MORE LOST SOUL GEMS FROM SOUNDS OF MEMPHIS.

MORE LOST SOUL GEMS FROM SOUNDS OF MEMPHIS.

During the sixties and seventies, Gene Lucchesi’s Sounds Of Memphis label was one of the most important Southern Soul labels. It was one of two labels Gene founded. The other was XL Records, which he founded in 1964. A year later, in 1965, his nascent label released one of the biggest selling Southern Soul singles, Wooly Bully, by Sam The Sham. It sold over ten million copies. This was the start of a musical journey that saw Gene Lucchesi’s labels become two of the biggest players in Southern Soul.

Sounds Of Memphis and XL Records signed some of the most talented artists in Southern Soul history. This included Dan Greer, Spencer Wiggins, George Jackson, Minit, The Ovations and Barbara and The Browns. Many of these artists feature on More Lost Soul Gems From Sounds Of Memphis, which was recently released by Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records.

More Lost Soul Gems From Sounds Of Memphis is the latest look back at Gene Lucchesi’s label. It’s a fitting accompaniment to previous retrospectives of Sounds Of Memphis and XL Records. There’s been seven in total.

The first instalment was Can’t Be Satisfied: The XL and Sounds of Memphis Story. It was released in October 2007, and featured some of the best singles XL and Sounds of Memphis released. Less than a  year later, in August 2008, Play The Game: The XL and Sounds of Memphis Story Volume 2 was released. After that, it wasn’t until May 2010, that Steppin’ Stone-The XL and Sounds Of Memphis Story Volume 3 was released. Then in 2012, Lost Soul Gems From Sounds Of Memphis was released. Apart from these four compilations, Kent Soul have also released compilations of music recorded by Dan Greer, Barbara and The Browns and The Ovations. However, there’s much more to XL and the Sounds of Memphis than the music on these seven compilations. 

That’s why Kent Soul have decided to release More Lost Soul Gems From Sounds Of Memphis. It features twenty-two tracks. Only four of them have been released before. The other eighteen tracks have never previously been released. These unreleased tracks have been hidden away in the Sounds Of Memphis since they were recorded. Not any more. More Lost Soul Gems From Sounds Of Memphis was released on 30th June 2014. That’s fitting, given it’s fifty years since Gene Lucchesi founded XL Records. Since then, both XL Records and Sounds Of Memphis have had a special place in the hearts of Southern Soul fans. You’ll realise why, when I tell you about the highlights of More Lost Soul Gems From Sounds Of Memphis.

Marjorie Ingram’s Tempted opens  More Lost Soul Gems From Sounds Of Memphis. It’s one of the eighteen unreleased tracks. Tempted features a sassy, sultry, vampish vocal, complete with a trademark Southern Soul arrangement. Waves of Hammond organ, stabs of blazing horns and soaring harmonies result in a gloriously soulful track, that’s a real hidden gem. What a way to open More Lost Soul Gems From Sounds Of Memphis.

In the history of Southern Soul, George Jackson’s name looms large. A hugely talented singer and songwriter, George recorded for Sounds Of Memphis and Fame Records. Hold On, Hold Out is a beautiful, slow ballad. It’s the perfect showcase for George’s vocal. His vocal is a fusion of emotion, fear and hope. The fear is that his partner will be unfaithful when he’s away. He realises she’ll be tempted, but hopes that his partner “can hold out till I come home. A beautiful, heartfelt ballad, it’s the perfect introduction to George Jackson.

The same can be said Since My Baby Left Me, which features a heartbroken vocal from Dan Greer. Sadly, Dan didn’t enjoy the success his talent warranted. That was the case when Dan was at Fame Records. Next stop was Gene Lucchesi’s Sound Of Memphis. The multitalented Dan Greer became A&R man, producer, songwriter and singer. Despite his undoubted talent, Dan enjoyed more success as a songwriter, producer and A&R man. Since My Baby Left Me is however, a taste of what Dan’s capable of.

Some artists feature more than once on More Lost Soul Gems From Sounds Of Memphis. That includes Rudolph Taylor. He contributes two unreleased tracks. One Man’s Poison is stomping vamp, featuring a vocal powerhouse from Rudolph. His gravelly vocal is accompanied by a pounding rhythm section and stabs of braying horns. Misery is very different. It’s a soul-searching ballad, where cooing harmonies accompany a heartbroken Rudolph. You’re Using Me sees the tempo rise, and the frustration Rudolph’s feeling boils over. Accusingly, he sings “You’re Using Me.”

