SOUL IN HARMONY-VOCAL GROUPS 1965-1977.

SOUL IN HARMONY-VOCAL GROUPS 1965-1977.

Whether your preference is for country, crossover, deep, modern, Northern, Philly or Southern Soul, everyone will have their favourite group soul single. It may be an old favourite or hidden gem, however, for you, it epitomises everything that’s good about group soul. For three minutes, that single tugs at your heartstrings. You’re won over by that slice of musical perfection. You can’t resist the charms of the impassioned, heartfelt, harmonies. Resistance is impossible. You’ve fallen hook, line and sinker for what, to you is, a group soul classic. Betrayal, heartbreak, hurt and joy shine through, on what are often like a short story or kitchen sink drama. That’s the case on Kent Soul’s latest compilation Soul In Harmony-Vocal Groups 1965-1977. 

Soul In Harmony-Vocal Groups 1965-1977 features twenty-four soulful soap operas. This includes mini soap operas that are gritty examples of life gone wrong. You’re listen as someone’s life unravels. They’ve been betrayed, and are heartbroken. Harmonies full of hurt bring the lyrics to life. This becomes like a cathartic outpouring of grief. The result is deeply moving and powerful. That’s the case on other tracks, where joy and jubilation shine through. 

Harmonies give thanks, thanks for finding someone special, someone to love. Four or five voices become one, and in unison, bring lyrics to life. They tell the story with emotion and passion. So much so, that it becomes very real. That’s group soul at its best. So is Soul In Harmony-Vocal Groups 1965-1977.

For Soul In Harmony-Vocal Groups 1965-1977, compilers Ady Croasdell and Tony Rounce have dug deep. Rather than just pick the a selection of the best known group soul singles, Ady and Tony have compiled familiar tracks and hidden gems. This includes contributions from The Imaginations, The Dramatics, The Webb People, The Pretenders, The Mad Lads, The Love Experience, The Magnificent 7 and The Mark-Keys. These tracks were released on labels like Spring, Volt, Carnival, Dial, Boo and Colossus. Twenty-two of the tracks on Soul In Harmony-Vocal Groups 1965-1977 are new to CD, while six have never been released before. For anyone whose a fan of group soul, Soul In Harmony-Vocal Groups 1965-1977 will be a welcome release, which I’ll pick the highlights of.

Opening Soul In Harmony-Vocal Groups 1965-1977, is The Imaginations’ Strange Voice. This was the second single The Imaginations released on Fraternity. Released in 1968, it was a cover of a track originally recorded by Gene McDaniels in 1963. Produced by Ray Allen and arranged by Rod Bedenbaugh, the single wasn’t a commercial success. That’s despite The Imaginations’ harmonies being an outpouring of betrayal, emotion and hurt. Tinged withe desperation and disbelief, they sing” “she left me.” This heartache seems very real. So much so, that they play their part in a hidden gem

Often the reason a single or album is a commercial failure is nothing to do with the music. That’s the case with The Dynamic Soul Machine’s Boom-A-Rang. It was released as a single in 1975, on Respect, an imprint of Stax Records. Unfortunately, Stax was on the verge of insolvency. With no budget for promotion, the single passed music lovers by. For the quartet from Birmingham, Alabama, that was the end of their musical dream and they never released any further singles. That’s a great shame, because The Dynamic Soul Machine were hugely talented. Slow, sensual and sultry it’s a beautiful slice of soulful perfection.

When The Dramatics released their debut single Bingo, they were signed Wingate. Four years later, they were signed to Volt, a subsidiary of Stax. Their Volt debut was 1969s Your Love Is Strange, which failed to chart. Tucked away on the B-Side, is Since I’ve Been In Love. Written by Fred Bridges, Bobby Eaton and Richard Knight, and produced by Don Davis, it’s very different from The Dramatics’ best known singles Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get and The Rain. Featuring a tender lead vocal, tight, soaring harmonies and cascading strings, it’s truly beautiful, and one of the highlights of Soul In Harmony-Vocal Groups 1965-1977.

We Can Make It Baby was one of two tracks recorded by The Reputations for Carnival Records. It was written by Marvin Gaye and James Nyx, and originally, recorded by The Originals. The other track was a cover of The Delfonics’ I Gave To You. These tracks were never released. Instead, thet lay in the vaults of Carnival Records. That’s a great shame. Music lovers missed hearing a track that features needy, reassuring and hopeful harmonies. 

During their time on Carnival Records, The Pretenders released six singles. They’ve one thing in common, their quality. This was the second lineup of The Pretenders, with Pat Tandy replacing Valerie in the quartet. One listen to Just You Wait And See and you’ll realize that. Written by Kenneth Ruffin and produced by Joe Evans, this heartbreakingly beautiful ballad was released in 1974. A tale of heartbreak, defiantly, The Pretenders promise: “Just You Wait And See” to their departing lover. There’s a strong Philly Soul influence on this slick, emotive and dramatic tale of love lost.

