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Get Righteous! Label Serves Up Dick Dale, Jimmy Smith, Northern Soul

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Dancing By MyselfCherry Red’s Righteous label celebrates “aching country, forgotten soul music and other strange exotica…from George Jones to Hank Snow’s immortal ‘When Tragedy Struck’ to the roots of Dylan’s twisted songwriting inspiration…” Three of the label’s recent titles aren’t too exotic, but certainly are righteous. Dancing by Myself: Lost in Northern Soul collects 26 obscure R&B floor-fillers, primarily from independent labels; The Search for Surf chronicles the formative years of the surf-music craze with 26 songs from Dick Dale and others; and That Jimmy Smith Sound spotlights the jazz organist, as well as the musicians who influenced him, over a 13-song program.

Mojo contributor Dave Henderson opines in his liner notes for Dancing by Myself: Lost in Northern Soul that “the formula for northern soul is never set in stone and the perfect 45 can arrive from anywhere.” This compilation sets out to prove Henderson’s point with alternately raucous and mellow soul gems from the likes of The Five Royales, Joe Stubbs (brother of The Four Tops’ Levi Stubbs), Don and Juan, The Vibrations, and Lou Johnson.  The late journalist Dave Godin is credited with coining the phrase “northern soul,” which he used to describe music in the mid-1960s soul vein preferred by enthusiasts in the northern part of England. Godin told Mojo in 2002 that he had first devised the term in 1968, to help employees at his Soul City record shop differentiate the rapidly-proliferating funk style of R&B from the smoother, Motown-influenced soul of just a few years earlier. (In The Soul Stylists, renowned DJ Ady Croasdell described the prototypical Northern Soul song as The Four Tops’ “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” although the song was too mainstream to achieve much popularity in the Northern Soul scene.) The movement championed lesser-known tracks over big hits, and it soon spread, with clubs popping up throughout the north and midlands of England.

Dancing by Myself keeps the tradition alive with diverse tracks that might fit a northern soul playlist from the genre’s earliest years including The Knockouts’ barroom interpretation of the sizzling “Fever,” Tommy Navarro and The Sundialers’ down-and-dirty, uptempo take on the Gershwins’ and DuBose Heyward’s Porgy and Bess aria “Summertime,” and Lou Johnson’s classy uptown soul record “If I Never Get to Love You” from the pens of Bacharach and David. One nifty rarity is Don McKenzie’s “Whose Heart (Are You Gonna Break Now)” written by Smokey Robinson pal Mickey Stevenson and featuring The Supremes on backing vocals, from Berry Gordy’s Miracle imprint. Joe Stubbs’ “Keep on Loving Me” and Mark Rice’s “Baby I’m Coming Home” emanated from Detroit, too, on the Lu-Pine label.  Lu-Pine, of course, released the first Supremes records when the girls were still known as The Primettes. All tracks here date from the period between 1958 and 1962 and, like the tracks on all three of these new releases, have been issued in accordance with current U.K. public domain laws.

After the jump: details on The Search for Surf and That Jimmy Smith Sound, plus track listings and order links for all three titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 17, 2014 at 10:29