One R&B hit with ‘Baby, Baby All The Time’ is a poor return for the 25 singles the Superbs had on the Doré label between 1964 and 1987 and does not reflect the importance the group had on the Los Angeles soul harmony scene. Their enduring popularity and the high esteem in which they are held by soul music lovers in the USA is a truer indication of their impact. The Low Rider scene in LA in particular looks on them as demigods. They had their own instantly recognisable sound, a feature that can be attributed to only a handful of soul groups.
It’s the ballad side of their work that appeals to soul harmony collectors. Although their sound can be quite sweet, the subtle early Gene Page arrangements and clever song selection makes their music appealing to all soul fans. The ballad highlights include their hit along with ‘It Hurts So Much’, ‘He Broke A Young Girl’s Heart’, ‘One Bad Habit’ and ‘Your Eyes’.
Previous US collections have focussed solely on ballads but, as UK collectors in particular know, the group were also capable of fine performances when the pace picked up. Their more mid-tempo numbers include a latin-influenced ‘The Big Hurt’, ‘I Was Blind’, ‘Goddess Of Love’, ‘Where Or When’ and ‘Better Get Your Own One Buddy’. Inevitably, they had tracks suited to the Northern soul scene in the mid-60s when their image was being updated. ‘I Wanna Do It With You’ was the biggest, but ‘Go For What You Know’ and ‘On A Day When It’s Raining’ also have the desired beat, while the funkier ‘Wind In My Sails’ has been picked up recently by the newer breed of rare soul DJ, thereby sending the price into four figures.
This collection also includes two solo tracks by Superbs members/associates Ronnie Cook and Frances Lark with the group on back-ups.
The booklet includes an extensive discography, although Dore’s random release policy and reworking of titles means it is not definitive. Interviews with several group members allow the long and intricate story of the Superbs to be told as never before.
By Ady Croasdell