Various Artists (Atlantic)

Around the end of the last millennium, Ace was granted access to the old Atlantic masters in order to compile a dozen or so CDs, mainly from what we call deep catalogue: the obscure, non-hit end of the artist roster.

This provoked something of a feeding frenzy in Harlesden with compilers grabbing tracks for the CDs of their dreams; access to Atlantic had previously proved hard to gain. It even got one of our company’s founders, Ted Carroll, scribbling titles onto gravy-stained menus for some utopian rocking soul and blues collections. “Let The Boogie Woogie Rock’n’Roll” and “Messing With The Blues” were his and Ray Topping’s 50s end of the black music spectrum that is Atlantic. Mick Patrick and Malcolm Baumgart covered the girl group selections with the fourth volume of the “Where The Girls Are” series, while Dean Rudland and I took advantage of all that jazz for “Yet Mo’ Mod Jazz”.

Ted couldn’t resist a lunge at the better-known end of classic soul with “Where It’s At”, which features Clarence Carter, Arthur Conley, Carla Thomas, Wilson Picket and similar hip household names, while I cooked up “At The Club” featuring esoteric one-off mod soul tracks by Willie Tee, Ritchie Barrett, the High Keyes, Doris Troy and the Soul Brothers Six. High-quality Northern Soul was compiled onto “Gettin’ To Me”, named after Ben E King’s acetate of a Leiber/Stoller uptempo gem that had shaken the rare soul world, which also sported Cliff Noble’s ‘My Love Is Getting Stronger’, Bobby Womack’s ‘Find Me Somebody’ and Johnny Newbag’s ‘Got To Get You Back’. The later 70s soul and crossover sides were on the acclaimed “So Soulful 70s”: Prince Phillip Mitchell, Sam Dees, Bettye Swann, Vivian Reed, Moses Smith, Bettye Lavette – say no more!

We could not leave the ballad side of the Atlantic treasures alone. “Sanctified Soul”, compiled with the help of Dave Godin and John Ridley, was the more Southern-based of the two slow soul CDs. The other was “Our Turn To Cry”, featuring sophisticated big city ballads such as the Isley Brothers’ ‘Last Girl’, killer obscurities like ‘May God Bless Our Love’ by Elvis & the Roadrunners and Billy Mashburn’s ‘Don’t It Sound Good’, and well-crafted recordings such as Bettye Swann’s ‘Today I Started Loving You Again’ and N.A. Allen’s ‘No Easy Way Down’.

Dean Rudland got his mitts on some funk and jazz for “Black Roots”, featuring Roland Kirk, Mongo Santamaria, Dr John and Gene McDaniels; unusual bedfellows whose way-out music gelled together. However, for mixing up the genres, pride of place must go to “The Beat Goes On”, which combined the Coasters, Ray Charles, Ruth Brown, Deon Jackson, Otis Redding, Jackie Moore, the (Detroit) Spinners and yes, Sonny & Cher! It certainly gave an overview of Atlantic’s multi-faceted history and sounded like a whole lot of fun.

By Ady Croasdell 

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