LOVING ON THE FLIPSIDE.

LOVING ON THE FLIPSIDE.

In my never-ending quest to bring you new and exciting compilations, recently, I’ve recently been digging even deeper than usual. This has seen me reviewing from labels far and wide, including Japan, Europe and America, plus some of my favorite British labels. One of the reasons I’ve been digging so deep is that although many compilations are released on a weekly basis, they’re very much a mixed big. I’ve previously described them as the good, the bad and the ugly. That’s very definitely the case. It seems that the best compilations are released by smaller, independent labels, while the majors continue to churn out compilations of populist “product.” These are aimed firmly at the mass-market, with the target audience occasional record buyers, either DINKYs or families who buy their music in supermarkets. For both groups, music is just background noise to their everyday lives, whether that’s listening on iPods while commuting, soccer moms doing the school run or DINKY dinner parties. So given how dire the quality of music on many of these compilations are, you’ll realize just why I’m digging so deep. Indeed if I dig any deeper, I’ll be spending the winter in Sydney. In my quest to discover new and innovative compilations, I came across Loving On the Flipside, released by Los Angeles’ based Now Again Records, a subsidiary of Stones Throw Records. However, I referred to Loving On the Flipside as new and innovative, but why is that? That’s what I’ll now tell you.

One of two reasons I’ve described Loving On the Flipside as new and innovative concerns what are usually referred to as sleeve-notes. Loving On the Flipside doesn’t have sleeve-notes. Instead, it has a lovingly compiled eighty-page book. This is great news for crate-diggers and music reviewers everywhere. Often when I receive compilations, and I discover a track I want to tell you about, it’s impossible to find information about it. This can be really frustrating, especially when you’ve discovered a real hidden gem of a track. Even tracking down what label it was released on and when it was released can be the musical equivalent of climbing Everest. Never mind trying to find who produced, or arranged or cowrote the track. For someone like myself this is frustrating. My worst experience recently, were two CDs where the only details about the tracks were the artists and titles. Even then the, title of one of the tracks was wrong. That was it. No details of who wrote the tracks or what label the tracks were released on. They were quite simply two of the worst presented compilations I’ve come across in over thirty-five years. From a complete lack of information we go to the other extreme with Loving On the Flipside, which has an eighty-page book which tells you everything you could ever want to know and more about the twenty-one tracks. 

In the eighty-page book that accompanies Loving On the Flipside, there’s everything you could ever want to know about the twenty-one tracks on the compilation. It’s almost doing the compiler a disservice to say that it’s a lovingly compiled book. You get the idea that great care and attention to every detail has gone into putting together this book. There’s everything from facsimile copies of the original vinyl singles, photos of the groups and artists plus the backstory to each of the twenty-one tracks. These backstories tell about the people behind each song, including how the Disciples of Soul covered Gamble and Huff’s Together three years after The Inruders. There’s so much detail about the artists lives away from music. For example it tells the tragic story of how Ed Nelson’s career was derailed by drugs and how a member of Blue Velvet’s Is It Me You Really Love was never released after one of the members was shot in the back breaking up a fight. Each of these stories show how but for a stroke of fate, musical history could’ve been very different. Truly, it seems no detail is too small to be overlooked. For crate-diggers everywhere, information like this is like gold-dust. Having told you why Loving On the Flipside is such an innovative and impressive release from the point of view of the eighty-page book, is the music as good?

Unlike previous releases from Now Again Records which focused on funk music, Loving On the Flipside features twenty-one soulful songs. They’re the polar opposite of the aggression and machismo of Now Again’s previous funk fueled releases and contain more than a few real hidden gems. The first of these is Eddie Finley and The Cincinatti Show Band 1972 release Treat Me Right Or Leave Me Alone, released on Rapturea Records. Describing this track as soulful, doesn’t come close to doing it justice. It features Eddie’s impassioned pleas. He’s accompanied by Complete with dramatic stabs of brassy horns and drums, it’s a track that can’t fail to move you, given the emotion and pain in Eddie’s voice.

I was really pleased to discover Hot Chocolate’s We Had True Love, which was released in 1970 and arranged and produced by lead singer Lou Ragland. Many years ago, I bought a copy of a CD reissue of Hot Chocolate’s album, but the sound quality really let it down. Here, the quality is much better, allowing you to hear the song’s beauty and the sadness and hurt in Lou’s voice. The arrangement is understated, with just subtle, chiming guitars accompanying Lou’s heartfelt vocal. It’s a very beautiful song, one tinged with sadness and a melancholy sound.

Black Conspirators’ Love, which was released back in 1971 and released on Get Down Records, features one of the best arrangements on Loving On the Flipside. Written by lead singer Joe Cooley, arranged by Lelon WIndham and produced by Black Conspirators, the arrangement features dramatic bursts of blazing horns and heartfelt harmonies accompanying Joe’s fervent vocal. It’s the harmonies and horns that make this such a great track and harmonies were what the Black Conspirators were famed for in the Indianapolis are. They were influenced by Al Green, plus groups like The Detroit Spinners and The Temptations. Sadly, they never enjoyed even a fraction of the success these giants of soul enjoyed.

