After John Dolphin was shot dead in 1958, his wife Ruth continued to run the business through to the mid 70s. She was very business savvy and knew how to pick the right people and delegate properly. Al Scott, Arthur Wright, Hank Jacobs, Don Julian and Rudy Ray Moore made sure that if it was a Money release it was going to be good.
This final volume of the Money soul story begins with Bettye Swann, the artist whose success was the rock on which this musical history was built. I’m not sure if the Northern soul public, or even the modern soul division, realise how good these tracks are. Virtually all self-penned, Bettye’s tracks manage to combine true emotion with the dance beats and hip sounds of the day. ‘Don’t Take My Mind’ and ‘The Heartache Is Gone’ both sound stunning while the LP version of ‘I Will Not Cry’ is totally different to the flip that sold a million copies on the back of ‘Make Me Yours’; it is far superior. Undoubtedly Bettye’s success in selling so well has led to some rare soul fans bypassing her 45s for scarcer sounds. I have done it myself, only to be extra pleased when I turn up overlooked gems like these.
Other Money, Ten Star, Utopia and Call Me releases on this volume include Bobby Angelle’s three tracks: a super-rare mid 60s dancer; an uptempo take on a great Jimmy Reed number and a churchified southern soul wailer á là James Brown. There’s a stomper and a beautiful ballad from the Larks, and an attempt to cash in on the beat boom by passing themselves off as a bunch of Limeys that fooled nobody apart from me. Other regular label Money contributors include M&M & The Peanuts with a vocal group ballad and a pretty mid-tempo ditty for all you lovers out there, while Hank Jacobs either fronting, or as just part of the TKOs, gives us two, possibly three, organ-led soul/jazz/funk groovers.
Money’s proliferation of great 60s soul sides has meant that its modern soul profile has never been particularly high, despite the excellence of those later releases: Delilah Moore, Pat Livingston and Eddie Horan being particular highlights. The unissued masters are also of very high quality, an example being the Choice Of Colors’ terrific 1971 recording, inexplicably left to gather dust on the shelves.
Other highlights include singer-songwriter Eric Williams’ one shot at stardom and an attempt at being Sam & Dave from Tommy & Eddie. (Earlier in the year they were known as Buster & Eddie of ‘Can’t Be Still’ Northern soul fame.) Both of those singles are scarce and collectable, as is the Question Marks track featured. The Mysteries are a made up “unknown” group name, thereby adding some whodunit action to the story. There are half a dozen catalogue numbers with no record allocated to them; perhaps they will turn out to be the missing releases and the Mysteries will be solved. If you’ve got those missing numbers languishing in your collection, don’t forget to tell us.
Ady Croasdell 2009