Being a southern soul enthusiast, rather than an expert, I was very pleased to be given the task of representing the soul sides of the Murco label for Kent. Eddy Giles' Losin' Boy had been a nugget in my collection for endless years and I knew.
Dori Grayson was well represented with three singles. I had been told Reuben Bell was a classy singer, yet I'd only picked up a couple of singles by him, and Ann Alford had pleasingly come to my attention from the UK Rare Groove scene.
There was obviously the makings of a good CD there, so I went straight to John Ridley, southern soul man par excellence, to properly assess the label's virtues. John's record collection and the tapes that Ray Topping and Ted Carroll had copied on their last visit to Shreveport, Louisiana threw up more than enough gems for a great little compilation.
I soon realised I had never fully appreciated the desolate splendour of Dori Grayson's Got Nobody To Love, the flip of the now classic Try Love featured on Dave Godin's Deep Soul Treasures Vol 1. Even better, and still haunting the 'humming a melody' part of my brain, was Dori's I Can Fix That For You. Charles Crawford's A Sad Sad Song is just that, spoken and sung with intense emotion, while Abe and Marion Ester are clearly no relation to Esther and Abi Ofarim as my pre-programmed record hunter's mind had been telling me for so many misguided years. Their two duet singles are really solo vehicles top Marion's authentic southern soul. Abraham often performed solo as a master funkster, but the tapes included a great self-written ballad, Everyday, reminiscent of Jimmy Lewis and showing his deeper side.
The tapes also gave us an unedited version of Eddy Giles' That's How Strong My Love Is that was originally issued on Silver Fox in a curtailed form.
The Ann Alford tracks made up one of the best value 45s of the 1970s on the original Hy Sign subsidiary label, with the If It Ain't One Thing side borrowing the strong melody line from JB's It's A Man's World. And of course Reuben Bell's unique voice eventually got to me-.-just like John said it would.
Apart from the inspiring music, we got the label story from the mouth of Dee Marais himself, a true southern gentleman who loves music in all its forms. Dee had a great eye for talent and an ear for songs. This, coupled with his sympathetic productions, brought the best out of everyone and makes even better listening now it has all been brought together.
By Ady Croasdell