Let’s make no bones about it, nowadays, Northern Soul compilations are two a penny. Hardly a week goes by and yet another Northern Soul compilation is released. That’s been the case for the last few years. Nothing has changed in the first few months of 2015. Most of the compilations are third rate. They’re just attempts to cash-in on Northern Soul’s popularity. That’s the case whether it’s the cheap budget label releases or the budget breaking box sets.

Part of the problem is that many compilations rehash the same songs. Pick up a pile of Northern Soul compilations and you’ll soon realise that’s the case. That’s why it’s a case of caveat emptor when buying a Northern Soul compilation. If you don’t, you risk disappointment.

My advice is “don’t believe the hype.” Especially when they come baring the words “featuring songs played at the Wigan Casino or Blackpool Mecca.” These words seem to suggest that the compilations ooze quality. All too often, that’s not the case. Having been played at the Wigan Casino or Blackpool Mecca isn’t a guarantee of quality. Far from it. 

There’s several ways to separate the wheat from when the chaff, when it comes to Northern Soul compilations. Who compiled the compilation is hugely important. So, is the label that released the compilation. Some labels have established a reputation for releasing Northern Soul compilations. Others are just jumping on the bandwagon, looking to make a quick buck. They neither care about the music, nor the people that made it. However, labels like Ace Records do. 

Through their Kent imprint, Ace Records have been releasing Northern Soul compilations for over twenty years. Their most recent Northern Soul compilation, was Northern Soul’s Most Classiest Rarities Volume 5, which was released by their Kent Dance subsidiary. It has everything you could want in a Northern Soul compilation. 

That’s not surprising. Northern Soul’s Most Classiest Rarities Volume 5 was compiled by veteran compiler Ady Croasdell. He’s a man steeped in Northern Soul. With an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of all things soulful, Ady combines classics and collectors items with future classics, hidden gems, obscurities, rarities and a even a quintet of unissued tracks. The result is Northern Soul’s Most Classiest Rarities Volume 5, a welcome addition to the Northern Soul’s Most Classiest Rarities’ rarities series.

No wonder. Northern Soul’s Most Classiest Rarities Volume 5 features tracks from Marva Holiday, The Steelers, Clifford Curry, Terri Goodnight, Soul Brothers, The Ballads, Ray And Dave and Little Johnny Hamilton. Then there unissued tracks from The Avons, J. J. Barnes, Jeanette Jones, The Webb People and Jesse Cowan. However, one of the most intriguing tracks comes from the legendary blues shouter Big Joe Turner. These are just a few of the twenty-four tracks on Northern Soul’s Most Classiest Rarities Volume 5, which I’ll pick the highlights of

The opening track of any compilation, is always the most important. It’s got to grab your attention. That’s the case here, with When The Boy That You Love (Is Loving You), an unreleased track from The Avons. They were formed in Nashville, and featured Paula Hester, Beverly Bard and Fran Bard. Between 1963 and 1968, they released singles on the Groove, Sound Stage, Abet, Excello and Ref-O-Rea labels. Their last three singles were produced by Bob Holmes. He also wrote and produced When The Boy That You Love (Is Loving You). Bob adds cascading strings, braying horns and vibes, as The Avons deliver a mid-tempo slice of musical sunshine. This whets your appetite for the rest of Northern Soul’s Most Classiest Rarities Volume 5.

Tracks like The Volumes’ That Same Old Feeling restore your faith in Northern Soul. It’s something of an obscurity and proof you should always flip a single over. Many times, there’s a hidden gem awaiting discovery. That’s the case here. That Same Old Feeling was the  B-Side to The Volumes’ 1966 single The Trouble I’ve Seen. It was released on Impact Records, and produced by Duke Browner. Here, the veteran producer plays in his part in what’s a wistful sounding track, tinged with hurt and heartbreak that quite simply, epitomises everything that’s good about Northern Soul.

Clifford Curry’s career began in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he was a member of various vocal groups. Then in 1964, Clifford released his debut single Kiss, Kiss, Kiss on Georgia based, Ridgecrest Records. After that, it was another three years before Clifford released another single. His comeback came at Elf, Buzz Cason and Bobby Russell’s label. That was home for Clifford until 1968. He went on to release eight singles, including I Cant Get Hold Of Myself. It was written by Buzz Cason and Mac Gayden. With its dancing strings, stabs of horns, soaring quivering harmonies and a despairing vocal, it should’ve replicated the success She Shot A Hole In My Soul. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. Despite that, the hook-laden I Cant Get Hold Of Myself is still guaranteed to fill dance-floors.

Terri Goodnight’s They Didn’t Know is one of the rarities on Northern Soul’s Most Classiest Rarities Volume 5. Copies are extremely rare. They Didnt Know was the B-Side to Terri’s sophomore single The Fighting Is Over. It was released on Johnny Cochran Sr.’s Phelectron Records in 1966. Ken Easton produced They Didn’t Know, which was penned by Jean Cochran. Sadly, The Fighting Is Over wasn’t a commercial success. However, a few years later, its flip side, They Didn’t Know became a favourite of Northern Soul DJs. No wonder, given its wistful, soulful and dance-floor friendly sound.

At one time, girl groups were popular within the Northern Soul scene. Not any more. For thirty years they’ve been out of favour. That means so many great songs are being overlooked. This includes Mousie and The Traps’ 1966 single It’s All In The Way (You Look At It Baby). It was released two years after sisters Genevieve and Susan Hernandez and Thelma Flores formed Mousie and The Traps at high school. Two years later, they released It’s All In The Way (You Look At It Baby) on Toddin’ Town. It’s an overlooked and underrated song that hopefully, one day, will find favour within the Northern Soul scene.

