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Wednesday, 3 March 2021

"Atlantic Soul {1959-1975}" by VARIOUS ARTISTS – Single and Album Tracks from Ray Charles, LaVern Baker, The Ohio Untouchables, Solomon Burke, Patti Labelle, Doris Troy, Carla Thomas, Tommy Hunt, Aretha Franklin, Ben E. King, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Walter Jackson, Judy Clay, The Dynamics, The Sweet Inspirations, Howard Tate, Donny Hathaway, Jackie Moore, King Floyd, The Spinners, Sam & Dave, Baby Washington, The Persuaders, Hall & Oates and more (October 2007 USA Rhino Handmade 4CD 82-Track LP-Sized Box Set – Billy Vera Compiled Selection - Bill Inglot and Dan Hersch Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…Come See About Me…"

Given the label – Atlantic Records – and the reputation/legend of the reissue company involved – Rhino and the hugely sought-after releases of their Mail-Order division Rhino Handmade Records – then 2007's "Atlantic Soul {1959-1975}" should have been a shoe-in for masterpiece with a bullet. 

But – and this is a genuine surprise to me - the actual listen and its slightly jarring presentation go against it way more than a fan would like. Rarities often don't make for good plays – they're just rare. And this Box Set all too often includes the obscure over the joyous. Rhino Handmade would argue that that's what they were all about – providing for the deep dive collector. I just wish that in this case, the playback would elicit the excitement in me the title of the set does. 

Rhino Handmade issued three Box Sets in this BILLY VERA-compiled LP-Sized series - each 4CD set with a generic silk-screened sepia-look, a 32 to 36-Page LP-Sized Booklet (Limited Numbered Edition on the last page, 3000 copies), silk-screen look Picture Card Sleeves inside lipped die-cut trays and new Remasters courtesy of long-time Audio Engineers for Rhino and WEA – BILL INGLOT and DAN HERSCH. But the best way to explain is to go into details. Let's have at them...

USA released 31 October 2007 – "Atlantic Soul {1959-1975}" by VARIOUS ARTISTS on Rhino Handmade RHM2 7739 (Barcode 603497773923) is a 4CD 82-Track LP-Sized Themed Box Set of Remasters that breaks down as follows (all catalogue numbers are either US 45-singles or LPs unless otherwise stated):

CD1 (from 1959 to 1964, 49:28 minutes, 20 tracks, Solomon Burke pictured):
1. Come Rain Or Shine - RAY CHARLES (November 1960, Atlantic 45-2084, A-side)
2. You're The Boss - LaVERN BAKER & JIMMY RICKS (December 1960, Atlantic 45-2090, A-side)
3. On The Horizon - BEN E. KING (April 1961, Atco 45-6194, B-side of "Stand By Me")
4. Your Old Lady - THE ISLEY BROTHERS (July 1961, Atlantic 45-2110, B-side of "Write To Me")
5. I'm Blue (The Gong-Gong Song) - THE IKETTES (November 1961, Atco 45-6212, A-side)
6. Daddy Rollin' Stone - JIMMY RICKS & THE RAVES (March 1962, Atco 6220, B-side of "Homesick")
7. Darling - THE FALCONS (June 1962, Atlantic 2153, A-side - features WILSON PICKETT on Lead Vocals)
8. Stupidity - SOLOMON BURKE (July 1963, Atlantic 45-2196, B-side of "Can't Nobody Love You")
9. My Man - He's A Lovin' Man - BETTY LaVETT (September 1962, Atlantic 45-2160, A-side)
10. Take This Love I've Got - THE FALCONS (February 1963, Atlantic 45-2179, A-side - features WILSON PICKETT)
11. Just One Look - DORIS TROY (April 1963, Atlantic 45-2188, A-side)
12. Love Is Amazing - OHIO UNTOUCHABLES (May 1963, Lu Pine L-1010, B-side of "Forgive Me Darling")
13. (Do The) Mashed Potatoes - Part 1 - NAT KENDRICKS & THE SWANS (1963, Dade 45-5004, A-side)
14. He'll Have To Go - SOLOMON BURKE (January 1964, Atlantic 45-2218, A-side)
15. My Girl Sloopy - THE VIBRATIONS (February 1964, Atlantic 45-2221, A-side)
16. I'm Tired - OHIO UNTOUCHABLES (February 1964, Lu Pine L-1011, A-side)
17. Mojo Hannah - LITTLE ESTHER PHILLIPS (May 1964, Atlantic 45-2229, A-side)
18. Baby I'm Coming Home - MACK RICE (March 1964, Lu Pine L-1019, B-side of "My Baby")
19. I'm Gonna Cry - WILSON PICKETT (June 1964, Atlantic 45-2233, A-side)
20. I've Got No Time To Lose - CARLA THOMAS (July 1964, Atlantic 45-2238, A-side)

