Tuesday, 13 December 2011

"I'm Living Good – The Soul Of Arthur Conley 1964-1974" by ARTHUR CONLEY (2011 Ace Records/Kent Soul CD Compilation - Duncan Cowell Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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:


"…Everybody Knows…You Got Me…"

UK released 28 November 2011, "I'm Living Good – The Soul Of Arthur Conley 1964-1974” is on Ace Record/Kent Soul CDKEND 358 and breaks down as follows (67:45 minutes):

1. Let’s Go Steady
(1967, USA 7” single on Atco 6463, Non-LP, B-side of "Sweet Soul Music")
2. Take Me (Just As I Am)
(1966, USA 7” single on Fame 1009, A-side)
3. Where You Lead [by Harold Holt And His Band – Vocal Arthur Conley]
(1964, USA 7” single on Ru-Jac 0014, Non-LP, A-side)
4. There’s A Place For Us
(1966, USA 7” single on Jotis 472, B-side of "Who's Foolin' Who")
5. I’m Gonna Forget About You
(1966, USA 7” single on Fame 1009, B-side of "Take Me (Just As I Am)")
6. Love Comes And Goes
(1967, USA 7” single on Atco 6529, B-side of "Whole Lotta Woman")
7. I’m A Stranger [by Harold Holt And His Band – Vocal Arthur Conley]
(1964, USA 7” single on Ru-Jac 0014, Non-LP, B-side of "Where You Lead")
8. I’ll Let Nothing Separate Us
(on "Sweet Soul Music", 1967 USA Stereo LP On Atco SD 33-215)
9. Put Our Love Together
(1968, USA 7” single on Atco 6563, B-side of "Funky Street")
10. Keep On Talking
(on "Shake, Rattle & Roll", 1967 USA Stereo LP on Atco SD 33-220)
11. This Love Of Mine
(on "Soul Directions", 1968 USA Stereo LP on Atco SD 33-243)
12. Take A Step
(on "More Sweet Soul", USA 1969 Stereo LP on Atco SD 33-276)
13. Otis Sleep On
(on "Soul Directions", 1968 USA Stereo LP on Atco SD 33-243)
14. Is That You Love
(1968, USA 7” single on Atco 6662, A-side)
15. That’s How It Feels [by The Soul Clan]
[The Soul Clan was Solomon Burke, Arthur Conley, Don Covay and Joe Tex]
(1968, USA 7” single on Atlantic 2530, Non LP, B-side to "Soul Meeting")
16. God Bless
(1970, USA 7” single on Atco 6747, A-side)
17. All Day Singing
(July 1970, UK 7” single on Atlantic 2091-025, A-side, Non-LP
"God Bless" is its B-side, however, it was the A is the USA on Atco 6747)
18. Nobody’s Fault But Mine
(1970, USA 7” single on Atco 6790, A-side)
19. If He Walked Today
(1976, South-Africa 7" single on Atlantic ATS 6, A-side)
20. I'm Living Good
(1971, USA 7” single on Capricorn 8017, A-side)
21. Walking On Eggs
(1972, USA 7” single on Capricorn CPR 0001, B-side of "More Sweet Soul Music")
22. It's So Nice (When It's Somebody Else's Wife)
(1974, USA 7” single on Capricorn CPR 0047, B-side of "Bless You")
23. I Want Your Love
(on "One More Sweet Soul Music", 1988 Japan-Only LP on P-Vine PJ 122)
24. Stop Knocking
(on "Peaches – Pick Of The Crop", a 1974 USA 2LP Sampler for the Capricorn Records Label on Capricorn PRO 588. "Peaches" was also issued in the UK in November 1974 on Capricorn Records 2476 105 as a single LP – but without the Arthur Conley track.)

