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From Muscle Shoals to Music City, Ace Mines Lost R&B Gold On New Collections

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Complete Fame SinglesAce Records continues to mine the rich legacy of American R&B with recent releases dedicated to a trio of the finest independent labels in soul music: Fame, Music City, and Doré.

Late in 2011, Ace curated the definitive chronicle of Rick Hall’s Fame Studios with The Fame Studios Story, a 3-CD box set including performances recorded at the storied Muscle Shoals, Alabama studio by artists including Wilson Pickett, Etta James, Otis Redding, Irma Thomas and Aretha Franklin. The label has also expanded the Fame story with Hall of Fame volumes of previously unissued material and single-artist compilations dedicated to the likes of Clarence Carter, George Jackson, James Govan and Dan Penn. A new 2-CD set has just launched a three-volume series of The Complete Fame Singles.

This initial volume covers the period between 1964 and 1967 over 52 chronologically-sequenced A- and B-sides in original mono. Rick Hall opened Fame Studios in 1961, scoring a quick hit with Arthur Alexander’s “You Better Move On” on the Dot label. In the early years, Hall issued records on the Fame and R and H labels, licensing out other Fame-recorded masters to larger national labels. But when Hall couldn’t find a buyer for the pivotal slice of southern soul “Steal Away” by Jimmy Hughes, he started a full-fledged record label of his own. That 1964 single, Fame catalogue number 6401, kicks off The Complete Fame Singles. Hall’s gamble paid off when “Steal Away” was picked up by Vee-Jay; that label, in turn, then agreed to distribute the new Fame label’s releases. Distribution was later famously picked up by Atlantic Records’ Atco division.

These two discs trace not just the development of the Muscle Shoals sound, but of the songwriting team of Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham; individually or collectively, Penn and Oldham are responsible for 22 songs here. A full eleven of these 45s were recorded by Fame’s first star Jimmy Hughes, whose complete Fame singles output is included here. Other tracks come from Penn solo, Oldham as Spooner and The Spoons, Arthur Conley, and Clarence Carter, whose commercial breakthrough will arrive on the next volume of the series. Though most of the tracks fit in the smoldering southern soul bag, there are unexpected treats like the pop-rock of future Motown producer Terry Woodford, or Florida band The Villagers. The latter’s 1966 single encompassed Roy Whitley’s “Laugh It Off” backed with a cover of Lennon and McCartney’s “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl.”

Co-producers Dean Rudland and Tony Rounce’s comprehensive track-by-track liner notes in the generously-illustrated color booklet fill in the details on both the artists and the history of Fame. Nick Robbins has remastered all of the tracks.

After the jump: travel to California with Music City and Doré Records! Plus: track listings and order links for all three titles!

Music City Vocal GroupsTitles don’t get much more accurate than Music City Vocal Groups: Greasy Love Songs of Teenage Romance, Regret. Hope and Despair. The 56 songs on this 2-CD set – 34 of which are previously unreleased in any format – are drawn from the archives of the late Ray Dobard’s Music City Records label, of Berkeley, California. One of the most acclaimed regional labels of all time, Music City boasted a deep catalogue that touched on various African-American music styles from doo-wop to funk. Music City’s catalogue has formed the foundation for recent releases from both Ace and the U.S.’ Omnivore Recordings label.

Ray Dobard opened the Music City record shop in 1950 along with the Delcro label, but really became active four years later with the formation of Music City Records. Beginning in 1954 and continuing for two decades, Dobard amassed some 1,500 reels of music. Ace has since acquired that treasure trove, releasing such titles as The Music City Story (spanning 1953-1975) and Going Wild: Music City Rock and Roll.   Greasy Love Songs (apologies to Frank Zappa) concentrates on the many vocal groups that entered the Bay Area studio, including the very first group to do so in mid-1954: the Stars, renamed by Dobard as The Midnights. The groups featured here are largely unfamiliar except to the most dedicated soul collectors, making the discovery of their vibrant music all the more exciting. A few of the recognizable names here – The Chantels, The Marcels, The Treniers – are the not the same groups that achieved fame under those monikers.

Though most of these recordings never achieved success beyond the Bay Area, they’re an important part of any regional soul survey. What these groups may have lacked in polish and professionalism, they made up for in emotion and energy. Dobard was largely finished with the doo-wop vocal group sound by 1963, concentrating instead on R&B, soul and gospel. Greasy Love Songs paints a full picture of just what these local groups could do. Jim Dawson has penned the liner notes, and Duncan Cowell has remastered.