CD2 (from 1964 to 1967, 57:37 minutes, 21 tracks, Ben E. King pictured):
1. Come See About Me - DON COVAY (from the 1964 US LP "Mercy" on Atlantic 8104 in Mono)
2. I Found A Love Oh What A Love - JO ANN & TROY (October 1964, Atlantic 45-2256, A-side - Jo Ann Campbell and Troy Seals)
3. I'm Gonna Run Away From you - TAMI LYNN (March 1965, Atco 45-6342, A-side)
4. Some Things You Never Get Used To - LITTLE ESTHER PHILLIPS (December 1964, Atlantic 45-2265, A-side)
5. I Don't Want To Lose You - TOMMY HUNT (February 1965, Atlantic 45-2278, A-side)
6. Thank You John - WILLIE TEE (May 1965, Atlantic 45-2287, A-side)
7. Let's Go Get Stoned - THE COASTERS (May 1965, Atco 45-6356, B-side of "Money Honey")
8. Let Me Know When It's Over - ESTHER PHILLIPS (September 1965, Atlantic 45-2304, A-side)
9. Have You Ever Been Disappointed – THE ISLEY BROTHERS (September 1965, Atlantic 45-2303, B-side of "Move Over And Let Me Dance")
10. Groovy Kind Of Love – PATTI LaBELLE & THE BLUEBELLES (January 1966, Atlantic 45-2318, B-side of "Over The Rainbow" - A-side is Track 13 on CD2)
11. Dear Lover - MARY WELLS (December 1965, Atco 45-6392, B-side of "Can't You See (You're Losing Me)")
12. Sookie Sookie - DON COVAY and THE GOODTIMERS (February 1966, Atlantic 45-2323, B-side of "Watching The Late Late Show")
13. Over The Rainbow - PATTI LaBELLE & THE BLUEBELLES (January 1966, Atlantic 45-2318, A-side - B-side is "Groovy Kind Of Love" - Track 10 on CD2)
14. Where's The Girl - BEN E. KING (July 1968, Atco 45-6596, B-side of "It's Amazing")
15. Iron Out The Rough Spots - DON COVAY & THE GOODTIMERS (June 1966, Atlantic 45-2340, B-side of "You Put Something On Me")
16. Make Me Belong To You - BARBARA LEWIS (July 1966, Atlantic 45-2346, A-side)
17. Some Kind Of Wonderful - SOUL BROTHERS SIX (May 1967, Atlantic 45-2406, A-side)
18. Why (Am I Treated So Bad) - THE SWEET INSPIRATIONS (May 1967, Atlantic 45-2410, A-side)
19. Storybook Children - BILLY VERA & JUDY CLAY (October 1967, Atlantic 45-2445, A-side)
20. It Ain't What You Got - JIMMY HUGHES (November 1967, Atlantic 45-2454, A-side)
21. A Change Is Gonna Come - ARETHA FRANKLIN (from the 1967 US LP "I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You" on Atlantic 8139)

