If I was to say the words Southern, Deep, Crossover, Modern and Northern what would you say? Many people would immediately say soul. They would be correct, but they’re also the themes for some of the Backbeats compilations that have been released since 2009. In total, thirty compilations have been released, all priced at under £4, $6 or €5. These compilations feature some fantastic music, but also represent great value for money. So to follow up my previous article which reviewed the two recent Philly Soul compilations, Philly Busters and Smooth Grooves, I’ll review two more of these great compilations Love and Jealousy and Back To My Place Baby. 


Love and Jealousy was released in 2010, and is described as featuring “The Deeper Side of Southern Soul.” Compiled by Sean Hampsey, the album features twenty-four tracks, from some of the biggest names in Southern Soul. On the album are tracks from Barbara Lynn, Al Green, Syl Johnson, Otis Clay, O.V. Wright and Don Bryant. Now the observant among you will have realized that apart from Barbara Lynn, the rest of the names I’ve mentioned, all recorded for Hi Records. Indeed, out of the twenty-four tracks, Hi provide sixteen of them. Of these sixteen tracks, you hear some stunning music from one of Southern Soul’s great labels. The non-Hi tracks are of similar quality, with Barbara Lynn, Fontella Bass, Oscar Perry, Bobby Patterson and Bobby Powell all providing quality Southern Soul.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is the opening track, the hugely emotive Do You Love Me by Quiet Elegance. They were an all-girl group signed to Hi Records by Willie Mitchell in 1972 and comprised two former members of The Glories and a former Vandella. Quiet Elegance contribute a second track Will You Be My Man (In the Morning), a powerful yet pensive, slice of Southern Soul. This trio of soul sisters provide two stunning tracks, and with talent like this, one wonders why they weren’t a much bigger success?

Another Hi Records star that provides another of the Love and Jealousy is Syl Johnson. He too contributes two track, the heart-achingly beautiful Could I Be Falling In Love with you from his 1974 album Diamond in the Rough. His other contribution is Anyway the Wind Blows is from his 1973 album Back For A Taste of Your Love. It features a downcast and almost defiant Syl, with The Memphis Horns and Memphis Rhythm Section at their very best on a track that reminds of Ann Peebles I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down. Listen to both tracks and you’ll see what I mean.

One of the artists on Love and Jealousy that many people possibly won’t have heard of is Otis Clay.  He recorded two great albums for Hi, 1972s Trying To Live My Life Without You and I Can’t Take It in 1977. The Otis Clay track chosen, is I Die A Little Every Day where emotion and passion are displayed in equal measure. This track was taken from Otis’ debut album for Hi Trying To Live My Life Without You. If you’ve never heard Otis Clay’s music, then this is the perfect opportunity to hear one of his best tracks.

Like Otis Clay and Syl Johnson who I’ve written about before, O.V. Wright is another Southern Soul great. On Love and Jealousy compiler Sean Hampsey has chosen Let’s Straighten It Out, from his 1978 album The Bottom Line. This was one of a trio of albums O.V. recorded for Hi, with Into Something I Can’t Shake Loose released in 1971 and 1977s The Wright Stuff. These were three vastly underrated albums, from an artist who had a tragically short career, dying aged just forty-one in 1980. Again, this compilation will hopefully encourage people to rediscover O.V.’s wonderful music.

Ann Peebles was the biggest female star on Hi Records, releasing seven albums between 1969 and 1978. On Love and Jealousy is the slow and sultry Give Me Some Credit, from her 1969 album This Is Ann Peebles. This was Ann’s debut album from Ann and gave her a number forty-five US R&B hit.

Of the non-Hi Records tracks Barbara Lynn’s This Is the Thanks I Get is a heart-wrenching track, laden with emotion. Ronnie Lovejoy’s Until You Get Enough of Me is an excellent track, from another underrated singer and is a welcome and worthy addition. The slow, dramatic arrangement with rasping horns and female backing singers accompanying Ronnie is fantastic, and makes me want to hear more of Ronnie’s music. My final choice from Love and Jealousy is Oscar Perry’s I’ll Take Care of You. This is three and a half minutes of slow, seductive and irresistible soul from 1972 and is a track with a lovely understated arrangement, but a heartfelt vocal. 

Overall, Love and Jealousy is an excellent compilation that’s is a must have for anyone who either loves Southern Soul or just soul music in general. It features a combination of tracks from well known artists and others that you may not be familiar with. This isn’t one of these compilations where there are a handful of good tracks, and the rest is filler. Quite the opposite, from the first track until the last, the quality is consistent. The album acts as both an introduction to the deeper side of Southern Soul, and an introduction to the wonderful music of Hi Records, which you can then explore. Hi was one of the best know Southern Soul labels, and there’s a multitude of majestic music waiting to be discovered. 



Back To My Place Baby features “70s and 80s seductive soul” and is another album of quality music from the Backbeats team. Compiled by Ian Dewhirst, and released in 2009, the album features some of the biggest names in soul music. The music of Al Green, Ann Peebles, The Chi-Lites, Teddy Pendergrass, The O’Jays, The Jones Girls, Dee Dee Sharp Gamble and Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes can all be found on the album. Tracks from labels that include Hi Records, Philadelphia International Records and Brunswick can all be found on Back To My Place Baby. Such is the strength and depth of the music on the album, that picking just a few tracks is a tough choice. However, here are a few of the album’s highlights.