For thirty years, Roy Wright’s Hook Line and Sinker has been a favourite amongst Northern Soul fans. They head for the dance-floor when they hear Hook Line and Sinker’s driving beat and blazing horns. Hook Line and Sinker was released on Vick Records in 1966. By then, Roy was an experienced artist. He made his debut in the late fifties, when he recorded a quartet of singles for Drexel. After leaving Drexel, he released single on Vick and Crash Records. However, one of Roy’s finest singles is the version of Hook Line and Sinker, the Northern Soul floor-filler he recorded for Vick.

Darondo Pulliam’s How I Got Over is one of the real finds on Northern Soul’s Most Classiest Rarities Volume 5. It was released in 1972, on the Oscampo Records. How I Got Over was penned by Darondo and producer John Al Tanner. They’re responsible for a track that brings to mind early Al Green. The similarities are uncanny. Even the arrangement has a Hi Records’ influence. Sadly, Darondo Pulliam only ever released two more singles after How I Got Over. That was the last anyone heard from Darondo until 2006, when he released his debut album Let My People Go. Five years later, BGP Records released Listen To My Song: The Music City Sessions. At last, Darondo Pulliam’s music was finding a wider audience. However, tragedy struck in 2013, when Darondo Pulliam died on 9th June 2013. That day, soul music lost one of its best kept secrets.

Another of the five unreleased tracks is this version of The Webb People’s I’m Sending Vibrations. Originally, this Dave Hamilton and John C. Smith production was the B-Side to Bump With Me. That was a different take of I’m Sending Vibrations. There’s a reason for this. For many years, the multitrack master tapes of the version on Northern Soul’s Most Classiest Rarities Volume 5 were missing. They were only found recently. This is a real discovery, and finds The Webb People seamlessly combining soul and funk on I’m Sending Vibrations.

Two Loves Have I features Big Joe Turner as you’ve never heard him. The former blues shouter was transformed into a soul singer by Bob Thiele in 1970. That’s when Big Joe Turner signed to Bob Thiele’s Flying Dutchman Productions. His only album for Flying Dutchman Productions, was The Real Boss Of The Blues. Released in 1970, Big Joe Turner is at his soulful best on this mid-tempo ballad.

Back in the sixties, Eddy Giles was enjoying a career as a Southern Soul singer. Given his undeniable talent, many within the record industry, thought that Eddy would enjoy a long and illustrious career. While Eddy enjoyed some commercial success and critical acclaim, he never reached the heady heights he seemed destined for. His career was a case of what might have been? That’s despite being able to bring new meaning to a song. That’s what Eddy does on Floyd Jenkins country song Pins and Needles. Sadly, Eddy’s version of Pins and Needles was never released, and only made its debut on the Kent Soul compilation Southern Soul Brother-The Murco Recordings 1967-1969. It’s the perfect introduction to Eddy Giles, who could’ve, and should’ve, rubbed shoulders with the great and good soul music.

Jesse Cowan’s This Man Wants You closes Northern Soul’s Most Classiest Rarities Volume 5. It’s the fifth, and final unreleased track. This Man Wants You was written by Wally Cox. He and Jesse performed as a duo. However, they never recorded any material. They both recorded as solo artist. Their only release was Jesse’s Strange Love, which was released on the duo’s Golden State label. Among the unreleased tracks was Jesse’s This Man Wants You. It’s soulful, funky and dance-floor friendly. It also features a needy, pleading vocal that’s brings the lyrics to life. 

Featuring twenty-four tracks, where classics and collectors items rub shoulders with future classics, hidden gems, obscurities, rarities and a even a quintet of unissued tracks, Northern Soul’s Most Classiest Rarities Volume 5 is essential listening for all Northern Soul fans. It was recently released by Kent Dance, an imprint of Ace Records. Northern Soul’s Most Classiest Rarities Volume 5 is a very welcome addition to the Northern Soul’s Most Classiest Rarities’ series. There’ a reason for this.

Northern Soul’s Most Classiest Rarities Volume 5 was compiled by veteran complier Ady Croasdell . He’s a man steeped in Northern Soul. With an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of all things soulful. However, Ady won’t rest on his laurels. He knows that there’s still mountains of soulful delights awaiting discovery. Ady also knows that in the cutthroat world of compilations, competition is fierce. So, still Ady is determined to dig deeper than other compilers.

This means many a crate-digging expedition, searching for elusive, hard to find tracks. This takes time, effort and patience. Warehouses, damp, dusty basements, backstreet record stores, thrift stores and charity shops are the territory of the crate-digger. That’s where often, they find the hidden gems, rarities and killer tracks are to be found.  Then there’s Ady’s other habitat, record company vaults.

Often there’s a myriad of delights awaiting in a record company vaults. A hidden gem could be hidden in a mislabelled tape box. Within that box, could be a killer track, that crate-diggers find a lifetime searching for. Ady knows his way around record company vaults. He’s spent hours, days, weeks and months searching. That takes patience and dedication. However, in the case of Northern Soul’s Most Classiest Rarities Volume 5, Ady’s efforts have been worthwhile. 

Northern Soul’s Most Classiest Rarities Volume 5 is a classy compilation, chock full of classics, hidden gems and rarities. Truly, it belongs in every Northern Soul fan’s collection. Ady Croasdell, man with the encyclopaedic knowledge of all things soulful, has done it again and compiled what’s the best Northern Soul collection of 2015, so far.








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