CD3 (from 1967 to 1969, 61:00 minutes, 21 tracks, Aretha Franklin pictured):
1. Get Down – HARVEY SCALES & THE 7 SOUNDS (September 1967, Magic Touch 2007, A-side)
2. Looking For A Fox – CLARENCE CARTER (December 1967, Atlantic 45-2461, A-side)
3. What Can You Do When You Ain’t Got Nobody – SOUL BROTHERS SIX (November 1967, Atlantic 45-2456, B-side to "You Better Check Yourself")
4. Baby Don't You Do It - ALVIN ROBINSON (May 1968, Atco 45-6581, A-side - cover of a Marvin Gaye 1964 single)
5. I Found A True Love - WILSON PICKETT (September 1958, Atlantic 45-2558, A-side)
6. I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel To Be Free) - SOLOMON BURKE (April 1968, Atlantic 45-2507, A-side) 
7. I've Come A Long Way - WILSON PICKETT (February 1968, Atlantic 45-2484, B-side of "Jealous Love")
8. My Song - ARETHA FRANKLIN (November 1968, Atlantic 45-2574, B-side of "See Saw")
9. Hard To Handle - OTIS REDDING (June 1968, Atlantic 45-6592, A-side)
10. I Say A Little Prayer - ARETHA FRANKLIN (August 1968, Atlantic 45-2546, B-side of "The House That Jack Built")
11. Too Weak To Fight – CLARENCE CARTER (October 1968, Atlantic 45-2569, A-side)
12. Soul Sister, Brown Sugar – SAM & DAVE (December 1968, Atlantic 45-2590, A-side)
13. Ice Cream Song – THE DYNAMICS (January 1969, Cotillion 44021, A-side)
14. You Are The Circus – C And THE SHELLS (March 1969, Cotillion 44024, A-side)
15. Crying In The Rain - THE SWEET INSPIRATIONS (March 1969, Atlantic 45-2620, A-side)
16. Kind Woman - PERCY SLEDGE (July 1969, Atlantic 45-2646, A-side)
17. I Don't Know – BABY WASHINGTON (August 1969, Cotillion 45-44047, A-side)
18. Reaching For The Moon – BILLY VERA & JUDY CLAY (July 1969, Atlantic 45-2654, A-side)
19. Anyway That You Want Me – WALTER JACKSON (October 1969, Cotillion 45-44053, A-side)
20. Greatest Love – JUDY CLAY (December 1969, Atlantic 45-2697, A-side)
21. Don't Let Me Lose This Dream – BABY WASHINGTON (August 1970, Cotillion 45-44086, A-side)

CD4 (from 1969 to 1975, 71:24 minutes, 20 tracks, Donny Hathaway pictured):
1. Sister Pitiful - JUDY CLAY (September 1969, Atlantic 45-2669, A-side - answer song to Otis Redding's "Mr. Pitiful")
2. Breakfast In Bed - BABY WASHINGTON (November 1969, Cotillion 45-44055, A-side - Gamble & Huff song)
3. (Gotta Find) A Brand New Lover, Part 1 - THE SWEET INSPIRATIONS (December 1969, Atlantic 45-2686, A-side)
4. God Gave Me A Song - INTERDENOMINATIONAL YOUTH CHOIR of WASHINGTON, D.C. & MARYLAND (February 1970, Cotillion 45-44062, A-side)
5. That's The Way My Baby Is - THE SWEET INSPIRATIONS (March 1970, Atlantic 45-2720, B-side of "At Last I Found A Love")
6. Precious, Precious - JACKIE MOORE (October 1970, Atlantic 45-2681, B-side of "Willpower")
7. Groove Me - KING FLOYD (September 1970, Atlantic 45-435, B-side of "What Our Love Needs")
8. Plain And Simple Girl - GARLAND GREEN (January 1971, Cotillion 45-44098, A-side)
9. Hold On - JAMES CARR (July 1971, Atlantic 45-2803, A-side - Tommy Tate cover)
10. Thin Line Between Love And Hate - THE PERSUADERS (July 1971, Atco 45-6822, A-side) 
11. A Song For You - DONNY HATHAWAY (from the April 1971 album "Donny Hathaway" on Atlantic SD-360 in Stereo)
12. She's A Burglar - HOWARD TATE (February 1972, Atlantic 45-2860, A-side, for B-side, see 14)
13. Victim Of A Foolish Heart - BETTYE SWANN (April 1972, Atlantic 45-2869, A-side)
14. You Don't Know Nothing About Love - HOWARD TATE (February 1972, Atlantic 45-2860, B-side, for A, see 12)
15. Giving Up - DONNY HATHAWAY (from the April 1971 album "Donny Hathaway" on Atlantic SD-360 in Stereo)
16. How Could I Let You Get Away - THE SPINNERS (July 1972, Atlantic 45-2904, A-side)
17. I Can Understand It, Part 1 - VALENTINOS (March 1973, Clean CN-60005, A-side - Bobby Womack cover)
18. Some Guys Have All The Luck - THE PERSUADERS (September 1973, Atco 45-6943, A-side)
19. She's Gone - DARYL HALL & JOAN OATES (November 1973, Atlantic 45-2803, A-side, 3:24 minutes edit, reissued November 1976 on Atlantic 45-3332, A-side - charted again)
20. Hooked For Life - THE TRAMMPS (August 1975, Atlantic 45-3286, A-side)