Cousins Lew Bedell and Herb Newman founded Los Angeles’ Doré label in 1958 as a subsidiary of their already-successful Era label. Whereas Era’s releases were aimed at the pop charts, like Gogi Grant’s No. 1 hit “The Wayward Wind” (1956), the partners intended to use Doré to showcase somewhat riskier fare. The new label’s third release, The Teddy Bears’ “To Know Him is to Love Him,” rewarded Bedell and Newman with a hit, and launched the career of Phil Spector to the next level. Bedell had championed Spector’s production while Newman was less certain; their creative differences led to a split in 1959 whereby Newman kept Era and Bedell kept Doré. On his own, Bedell came out swinging with Jan and Dean’s “Baby Talk” that same year.

Dore LA Soul SidesDoré L.A. Soul Sides, as the title indicates, focuses on the label’s R&B offerings. It makes for a companion to Ace’s box set The Doré Story: Postcards from Los Angeles 1958-1964. As compilation producer Ady Croasdell notes in the booklet, “the label’s music was prolific and mainly white up to 1964.” But the set begins in 1962, and continues all the way through the 1970s. Bedell began to concentrate more on soul records following the British Invasion, rightly predicting that there would be a sizeable alternative market for music not in the fashion of the Fab Four. The label’s output became stylistically varied within the soul framework, absorbing influences of southern soul, Motown and doo-wop harmonies.

As with the Music City anthology, most of these groups don’t have familiar names; a notable exception is The Whispers of “And the Beat Goes On” and “Rock Steady” fame. Yet there is plenty of familiar personnel on these records. Gene Page arranged The Whispers’ debut 45 for the label, Mack David and Fred Spielmann’s “It Only Hurts for a Little While,” and recorded it at Gold Star with the Wrecking Crew: Hal Blaine, Tommy Tedesco, Leon Russell and Julius Wechter. Page also arranged a 1965 single by The Entertainers IV. Their label debut, “Temptation Walk (People Don’t Look No More),” became Doré’s biggest-ever R&B hit, peaking at No. 29 nationally. Betty Turner and The Chevelles’ “The Winds Kept Laughing” was written and produced by Leonard Green and John Gummoe. The pair was previously responsible for The Cascades’ “Rhythm of the Rain,” and that group even sang on Turner’s record.

Two tracks make their debut, from Toussaint McCall and The Natural Resources. Nick Robbins has again handled the remastering on Doré L.A. Soul Sides.

All three collections from Ace are available now and can be ordered at the links below!

Various Artists, The Complete Fame Singles Volume One: 1964-1967 (Ace CDCH2 1391, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

CD 1

  1. Steal Away – Jimmy Hughes (6401)
  2. Lolly Pops, Lace and Lipstick – Jimmy Hughes (6401)
  3. Close to Me – Dan Penn (6402)
  4. Let Them Talk – Dan Penn (6402)
  5. Try Me – Jimmy Hughes (6403)
  6. Lovely Ladies – Jimmy Hughes (6403)
  7. I’m Getting Better – Jimmy Hughes (6404)
  8. I Want Justice – Jimmy Hughes (6404)
  9. Hey, Do You Wanna Marry? – Spooner and the Spoons (6405)
  10. Wish You Didn’t Have to Go – Spooner and the Spoons (6405)
  11. Almost Persuaded – June Conquest (6406)
  12. Party Talk – June Conquest (6406)
  13. Goodbye My Lover Goodbye – Jimmy Hughes (6407)
  14. It Was Nice – Jimmy Hughes (6407)
  15. (Take Me) Just As I Am – Dan Penn (6409)
  16. Diamonds – Dan Penn (6409)
  17. You Really Know How to Hurt a Guy – Jimmy Hughes (6410)
  18. The Loving Physician – Jimmy Hughes (6410)
  19. Midnight Affair – Jimmy Hughes (1000)
  20. When It Comes to Dancing – Jimmy Hughes (1000)
  21. Keep on Talking – James Barnett (1001)
  22. Take a Good Look – James Barnett (1001)
  23. Gonna Make You Say Yeah – Terry Woodford (1002)
  24. Hit the Ground – Terry Woodford (1002)
  25. Neighbor, Neighbor (Version 2) – Jimmy Hughes (1003)
  26. It’s a Good Thing – Jimmy Hughes (1003)

