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Tuesday, 2 March 2021

TOMMY HUNT - "The Complete Man: 60s NYC Soul Songs" – Single, Album and Previously Unreleased Recordings from 1962 to 1986 on Scepter, Dynamo, Atlantic and Capitol Records (February 2019 UK Ace/Kent Soul CD Compilation of Remasters – Nick Robbins Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...Lonely For You..."

Amongst the 25 goodies contained within "The Complete Man" by Tommy Hunt are his classy 1962 to 1968 Soul recordings for the Scepter and Dynamo labels, nestled alongside a duo of stand-alone 45s on Atlantic and Capitol Records respectively (1965 and 1966), two exclusives on a 1968 'Greatest Hits' set and Five Previously Unreleased newbees recently unearthed in the Scepter vaults in 2018 and 2019. 

It's a typically tasty little listen from Ace and their beloved Kent Soul imprint. To the details and the Big Apple Soul...

UK released 26 February 2019 - "The Complete Man: 60s NYC Soul Songs" by TOMMY HUNT on Ace/Kent Soul CDKEND 480 (Barcode 029667094221) offers 25 Remastered Tracks from 1962 to 1969 (including five unreleased) and plays out as follows (65:10 minutes):

1. I Don't Want To Lose You
2. Hold On (Tracks 1 and 2 are the A&B-sides of a February 1965 US 45-single on Atlantic 45-2278)

3. I'll Make You Happy 
4. The Clown (Tracks 3 and 4 are the A&B-sides of an April 1966 US 45-single on Capitol 5621)

5. Lonely For You (2018, originally unissued 1964 Scepter recording)

6. The Pretty Part Of You (1965 Scepter recording first issued on the June 1987 UK compilation LP "No, No, No, No, No Not My Girl - And 15 Other Northern Soul Dancers" on Kent KENT 069) 

7. Never Love A Robin (January 1967 US 45-single on Dynamo D-101, B-side of "The Biggest Man")

8. The Work Song (May 1962 US 45-single on Scepter 1231, A-side)

9. What's The Matter Baby (2019, Previously Unissued 1962 Scepter recording)
10. One Of These Days (2019, Previously Unissued 1963 Scepter recording)
11. Who You Gonna Thrill Tonight (2019, Previously Unissued 1962 recording)

12. And I Never Knew (August 1962 US 45-single on Scepter 1236, B-side of "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself")

13. Human (from the 1968 US LP "Tommy Hunt's Greatest Hits" on Dynamo DS 8001 in Stereo)

14. Searchin' For Love
15. The Complete Man (Tracks 14 and 15 are the B&A-sides of a July 1967 US 45-single on Dynamo D-100, Note that "The Complete Man" is the A-side)

16.  Searchin' For My Baby (Lookin' Everywhere) 
17. I Need A Woman Of My Own (Tracks 16 and 17 are the B&A-sides of a December 1967 US 45-single on Dynamo D-113, Note that "I Need A Woman Of My Own" is the A-side)

18. You're So Fine (from the 1962 US LP "I Don't Know What To Do With Myself" on Scepter SLP 506 in Mono)

19. I'm With You (October 1963 US 45-single on Scepter 1261, B-side to "I Am A Witness")

20. The Door Is Open (November 1961 US 45-single on Scepter 1226, A-side)

21. How Young Is Young (May 1964 US (2nd issue) 45-single on Scepter 1275, B-side of "You Made A Man Out Of Me")

22. Girls Are Sentimental (2019, Previously Unissued 1962 Scepter recording)

23. Son, My Son (May 1963 US 45-single on Scepter 1252, A-side)

24. Born Free (September 1968 US 45-single on Dynamo D-124, B-side of "Just A Little Taste (Of Your Sweet Lovin')")

25. I Believe (from the 1968 US LP "Tommy Hunt's Greatest Hits" on Dynamo DS 8001 in Stereo)  

All Tracks are MONO except 8, 10, 12 and 13
Tracks 5, 9, 10, 11 and 22 are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED

The 20-page booklet features new liner notes from Soul aficionado ADY CROASDELL and classy black and white photos and publicity shots that go right back to his stint with one of the most beloved Vocal Groups of all time - The Flamingos. There are trade adverts for Dynamo's "The Biggest Man", a rare UK Demo 45 for "The Door Is Open" on Top Rank JAR-605, those Atlantic and Capitol Records labels and even Pittsburgh’s finest giving it some Northern Soul at the Wigan Casino - Tommy dressed to impress - microphone stand in hand like he's channelling wicked Wilson Pickett dance moves. 

Hunt had his autobiography published in 2008, so Croasdell puts together a potted history of his extraordinary life with alarming amounts of detail including early poverty and trouble with the law up to his triumphs and lows with British and European Soul fans, run down venues and touring without family. At 87 years of age in 2021, the great singer is still with us, suited and booted and ready to go...

But it keeps coming back to the music and once again, long-standing and uber-experienced Audio Engineer for Ace Records NICK ROBBINS has done the master tapes a solid. Both Mono and Stereo mixes swooning and bopping with equal gusto. And those songwriting-names entice too - Luther Dixon (whose wedding to singer Inez Foxx is pictured in a January 1966 Cash Box article on Page 10), Van McCoy, Jimmy Radcliffe, Ed Townsend, Thomas Bell - names that tingle Deep Soul lovers from the toes up. To the music...

In a very smart move, the compilation opens with the kind of smooch-fest Northern Soul fans would shoot Granny for – the A-side of his lone 1965 Atlantic Records single "I Don't Want To Lose You". A gorgeous slow deep Soul gem, everything about it is right – his voice, the subtle brass accompaniment that slinks in just when needed and of course, a genuinely lovely song from the pen of Van McCoy. Other hidden torch-ballads include two LP cuts on the Greatest Hits set from 1968 – a the best girl in the world but I am only a man tune in "Human" and the Lord hear my words "I Believe" – Hunt lifting up both with his husky Richie Havens vocals despite some heavy on the seaside town organ threatening to derail everything. 

The sub-Jackie Wilson brass bopper "You're So Fine" wouldn't be my fave nor the worthy cover of John Barry's lion-theme soundtrack song "Born Free", but tasty B-sides include "I'm With You" and "Searchin' For Love" make up for it. And although the inclusions are great, I think the compilation missed a trick in not placing the gorgeous almost Bacharach/David soft Soul of "Lover” – a Scepter out-take that appeared on the Ace/Kent Soul CD compilation "Manhattan Soul 3" in January 2017. I dug that track big time and it would have fit right in here. 

Still, a lovely CD release that will appeal to fans and newcomers alike and one that leaves me sentimental for Manhattan Soul...

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