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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! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 11, 2014 at 11:11

Come Get This Thang: The Spinners’ G.C. Cameron’s Motown Solo Debut Arrives On CD

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G.C. Cameron - Love SongsIt’s a shame, isn’t it?  When Motown mainstays The Spinners departed the venerable Detroit label for the greener pastures of Atlantic Records, lead singer G.C. Cameron didn’t make the switch.  Cameron, the unmistakable main voice of The Spinners’ Stevie Wonder-penned No. 14 hit “It’s a Shame,” remained with Motown.  Cameron suggested his cousin and close friend Philippe Wynne replace him, and soon watched Wynne and co. score the group’s first ever Top 10 pop singles.  In fact, Atlantic debut Spinners charted five hits and two Top 10s – including the million-selling “I’ll Be Around.”  Cameron never reached the commercial peak of his old group.  But he was a productive and prolific recording artist for Berry Gordy’s empire even as The Spinners were notching all of those smashes in Philadelphia.  Most of his output, however, has inexplicably remained absent from CD.  Cherry Red’s SoulMusic Records imprint rectifies that with an expanded edition of Cameron’s 1974 Motown solo debut, Love Songs and Other Tragedies.  It adds thirteen non-LP single sides – most of which have never appeared in the CD format – to the original album, creating a truly comprehensive survey of the singer’s early solo years at Motown and West Coast subsidiary MoWest.

Many names familiar to Motor City enthusiasts fill the credits of Love Songs and Other Tragedies: Frank Wilson, Willie Hutch, Gene Page, Paul Riser, James Carmichael, Dave Van De Pitte, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder.  Even more top-tier Motown names figure in the singles portion of the new reissue: Pam Sawyer, Gloria Jones, Hal Davis and Smokey Robinson!  In 1971, the newly-solo Cameron was placed on the MoWest label, for which Berry Gordy had high hopes.  But in 1973, the label was shut down and G.C. was shuttled to Motown proper, where he began cutting his solo album.  As a result, most of the singles included here predate Love Songs.

Click the jump to continue reading! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 16, 2013 at 10:08

The Year in Reissues: The 2012 Gold Bonus Disc Awards

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Gold CDWow!  Was it just over a year ago when a rather dubious report began circulating (that, shockingly, was picked up by many otherwise-reputable publications) that proclaimed the death of the CD was secretly scheduled by the major labels for 2012?  Well, 2012 has come and (almost) gone, and it might have been the most super-sized year in recent memory for reissues, deluxe and otherwise, from labels new and old.  Here at the Second Disc, we consider our annual Gold Bonus Disc Awards a companion piece to Mike’s own round-up over at Popdose, and we endeavor to recognize as many of the year’s most amazing reissues as possible – over 80 worthy, unique titles.  We also hope to celebrate those labels, producers and artists who have raised the bar for great music throughout 2012. As we’re literally deluged with news around these parts, these ladies and gentlemen prove, week after week, the strength and health of the catalogue corner of the music world.  We dedicate The Gold Bonus Disc Awards to them, and to you, the readers.  After all, your interest is ultimately what keeps great music of the past alive and well.

With that in mind, don’t forget to share your own thoughts and comments below. What made your must-have list in 2012? Without further ado, let’s celebrate 2012′s best of the best. Welcome to the Gold Bonus Disc Awards!

Which releases take home the gold this year? Hit the jump below to find out! Read the rest of this entry »

The Spinners’ Rare Motown Sides Can Be “Truly Yours” On New Compilation, Reviewed Here!

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It’s a shame the way The Spinners’ Motown catalogue has been overlooked in the CD era, and quite frankly, for all time.  The group exploded in popularity under the aegis of producer/arranger/composer Thom Bell at Atlantic Records in 1972, with their first three singles all hitting No. 1 R&B and Top 20 Pop (two went Top 10 Pop).  But The Spinners had been making sweet music since 1954 and recording since at least 1961, and made Motown their home since the folding of Harvey Fuqua’s Tri-Phi Records in 1963.  Now, the earliest days of the beloved soul group is chronicled thanks to the latest release in Kent Records’ splendid, ongoing Motown series, with Truly Yours: Their First Motown Album with Bonus Tracks.

