Thursday, 9 February 2017

"Manhattan Soul 3" by VARIOUS ARTISTS (2017 Ace/Kent Soul CD Compilation - Nick Robbins Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...




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"...Open Up Your Heart..."

In my ravenous search for all things 'Soul' - it's nice every now and then to be surprised - even taken aback - and Ace's "Manhattan Soul 3" has achieved both.

The British reissue label first explored the Soul Side of Scepter, Wand and Musicor Records in February 2011 with "Manhattan Soul" on CDKEND 347 (Barcode 029667234726) - following that in July 2012 with "Manhattan Soul 2" on CDKEND 379 (Barcode 029667237925).

Now it's January 2017 and time for Volume 3. You get 24 slices of rare mostly laid-back New York Soul - four of which are Previously Unreleased. Three others come from long deleted 1980's Kent LPs and are new to CD - while all the rest are mostly first time to the format also (19 in Mono and 5 in Stereo). Here are the in-depth details...

UK released 27 January 2017 (10 February 2017 in the USA) - "Manhattan Soul 3" by VARIOUS ARTISTS on Ace/Kent Soul CDKEND 459 (Barcode 029667078528) is a 24-Track CD compilation with Four Previously Unreleased Tracks and plays out as follows (62:25 minutes):

1. Open Up Your Heart (And Let Me In) - DAN and THE CLEANCUTS (1966 USA 7" single on Scepter SCE 12141, A-side)
2. Now That You're Gone - SONNY TURNER and SOUND LIMITED (1972 USA 7" single on Musicor MU 1459, B-side of "Chicago Woman")
3. Haven't I Been Good To You - JOHNNY MOORE (1967 USA 7" single on Wand WND 1165, A-side)
4. Fun City Woman - ANN BAILEY (1973 USA 7" single on Wand WND 11265, B-side of "Sweeping Your Dirt Under My Rug")
5. Nobody Made You Love Me - THE CHARTS (1966 USA 7" single on Wand WND 1124, A-side)
6. Billy Boy - BILLY ADAMS (1963 USA 7" single on Wand 133, A-side)
7. That Same Old Song - THE FABULOUS DINOS (1962 USA 7" single on Musicor MU 1025, A-side)
8. Every Little Bit Helps - HELEN HENRY (Previously Unissued Wand Recording, 2017)
9. Two Stupid Feet - THE SHIRELLES (Previously Unissued Scepter Recording, 2017)
10. Lover - TOMMY HUNT
(Previously Unissued Scepter recording first appeared on the October 1986 UK LP compilation "Your Man" on Kent KENT 059)
11. Giving Up - JUNIOR LEWIS
(Previously Unissued Scepter recording first appeared on the November 1988 UK LP compilation "The Hurt Of The City - Big City Soul Volume 2" on Kent KENT 087)
12. A Part Of Me - EARL KING (1970 USA 7" single on Wand WND 11230, B-side of "Tic Tac Toe")
13. Never In My Life - LEE MOSES (1968 USA 7" single on Dynamo D-115, A-side)
14. Nobody Knows - MAURICE WILLIAMS (1965 USA 7" single on Scepter SCE 12113, A-side)
15. Doesn't It Ring A Bell - THE PLATTERS (on the 1968 USA Mono LP on "Sweet, Sweet Lovin'" on Musicor MS 2156 [UK on Stateside SL 10245])
16. How Could It Be - THE ESQUIRES (1968 USA STEREO 7" single on Bunky BNK 7756, B-side To "I Know I Can")
17. Mr Schemer - BRENTON WOOD (1963 USA 7" single on Wand 145, B-side of "Hide-A-=Way")
18. Ooh Baby - HAROLD HOPKINS  (1965 USA 7" single on Scepter SCE 12120, A-side)
19. What's The Matter Baby - VAN McCOY (Previously Unissued Scepter recording, 2017)
20. The Landlord - THE TABS (Previously Unissued Wand recording incorporating elements of "Mother In Law" by Ernie K-Doe, 2017)
21. You Picked Me - THE SOLDIER BOYS (1962 USA 7" single on Scepter 1230, B-side of "I'm Your Soldier Boy")
22. Remind My Baby Of Me - BILLY BYERS (1964 USA 7" single on Scepter 1283, A-side)
23. Does Love Believe In Me - MELBA MOORE (1966 USA 7" single on Musicor MU 1189, B-side of "Don't Cry Sing Along With The Music")
24. If I Had You - BIG MAYBELLE
(Previously Unissued Scepter recording first appeared on the December 1986 UK LP compilation "Big City Soul Sound - NYC Soul Of The 60's" on Kent KENT 061)
Tracks 9, 10, 16, 19 and 20 are in STEREO - all others are MONO
Tracks 8, 9, 19 and 20 are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED

