Various Artists “Lost Deep Soul Treasures Vol 3” (SOS 1003)
by Pete Nickols
Ben Wiggins ~ I Love You So Much ~ Almeria 4003; Johnny Robinson ~ Don’t Take It So Hard ~ Epic 10557; Bobby Sheen ~ Love Stealing ~ Chelsea 3034; Donald Height ~ If I Can ~ Jubilee 5696; Inez Foxx ~ Talk With Me ~ Symbol 924; Urel Thomas ~ Pain Is The Name Of Your Game ~ Uni 55017; Lorraine Randolph ~ It’s Over Between Us ~ Gemini 30.006; O.V. Wright ~ To You I Shall Cling ~ Home Cooking LP HCS-110; Don Thomas ~ Please Come Back Home ~ Cal State Music 3202; Chet Davenport ~ What Would I Do ~ Toe Holt 89 & King Bee 4002; Tommy Louis ~ I’ve Been Crying ~ unissued on vinyl, first issue AVI/Diablo CD 1001; George Jackson ~ I Don’t Understand ~ Jap. P-Vine LP PLP-343; Sam & Dave ~ Living It Down ~ UK Atlantic/Contempo LP CLP 606; Reuben Bell ~ Asking For The Truth ~ Alarm 107; Jim Coleman ~ Cloudy Days ~ Sir Rah 502; Kim Tolliver ~ Standing Room Only ~ Pathfinder 101; Bobby Taylor ~ It’s Funny ~ Ka Jo 2201; Joe Hughes ~ Where There’s A Will ~ Sound Stage 7 2571; Benny Johnson ~ Give It Up ~ Today 1527; Delilah ~ Packin’ Up ~ Shirley 116; Pete Cooke ~ I Won’t Cry ~ Dimension 1037; Mary Holmes ~ After I Shed A Tear ~ Nassau 100; King Diamond ~ That’s All She Wrote ~ Power House 1009; Clarence Ashe ~ Only Time Will Tell ~ J&S 1178.
After the very high standard of most of the tracks on Volume 2 in this series, this next Volume clearly had to try to live up to its predecessor. Whilst there were highpoints, frankly it didn’t quite succeed.
‘Quiet poignancy’ is how Sir Shambling accurately describes Ben Wiggins’ vocal on his fairly lay-back opener (see here); while you can also enjoy here – and I’m sure you will - Johnny (not Jimmy as on the CD) Robinson’s terrific Memphis-cut deep winner at Track 2.
It’s a sweet-soul rather than deep-soul sound that we get from Bobby Sheen’s Chelsea side, which you can also find on his anthology on AceCDCHD125 or on his Soulscape collection on SSCD 7025. The musical backdrop to Donald Height’s piece is rather understated but Height’s vocal is excellent with some good dramatic passages included. “Talk With Me” (and not “To” me as per the CD) by Inez Foxx is pleasant enough without being outstanding – most of the real vocal drama comes in her extended mid-track rap.
Urel Thomas’ ominous-sounding vocal and his powerful finale both help his Uni side attain genuine ‘top-drawer’ deep status; while Lorraine Randolph’s stunningly expressive Gemini track can be heard here. O.V Wright’s offering is a track which first surfaced on Roy Ames’ Home Cooking label. He’s sung greater songs but the hugely-talented Wright’s vocal is up to its usual impeccable standard. Don Thomas’ deep baritone handles his gently lilting piece of countryish soul well enough in a style reminiscent at times of Joe Simon. However, even better is Chet Davenport’s offering – it’s a quiet but very involving piece with a really pleading emotional vocal (and rap), plus an appropriately much more dramatic climax – this one brings to mind some of Roy C’s best storyline material.
Tommy Louis is really blues-singer/harp-blower and sometime Little Richard style rocker Kid Thomas, who first cut blues for Federal way back in 1957. His rock ‘n roll days were with TRC in 1960, while he cut some soul for Muriel in 1965 and Cenco in 1969; however, the track featured here (a rather atmospheric ‘moaned’ piece of gruff, bluesy deep-soul) did not appear until the 1993 Avi/Diablo CD “Wail Baby Wail”.
The hugely-talented singer-songwriter George Jackson (see here) has recently been getting lots of CD exposure but this simple one-or-two-piano-chord-backed ‘soulful complaint’ by George is from his early days, as evidenced by its first appearance on a 1987 Japanese LP called “Early Memphis Sounds”.
Sam & Dave’s lovely emotive offering (“Living It Down” – not ‘Up’ as per the CD) first appeared on the 1977 UK “Soul Deep Vol.2” Contempo LP, while Reuben Bell’s similarly paced and beautifully expressed 1975 Alarm side also saw UK Contempo release the following year.
Jim Coleman’s gorgeous Sir Rah track is a stone deep-classic cut at Hi studios further to an almost equally-good demo by Don Bryant, both of which feature on the indispensable “Northern Souljers Meet Hi-Rhythm” Soul-Tay-Shus 6357 CD.
Kim Tolliver is simply a female deep-soul legend – not everything she cut fell into that ‘bag’ but her best offerings were to a superb standard and this Pathfinder 45 is no exception – a great storyline deep-soul song somewhat after the style of the very best Swamp Dogg material.
There are lots of different Bobby Taylors in soul music and this guy on KaJo is not the same as the Bobby Taylor featured on this site. Personally I find this track boring and old-fashioned and certainly not deep. Why it was even included I have no idea.
Joe Hughes recorded for several different labels but this lovely Sound Stage 7 slab of deepish country-soul is one of his best, although far too short. Benny Johnson’s Today side epitomises meaningful slow-paced ‘classy’ deep-soul – as far away from rustic southern country soul as you can get but still absolutely serene in its own way, thanks almost as much to the great ‘answering’ chorus and fine arrangement as to Benny’s vocal.
Delilah sounds rather like Esther Phillips – a fine singer who for me nevertheless couldn’t really sing truly deep soul well. The musical backdrop here reminds me of Mable John’s “Your Good Thing is About To End” (and that’s no bad thing) but Delilah’s vocal doesn’t ring any ‘deep’ bells for me. In another league altogether is Pete Cooke (with an ‘e’, which the CD omits) and his terrific Dimension deepie “I Won’t Cry”. Cooke attacks the story-lyric like there’s no tomorrow – subtlety doesn’t enter into it and this particular performance is all the better for that! Terrific!
Much more lay-back but still genuinely deep is Mary Holmes’ beautiful, emotive interpretation of the lovely Paul Kelly song “After I Shed A Tear”. I have a personal dislike of multi-tempo soul songs and I think the admittedly dramatic climax would have been better voiced at the same slower tempo as the main song rather than at a revved up pace; but overall it’s a great track.
The storyline of King Diamond’s piece is the stuff of deep-soul and the singer’s angst-ridden climax is also spot-on; but the almost jaunty rhythm of the main song throughout doesn’t really help.
More jaunty rhythm is used behind Clarence Ashe (see here) as he brings things to a close with a good, though hardly outstanding J&S side.