Sadly, Dave Hamilton is one of the forgotten men in the Motown story. That’s despite being one of the original members of Motown’s house band The Funk Brothers. They were formed in 1959, and right through to 1962, Dave Hamilton played guitar and vibes on early Motown recordings. Then in 1962, Dave Hamilton left The Funk Brothers and embarked on a solo career.

By then, Dave Hamilton had already released a single with Dave Hamilton and His Peppers. This was Donna’s Cha Cha, which was released on the Hi-Q label. On its release, Donna’s Cha Cha  disappeared without trace. So Dave returned to The Funk Brothers. Then in 1962, Dave Hamilton left The Funk Brothers for good.

A year later, in 1963, Dave Hamilton released his debut album Blue Vibrations on the Motown jazz imprint, Workshop Jazz. Late Freight was released as the lead single from Blue Vibrations. However, neither Blue Vibrations, nor Late Freight was a commercial success. Nor was the sophomore single from Dave Hamilton and His Peppers.

Three years after the release of their debut single, Dave Hamilton and His Peppers released their sophomore single Beatle Walk. It was released on Fortune Records in 1964. Just like Donna’s Cha Cha, Beatle Walk wasn’t a commercial success. Just two years into his new career, and it looked like Dave Hamilton’s career wasn’t going anywhere. Dave Hamilton must have realised this, and decided to embark on a career as a producer.

This proved to be the best decision of Dave Hamilton’s musical career. It was as a producer, that Dave Hamilton excelled, and made his name. 

Nowadays, Dave Hamilton is remembered as a talented, successful and highly respected producer. He was also a prolific producer whose career Ace Records have been documenting since 1998.

That’s when Ace Records secured the rights to Dave Hamilton’s productions. Since then, a series of lovingly curated and compiled compilations have been released by Kent Soul. The latest, is Dave Hamilton’s Detroit Soul Volume 2. This twenty-four track compilation features contributions from Chico and Buddy, Little Ann, The Tokays, Rita DuShay, The Del-Phis, Carolyn Franklin, Little Stevie and The Sensational Reynolds Singers and Jimmy Scott. There’s also three tracks from Dave Hamilton, who despite enjoying a successful career as a producer, still released the occasional single. None of these tracks have been released before. They’re among fifteen unreleased tracks on Dave Hamilton’s Detroit Soul Volume 2, which I’ll pick the highlights of.

Opening Dave Hamilton’s Detroit Soul Volume 2 is Buddy and Chico’s Party Time. It was penned by Earnest and Gene Cooper with Dave Hamilton. He co-produced Party Time with Earnest Cooper at Highland Studios. The result was a slice of funky, soulful and joyous. good time music. When Party Time was released on TCB in 1970, Dave Hamilton’s Cracklin’ Bread was on the B-Side. 

The version of Cracklin’ Bread on Dave Hamilton’s Detroit Soul Volume 2 is an alternate take. The major difference is that it which features both male and ‘female vocals.’ It’s thought that the theatrical, tongue-in-cheek, female vocal was actually delivered by a man. At the heart of song’s success, is a  guitar masterclass. This stunning solo from Dave Hamilton veers between rocky and funky, and shows why for three years, he was a member of the  Funk Brothers.

In 1972, Simon Barbee, a friend of Dave Hamilton’s released a single. This wasn’t unusual. However, what was unusual, was that Simon Barbee was a minister, who usually, sung gospel. However, had released a single before. That was back in 1960, when The Barbees released their one and only single, The Wind. By the late sixties, Simon Barbee was ready to make a comeback. He penned The Showdown Part 1, which he recorded as Simon Barbee and The Barbabes. The single lay unreleased until 1972, when it was released on the Barbee label. Despite having been recorded a few years earlier, this feisty tale of betrayal had a contemporary sound upon its release in 1972.

The Tokays were a familiar face at Dave Hamilton’s TCB Studio. They were often drafted in to add backing vocals to a song. Among The Tokays’ number, were Chico and Buddy, who feature on (Marriage Is Only) A State Of Mind. This Dave Hamilton penned song was recorded but never released until 2013. It eventually made its debut on the B-Side of a limited edition single released by Kent Records. Belatedly, this laid-back, soulful and jazz-tinged track made its debut. Two years later, and The Tokays’ (Marriage Is Only) A State Of Mind returns for a very welcome encore.

