Music Week's round-up of the latest album reissues and catalogue releases, including Where The Girls Are Volume 10, Bar-Keys and Tommy Hunt...
Where The Girls Are Volume 10
(Ace CDCHD 1511)
All good things come to an end, and after 22 years and nine previous releases on CD with 234 appropriate and worthy tracks to enjoy, it’s rather sad this series - which actually started even earlier (in 1984) on vinyl - has run its course. It is, however, going out with a bang, with a superior collection of girl group treasures that were recorded between 1962 and 1968, including The Delicates’ previously unreleased Top Twenty, a fine ‘beat’ single by the Los Angeles girls that tells the story of a boy who had his own Top 20, in which our heroes were ‘pick of the week’ and aspired to be No.1. Janie Grant contributes an excellent version of And That Reminds Me Of You, an oft-recorded song of Italian origin. Jackie & Gayle also cast their net further, with a competent cover of the Tony Hatch composition That’s How It Goes, recorded domestically by The Breakaways, while Captain Of Your Ship hitmakers Reparata & The Delrons’ version of Lennon & McCartney’s If I Fell is fine but unadventurous. They are the only act to appear on both the first and last albums in this series, and also turned up on Volumes 6 and 9. A 20 page booklet stuffed with illustrations and information help to give a fine series a fine send-off.
The Definitive Collection
(Robinsongs ROBIN 37CDT)
With the six albums that The Bar-Kays cut between 1978 and 1984 already in the Robinsongs catalogue, the label now presents the first ever collection to combine the legendary Memphis soul/funk band’s Warner Brothers, Stax and Volt repertoire in a 3 CD, 46 song set spanning the years 1967 to 1989. Exactly half of them were R&B hits, including their career-launching signature song, the distinctively wailing instrumental (apart from the party-like shrieks and yells of neighbourhood children) Soul Finger. Around the same time, they had become Otis Redding’s official backing band and four of their members perished along with him in the Lake Monona plane crash in 1967. Although devastated, they rebuilt and went on to record a powerful body of work which has dated a little but which is incredibly evocative of its era. Among the tracks worthy of attention are Son Of Shaft, which has many of the same elements – choppy guitar, tense strings, et al – that made Isaac Hayes’ original Shaft such a success. Also here are the dancefloor smash Sexomatic, the full length album version of Money Talks and Do It (Let Me See You Shake), a tightly-wound old school funk track with on-point vocals dovetailing perfectly with funky bass and rhythm and a beat that never quits…well, at least not for six minutes.
The Complete Man – 60s NYC Soul Songs
(Kent CDKEND 480)
Still with us at the age of 85, and previously a member of 1950’s doo-wop/soul legends The Flamingos, Tommy Hunt registered a trio of UK Top 50 hits in the Northern soul idiom in the mid 1970s. However, this superb compilation concentrates on his 1960s career, and does a fine job of anthologising classic, previously released but elusive cuts for the Atlantic, Capitol, Dynamo and Scepter labels as well as granting the first ever release to a handful of titles previously lost in the latter label’s vaults. Opening with the sumptuous Van McCoy ballads I Don’t Want To Lose You and Hold On, which perfectly showcase Hunt’s rich vocal style, the album also includes the more funky The Clown, the heart-wrenching And I Never Knew and a spirited but uninspiring version of John Barry’s film theme, Born Free. Much closer to his later Northern soul recordings in sound and tempo is the excellent Never Love A Robin, while You’re So Fine has a jazzy, Ray Charles feel – no bad thing.