The LP-sized booklet has some amazing rare photos, Soul Brothers Six with their instruments get all of Page 24, Don Covay and Atlantic Records supremo Jerry Wexler wave at us from Page 21 (with snaps of the Tami Lynn and Jo Ann & Troy 45 labels to the left) and there's a very tasty full-colour plate given over to Donny Hathaway on Page 30 sat at a piano live in concert - his trademark tweed beret on. At the beginning of the book are some beautifully reproduced trade adverts for Barbara Lewis, the Betty LaVett B-side "My Man - He's A Lovin' Man" while Baby Washington gets a colour publicity photo. A lot of the time it feels like the images are taking up space where words and critique could have been, but I have to say it's nice to see artists outside of Atlantic's more famous roster (Aretha, wilson, Otis etc) get pride of place.  

The Audio is a very mixed bag despite BILL INGLOT and DAN HERSCH transfers and remastering - especially on the rarer stuff on Discs 1 and 2. I felt a lot of it sounded well Mono-rough, but once you get past 1964, the production values go up accordingly and by the time you're playing Howard Tate or The Persuaders on Disc 4 - the Audio is properly gorgeous. It's also nice to see this set dip into Lu Pine, Clean, Chimneyville and other off-shoot Atlantic labels. Niggles: small but worth noting, wrong catalogue number for The Isley Brothers and Howard Tate's "She's A Burglar" is misspelt, the whole sepia thing is both lovely and ever so slightly irritating, the card sleeves fly about inside the box die-cuts and can easily buckle (the tracks lists are almost unreadable on them too) and the first three CDs really should have had more tracks (the playing time on CD1 is a joke). To the tunes... 

Disc 1 leads superbly with the gorgeous "Come Rain Or Shine" by Ray Charles – an early R&B ballad with Soul at its core and a brilliant opening gambit for a compilation like this. But then CD1 kind of gets lost, filled up with R&B New Breed tunes like "You're The Boss" by LaVern Baker and "Daddy Rollin' Stone" by Jimmy Ricks (of The Ravens) - and good as they may be to some people, its not until we get to "Darling" by The Falcons (Track 7) do we get anything that actually approximates Soul as we know it (Wilson Pickett and his distinctive rasp, a Mack Rice and Eddie Floyd-penned ballad). Both of the B-sides by Ben E. King and The Isley Brothers feel like they're searching for some kind of commercial groove and not finding it. Pickett and The Falcons provide a Disc One shouting Soul dancer later on in the shape of "Take This Love I've Got" – a rarity worth showcasing. Rough but clean sound on the equally rare Nat Kendricks & The Swans dance-craze chugger "(Do The) Mashed Potatoes". 

Doris Troy rescues the situation with the classic "Just One Look" but the impossibly rare "Love Is Amazing" by The Ohio Untouchables feels more novelty than Soul (their "I'm Tired" – Track 16 – is far better). Little Esther Phillips is taking a lock of her man's hair and a five dollar bill to a woman called "Mojo Hannah" down in Louisiana – gonna work that thing to get her chap back home real soon (good bopper). Solomon Burke's cover of "He'll Have To Go" is excellent (what a voice and that Ben E. King shuffle in the song), but again the novelty element creeps in with the mock-live frat party take of "My Girl Sloppy" by The Vibrations – a forgettable answer tune to The McCoys 1965 mega-hit "Hang On Sloopy". It ends well though on the torch Soul of "I've Got No Time To Lose" by Carla Thomas and a rare New Breed dancer B-side from Mack Rice in "Baby I'm Coming Home" - down on his knees - begging to wherever his baby is. 

Things pick up immeasurably on Disc 2 with the likes of Don Covay going to the doctor only to realise that his baby's love is the only medicine he needs - "Come See About Me". The goodies continue with a Jeanie Allen tune "I Found A Love Oh What A Love" - Jo Ann Campbell and Troy Seals duetting on a ballad that rises above its soppy lyrics. But given there was room on CD2 to put their B-side cover of Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love" in here too - I think a rarity trick was missed on that one. The two Patti LaBelle covers of "Groovy Kind Of Love" and "Over The Rainbow" come across as cringe-worthy cheese. Little Esther can't believe that she and her squeeze are through in the melodrama Soul of "Some Things You Never Get Used To". 