As with all of these Kent-Soul CD compilations - the 20-page colour booklet is a joy to behold and read. Legendary collector, fan and knowledgeable type ADY CROASDEL scribes the hugely in-depth liner notes while Billy Adams's "Billy Boy" (Wand 123), The Esquires "How Could it Be" (Bunky BNK 7756) and Melba Moore's "Does Love Believe In Me" all get full-page colour plates - each American 45 resplendent in their gorgeous label bags. There are publicity photos of Ann Bailey, The Shirelles and The Charts and a full page given over to the rare British LP "Sweet, Sweet Lovin'" by The Platters on Stateside. The AUDIO is typically brill - care of long-time engineer NICK ROBBINS - a man who knows his way around a master tape or two. Particularly thrilling to me is the five in glorious STEREO - while the punch out of the MONO 45s rocks too.

"Manhattan Soul 3" is mostly a mellow listen (New Yorker labels getting genuinely Soulful) and I'd argue is a lot tastier because of it. Proceedings open on a slow-stepper designed to send Northern Soul smoochers into a cross-armed frenzy of trancelike moves - "Open Up Your Heart (And Let Me In)" by Dan and The Cleancuts. Sonny Terry and Sound Limited are I believe The Platters under another name and they offer "Now That You're Gone" - another 'gotta hold my head up as soon as my tears dry' moment of heartache. Both of these opening songs bode very well. Things pick up pace with the brassy dancer "Haven't I Been Good To You" - Johnny Moore wanting his baby to stop and think it over (don't look now Johnny but I think she's out the door mate). Ann Bailey's B-side moment "Fun City Woman" is a 60ts dancer released in the wrong decade - the 'ba da' vocals of The Charts is 1966 and the kind of off-key vocal bopper that used to fill all those 1980s Kent LPs with such class.

Both "Every Little Bit Helps" by Helen Henry and The Shirelles with "Two Stupid Feet" are the first of the Previously Unreleased and are way better than they had any right to be. But they're trounced by the three from old Kent LPs now making their way onto CD for the first time - a fabulous cut from the silken voice of Tommy Hunt on "Lover" while the melodrama of Junior Lewis' "Giving Up" is a 'warm and tender touch that used to mean so much' tale of relationship woe. The whack off "How Could It Be" by The Esquires in stunning Stereo will be doing a storm in a Northern Soul club somewhere near you right soon. But for me the real blast here is the rough 'n' ready Lee Moses cut "Never In My Life". Imagine Howlin' Wolf is in a club and it's early in the morning and he's suddenly decided to go Funk-Soul with his band. The recording of "Never In My Life" is undeniably crude but man had this guy got the passion in his voice and Funk in his backing group. Ace promise there's more of this in the future - something lovers of hard-hitting Funk-Soul and Rare Groove will love. Unlike Lee Moses - some of the tracks left me cold like the dreadful Spanish guitar shuffle of Van McCoy's "What's The Matter Baby" but that's offset by joyous dancers like "Nobody Knows" from Maurice Williams and the sweet finger-clicking sway of "Ooh Baby" from a falsetto Harold Hopkins. "The Landlord" turns out to be an answer song to Ernie K-Doe's "Mother In Law" and cleverly skirts around that famous song's groove throughout. And on it goes...

After 40 years in the reissue-game – it’s safe to say that Ace Records of the UK have a downright knack with these CD compilations. They've once again pulled out yet another 24-track shimmy-shaker - a very cool start to 2017.

It falls short of genius in a few places for sure – but there’s enough on here to make me holler and I’ve not stopped playing the bugger since it arrived on my prickly doormat a few days back. In fact Volume 3 of "Manhattan Soul" makes me wanna investigate Volume 1 and 2 again in a hurry - and that's got to be the best compliment of them all. Way to go boys...

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