Tuesday, 21 July 2009

"Dark End Of The Street 1963-69: The Operatic Soul Of…” by ROY HAMILTON. A Review of the 2009 Revola CD Compilation.


This review is part of my "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters Soul, Funk & Jazz Fusion" Download Book available to buy on Amazon to either your PC or Mac (it will download the Kindle software to read the book for free to your toolbar). Click on the link below to go my Author's Page for this and other related publications:

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"…When You Resist Me Like This…I Feel Something Is Wrong…The Panic Is On…”

Released in April 2009 by Revola of Australia, this 28-track multi-label compilation is a long overdue look at one of soul music's lesser-appreciated voices - Georgia's own ROY HAMILTON.

Describing his voice - it's a cross between the operatic skill and abandon of Jackie Wilson and the deep crooner tones of Brook Benton. Also - similar to Wilson - Hamilton was a Golden Gloves champion and a classically trained baritone whose career stretched back to the mid Fifties. This particular set, however, concentrates of Hamilton's overlooked Sixties tracks.

Remastered by WARREN BARNETT at the Raven Lab - the sound is fabulous - huge and clear - a great job done. The set was conceived and compiled by JOHN DOWLER who also provides the affectionate 8-page liner notes. The track list, however, leaves out catalogue numbers and other discography info, so here's a detailed breakdown...

All tracks are USA 7" singles unless otherwise stated (76:13 minutes):

1. Let Go (1963, MGM 13138, A-Side)
2. Midnight Town - Daybreak City (1963, MGM 13157, A-Side)
3. The Sinner (El Pecador)
(1963, MGM 13175, B-Side to "Theme To The V.I.P.'s")
4. The Same One
5. For Your Precious Love
6. Crying In The Chapel
[1 to 3 are 7" singles as indicated, but 1 to 6 are also on the USA LP "Warm Soul", 1963 on MGM SE-4139)
7. The Panic Is On (1964, MGM 13217, A-Side, Non-Album Track)
8. Answer Me, My Love (1964, MGM 13247, A-Side, Non-Album Track)
9. Gloomy Sunday
10. Don't Worry About Me
(9 and 10 are from the LP "Sentimental, Lonely & Blue", 1964 on MGM SE-4233)
11. Heartache (Hurry On By)
(1965, RCA Victor 47-8641, A-Side, Non-Album Track)
12. Tore Up Over You
(1965, RCA Victor 47-8705, B-side of "And I Love Her")
13. The Impossible Dream
(1966, RCA Victor 47-8813, A-side)
14. God Bless The Child
15. Reach Out For Me
16. You'll Never Walk Alone
(12 and 13 are 7" singles as indicated, but 12 to 16 are also on
the USA LP "The Impossible Dream", 1966 on RCA Victor LSP 3532)
17. Let The Music Play (Previously Unreleased)
18. Crackin' Up Over You
(1966, RCA Victor 47-8960, B-Side to "Walk Hand In Hand")
19. I Taught Her Everything She Knows
(1967, RCA Victor 47-9061, A-Side)
20. Lament
(1967, RCA Victor 47-9061, B-side of "I Taught Her Everything...")
21. You Shook Me Up
(1967, RCA Victor 47-9171, B-Side of "So High My Love")
22. Wait Until Dark
(1967, Capitol 2057, B-Side to "Let This World Be Free")
23. My Peaceful Forest
(first appeared on the 1998 Ace/Kent CD "Bill Haney's Atlanta Soul Brotherhood")
24. The Dark End Of The Street
(1969, AGP Records 113, A-Side)
25. 100 Years
(1969, AGP Records 125, B-side to "It's Only Make Believe")
26. Angelica
(1969, AGP Records 116, A-Side)
27. Hang-Ups
(1969, AGP Records 116, B-Side to "Angelica")
28. It's Only Make Believe
(1969, AGP Records 125, A-Side)

"The Panic Is On" has been a Northern Soul monster on the circuit for years and its easy to see why - it's everything a great soul single should be - joyful, powerful, makes you wanna sway - it's just the balls. But equally impressive is the rare and lesser-known non-album side "Heartache (Hurry On By)" - it's got a slow huge soulful feel - like Jackie Wilson meets The Righteous Brothers - girly vocals underpinning Hamilton's passionate wailing. Bit of a gem frankly.

"Tore Up Over You" is less successful - it's just too Tom Jones in that brass-heavy Sixties frantic kind of a way. "The Impossible Dream" is the same - cheesy rather than tuneful. But they're redeemed by a lovely and very soulful take on the Billie Holiday standard "God Bless The Child" where he sounds like a confident Brook Benton - truly beautiful production values too - the strings and brass simply oozing out of your speakers.

"Let The Music Play" is a 1965 recording previously unreleased until now - it's a Bacharach/David cover version and is typically period melodrama - very good indeed. Then comes the other huge Northern Soul dancer - the Billy Barnes/Roy Hamilton self-penned "You Shook Me Up" - an obscure B-side that goes for big money among collectors. Again, you can hear why - heartbreak and dancefloor backflips - really great stuff.

While the hippy claptrap of "My Peaceful Forest" is a heavy-handed production too far, his rendition of "The Dark End Of The Street" is not just classic - it's almost definitive. The rest of the American Group Productions sides are equally lovely - especially the finisher - a cover of Conway Twitty's "It's Only Make Believe" - done in a soulful way with a churchy organ.

So there you have it - it's not all masterful of course, but when it's good - it's wonderful - and with this top notch sound quality - a properly cool listen.

Roy Hamilton suffered a stroke in mid 1969 and died tragically young - aged only 40.

Time for major rediscovery I think - highly recommended.

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