Tracks 1 to 7 and 16 are MONO, all others are STEREO
Tracks 1 and 6 are produced by OTIS REDDING

At a packed 20-pages - the booklet is superlative. It features brilliantly informative liner notes by long-time Soul lover and aficionado TONY ROUNCE with the text peppered by pictures of those great US and UK 45s on Atco, Atlantic, Fame, Jotis, Ru-Jac and Capricorn. A clever touch is that Page 2 pictures Arthur sat smiling in a chair with a Coke bottle in hand in 1967 at the Fame studios - while Page 19 shows him in 1972 in London sporting an Afro. In fact there’s an atmospheric snap of Conley joking with Garnet Mimms on London’s Hanway Street from the same time frame. The remaster is by DUNCAN POWELL at Sound Mastering in London and the quality varies wildly depending on the source – sublime one moment, awful the next…

It opens strongly – “Let’s Go Steady” is the non-album B-side of his huge “Sweet Soul Music” single from 1967. It’s a Southern Soul pleader and sets the tone for the mainly slow B-sides presented here (his A’s were usually uptempo dancers). It also reacquaints you with how good a vocalist Conley was – especially when he got his larynx around some misery - “…you left me…for another love…” In fact “Let’s Go Steady” is the side of Arthur Conley collectors really love – properly soulful and not doing misguided covers of “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da”. And it’s here in quality-remastered-sound.

Other clever choices include “Put Our Love Together” which is the superb B-side of “Funky Street” (killer A-side too). “This Love Of Mine” sounds so Otis is moaning-mode – just a great vibe with that killer organ backdrop underpinning the torch vocals. “Is That You Love” has fantastic production values while the B-side to the lone ‘Soul Clan’ 7” single is a ‘talkie’ slow boiler featuring Conley sharing vocals with 3 titans of Soul - Solomon Burke, Don Covay and Joe Tex – and it sounds so good too.

“All Day Singing” from 1970 reflected the Jesus revival that swept every country in the early Seventies – it’s warm, lovely and has gorgeous Stereo sound. The Otis Redding penned “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” livens up the proceedings with its uptempo feel and huge drum sound. But my favourite on here is 1972’s “Walking On Eggs” – a non-LP B-side to a rare US 45 on Capricorn Records. The track is still rooted in the Sixties but with a nice Seventies touch – great brass work too (lyrics above). And a genuine coup is the first-time-on-CD Harold Holt tracks; only a handful of 45s are said to have survived – this version has been dubbed from a lone legitimate copy in the public domain – used by kind permission of a Japanese collector.

Musically it’s not all great though - “God Bless” name-checks some truly cheesy cartoon characters in its Universal prayer lyrics – and while it probably seemed cute at the time, it’s best forgotten now. Funky as it may be - the lyrics to “It’s So Nice (When It’s Somebody’s Else’s Wife)” catalogues the goings-on in Room 25 of the Holiday Inn with ‘somebody else’s’ spouse – and its ludicrously macho/sexist slant wouldn’t last long on today’s turntables. Instead of a tribute to the great Soul Man, “Otis Sleep On” manages to be cloying – even exploitive. “Take A Step” from the “Soul Directions” LP from 1968 is drenched in hiss while the rare 1976 South Africa-only Atlantic 45 Gospel homage “If He Walked Today” is clearly dubbed off a disc. Still on the excessively hissy tip is “I’ll Let Nothing Separate Us” – written by Otis Redding - it’s a lesser-heard torch ballad off the “Sweet Soul Music” album and probably included here for the powerhouse performance.

Niggles and omissions – his 2nd UK 7” single “Shake, Rattle & Roll” had a non-LP B-side “You Don’t Have To See Me” while “Star Revenue” was a non-LP A-side in the States - but both are no-shows when there was room to include them. “Take A Step” is credited as being on the 1968 “Soul Directions” LP when it’s on the “More Sweet Soul Music” album from 1969. “Walking On Eggs” is on Capricorn 0001 and not 8001. But these are personal choices and minor grammatical errors - and neither takes away from the feeling that this CD is a bit of a wee gem really.

To sum up - Conley has somehow always been the poor-man’s Soul legend – never getting the credit he deserves. Hopefully this lovingly put-together and well presented reissue will change all that.

Ace's 'Kent Soul' imprint delivers again. Recommended.

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