Thursday, December 23, 2021

VA - Birth Of Soul, Special Editions Vol.1 Chicago, Vol.2 Detroit & Vol.3 Los Angeles (3 x CD's)


VA - Birth Of Soul, Special Editions Vol.1 Chicago, Vol.2 Detroit & Vol.3 Los Angeles (3 x CD's)

VA - Birth Of Soul, Special Chicago Edition      Kent’s “Birth Of Soul” series has always thrown its spotlight on the great music of black America that emerged in the R&B and doo wop years. Some cities were more influential than others in ushering-in the sound of soul and in recognition of this, a new sub-series of Special Editions has been designed around their output. Kent could hardly have picked a better place to start than Chicago. I believe that Chicago was the birthplace of soul music, and that the Impressions’ ‘For Your Precious Love’ is a major contender as the very first soul record. The version included here has not been available anywhere before because it’s the demo that the group made before they got their deal with Vee-Jay. Originally entitled ‘Your Precious Love’, it was cut for Bandera and featured only their voices accompanied by the guitar of Curtis Mayfield. Along with Carl Davis, Jerry Butler, Johnny Pate, Riley Hampton and a few other key players, Curtis was responsible for creating the Chicago Sound. He wrote many of the early classics, including ‘Phyllis’ and ‘I’ve Got A Girl’ for Major Lance, two rarities that also feature the Impressions in the background, as do several of the other recordings on this CD.  Curtis is the thread than links so much of this early music. Jan Bradley had the benefit of his guidance from early on. ‘Behind Curtains’ is an ambitious song, confidently presented. Jan would get her biggest hit with Curtis on ‘Mama Didn’t Lie’ but when Chess acquired her masters Mayfield declined further involvement.Another unusual Mayfield song, ‘Isle Of Sirens’ by Jerry Butler, was based on the Greek myth of beautiful female voices luring unsuspecting sailors to their deaths in the perilous seas surrounding their home. Curtis’ first lead A-side after Butler left the Impressions was ‘Senorita I Love You’ also featured here.

There are some other superb rarities. Gerald Sims certainly made valuable contributions to Chicago Soul behind the scenes and also made a couple of records out front too, such as ‘Cool Breeze’ with the Daylighters. There are so many great tracks on this collection: by Barbara Lewis, the Mighty Mighty Dells, Gene Chandler, Dee Clark and others that I haven’t the space to review. Tony Rounce’s excellent compilation and Bill Dahl’s comprehensive notes make this fine 24 track CD mandatory for any soul music fan who will find it a fascinating and informative trawl through the early days of Chicago Soul.  (Ace)

VA - Birth Of Soul, Special Detroit Edition 1961-64      Detroit gave the world soul music through the success of Motown, which was scoring big hits from 1959. The Motown sound would be studied and aped by hundreds of acts and dozens of labels around the city. “Birth Of Soul - Special Detroit Edition” features several Motown connections, including a previously unheard Martha Reeves song and an unissued number from Berry Gordy’s first wife, Thelma. Influential writer/producer and early Motown artist Richard “Popcorn” Wylie features on two tracks, including Priscilla Page’s haunting ‘My Letter’. Funk Brother Joe Hunter co-wrote ‘Nosey Folk’ with Martha Reeves of the Del-Phis, who would soon become Vandellas. The Del-Phis also sing backing vocals on Joe’s song ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright’, as recorded by Leon Peterson. Detroit soul heroes J.J. Barnes, Gino Washington and Melvin Davis represent evergreen stars who sang in the city throughout the soul years. There are unissued gems from Norman Whitfield’s group the Sonnettes, Tony Clarke, who would go on to success at Chess, and Leon Peterson, while Mike Hanks and Dave Hamilton’s stables of acts are represented by James Lately, La Wanda William, Geraldine Hunt, the Penn Etts and Hamilton’s daughter Charmaine. More successful was Barbara Lewis, whose glorious ‘Think A Little Sugar’ featured on the flip of her 1963 hit ‘Hello Stranger’; Timmy Shaw’s ‘I’m A Lonely Guy’ also sold well as the flip to his hit ‘Gonna Send You Back To Georgia’. The Falcons and Volumes display their doo wop roots on two superb soul ballads, while the Pyramids perform ‘Shakin’ Fit’, a raucous dance number. Like Melvin Davis, whose ‘Wedding Bells’ is tougher than the title suggests, Betty Lavett (as she spelt her name at the time) was there at the start and performs to this day. Betty’s ‘Here I Am’ is the sort of blues-based song she entertained the crowds with at the Twenty Grand and Phelps’ Lounge. The Donays’ ‘Devil In His Heart’ earned international fame when the Beatles covered the song on their second LP. It was produced by the Correc-Tone stable, as were the brilliant early soul cuts from Marva Josie and Laura Johnson. OtherDetroitmusic business luminaries who appear in the credits include Johnnie Mae Matthews, Lee Rogers, Ollie McLaughlin, Fred Brown, Robert Saunders, Janie Bradford, Robert Bateman, Brian Holland, “Sonny” Sanders and Armen Boladian. The vast majority of tracks are new to CD; five are new to the world. (Ace )

