Tuesday, 25 August 2009

“Standing Ovation - The Very Best Of The Dells 1966 – 1981” by THE DELLS (2007 Universal 2CD Compilation with Erick Labson Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…Stay In My Corner…"

As you can see from the track listing below - both discs in this superlative 2CD Anthology are jam-packed full of goodies. 10 are new to CD (out of a total of 39) with the rest of the songs being hard-to-find – and especially in top sound quality.

Released June 2007 - "Standing Ovation: The Very Best Of 1966–1981" by THE DELLS on Universal 9849280 (Barcode 602498492802) is a 39-track 2CD set of Remasters and plays out as follows (all catalogue numbers are USA):

Disc 1 (78:23 minutes):
1. Run For Cover ("There Is", May 1968 LP on Cadet LPS-804 (Stereo)/LP-804 (Mono))
2. Thinkin' About You (June 1967 7" single on Cadet 5538, A-side)
3. There Is [Raynard Miner (of The Gems) & Bobby Miller song] (as per 1)
4. When I'm In Your Arms (as per 1)
5. (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher (Jackie Wilson cover) (as per 1)
6. Make Sure (You Have Someone Who Loves You) ("The Dells Musical Menu - Always Together", February 1969 LP on Cadet LPS-822)
7. Believe Me (as per 6)
8. Wear It On Our Face (as per 1)
9. Stay In My Corner (as per 1)
10. Dos Anybody Know I'm Here? (as per 6)
11. Always Together (Bobby Miller song) (as per 6)
12. Oh, What A Night (Remake of their 1956 Vee-Jay Doo Wop hit) ("Love Is Blue", August 1969 LP on Cadet LPS-829)
13. Medley: I Can Sing A Rainbow/Love Is Blue (as per 12)
14. A Whiter Shade Of Pale (Procol Harum cover) (as per 12)
15. One Less Bell To Answer (5th Dimension cover/Burt Bacharach song) ("Freedom Means", August 1971 LP on Cadet CA 50004)
16. It's All Up To You (Terry Callier/Larry Wade song) (as per 15)
17. The Love We Had (Stays On My Mind) (Larry Wade/Terry Callier song) (as per 15)
18. I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself (Bacharach/David song) ("The Dells Sing Dionne Warwicke's Greatest Hits", July 1972 LP on Cadet CA 50017)
19. Just As Long As We're In Love (Terry Callier/Larry Wade song) ("Sweet As Funk Can Be", November 1972 LP on Cadet CA 50021)
20. Give Your Baby A Standing Ovation ("Give Your Baby A Standing Ovation", June 1973 LP on Cadet CA 50037)
21. Closer (as per 20)

Disc 2 (79:42 minutes)
1. I Miss You ("The Dells", November 1973 LP on Cadet CA 50046)
2. Learning To Love You Was Easy ("The Mighty Mighty Dells", September 1974 LP on Cadet CA 60030)
3. Strung Out Over You ("The Dells Vs The Dramatics", March 1974 LP on Cadet CA 60027)
4. Bring Back The Love Of Yesterday (as per 2)
5. We Got To Get Our Thing Together ("We Got To Get Our Thing Together", November 1975 LP on Cadet 60044)
6. I'll Be Waiting There For You (as per 5)
7. Thank God You're My Lady (as per 5)
8. No Way Back ("No Way Back", June 1976 LP on Mercury SRM-1 1084)
9. Slow Motion (as per 8)
10. Our Love ("They Said It Couldn't Be Done, But We Did It", May 1977 LP on Mercury SRM-1 1145)
11. Could It Be (as per 10)
12. Private Property ("Love Connection", January 1978 LP on Mercury SRM-3711)
13. Don't Trick Me, Treat Me (as per 12)
14. (You Bring Out) The Best In Me ("Face To Face", February 1979 LP on ABC Records AA-1113)
15. Your Song ("I Touched A Dream", August 1980 LP on 20th Century T-816)
16. I Touched A Dream (as per 15)
17. All About The Paper (12" Remixed Version) [Album version on 15)
18. Whatever Turns You On ("Whatever Turns You On", 1981 LP on 20th Century T-633)

The 12-page booklet has an informative and very affection essay by lifetime fan RICHARD SEARLING with 2 pages of basic track lists (unfortunately the pictures of the band, the tasty Cadet labels and the album sleeves are very small and almost unreadable).

It opens with a peach "Run For Cover" and frankly never lets up. No less than 6 tracks from their sensational Cadet debut "There Is" are included - and rightly so - but a big omission from the period is the truly gorgeous "O-O, I Love You" - a November 1969 USA 7" single on Cadet 5574 - as lovely a soul ballad as you could possibly hear with searing duet vocals from the boys and stunning Charles Stepney string arrangements. It's available elsewhere - seek it out.

Speaking of soul heroes - Stepney was heavily involved in the Cadet label (a Chess offshoot) and The Rotary Connection featuring Minnie Riperton, while he arranged and produced at least 6 of The Dells LPs for the label. He also worked on the beautiful Terry Callier trilogy for Cadet in the early 70's (see reviews for "Occasional Rain" and "I Just Can't Help Myself"). His classy stamp is all over most of Disc 1 and the beginning of 2 - sweet, sweet soulful arrangements.

A really clever choice too is the 12" extended mix of "All About The Paper" - exclusive to this disc; it's a funky little gem backed with Eugene Record's "I Touched A Dream" (sides were reversed on 12" in the UK). I also adore the slinky groove of Anthony Hester's "I Miss You". And on it goes...

Although it doesn't say who remastered the set, earlier Universal compilations were all done by ERICK LABSON (has over 1000 mastering credits to his name) and the sound quality here matches those - BEAUTIFUL and CLEAR. Bobby Miller's original production values shine through also. And even though it gets a bit Stylistics cheesy towards the end - the quality of songs throughout is alarmingly good - there really is so much on hear to admire and enjoy. If anything - the discography provided above shows how many of their albums 'aren't' on CD and need to be...

The Dells are now the longest-running group in the world (remaining members are in their Seventies) and this gem of a release does them proud. Big time recommended.

PS: Dear compilers in Universal/Hip-O Select - A Dells/Charles Stepney box set please...

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