That is trounced however by the gorgeous smoocher "I Don't Want To Lose You" from Pittsburgh's golden-throated Tommy Hunt - a huge tune amongst British collectors who are liable to go into Northern Soul seizures at the mere though of it. Shufflers don't come much better than the summer breeze of "Thank You John" - a strangely happy song about a man who doesn't do right by his gal either physically or monetarily - Willie Tee assuring her that everything will be alright. And while both Esther Phillips and The Isley Brothers acquit themselves admirably in pleader-ballads "Let Me Know When It's Over" and "Have You Ever Been Disappointed" - the "Money Honey" B-side "Let's Go Get Stoned" by The Coasters feels plain out-of-place to me. 

But Disc 2 picks up again with Don Covay's fantastic neck-jerker "Sookie Sookie" - an obscure B-side that hairy-assed John Kay led Steppenwolf would of course almost make their own in 1968 when they rocked that mother on their fab self-titled debut album on ABC/Dunhill. Organist Booker T. Jones, Guitarist Steve Cropper and singer David Porter of Stax fame gifted Don Covay a second groove winner on here in the shape of the seldom-heard "Iron Out The Rough Spots". Another sexy hip-shaker is "It Ain't What You Got" – Jimmy Hughes eating up that Rick Hall Fame Studios production and Fame Gang backing band. CD2 goes out with the scent of social change in the air when The Sweet Inspirations put their hurting ladies touch on the Pops Staples song "Why (Am I Treated So Bad)" followed by Aretha taking the beautiful Sam Cooke plea in "A Change Is Gonna Come" into a virtual national anthem.  

CD3 brings us a brand new dance from the Mid West where Harvey Scales & The 7 Sounds want to sock it to that girl out there in her bad dress – the frantic feel-so-good "Get Down" surely the kind of tune that will show up in the sequel movie "Baby Driver 2: Driven Again". The very cool neck jerkers continue with Clarence Carter and his fantastic hah-hah-hah "Looking For A Fox" - while Sam & Dave get sweeter than the honey bees make in "Soul Sister, Brown Sugar". Hadn't heard "Ice Cream Man" by The Dynamics – a pretty two-stepper – and even better is "I Don't Know" by Baby Washington, unable to tell us when her man is coming home. Speaking of pretty (perhaps a little too soppy) is The Sweet Inspirations with their "That's The Way My Baby Is" and there's a live-in-a-hall vibe to the obscure "God Gave Me A Song" – a holy roller that's rare but too far for me. And on it goes to the superb doggone funk of "Groove Me" by King Floyd and domestic heartache captured in “Thin Line Between Love And Hate" – The Persuaders and their moment of glory. 

Sat in 2021, you could argue that many of these rarities have been put out by diligent reissue companies in the 14 years since this box set first appeared – so their exclusive inclusion here might not be as relevant as it once was. But like so much on Rhino and Rhino Handmade, I love this label and I had to own it. Just try to get one for a decent price. Onwards and upwards peeps...

RHINO Handmade (USA) Themed Series of 
Atlantic Records 4CD Box Sets
Compiled by BILLY VERA – DAN HERSCH and BILL INGLOT Remasters

1. "Atlantic Blues {1949-1970}" - September 2007 USA on Rhino Handmade RHM2 7737 (Barcode 603497773725) 4CDs, 80-Tracks in 5" picture card sleeves housed in die-cut hollows in a 12" x 12" Silk Screen Printed Box Set. Inside is a 36-page full-sized booklet, numbered to 3000 on the last page.

2. "Atlantic Soul {1959-1975}" – October 2007 USA on Rhino Handmade RHM2 7739 (Barcode 603497773923) - 4CDs, 82-Tracks, 36-page full-sized booklet, numbered to 3000 on the last page.

3. "Atlantic Vocal Groups {1951-1963}" - June 2008 USA on Rhino Handmade RHM2 7738 (Barcode 603497773824) - 4CDs, 82-Track, 32-page full-sized booklet, numbered to 3000 on the last page.

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