I first became aware of the Shrine label in the mid-80s when I heard Eddie Daye's Guess Who Loves You played at Stafford's Top Of The World all-nighter and immediately fell in love with its crashing crescendos of vibes, brass, backing vocals and cowbells. It was one of those records that you put on again and again when you first acquire it. Sadly for me, even in those pre-children days, it was a badly pleaded-for cassette tape that was getting hammered, the cost of the original vinyl was already into three figures and out of my price range.
I learnt that there were more good releases on the label which had already achieved cult status among the "Newies" (as opposed to "Oldies") aficionados who saw Stafford as their manor. I think I initially rejected J D Bryant's I Won't Be Coming Back as the great record it is because it was different from most of the Northern records I cherished and the DJ who was playing it was arrogant, self-serving and five times more popular than I was.
No such problems arose with the big records from Les Chansonettes, The Cairos, Ray Pollard, The Enjoyables or Shirley Edwards and by the time I got hold of my own copy of The Cautions' stormer No Other Way, I was championing the Shrine sound like I'd discovered it!
Some intriguing articles in the "Shades of Soul" fanzine served to whet my appetite even further and when legendary Northern DJ and record producer Ian Levine told me that Eddie Singleton, the original label owner, was in town and would be happy to lease his records, I was there.
Eddie turned out to be friendly, charming, courteous and honourable and his involvement in, and knowledge of, the record industry is worthy of a book in its own right.
In a nutshell, Horace's Records issued two Shrine LPs - several new tapes came to light, some of which were unissued, others eventually turning up on super-rare 45s.
DJ and collector Andy Rix managed to achieve the impossible in collecting every Shrine release, including one that was the only known copy of The Counts' Peaches Baby, which arrived in five separate pieces.
Andy and Eddie's relationship developed to such an extent that Eddie now sees Andy as the keeper of the Shrine flame (see the label) and it is his research and perseverance that has made Kent's newest CD a) possible and b) so good.
PS: The story includes Raynoma Gordy, the co-founder of Motown, Jackie Wilson, the Brill Building and singles worth £5000+.
by Ady Croasdell