DETROIT SOUL HAS always been more than Motown to Northern Soul collectors. The early heroes of the scene were acts such as J J Barnes, Darrell Banks, Edwin Starr in his pre-Motown days and even the San Remo Strings. Ric-Tic was part of the Golden World set-up and those labels, along with Revilot, Thelma, D Town, Wingate and Inferno, were the first to be scrutinised by DJs and collectors looking to unearth new soul stompers for the scene. Eventually the list of likely US labels expanded into the hundreds and the savvy soul searcher studied the writer, arranger and production credits on the disc’s labels while checking out other work of the backroom boys. By the mid 70s the Northern Soul scene had realised that some of the bigger labels’ catalogues also contained soul gems to be spun and it became apparent that logos as square as Columbia, Decca, Mercury and even Elvis’ RCA with its dog and old gramophone, could headline some serious black dance music within their grooves: each label had its devotees and its time in the sun. It was noted that a Pied Piper production credit on an RCA label invariably meant the record was a winner. The wording was also found on discs on Karate, Kapp and Giant and its Detroit origins soon became apparent.
Each of Lorraine Chandler’s three RCA releases became huge records on the Northern scene, as did Willie Kendrick’s ‘Change Your Ways’, Tony Hester’s ‘Watch Yourself’, Mikki Farrow’s ‘Set My Heart At Ease’, the Hesitations’ ‘I’m Not Built That Way’, Freddie Butler’s ‘That’s When I Need You’, the Cavaliers’ ‘Hold To My Baby’, Sharon Scott’s ‘Could It Be You’, the Dynamics’ ‘I Need Your Love’ and Michael & Raymond’s ‘A Man Without A Woman’. There were many other discs played with the iconic Pied Piper credit, belatedly creating quite a stir in the UK in the 70s.
Fast forward two decades to the UK’s Northern Soul scene of the 90s and most of these were still very popular and still being played. They stood the test of time while other productions, such as September Jones’ Kapp single ‘I’m Coming Home’, the Metros’ ‘Since I Found My Baby’, Sharon Scott’s ‘I’d Like To Know’, the Sandpipers’ ‘Lonely Too Long’ and Tony Hester’s ‘Just Can’t Leave You’, had come to the fore. In this setting the next chapter of the musical love affair between Northern Soul and Pied Piper came about.