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Ace Is Twistin’ the Night Away with Sam Cooke Tribute, Motown Rarities and More

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Black America Sings Sam CookeWhen it comes to rare soul, Ace Records never sleeps!  The label has recently released a compilation celebrating the career of Sam Cooke not as a singer but as a songwriter, along with collections dedicated to excavating the vaults of two great Detroit labels: Westbound Records, and of course, Motown!

Countless albums have anthologized the short but influential oeuvre of Sam Cooke, but Bring It on Home: Black America Sings Sam Cooke takes a different approach, featuring 24 versions of Cooke compositions recorded between 1959 and 1976, performed by some of the biggest African-American names in popular music.  Cooke (1931-1964) was a singer-songwriter before the term was in fashion, writing or co-writing 25 of his 35 R&B hits charted between 1957 and 1965 (not counting many of the B-sides which he also wrote).  Bring It on Home doubles as a “Who’s Who” of classic American soul, with artists from the Stax, Motown and Atlantic rosters among many others.

Many of Cooke’s most famous songs are here: the silky, chart-topping ballad “You Send Me” as performed by Percy Sledge in Muscle Shoals, “Shake” from Cooke disciple Otis Redding (who, like Cooke, died tragically young – but not before including renditions of Cooke songs on all but one of the studio albums released during his lifetime), “Cupid” from “Take a Letter, Maria” singer R.B. Greaves, “Wonderful World” from Johnny Nash of “I Can See Clearly Now,” and of course, “A Change is Gonna Come” from “Gimme Little Sign” vocalist Brenton Wood.  The title track, “Bring It On Home to Me,” is heard courtesy of Stax legend Eddie Floyd.  As a special treat, Ace has unearthed a previously unissued version of Theola Kilgore’s “answer song” to “Chain Gang” entitled “(Chain Gang) The Sound of My Man.”

A couple of tracks are drawn from the Motown stable including The Supremes ‘ ” (Ain’t That) Good News” from Diana, Mary and Flo’s 1965 We Remember Sam Cooke album, with Flo on a thunderous lead.  Smokey Robinson leads The Miracles on their 1964 version of “Dance What You Wanna.”  From the Stax Records family, Sam and Dave offer their first U.K. Pop hit, 1966’s “Sooth Me.”  A couple of tracks have been drawn from Sam Cooke’s own SAR label, too: Sam’s production of “Rome (Wasn’t Built in a Day)” by future Stax superstar Johnnie Taylor, and Johnnie Morisette’s “Meet Me at the Twistin’ Place,” also produced by Sam.  Mr. Cooke himself is heard on “That’s Heaven to Me” from his final session with The Soul Stirrers.  Other highlights include tracks from Lou Rawls (“Win Your Love”), Aretha Franklin (“Good Times”) and Little Anthony and the Imperials (“I’m Alright”), proving the breadth of Cooke’s versatility.  Tony Rounce has provided the track-by-track liner notes in the 16-page booklet, and Duncan Cowell has newly remastered all tracks.  Bring It on Home is a worthy addition to the series of Black America Sings, which also includes titles spotlighting the songs of Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Otis Redding, and Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

After the jump, we’re heading to Detroit!

Good All OverWestbound Records was formed in the Motor City by Armen Boladian in 1968; before long, Westbound and its sister label Eastbound had earned reputations for top-notch soul.  When Westbound was formed, there weren’t too many independents left standing thanks to the domination of Motown.  Even the successful Ric-Tic label had capitulated and agreed to a purchase by Berry Gordy’s empire which brought Edwin Starr and the Fantastic Four into the Motown fold.  One of Westbound’s most significant acts was The Detroit Emeralds – originally James Mitchell and brothers A.C. (Abe) and Ivory (Iry) Tilman.  The Emeralds had previously recorded for Ric-Tic, but Gordy passed on bringing them to Motown.  They feature prominently on Good All Over: Rare Soul from the Westbound Vaults 1969-1975.  Abe Tilmon is represented by five songs: both sides of his solo single “I Love to Dream” b/w “Girl, You Thrill Me,” the original Emeralds’ “That’s All I Got,” a later Emeralds line-up’s “Rosetta Stone,” and “Tender Moments,” a previously unreleased duet with the queen of Westbound, Denise LaSalle.  (Her complete Westbound singles output was previously released by Ace in 2013.)  A.C. Tilmon, an accomplished songwriter and producer, shows up on Good All Over, too, in those capacities for artists The Motivations, Damon Shawn, The Magictones and Bob and Harold.

