have doubted my sanity on more than a few occasions, as I gingerly fondled the 3-track session tape to Rodger Collins' brilliant She's Looking Good, or expended what he regarded as an inordinate amount of energy looking for the master to something as incredibly arcane - to jazzhead Stuart at least - as Buddy Conner's Half Way Loving. I also wouldn't bloody shut up about the Casanova II.
Now, I ask you honestly - how can anyone, once they've heard them, shut up about the Casanova II? Though this incredible duo only cut four songs together, Freddie Hughes' exciting falsetto and Wiley Trass' gruff baritone were a match made in soul heaven. And we've got three examples right here - Love's Philosophy brings tears to my eyes every time. As great as Messrs Hughes and Trass are, they have some stiff competition from the Fuller Brothers, whose title track is so stupendous it defies description. Galaxy's trademark was having blues and R&B acts update their sound to the sock-it-to-me one-two punch of mid-1960s dancefloor soul. Hence a shower of fabulous sides from the the much-maligned Collins, Charles Brown, Gale Anderson and Sonny Rhodes. There's James Brown-style pleading from Little Ronnie & The Chromatics, and the insistent Motown-meets-gospel groove of the self-contained Right Kind. Future funk notables Lenny Williams and Harold Andrews show up with some of their earliest recordings.
A most pleasurable episode in the assembly of Moaning, Groaning, Crying" was the opportunity to lunch with two legends of San Francisco soul, Jesse "Ozz" Osborne and Claude Huey. Mr Huey as we all know is a Northern Soul fixture for his Why Would You Blow It, but just dig his phrasing on the doleful Didn't We Have Some Good Times, written and produced by long time pal Osborne, who was a staffer at Fantasy - contributing killer tunes such as Pat Hunt's ode to narcissism Super Cool - as well as maintaining his own label, M.I.O.B. (Music Is Our Business). Not to mention also being Ozz of Ozz & The Sperlings, whose rarest single, 1965's ultra-hip Daddy Rollin' Stone, makes its CD debut here. Claude and Ozz generously spilled the beans for the liner notes too, with some fascinating insights into what made Galaxy tick in that era.
By Alec Paolo"