VA - Birth Of Soul, Los Angeles Special Edition      Ace has very strong links with Los Angeles labels such as Modern, Combo, Flash, Flip, Mirwood, Money, DorĂ© and Era, most of which had notable soul singles in their catalogues. Couple that with our many licensing deals of music made in that city and it is safe to say Los Angeles is just about our main area of expertise. Those labels provide the bulk of tracks on this early 60s compilation. The recent licensing of George Semper’s music provides the Mandarins’ big city soul collectors’ item ‘That Other Guy’, as well as a previously unissued vocal group version of his popular song ‘You Better Watch Out Girl’ by the Imperialites. Gary S Paxton’s large and mixed stash of tapes included a goldmine of black music gems from soul’s first stirrings. Richard and Dorothy Berry were very involved in the LA scene and teamed up with Paxton in 1961; the obscure but pertinent Classicals, Don Wyatt and Joe Lover are also great examples of soul’s emergence. Another brilliant white songwriter-producer who loved black music was George Motola – his recordings of the Vows, Chesterfields and Sylvester Stewart are highlights.

H.B. Barnum has always been a major player in the city: his Little Star label was prolific in this period and we have included a duet by Dorothy Berry and Jimmy Norman, his two biggest solo stars. Other great LA names such as Arthur Wright, Bobby Day, Hal Davis and Ed Cobb are also involved. Kent Harris’ in-demand Phillips Sisters 45 ‘Let Me Be Your Little Dog’ features, as does another R&B gem, the Hank Graham-produced ‘Sneaking And Cheating’ by Esko Wallace who would go on to join the Exits and Visitors. Doo wop was a major part of the city’s music in the 50s and lingered longer than in most other regions. Tracks by the Wonders, Wilks & Wilkerson, the Composers and the Classicals were made around 1962 but will resonate with lovers of soul harmony of a later vintage. The Spector sound is represented by the great Darlene Love, whose demo of ‘Let Him Walk Away’ is up there with her best released work from Gold Star studios. Future Motown star Brenda Holloway’s duet with Robert Jackson as the Soul-Mates shows her nascent talent, and young Sylvester “Sly” Stewart had a glittering career ahead of him. Tina Turner also did OK – her performance with husband Ike on ‘Lose My Cool’ is superb and still under-the-radar. There are six previously unissued tracks, including a Sam Cooke-style number from Billy Watkins cut at Modern, and Don Wyatt’s captivating beat ballad ‘But What About My Broken Heart’. The Rev-Lons go Detroit on ‘Whirlwind’, while Ray Appleberry and Bobby Swayne, aka Ray & Bob, take inspiration from the Chicago sound for the charming ‘Momma Told Me’. 

We could have done a box set of the great music that came out of Los Angeles in these years – these are just two-dozen fascinating examples of how the city’s soul sound came about. (Ace)