Three tracks by The Fantastic Four also appear here.  The group was the only act on Westbound to have recorded directly for Motown.  In true Motown fashion, the quartet spent three years at the label and stockpiled enough material for at least a few LPs (over 50 songs!), but only two singles passed Quality Control.  Though the original line-up of James Epps, Joseph and Ralph Pruitt and Wallace Childs had altered by the time the Four arrived at Eastbound, but Epps’ unmistakable tenor was still out front. Three of the group’s 1973 single sides are included here; they would return to a reactivated Westbound in 1975 and remain with the label, scoring disco hits, until Boladian called it a day in 1979.  (The label’s final hit was The Fantastic Four’s “BYOF (Bring Your Own Funk).”)  Glad All Over, compiled and annotated by Tony Rounce, has been remastered by Nick Robbins.  It’s an essential overview of the fine, storming Detroit soul that wasn’t coming out of Hitsville, USA.

Satisfaction GuaranteedLastly, Ace’s Kent label returns for another dip into those hallowed vaults of Motown for Satisfaction Guaranteed: Motown Guys 1961-69, featuring 24 tracks – every one of which is new to CD.  And since we’re talking Motown, we’re talking major names here like Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Edwin Starr, The Spinners, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Chuck Jackson, and even The Fantastic Four!  Satisfaction Guaranteed follows in the footsteps of Finders Keepers: Motown Girls 1961-1967, released in spring 2013.  Four tracks – from Freddie Gorman (“I’m Gonna Make It to the Top”), Marvin Gaye (“Mojo Hannah”), The Temptations (“He Who Picks a Rose (Version 1)”) and The Four Tops (“The Night We Called It a Day”) have previously only been released on the digital compilation Motown Unreleased 1963.

The remaining songs are all previously unissued in any format, and for a couple of artists – Johnny Bristol and The Quails – this marks the first time any of their Motown recordings have appeared, anywhere.  Bristol, of course, found his calling behind-the-scenes at Motown as a writer and producer; the quintet The Quails came to Motown via Harvey Fuqua’s Tri-Phi label.  Numerous other “lost” artists are also featured here.  The Hit Pack – a group most likely featuring Robert Walker, Robert Staunton, Robert Dobyne and Charles Jones – only released two songs at Motown out of twelve recorded.  “Show Me You Can Dance,” co-written by the group members, premieres here.  “Only on the Weekend” from Florida’s The Headliners, and “Say, Say, Baby” from the quartet The Serenaders are two more hidden treasures.  “I Wanted to Cry,” by “Hey Baby” singer Bruce Channel, was penned by Holland-Dozier-Holland but still didn’t make the Quality Control cut.  One of six songs Channel recorded at Hitsville, it makes its debut here.  Other Motown favorites like Bobby Taylor and Marv Johnson get further recognition on Satisfaction Guaranteed, with the nominal title track “Satisfaction is Guaranteed” and “Safety Zone,” respectively.

The 16-page booklet features detailed annotations from Keith Hughes, co-compiler of the set with Mick Patrick.  Nick Robbins has remastered.  With the U.S.’ Hip-o Select imprint having recently released seminal titles from Diana Ross and the Supremes, Miss Ross solo and Smokey Robinson as digital-only titles, Ace/Kent’s series of Motown rarities on CD is even more valuable than ever.  May the hits keep on coming!

All three titles are available now at the links below!

Various Artists, Bring It on Home: Black America Sings Sam Cooke (Ace CDCHD 1420, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

  1. Having a Party (Medley) – The Ovations featuring Louis Williams (MGM 14623, 1973)
  2. Rome (Wasn’t Built in a Day) – Johnnie Taylor (SAR 131, 1962)
  3. You Send Me – Percy Sledge (Atlantic LP SD 8146, 1967)
  4. Shake – Otis Redding (Volt LP 412, 1965)
  5. (Chain Gang) The Sound of My Man – Theola Kilgore (previously unreleased alternate of Candix 311)
  6. I’m Gonna Forget About You – Bobby Womack (Liberty 56186, 1970)
  7. When a Boy Falls in Love – Mel Carter (Derby 1003, 1963)
  8. Bring It on Home to Me – Eddie Floyd (Stax 0012, 1968)
  9. That’s Heaven to Me – The Soul Stirrers (Specialty LP SPS 2146, 1972)
  10. Cupid – R.B. Greaves (Atco LP SD 33-311, 1969)
  11. Dance What You Wanna – The Miracles (Tamla LP T 245, 1964)
  12. Meet Me at the Twistin’ Place – Johnnie Morisette (SAR 126, 1962)
  13. I’m Alright – Little Anthony and the Imperials (End 1053, 1959)
  14. Wonderful World – Johnny Nash (Epic 50219, 1976)
  15. Love You Most of All – The Persuasions (MCA LP 326, 1973)
  16. Pow! You’re in Love – The Falcons (United Artists 289, 1961)
  17. A Change is Gonna Come – Brenton Wood (Double Shot 137, 1969)
  18. Nobody Loves Me Like You – The Flamingos (End 1068, 1960)
  19. Somebody Have Mercy – Willie Hightower (Capitol LP ST 367, 1968)
  20. Win Your Love – Lou Rawls (Capitol LP ST 479, 1970)
  21. The Smile – The Simms Twins (SAR 125, 1962)
  22. Good Times – Aretha Franklin (Atlantic LP SD 8139, 1967)
  23. (AIn’t That) Good News – The Supremes (Motown LP M 629, 1965)
  24. Soothe Me – Sam and Dave (Stax LP 712, 1966)