Truly Yours is, in fact, an expanded edition of The Spinners’ debut long-player for Motown, 1967’s The Original Spinners.  Despite the release date, its songs dated back as far as 1961, and was a compendium of the group’s work up through that date.  The Original Spinners has never been on CD before, and Kent has generously expanded it with fourteen bonus tracks, more than doubling the original twelve-song line-up.  Ten of these fourteen songs are previously unissued.  This isn’t the complete early Spinners; compiler and annotator Keith Hughes notes that over 30 unreleased tracks were whittled down to the fourteen selected for this disc.  Perhaps the rest will emerge on an expanded edition of The Spinners’ second and final Motown album, 1970’s 2nd Time Around?

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, however.  The 26 tracks here from tenor Bobby (sometimes spelled “Bobbie”) Smith, tenor Chico Edwards, baritone Henry Fambrough, bass Pervis Jackson and tenor Billy Henderson are essential to any soul collector.  (Fambrough and Smith, for the record, still perform as part of The Spinners today.)  The Original Spinners, and therefore this disc, contains all eight sides from the Spinners’ first four singles, plus the original 1961 Tri-Phi label recording “That’s What Girls Are Made For” and three “new” songs.  When Harvey Fuqua and then-wife Gwen Gordy closed Tri-Phi and migrated to her brother Berry’s Motown family, The Spinners were among the acts selected by Berry to join the roster.

We’ll be around, right after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 23, 2012 at 10:18

Posted in Compilations, News, Reviews, The Spinners

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Mighty Love: Detroit Spinners’ Best Compiled On New 2-CD Anthology

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If an award were given for the Best Second Act in Popular Music, it might well go to The Spinners.  Signed to Motown in 1963 after early successes at Gwen Gordy’s Tri-Phi label, The Spinners – singers Henry Fambrough, Pervis Jackson, Billy Henderson, C.P. Spencer and Bobbie Smith – had difficulty ascending to premier status at the Motor City label.  After some moderate hits like “Truly Yours” in 1966, the group’s biggest brush with the charts came in 1970 when Stevie Wonder gifted them the song “It’s a Shame.”  But when The Spinners couldn’t repeat its success, it really was a shame.  Adding to the group’s distress was the fact that G.C. Cameron, a pivotal later addition to the roster, was committed to Motown for a solo career.  When The Spinners’ Motown contract expired, they went in search of greener pastures.  They would find them far from Detroit, in the City of Brotherly Love, where producer Thom Bell (The Delfonics, The Stylistics) elected to take the group under his wing.  Armed with a new contract at Atlantic and a new singer in Phillipe Wynne, The Spinners were ready to take flight.

Their white-hot Philadelphia period, and beyond, is covered on the new 2-CD anthology from Demon Music Group’s Music Club Deluxe label, The Ultimate Collection (Music Club Deluxe MCDLX532).  (It’s credited to The Detroit Spinners, the name the group was given in the U.K. after the success of “It’s a Shame,” so as not to confuse them with British folksingers The Spinners.)  The 31-track collection lives up to its title, offering one more track than 1991’s A One of a Kind Love Affair: The Anthology or 2006’s The Definitive Soul Collection, both of which are out-of-print.  Both of those offered “It’s a Shame,” and the former even went as far back as the Tri-Phi “That’s What Girls Are Made For,” whereas Ultimate Collection concentrates exclusively on the Atlantic hitmaking years.  But it makes up for what’s missing by including a number of difficult-to-find tracks from the group’s post-Thom Bell years.

Hit the jump for a look at what you’ll find on The Ultimate Collection, including the full track listing with discography! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 5, 2012 at 12:44