Track lists

Vol. 01

01 Don Wyatt But What About My Broken Heart 2:56

02 Chesterfields Trouble 3:01

03 Richard Berry Everybody's Got A Lover But Me 2:00

04 The Imperialites You Better Watch Out Girl 2:44

05 Billy Watkins How About Me 3:31

06 Wonders With These Hands (Alt vocal) 3:00

07 Composers I Had A Dream 2:00

08 Soul-Mates I Want A Boyfriend (Girlfriend) 2:13

09 Ike & Tina Turner Lose My Cool 2:22

10 Phillips Sisters Let Me Be Your Little Dog 2:25

11 Rev-Lons Whirlwind (Edit) 2:20

12 Darlene Love Let Him Walk Away 2:21

13 Vows Have You Heard 2:32

14 Classicals Help Me 2:15

15 Wilks & Wilkerson Young Lover 2:34

16 Vic Granton Let's Go Home 3:02

17 Mandarins featuring Jimmy Hayes That Other Guy 2:09

18 Ray & Bob Mama Told Me 1:57

19 Sylvester Stewart Help Me With My Broken Heart 2:36

20 Question Marks Don't Drop It (That's My Love You've Got) 1:52

21 Esko Wallace Sneaking And Cheating 2:12

22 Dorothy Berry & Jimmy Norman I'm With You All The Way 2:38

23 Numbers My Pillow 2:28

24 Joe Lover & The Gaylads Band Don't Leave Me Baby 2:15

Vol. 02

01 Jerry Butler & the Impressions For Your Precious Love (Demo) 2:33

02 Major Lance I've Got a Girl 2:33

03 Betty Everett I'll Weep No More 2:52

04 Impressions Senorita I Love You 2:33

05 Don & Bob Good Morning Little Schoolgirl 2:26

06 Etta & Harvey My Heart Cries 2:34

07 Major Lance Phyllis 2:08

08 Jerry Butler Isle of Sirens 2:59

09 Jan Bradley Behind the Curtains 2:01

10 Rosco Gordon Let 'em Try 2:41

11 Accents Enchanted Garden 2:31

12 Radiants Father Knows Best 2:47

13 Sheppards Tragic 2:18

14 Wade Flemons At the Party 2:13

15 Etta James Waiting for Charlie to Come Home 2:07

16 Chanteurs You've Got a Great Love 2:24

17 Kavetts I've Got a Story to Tell You 2:31

18 Gerald Sims & the Daylighters Cool Breeze 2:01

19 Barbara Lewis Puppy Love 2:22

20 Dells Hi Diddley Dee Dum Dum (It's a Good Good Feeling) 2:22

21 Drew-Vels Tell Him 2:14

22 Dee Clark That's My Girl 2:33

23 Sugar Pie Desanto My Baby's Got Soul 3:02

24 Gene Chandler Think Nothing About It 2:43

Vol. 03

01 Sonnettes I Cried For My Last Time 2:22

02 Barbara Lewis Think A Little Sugar 2:21

03 La Wanda William Come Back To Me 2:57

04 Timmy Shaw & The Sternphones I'm A Lonely Guy 2:30

05 J.J. Barnes Just One More Time 2:38

06 Leon Peterson Everything's Gonna Be Alright 2:39

07 Marva Josie You Lied 2:04

08 Betty Lavett Here I Am 2:49

09 Priscilla Page My Letter 2:50

10 Laura Johnson I Know How It Feels 2:48

11 Falcons Oh Baby 2:17

12 James Lately Tears Running And Falling From My Eyes 2:27

13 Melvin Davis Wedding Bells 2:23

14 Gino Washington Til The End Of Time 2:48

15 Pyramids Shakin' Fit 2:13

16 Tony Clarke It's Easy 2:41

17 Pen Etts That's No Way To Spend My Time 2:17

18 Donays Devil In His Heart 2:37

19 Charmaine Don't You Know (How You Thrilled Me When You Kissed Me) 2:51

20 Volumes Why 1:53

21 Geraldine Hunt It Never Happened Before 2:27

22 Harry Reid Can't We Get Together (One More Time) 2:25

23 Vivian Collins Answer Me 3:13

24 Del-Phis Nosey Folk 2:35




  1. Wonderful again!! Thanks so much BB.

  2. Always soul music is welcome Butterboy, many thanks

    1. I am grateful for your comments, Little Bill.


  3. Some say that music is the medicine for the soul.
    Thank you Dr.Butterboy for the medicines you give us.

  4. Hiya BB. An end of the year salute to you and many, many thanks for the great music. Hope you have a great time a let's work for a different world for the next year. Big hug. Nigel

    1. Thank you Nigel,
      2022 will be a new journey for most people.
      I too hope that it is a good one for everyone.


  5. Thank you for these nice soul albums.
    All the best and a merry Christmas.

    1. Thank you Smokey.
      Happy Holidays to you too.


  6. Replies
    1. You're welcome HERE THERE AND EVERYWHERE.
      Happy Holidays to you too.


  7. Thanks for all your music - a Merry Xmas and a happy 2022 - Gr.

    1. Hi bluero54,
      Merry Xmas to you and all your loved ones.
      2022 should be an improvement for all of us.
      Stay safe and enjoy life.


  8. I finally got a chance to listen to this set. Great! A lot of bands I didn't know. Was especially surprised, in a good way, by the LA edition. Since I was from there I thought I'd know more of them. I just discovered several tracks that I love and never heard before.

    1. You're welcome Pol.
      It a great feeling to hear new material that make one sit up and listen. It can be very exciting.
      I hope you will enjoy them for years to come.