Saturday, 8 February 2014

"Sweet Soul Music - 25 Scorching Classics From 1972" by VARIOUS ARTISTS [Volume 12 of 15] (2014 Bear Family CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...If You’ve Been There Once...You Can Go Back Again..."

I reviewed the preceding 10 volumes in this incredible series from 1961 to 1970 (probably the best Bear has ever done) and loved them to distraction. Jurgen Crasser was the remaster engineer for those. This time around (1971 to 1975) the sound hero on all five volumes bears the unlikely moniker of WOLFGANG MANNS. And I swear I may have to get “Wolfgang Is My Main Mann” tattooed on my frumpy Irish buttocks - because these expertly crafted CD compilations are sonically sensational in every way. They’re going to blow the minds of Seventies Soul fans everywhere. Here’s the necessary for "1972"...

Released 14 February 2014 on Bear Family BCD 16882 AS (Barcode 5397102168826) - the CD compilation “Sweet Soul Music - 25 Scorching Classics From 1972” breaks down as follows (87:14 minutes):

  1. I Gotcha - JOE TEX (Dial D-1010)
  2. Hearsay - THE SOUL CHILDREN (Stax STA-0119)
  3. Betcha By Golly, Wow - THE STYLISTICS (Avco AV-4591)
  4. Gimme Some More - THE JB’s (People PE 602)
  5. Now Run And Tell That - DENISE LaSALLE (Westbound W 201)
  6. In The Rain (Single Edit) - THE DRAMATICS (Volt VOA-4075)
  7. Woman’s Gotta Have It - (The Preacher) BOBBY WOMACK (United Artists 50902)
  8. I’ll Take You There (Single Edit) - THE STAPLES SINGERS (Stax STA-0125)
  9. Rip Off - LAURA LEE (Hot Wax HS 7204)
  10. Outa-Space - BILLY PRESTON (A&M 1320)
  11. (If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want To Be Right - LUTHER INGRAM (Koko KOA-2111)
  12. Everybody Plays The Fool - THE MAIN INGREDIENT (RCA 74-0731)
  13. Too Late To Turn Back Now - CORNELIUS BROTHERS and SISTER ROSE (United Artists 50910)
  14. Oh Girl - THE CHI-LITES (Brunswick B 55471)
  15. Back Stabbers - THE O’JAYS (Philadelphia International ZS7 3517)
  16. Think (About It) - LYN COLLINS (The Female Preacher) (People PE 608)
  17. Power Of Love - JOE SIMON (Spring SPR 128)
  18. Starting All Over Again - MEL and TIM (Stax STA-0127)
  19. I’m Still In Love With You - AL GREEN (Hi 45-2216)
  20. Baby Sitter - BETTY WRIGHT (Alston A-4614)
  21. If You Don’t Know Me By Now - HAROLD MELVIN and THE BLUE NOTES (Philadelphia International ZS7 3520)
  22. Get On The Good Foot - Part 1 - JAMES BROWN (Polydor PD 14139)
  23. Me And Mrs. Jones (Single Edit) - BILLY PAUL (Philadelphia International ZS7 3521)
  24. Trying To Live My Life Without You - OTIS CLAY (Hi 45-2226)
  25. Use Me - BILL WITHERS (Sussex SUX 241)
The three-way fold-out card digipak of the preceding 10 volumes has been kept as has the  live-on-stage Jackie Wilson photo on the spine that is now extended (when you line all 15 spines they make one photograph). This “1972” set features THE CHI-LITES on the front cover while the stock 7” of “Hearsay” by THE SOUL CHILDREN graces the inside flap with a further photo of a smiling DENISE LaSALLE on the phone on the center lip. The detachable booklet is properly beautiful -
a 76 oversized-pages wad of deep liner notes by world-renowned R&B and Soul expert
BILL DALH with Discography details from DAVE "Daddy Cool" BOOTH. There’s black and white/colour publicity pictures of the artists, the single labels/album covers where relevant and adverts from the US music press. Quality all the way...

As you can see from the catalogue numbers provided above all tracks are US 7” singles and like “1971” it opens with a cleverly chosen double-whammy of crystal clear sound quality - Joe Tex and The Soul Children - brass and vocals sounding fabulous. Prince may love The Stylistics and it’s sound quality here is extraordinary but I find the track syrupy even now. Things pick up considerably with another two funky nuggets - The JB’s “Gimme Some More” and a total winner from Denise LaSalle “Now Run And Tell That” (lyrics from it title this review). Sonic wows follow with the brilliantly funky Billy Preston instrumental “Outa-Site” and the raindrops/echoed guitar of The Dramatics 
“In The Rain”. But I’m properly blown away by the sound quality on the 7" edit of “I’ll Take You There” by The Staple Singers - just fantastic and one of my all time fave raves. Even perennials as common as “Oh Girl”, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”, “Me And Mrs. Jones” and “Back Stabbers” sound utterly brilliant - while “Use Me”, “Think (About It)” and “Get On The Good Foot” are lifted to a plain of Funky Nirvana. 

But if you want real convincing on the sound quality front - you’re hit with an irresistible threesome come the middle of the compilation - the torch-song Luther Ingram builder “(If Loving You Is Wrong)
I Don’t Want To Be Right”, Main Ingredient’s chipper “Everybody Plays The Fool” and the fabulous upbeat Northern Soul strings and girly backing vocals of Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose’s 
“Too Late To Turn Back Now”. Wonderful clarity and real care taken in the transfers. Genius choices go to Joe Simon’s lesser-heard stepper “Power Of Love”, Otis Clay’s ‘five packs a day’ song “Trying To Live My Life Without You” and Betty Wright’s ‘man-getter’ funky warning “Baby Sitter”. 
And you can’t help but think that Hall & Oates stole their entire sound from Mel and Tim’s fabulous “Starting All Over Again”. It was written by Prince Phillip Mitchell for Stax before he joined Atlantic in the late Seventies (see my reviews for his “Make It Good” and “Top Of The Line” CDs on Rhino) -Hall & Oates covered in on their 1990 set “Change Of Season”. The sound quality on “Starting All Over Again” is unbelievable. 

Niggles - there’s some heavyweight exclusions - Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, Terry Callier, The Dells and War jump to mind (probably due to licensing problems). But other than that - nada. I also had no problem with playback even with an eye-popping playing time of just under 88 minutes. 

These sets have been a long time coming but man have they been worth the wait. I know long-term Soul fans will look at the track list and price and perhaps baulk at duplicity and cost - DON’T. You’ve not heard these classics until now. And if you’ve any joy for Seventies Soul - then you need to have this volume and the other four compilations in your life -because GLORIOUS is the word that comes to mind. These are already my reissues of the year for 2014. 

The mighty Bear Family folks - accept no less.

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

INDEX - Artists, Albums, Record Labels, CD Remaster Engineers, Liner Notes Authors, Links etc