All tracks mono except Tracks 6, 10, 11, 14, 18-20, 22-23 in stereo

Various Artists, Good All Over: Rare Soul from the Westbound Records Vaults 1969-1975 (Westbound CDSEWD 154, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

  1. I’m Falling in Love (I Feel Good All Over ) –Fantastic Four (Eastbound 620, 1973)
  2. Tender Moments – A.C. Tilmon and Denise LaSalle (previously unreleased)
  3. Mommy and Daddy – Unique Blend (Eastbound 626, 1973)
  4. I Don’t Know How (To Say I Love You) – The Superlatives (Westbound 144, 1969)
  5. Trying Real Hard (To Make the Grade) – The Magictones (Westbound 145, 1969)
  6. I Love You – Motivations (Eastbound 604, 1973)
  7. I Love to Dream – A.C. Tilmon (Eastbound 614, 1974)
  8. If You Need Me Call Me (And I’ll Come Running) – Fantastic Four (Eastbound 609, 1973)
  9. What Am I Gonna Do – Houston Outlaws (Westbound 211, 1972)
  10. My Dreams Have Got the Best of Me – The Magictones (Westbound 164, 1972)
  11. More Love (Where This Came From) – Emanuel Laskey (Westbound 143, 1969)
  12. You Can’t Take This Love for You from Me – Bob and Harold (slated for Westbound 202, previously unreleased)
  13. Rosetta Stone – A.C. Tilmon and the Detroit Emeralds (Westbound 5005, 1975)
  14. I’m Wishing – Damon Shawn (Westbound 193, 1972)
  15. I’ll Make It Up to You – The Magictones (Westbound 152, 1969)
  16. I’m Loving You, You’re Leaving Me – Motivations (Eastbound 604, 1973)
  17. I’ve Changed – The Magictones (Westbound 180, 1971)
  18. That’s All I’ve Got – A.C. Tilmon and the Detroit Emeralds (Westbound CDSEWD 065, 1994)
  19. I Believe in Miracles (I Believe in You) – Fantastic Four (Eastbound 620, 1973)
  20. Does He Treat You Better – Unique Blend (Eastbound 626, 1973)
  21. Girl You Thrill Me – A.C. Tilmon (Eastbound 614, 1974)
  22. Old Fashioned Woman – Unique Blend (Eastbound 601, 1972)
  23. Admit Your Love is Gone – Damon Shawn (Westbound 190, 1971)

All tracks stereo except Tracks 4, 6, 8-11, 14-16, 22-23 are in mono

Various Artists, Satisfaction Guaranteed: Motown Guys 1961-69 (Kent CDTOP 424, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

  1. Satisfaction is Guaranteed – Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers
  2. Safety Zone – Marv Johnson
  3. Tell Me How to Forget a True Love – Johnny Bristol
  4. Show Me You Can Dance – The Hit Pack
  5. The Sound of Love – Edwin Starr
  6. Hold On to Me (A Little Longer) – The Spinners
  7. Baby You Got the Key – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
  8. Where Did You Go – Chuck Jackson
  9. Together ‘Til the End of Time – Frank Wilson
  10. Just Your Love – Ivy Jo
  11. I Wanna Say I Love You – The Fantastic Four
  12. (Loneliness Made Me Realize) It’s You That I Need – Jimmy Ruffin
  13. I’m Gonna Make It to the Top – Freddie Gorman
  14. I Wanted to Cry – Bruce Channel
  15. Mojo Hannah (Studio Version) – Marvin Gaye
  16. Headin’ North – Shorty Long
  17. Only on the Weekend – The Headliners
  18. He Who Picks a Rose (Version 1) – The Temptations
  19. Taking Candy from a Baby – Gino Parks
  20. My Girl Annie – Jr. Walker and the All Stars
  21. Say, Say, Baby – The Serenaders
  22. Claudia (Alternate Version) – The Contours
  23. This Ole Heart – The Quails
  24. The Night We Called It a Day – The Four Tops

All tracks previously unreleased on CD.  Tracks 13, 15, 18 & 24 first issued on digital-only compilation Motown Unreleased 1963, 2013

Written by Joe Marchese

December 11, 2014 at 11:11

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