Then there’s Rhythm Machine’s horn lead and hugely dramatic Whatcha Gonna Do, which features some of the most tender, beautiful harmonies. Released in 1972, on Rodan Records and featuring Kevin Ferrell’s impassioned lead vocals. It really is one of the best tracks on Loving On the Flipside. It’s such a good track that you wonder why this track wasn’t a commercial success. Not only that, but you want to hear more from Rhythm Machine and want to know more about the band. That’s where Loving On the Flipside’s eighty-page book comes in handy, telling you everything you want to know about Rhythm Machine but were afraid to ask.

Only one group Darling Dears have two tracks on Loving On the Flipside. Given the quality of I Don’t Think I’ll Ever Love Another and And I Love You, that’s understandable. Of the two tracks, my favorite is And I Love You, released in September 1972 on Flower City Records. Flourishes of keyboards accompany Kim McFadden’s emotive vocal, while soaring harmonies, piano and the rhythm section play their part in the track’s success. What follows is three minutes of raw emotion, heartache and pain. So good is this track that you wonder how you’ve lived without it. It’s one of these tracks that’s lain unloved for forty years and at last has seen the light of day. I for one am grateful for this. 

The Black Exotics’ What Am I Waiting For was released in 1975 on United World of Music Records. It was written by Ron Tyson and Bunny Sigler, just before they became part of the Salsoul success story. With Sonny Thomas producing the track, you’d expect something special. You aren’t disappointed. With a Hammond organ, slow, moody rhythm section and stabs of horns accompanied by backing vocalists a vocal full of sadness and despair enters. Heartbroken, the vocal is accompanied by an arrangement that grows in drama, matching the despair and pain in the vocal. This results in three and a half minutes of really emotive, moving music that believe me, can’t help but move you.

Primitive’s You Are Everything To Me is another slow and soulful tracks, which is full of emotion. As you hear the opening bars, you find yourself reaching for Loving On the Flipside’s trusty eighty-page book. You’ll discover the single was released in 1977, on Love Records and written by lead singer James Sharp. The track was produced by Primitive and has a slow, horn lead introduction, with the rhythm section and chiming guitars creating a pensive backdrop. When James Sharp’s vocal enters, it’s deliberate as he gives thanks for the love he has. Harmonies dramatically accompany his vocal, as the track reveals its soulful secrets. With an understated, spacious arrangement, this combination results in one of the most beautiful tracks on Loving On the Flipside.

My final choice is Symphonic Four’s Who Do You Think You’re Fooling (Part II). It was released in 1970 on Zudan Records. Featuring Christopher “Classic” Williams lead vocal, the introduction is similar to Darling Dears’ And I Love You. The arrangement is dramatic, with a jangly piano playing an important role in the arrangement. It accompanies a vocal where delay is used to add to the track’s drama and emotion. What really makes the track are some tight, soulful and heartfelt harmonies. When they’re combined with Christopher’s vocal and the edgy arrangement the result is another glittering gem that deserved to be unearthed after too long hidden in the musical wilderness.

Having only mentioned nine of the tracks on Loving On the Flipside I feel as if I’ve only scratched the surface of the compilation. There are so many other tracks I could’ve mentioned. Indeed, I could just as easily have included tracks from Little Janice, Jazzie Cazzie And The Eight Sounds, Ed. Nelson, Conspiracy, Eunice Collins and Disciples Of Soul. That shows the quality of music on Loving On the Flipside. Many of these tracks will be new to most people and given how good they are, will be welcomed by anyone who loves their music soulful. Earlier, I wondered whether the quality of music matched the quality of the eighty-page book that accompanies it. Quite simply, the answer to that is yes. Loving On the Flipside comes across as a lovingly compiled collection of tracks, just like the book. There’s only one little thing that lets the whole package down, and thats the somewhat cheap and flimsy paper booklet that the CD is contained in. That might seem like a small thing, but surely, it would’ve easy to attach the CD to the inside of the book. Apart from that, Loving On the Flipside is an innovative approach to what is an overcrowded compilation market. I just hope that Loving On the Flipside isn’t the last compilation like this Now Again Records releases, as there are many people who want to know more about the music and the people that recorded it. Hopefully, Now Again Records will release further instalments of Loving On the Flipside, which is a loving-compiled collection of music that will appeal to everyone who loves their music soulful. Standout Tracks: Hot Chocolate We Had True Love, Black Conspirators Love, The Black Exotics What Am I Waiting For and Primitive You Are Everything To Me.

LOVING ON THE FLIPSIDE.

Loving On The Flipside (CD & Book)

2 Comments

  1. Alvin L Lofton

    Thanks so much for your great review on my group’s songs the Darling Dears. We all love you.

    • Hi Alvin,

      Thanks for your comments. It’s always good to hear from a member of a group I’ve mentioned. I really enjoyed I Don’t Think I’ll Ever Love Another and And I Love You from the On the Flipside compilation. They’re two great tracks. Did you stay involved in music after The Darling Dears? I’m always interested to hear what path people’s careers take after they’ve been in bands. It would be good to know.

      Best Wishes,
      Derek.

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