CD 2

  1. It’s His Town – Terry Woodford (1004)
  2. She Wants What She Can’t Have – Terry Woodford (1004)
  3. Laugh It Off – The Villagers (1005)
  4. You’re Gonna Lose That Girl – The Villagers (1005)
  5. I Worship the Ground You Walk On – Jimmy Hughes (1006)
  6. A Shot of Rhythm and Blues – Jimmy Hughes (1006)
  7. In the Same Old Way – Arthur Conley (1007)
  8. I Can’t Stop (No, No, No) – Arthur Conley (1007)
  9. I Can’t Get You Out of My Mind – Art Freeman (1008)
  10. Slippin’ Around with You – Art Freeman (1008)
  11. I’m Gonna Forget About You – Arthur Conley (1009)
  12. Take Me (Just As I Am) – Arthur Conley (1009)
  13. I Stayed Away Too Long – Clarence Carter (1010)
  14. Tell Daddy – Clarence Carter (1010)
  15. Why Not Tonight – Jimmy Hughes (1011)
  16. I’m a Man of Action – Jimmy Hughes (1011)
  17. Everybody’s Got to Cry Sometime – Art Freeman (1012)
  18. A Piece of My Heart – Art Freeman (1012)
  19. Thread the Needle – Clarence Carter (1013)
  20. Don’t Make My Baby Cry – Clarence Carter (1013)
  21. Don’t Lose Your Good Thing – Jimmy Hughes (1014)
  22. You Can’t Believe Everything You Hear – Jimmy Hughes (1014)
  23. Hi-Heel Sneakers – Jimmy Hughes (1015)
  24. Time Will Bring You Back – Jimmy Hughes (1015)
  25. She Ain’t Gonna Do Right – Clarence Carter (1016)
  26. The Road of Love – Clarence Carter (1016)

CD 1, Tracks 1-12 released 1964
CD 1, Tracks 13-20 released 1965
CD 1, Tracks 21-26 and CD 2, Tracks 1-14 released 1966
CD 2, Tracks 15-26 released 1967

Various Artists, Music City Vocal Groups: Greasy Songs of Teenage Romance, Regret, Hope and Despair (Ace CDTOP2 1385, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

CD 1

  1. Lucille – The Pagans (rec. 1960)
  2. Without Love (Second Version) – The Corvettes
  3. Cheating on Me – The Midnights (Music City 762, 1955)
  4. This is the End of Love – The Klixs (Music City 817/Music City 817/23, 1958)
  5. Morrine – The 5 Campbells (Music City 794, 1956)
  6. Whole Lot of Love – The Rovers (Music City 792, 1955)
  7. Angel in My Heart – The Holidays (rec. 1958)
  8. Sherry – Jimmy Cicero with the Five Crystals (rec. 1959)
  9. Lil Dream Girl – The Gaylarks (Music City 793, 1955)
  10. My Greatest Sin – The Gaylarks (Music City 805, 1957)
  11. What Will the Outcome Be – Al Lewis and Modernistics (Music City 829, 1960)
  12. Down by the River – The Gayteens
  13. Down to the Sea (A Cappella) – The 5 Rovers (rec. 1956)
  14. I’ll Wait for You – The Dialtones (rec. 1957)
  15. Sunday – Joe Blackwell and the Individuals (rec. 1960)
  16. No Other Way Around – The Midnights (rec. 1955)
  17. Heaven’s Own Choir – The Five Crystels (alt. of Music City 821)
  18. Your True Love is Standing By a.k.a. Dry Your Eyes – Wanda Burt and Crecendos (Music City 840, 1962)
  19. I’m Traveling Light – The 5 Lyrics (Music City 799, 1956)
  20. Church on the Hill – The Gaylarks with the John Heartsman Band (Music City 809, 1957)
  21. Station L-O-V-E – The Holidays (rec. 1958)
  22. I’m Coming Over to You – The Girls (rec. 1957)
  23. So Hard to Please – The Marcels (A Cappella) (rec. 1956)
  24. Forever and a Day (A Cappella) – The Idols
  25. All the Days of My Life – The Chantels (rec. 1958)

