Sunday, 17 August 2014

"Brunswick Top 40 R&B Singles 1966 – 1975" by VARIOUS ARTISTS (July 2006 Brunswick USA 2CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…Lifting Me Higher…"

While Motown, Stax and Atlantic usually steal all the plaudits for supplying us with quality Sixties and Seventies Soul music – here comes a blindingly great 2CD compilation putting a case for that other wildly underrated slugger of a label – Brunswick Records. And trimmed of any fat on either disc - what a corker this superbly put together compilation is…

USA released July 2006 - "Brunswick Top 40 R&B Singles 1966-1975" by VARIOUS ARTISTS on Brunswick 33016 (Barcode 646953301629) is a 2CD set of Remasters and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (60:23 minutes):
1. (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher – JACKIE WILSON (August 1967, Brunswick 55336)
2. Wack Wack – THE YOUNG HOLT TRIO (December 1966, Brunswick 55305)
3. Can I Change My Mind – TYRONE DAVIS (December 1968, Dakar 602)
4. I’m Gonna Miss You – THE ARTISTICS (December 1966, Brunswick 55301)
5. Follow The Leader – MAJOR LANCE (July 1969, Dakar 608)
6. Have You Seen Her – THE CHI-LITES (October 1971, Brunswick 55462)
7. Am I The Same Girl – BARBARA ACKLIN (March 1969, Brunswick 55399 A)
8. I Had It All The Time – TYRONE DAVIS (March 1972, Dakar 4501)
9. (I Can Feel Those Vibrations) This Love Is Real – JACKIE WILSON (December 1970, Brunswick 55443)
10. Wait A Minute – THE LOST GENERATION (November 1970, Brunswick 55441)
11. Are You My Woman (Tell Me So) – THE CHI-LITES (December 1970, Brunswick 55442)
12. Just Ain’t No Love – BARBARA ACKLIN (December 1968, Brunswick 55388)
13. Love Uprising – OTIS LEAVILL (September 1970, Dakar 620)
14. A Letter To Myself – THE CHI-LITES (February 1973, Brunswick 55491)
15. For Your Precious Love – JACKIE WILSON and COUNT BASIE (March 1968, Brunswick 55365)
16. The Girl Don’t Care – GENE CHANDLER (March 1967, Brunswick 55312)
17. The Coldest Days Of My Life (Edit) – THE CHI-LITES (July 1972, Brunswick 55478)
18. Without You In My Life – TYRONE DAVIS (March 1973, Dakar 4519)
19. Gotta Find Me A Lover (24 Hours A Day) – ERMA FRANKLIN (April 1969, Brunswick 55403)
20. Think Twice – LaVERN BAKER and JACKIE WILSON (January 1966, Brunswick 55287)

Disc 2 (61:48 minutes):
1. Oh Girl – THE CHI-LITES (March 1972, Brunswick 55471)
2. The Sly, Slick & The Wicked – THE LOST GENERATION (June 1970, Brunswick 55436)
3. I Love You – OTIS LEAVILL (November 1969, Dakar 614)
4. Baby Boy – FRED HUGHES (December 1969, Brunswick 55419)
5. Love Makes A Woman – BARBARA ACKLIN (July 1968, Brunswick 55379)
6. Turn Back The Hands Of Time – TYRONE DAVIS (March 1970, Dakar 616)
7. Soulful Strut – THE YOUNG-HOLT UNLIMITED (December 1968, Brunswick 55391)
8. Whispers (Getting Louder) – JACKIE WILSON (October 1966, Brunswick 55300)
9. There Was A Time – GENE CHANDLER (September 1968, Brunswick 55383)
10. (For God’s Sake) Give More Power To The People – THE CHI-LITES (April 1971, Brunswick 55450)
11. I Get The Sweetest Feeling – JACKIE WILSON (July 1968, Brunswick 55381)
12. Girl I Need You – THE ARTISTICS (April 1967, Brunswick 55315)
13. After You – BARBARA ACKLIN (November 1969, Brunswick 55421)
14. Turning Point – TYRONE DAVIS (December 1975, Dakar 4550)
15. Talking The Teenage Language – THE LOST GENERATION (July 1971, Brunswick 55453)
16. Stoned Out Of My Mind – THE CHI-LITES (July 1973, Brunswick 55500)
17. There It Is – TYRONE DAVIS (July 1973, Dakar 4523)
18. You Got Me Walking – JACKIE WILSON (February 1972, Brunswick 55467)
19. The Funky Chicken (Part 1) – WILLIE HENDERSON (February 1970, Brunswick 55429)
20. From The Teacher To The Preacher – GENE CHANDLER and BARBARA ACKLIN (December 1968, Brunswick 55387)

Listening to these two CDs – you’re struck by two things – the incredible hit ratio Brunswick had (great song after great song) – and the stunning sound quality. Engineer BRUCE SWEDIEN cut his producing chops at Brunswick (5 times a Grammy winner and nominated 13 times) and later went on to be instrumental with Quincy Jones in Michael Jackson’s epoch making “Thriller” in 1982. Man did Swedien do a good job back in the day.

The remastering here is fabulous. Stuff like the lesser-heard “Talking The Teenage Language” by The Lost Generation sounds just huge – and not in a way that drowns you out either. Every track is enhanced by his magic touch - the warmth of Eugene Record’s melodies for the Chi-Lites, the sheer class of Barbara Acklin’s voice (never mind her song-writing talent) and the expert framing of that dynamic duo of Brunswick Soul Men - Tyrone Davis and Jackie Wilson.

Sample fiends will know the brass backing of Gene Chandler’s “There Was A Time” and the same goes for “Am I The Same Girl” by Barbara Acklin which is simply the instrumental “Soulful Strut” by The Young-Holt Unlimited with lyrics added – both are Sixties Soul genius and have turned up in countless movie soundtracks as a way to lift the mood skywards.

Forgotten classics and undiscovered nuggets include the fabulously upbeat “I Love You” – it was written by the dynamic trio of Barbara Acklin, Eugene Record (of The Chi-Lites) and Carl Davis and it sounds like a Marvin Gaye outtake but sung in that unique falsetto Otis Leavill was able to reach.  Another is a dancing belter - “Baby Boy” by Fred Hughes - which features an irresistibly hooky brass backing track as it chugs along. “Turning Point” by Tyrone Davis sounds out of time in 1975 but it’s none the less brilliant for it (it recently showed up on the Godlike Bear Family’s “Sweet Soul Music: 1975” compilation – see 15 separate reviews for 1961 right through to 1975). And there are so many more…

Talk about a deuce that fell from a marked deck – “Brunswick Top 40 R&B Singles 1966-1975” is the kind of compilation that shouldn’t have slipped through the reissue cracks and yet somehow it has. Well I’d argue you should notice this one.

Take a punt Soul Lovers – you’ll be lifted up so much higher when you do…

PS: This review is dedicated to Eugene Record who died aged 64 in 2005 from cancer – thanks for the memories and the wonderful musical legacy...

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