Don’t Have To Shop Around was recorded by The Mad Lads for Volt, but never released. That’s despite The Mad Lads releasing a trio of albums for Volt between 1965 and 1973. This track demonstrates why The Mad Lads are perceived as one of Memphis’ best soul groups. With an understated arrangement, The Mad Lads’ harmonies take centre-stage. They shine like a beacon. Tender, heartfelt and impassioned, The Mad Lads sweet harmonies are truly irresistible.

Dramatic. That describes the introduction to The Love Experience’s Waiting For Your Love. Penned by Warren Foster and James Greene, it was produced by George Benz and released as the B-Side to Are You Together. It was released on the little-known Cherry Red label in 1971. Best described as uber rare, original copies of this track change hands for ever increasing sums of money. No wonder. As the arrangement unfolds, you realize something special is happening. Oozing emotion and sincerity, tight, tender and heartfelt harmonies and rasping horns accompany the lead vocal. The result is a track that’s best described as beautiful and, heartfelt outpouring of emotion. That’s why copies of this single change hands for £1,200.

Flourishes of lush, cascading strings open The Festivals’ Take Your Time. Written by Woody Price, it was the B-Side of Baby Show It, which was released on Colossus in 1971. Baby Show It reached number twenty-nine in the US R&B Charts. For anyone whose heard the track, that’s no surprise. Produced by Jerry Ross, a sometime collaborator of Gamble and Huff, there’s a Philly Soul influence to this needy, pleading ballad. Sadly, Baby Show It was the extent of the commercial success The Festivals enjoyed. They never fulfilled their potential and remain the nearly men of Philly Soul.

David Blake and Bert Keyes’ decision to stick with The Radiations’ falsetto lead vocal was vindicated on Love Be Not A Stranger. It was released in 1972, on Valise Records. Written and produced by David Blake and arranged by Bert Keyes, the lead vocal stops you in your tracks. It takes centre-stage after a meandering guitar and cooing harmonies set the scene. Delivered with feeling and sincerity, the falsetto lead vocal is at the heart of the track’s success. Harmonies and strings play a supporting role as the arrangement heads towards its dramatic, emotive crescendo.

Closing Soul In Harmony-Vocal Groups 1965-1977 is The Lovettes’ I’ll Be Waiting. The group were named after Blue Lovett of The Manhattans. He advised The Lovettes to sign for Carnival Records. They released a trio of singles for Carnival, Little Miss Soul, I Need A Guy and Crush. I’ll Be Waiting should’ve been their fourth single. A tender, heartfelt ballad, it’s as good, if not better, than anything The Lovettes ever released. Who knows what they have achieved if this soulful delight had been released?

The ten tracks I’ve mentioned are just some of the highlights of Soul In Harmony-Vocal Groups 1965-1977. There’s much more awaiting discovery. I could just have easily have picked any of the twenty-four tracks. Quite simply, it’s quality all the way on Soul In Harmony-Vocal Groups 1965-1977. Familiar tracks that are like old friends, rub shoulders with hidden gems you may never have heard before. It’s a voyage of musical discovery, where delicious soulful delights are part of a musical feast. During that musical feast singles and B-Sides tug at your heartstrings. You’re won over by their delights. You can’t resist the charms of the impassioned, heartfelt, harmonies and lead vocals oozing with emotion. Resistance is impossible. Betrayal, heartbreak, hurt and joy shine through, on what’s essentially musical theatre. 

Soul In Harmony-Vocal Groups 1965-1977, which was recently released by Kent Soul, a subsidiary of Ace Records features twenty-four soulful dramas. They’re full of heartache, hurt and love gone wrong. You’re listen as someone’s life unravels. They’ve been betrayed, and are heartbroken. Lyrics come to life and take on a cinematic quality. You can imagine the scenes unfolding before you. Especially, on the tales of heartache, where the vocals are akin to a cathartic outpouring of grief. The result is deeply moving and powerful, like so much of Soul In Harmony-Vocal Groups 1965-1977. 

On other tracks on Soul In Harmony-Vocal Groups 1965-1977, joy and jubilation shine through. Rhe lyrics are a celebration, where they’re give thanks, thanks for finding someone special, someone to love and share their life with. During these songs, four or five voices become one, and in unison, bring lyrics to life. They tell the story with emotion and passion. So much so, that it becomes very real. 

By the time you’ve heard Soul In Harmony-Vocal Groups 1965-1977, you’ve experienced a roller coaster of emotions. You empathise, sympathise and feel saddened, frustrated and angry at the plight of the characters on Soul In Harmony-Vocal Groups 1965-1977. That’s testament to the quality of music on Soul In Harmony-Vocal Groups 1965-1977, that the songs come to life. That’s why I’ve compared them variously to short stories, soap operas and theatre. Essentially, the music on Soul In Harmony-Vocal Groups 1965-1977 are mini works of art. These mini works if art epitomise everything that’s good about group soul music. Don’t just take my word for it. No. Taste the musical feast that’s Soul In Harmony-Vocal Groups 1965-1977 for yourself. Standout Tracks: The Dynamic Soul Machine Boom-A-Rang, The Pretenders Just You Wait And See, The Festivals Take Your Time and The Radiations Love Be Not A Stranger.

SOUL IN HARMONY-VOCAL GROUPS 1965-1977.

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