CD 2

  1. Church on the Hill (Take 1) – Bob and Jessie (rec. 1963)
  2. Church on the Hill (Take 2) – Bob and Jessie (rec. 1963, issued Ace ABOXCD11, 2011)
  3. There’s a Girl – The Italics (rec. 1962)
  4. Elaine – The Klixs (Alt. of Music City 823/17, 1958)
  5. Our Love is Here to Stay – The Klixs (rec. 1957)
  6. The Trial – The Pagans (rec. 1960)
  7. Down to the Sea – The 5 Rovers (Music City 798, 1956)
  8. Path of Broken Hearts – The Five Crystels (Music City 821, 1958)
  9. Lonely One – The Derbys (rec. 1962)
  10. Sugar Plum – The Treniers (rec. 1955)
  11. So Hard to Please – The Marcels (rec. 1958)
  12. Last Date – The Crescendos (rec. 1960)
  13. Why-Ohh – The Rovers (Music City 750, 1954)
  14. You Gave Me Peace of Mind – The Creations (rec. 1963)
  15. Happy Happy Birthday Baby (A Cappella) – The Derbys (rec. 1962)
  16. That’s Why I Love You So (A Cappella) – Curtis Payne and Group (rec. 1957)
  17. Ten Commandments of Love (A Cappella) – The Five Crystels (rec. 1960)
  18. Salute to Johnny Ace – The Rovers (Music City 780, 1955)
  19. Warm Love – The Midnights (rec. 1954)
  20. Teenage Prayer – The Crescendos (Music City 839, 1962)
  21. P.S. My Darling – The Holidays (rec. 1959)
  22. Your Eyes – The Echotones (rec. 1961)
  23. I Feel So Blue a.k.a. So Blue – The Italics (rec. 1962)
  24. Wait for Me – The Marcels (rec. 1956)
  25. Desirie – Unk Vocal Group (rec. 1963)

All alternates, tracks without catalogue numbers, and tracks with recording dates only are previously unreleased

Various Artists, Doré L.A. Soul Sides (Kent CDKEND 415, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

    1. It Only Hurts for a Little While – The Whispers (single 724, 1964) (*)
    2. Baby’s Gone Away – The Superbs (single 731, 1965)
    3. I’ll Laugh Till I Cry – Toussaint McCall (previously unreleased) (*)
    4. If There Were No You – The Natural Resources (previously unreleased) (*)
    5. Do It Right Now – The Entertainers IV (single 819, 1969)
    6. Your Ship of Fools – Ray Marchand (single 763, 1966)
    7. My Lonely Feeling – Milton James (single 767, 1966)
    8. Your Love Belongs to Me – Tommy and Leon (single 665, 1963)
    9. Family Man – Slim and the Twilites (single 645, 1962)
    10. The Winds Kept Laughing – Betty Turner and the Chevelles (Crescent single 637, 1964)
    11. Why Does It Feel So Right (Doing Wrong) – The Shades of Jade (single 806, 1968)
    12. Take Away this Loneliness – The Fidels (single 761, 1966)
    13. You Really Never Know Till It’s Over – The Vel-Vetts (single 774, 1966)
    14. Sunshine – Starbright! (single 903, 1975)
    15. I Would Rather Have All of Nothing – Toussaint McCall (single 842, 1969)
    16. On a Day When It’s Raining – The Superbs (single 753, 1965)
    17. Gone with the Wind is My Love – Rita and the Tiaras (Horace’s LP HRH 103, 1994) (*)
    18. Do the Skin – Kenard Gardner (single 793, 1967)
    19. Oh How I Love You – Little Johnny Hamilton and the Creators (single 754, 1965)
    20. Doctor Love – The Whispers (single 751, 1965)
    21. Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way – Eddie Kool (single 807, 1968)
    22. Temptation Walk (People Don’t Look No More) – The Entertainers IV (single 749, 1965)
    23. Hold Back the Dawn – Frances Lark (single 730, 1965)
    24. As I Sit Here – Friday’s Child (single 827, 1969)

 

All tracks from Doré label unless otherwise indicated.

All tracks mono except those indicated with (*) are stereo.

Written by Joe Marchese

July 21, 2014 at 12:28

Posted in Compilations, News

One Response

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  1. Looking forward to the next volume of FAME Singles.

    Earl Cambron

    July 21, 2014 at 12:52


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