Opening the album is Al Green’s I’m Still In Love With You, one of Al’s finest singles on Hi Records. It’s features a beautiful and tender vocal from Al on a track that reached number three in the US Billboard 100 and gave him US R&B  his second number one hit single. This was the title track from his 1972 platinum album I’m Still In Love With You, which reached number four in the US Billboard 200 and number one in the US R&B Charts. Quite simply this is vintage Al Green.

Another Hi Records’ artist Ann Peebles, provides another of the compilation’s highlights I Can’t Stand the Rain, the title track from Ann’s 1974 album I Can’t Stand the Rain. This powerful and memorable track was Ann’s biggest hit single, reaching number six in the US R&B Charts and number thirty-eight in the US Billboard 100. Similarly, I Can’t Stand the Rain was Ann’s most successful album, reaching number twenty-five in the US R&B tracks. Of all the singles Ann Peebles recorded during her career,  I Can’t Stand the Rain will forever remain synonymous with Ann Peebles.

During their career, The Chi-Lites recorded many great singles, but one of the best was Have You Seen Her, which reached number three in the US Billboard 100 and number one in the US R&B Charts. Written by Barbara Acklin and Eugene Record, this heartbreaking but beautiful track, was from their critically acclaimed 1971 album (For God’s Sake) Give More Power To the People, which reached number twelve in the US Billboard 200 and number three in the US R&B tracks. This was the first in a series of hugely successful albums the group recorded on Brunswick.

You Know How To Make Me Feel So Good is a track from Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes 1975 platinum certified album Wake Up Everybody, which reached number nine in the US Billboard 200 and number one in the US R&B Charts. This was the group’s second consecutive number one album, and most successful album. It was also the last album to feature Teddy Pendergrass’ as lead vocalist. After this, he’d leave the group to become a solo artist. On this track, Sharon Paige joins the group, her beautiful vocal adding to the seductive sound. Although it wasn’t released as a single, it’s a classic Gamble and Huff track, and demonstrates just what made the Philly Sound loved worldwide.

Having left Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes, Teddy Pendergrass continued on Philadelphia International Records, while his former group left the label. Two of his singles feature on Back To My Place Baby. His second single was The Whole Town’s Laughing At Me, which reached number 102 in the US Billboard 100 and number sixteen in the US R&B Charts. This was from Teddy’s debut solo album Teddy Pendergrass, which reached number seventeen in the US Billboard 200 and number five in the US R&B Charts. Although the single wasn’t a huge success, this emotive track has since become a firm favorite of Teddy’s many fans. The other Teddy Pendergrass track on the compilation is Close the Door, Teddy’s third single, from his second album Life Is A Song Worth Singing, which reached number eleven in the US Billboard 200 and number one in the US R&B Charts, resulting in the album being certified platinum. Not only did the album reach number one in the US R&B Charts, but this brilliant bedroom ballad, Close the Door, reached number one in the US R&B Charts, while reaching number twenty-five in the US Billboard 100. 

Like Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes and Teddy Pendergrass, The O’Jays recorded for Philadelphia International Records. The O’Jays’ contribution to this compilation is Brandy, from their platinum certified album So Full of Love. It reached number six in the US Billboard 200 and number one in the US R&B Charts. Although the album sold well, when Brandy was released as a single, it only reached number seventy-nine in the US Billboard 100 and number twenty-one in the US R&B Charts. Written by Joseph B. Jefferson and Charles B. Simmons, this heartbreaking but beautiful track deserved to do so much better, and hopefully, its inclusion on this compilation will introduce this gorgeous track to a wider audience.

It wasn’t just the Philadelphia International men that provide some great tracks on this compilation, as The Jones Girls, Jean Carn and Dee Dee Sharp Gamble all contribute a trio of quality Philly Soul tracks. The Jones Girls contribution is Eternally, which features an emotive and thoughtful vocal from Shirley, while Valerie and Brenda contribute beautiful backing vocals. This track demonstrates just how talented a group The Jones Girls are. 

The Jean Carn track chosen for this compilation is Don’t Let It Got To Your Head, which gave Jean a number fifty-four in the US R&B Charts. It’s a track with a big production and dramatic arrangement. Combine this with a powerful and vocal from Jean and you’ve a very welcome addition to the compilation. This track was from Jean’s 1978 album Happy To Be With You, the second of four albums Jean recorded for Philadelphia International Records. 

Dee Dee Sharp Gamble is the last of the trio of Philadelphia International women to feature on Back To My Place Baby. Her contribution is Just As Long As I Know You’re Mine from the second of three albums Dee Dee recorded for Philadelphia International, 1977s What Color Is Love. On this track the arrangement and Dee Dee’s vocal grow in power and drama, resulting in a track that’s also hugely catchy, and sounds great.

If you’re considering buying Back To My Place Baby, I can thoroughly recommend the compilation. It features some excellent music from some of the biggest names in soul music. With Philadelphia International Records contributing Teddy Pendergrass, The O’Jays, The Jones Girls, Dee Dee Sharp Gamble and Harold Melvin, as well as Dexter Wansel, while Hi Records contribute Al Green and Ann Peebles and Brunswick contributing The Chi-Lites, this an album that is full of quality soul music. There’s a combination of well known artists, and a few artists that many people will be unfamiliar with. However, regardless of whether they’re household names or lesser known artists, they all provide one thing, some sumptuous slices of soul music.


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