Mention Barbara Brown and most people will remember her seminal Southern Soul classic Pity A Fool. However, Barbara also enjoyed commercial success with Barbara and The Browns.  Before they signed to Sounds Of Memphis, they’d been signed to Stax and Chess Records’ subsidiary Cadet Records. After that, Barbara and The Browns signed to Sounds Of Memphis, where they recorded the Stacy Davison penned Human Emotions. A slow ballad, where Barbara combines drama and emotion. The result is a spellbinding track that tugs at your heartstrings.

Carroll Lloyd contributes two tracks to More Lost Soul Gems From Sounds Of Memphis. Her first contribution is A Great Big Thing. It showcases a vocal that’s soulfulness personified. Poor Side Of Town is the best of the two tracks. No wonder. It came from the pen of Lou Adler and Johnny Rivers. It’s quality all the way.From the get-go, Carroll’s is an outpouring of hurt. She’s been betrayed, and is hurting. The grizzled horns and harmonies reflect her despair, as Carroll lays bare her weary soul.

Fran Farley’s features twice on More Lost Soul Gems From Sounds Of Memphis. They’re very different. I Care For You has a subtle, understated sound. The arrangement meanders along, before Fran’s needy, heartfelt vocal enters. It’s also tender and hopeful. Very different is Memphis Funk. It’s hard to believe it’s the same artist. Funky, but still soulful, gone is the understated sound. There’s more of a swagger in the vocal, which is fuller and funkier.

Straight away, Billy Cee and The Freedom Express’ Don’t Matter If It’s In The Past reminds me of the type of music Hi Records were producing in the early seventies. Sometimes, Billy Cee’s vocal even sounds like Al Green. Especially as it begins to soar and Billy unleashes a vamp . As for the rest of the arrangement, it epitomises everything that’s good about Southern Soul. That’s why this track is the highlight of More Lost Soul Gems From Sounds Of Memphis.

From the opening bars, Art Jerry Miller’s You Can Always Depend On Me oozes quality. Why this track wasn’t released seems strange? After all, it’s a glorious slice of Southern Soul with a funky twist. Art delivers a vampish, heartfelt vocal while stabs of keyboards and washes of Hammond organ accompany him. The result is a track with a glorious feel-good sound. 

A Hammond organ joins forces to drive the arrangement to drive Tommy Raye’s You Don’t Love Me along. The arrangement is reminiscent of what Booker T. and The MGs were producing during the sixties. You Don’t Love Me will be familiar with most people. It was penned by the blues singer Willie Cobbs. An oft-covered classic, it’s given a Memphis makeover by Tommy Raye.

My final choice from More Lost Soul Gems From Sounds Of Memphis is Ann Hodge’s Your Own Free Will. It was written by Larry Chambers and Raymond Moore, but was never released. A dramatic horn drenched introduction sets the scene for Ann’s vocal. It’s emotive, tinged with sadness and is rueful. No wonder. The man that left her is now being given the runaround by “the other woman.” She can’t seem to muster up the sympathy, given the pain he caused her. This mini-musical soap opera is one of the highlights of More Lost Soul Gems From Sounds Of Memphis.

For anyone who enjoys Southern Soul, then More Lost Soul Gems From Sounds Of Memphis is a compilation that belongs in their collection. After all, Sounds Of Memphis, like XL Records, Gene Lucchesi’s other label, was one of the most important labels in the history of Southern Soul. No wonder. Look at its roster. 

Dan Greer, George Jackson, Rudolph Taylor, Barbara and The Browns, Carroll Lloyd, Fran Farley, Billy Cee and The Freedom Express and Art Jerry Miller were all signed to Sounds Of Memphis. All these artists feature on Kent Soul’s recently released compilation More Lost Soul Gems From Sounds Of Memphis. This is the eighth compilation released by Kent Soul that looks back at Sounds Of Memphis. That’s no surprise, Sounds Of Memphis was one of the most important labels in the history of Southern Soul. That’s obvious when you listen to More Lost Soul Gems From Sounds Of Memphis.

Of the twenty-two tracks on More Lost Soul Gems From Sounds Of Memphis, eighteen have never been released before. That’s not because of the quality. Far from it. Many of the tracks could’ve been released as a single. They’re certainly good enough. In fact, some of the unreleased tracks are better than the singles other labels were releasing, at that time. 

That’s testimony to the quality of music Sounds Of Memphis were releasing, that these tracks have never been released before. Thankfully, albeit somewhat belatedly, the twenty-two tracks on More Lost Soul Gems From Sounds Of Memphis are now available for everyone to hear. It’s mixture of singles, hidden gems and rarities from the Sounds Of Memphis vaults. That’s why Lost Soul Gems From Sounds Of Memphis is a fitting companion to the eight previous compilations of music from Gene Lucchesi’s Sounds Of Memphis label.

MORE LOST SOUL GEMS FROM SOUNDS OF MEMPHIS.

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