By 1977, Dave Hamilton’s career was still going strong. He had written The Dreamer, which he recorded in 1977. Later, Felecia Johnson recut The Dreamer. By then, Felecia Johnson had worked with Dave Hamilton on a trio of singles for Top’s Records. Sadly, Felecia Johnson’s version of The Dreamer was never released. That’s a great shame, as it’s the definitive version of this track. One listen to this beautiful, but heart wrenching song and you’ll realise why.

Alabama born Tobi Lark got her break singing backing vocals for B.B. King. However, it was Cannonball Adderley that spotted Tobi Lark’s potential. He accompanied Tobi Lark on her 1963 debut single Deed I Do. By 1966, Tobi Lark was working with Dave Hamilton. She covered the the Dave Hamilton penned Challenge My Love. It was released on the Topper label in 1966, and this timeless track would become a favourite on the Northern Soul scene.

An air of mystery surrounds Presberry’s Somebody Is Wrong. Nobody knows the identity of the elusive Presberry. It’s a real mystery. What’s not in doubt, is that from the opening bars of Somebody Is Wrong, something special is unfolding. Soon, a heart wrenching, bluesy ballad is taking shape. At the heart of the song’s success is Presberry’s hurt-filled vocal. The way he delivers the lyrics, it’s as if he’s experienced the pain and hurt he’s singing about.

Despite enjoying a career that spanned three decades, Carolyn Franklin always lived in the shadow of her sister, Aretha. That’s despite releasing five albums between 1969 and 1976. These albums showcased a truly talented, and vastly underrated singer. Sadly, by the early eighties, Carolyn Franklin had to put her career on hold. 

Her father, the Reverend C.L. Franklin was shot in a robbery, and spent five years in a coma. During that period, Carolyn Franklin hardly left his side. One of the times she did, was when she made her way to Dave Hamilton’s studio. It was across the street from her father’s church. Quickly, and with an understated arrangement, Carolyn Franklin covered Barbara Heston’s Guess I’ll Go Packin’. It’s an impassioned, wistful reinvention of a familiar track, that showcases the hugely talented Carolyn Franklin. Sadly, tragedy struck in 1988, when Carolyn Franklin died of cancer, aged just forty-four. Guess I’ll Go Packin’ is a poignant reminder of what music lost that day.

It was around 1973, that The Morning After recorded the Dave Hamilton composition Mr. Fireman. Very little is known about the band; except that Gip Roberts was a member of The Morning After. He had recorded a single Hunchin, which was produced by Dave Hamilton and Earnest Cooper. The next time Dave Hamilton met Gip Roberts, he was a member of The Morning After. They cut Mr. Fireman, a slice of pop soul. However, it was never unreleased and makes its debut on Dave Hamilton’s Detroit Soul Volume 2.

By 1970, Dave Hamilton had turned his attention to gospel music. He went on to record over twenty gospel groups. Many released singles on Dave’s Sacred Sounds’ label. Not Little Stevie and The Sensational Reynolds Singers. Their single Moving On was released on the Demo Ristic label in 1970. It’s an inspired fusion of funk, soul and gospel, where an impassioned lead vocal and testifying harmonies unite seamlessly.

When Glemie (Blue Boy) Derrell and The Detroit Dynamite Blues Boys arrived at Dave Hamilton’s studio to record Four O’Clock Blues, he had come to the right place. Dave Hamilton had played on John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom. So he was no stranger to the blues. This Glemie (Blue Boy) Derrell penned track, was released as a single in 1969, on the TCB label. It was one of only a few blues singles TCB released. However, as Four O’Clock shows, it’s quality, rather than quantity that counts.

Closing Dave Hamilton’s Detroit Soul Volume 2 is Jimmy Scott’s Remember Me. Jimmy Scott was a Detroit based soul man, whose career began in the sixties, and lasted through to the mid-eighties. In 1972, Jimmy Scott and The Band released Remember Me, on the Detroit Gold Record Co. This was a ballad Jimmy Scott had written with Al Smith. However, for Dave Hamilton’s Detroit Soul Volume 2, Rob Keyloch, remixed Remember Me. It’s a slow, sensual ballad, which features, a needy, hopeful and heartfelt vocal from Jimmy Scott. Compiler Ady Croasdell has kept one of the highlights of Dave Hamilton’s Detroit Soul Volume 2 until last.

Dave Hamilton’s Detroit Soul Volume 2 certainly isn’t lacking highlights. No wonder. It’s been compiled by Ady Croasdell, whose a veteran of countless compilations. His name on a compilation is a sign of quality. That’s the case with Dave Hamilton’s Detroit Soul Volume 2.

From Chico and Buddy’s Party Time, right through to Jimmy Scott’s Remember Me, Dave Hamilton’s Detroit Soul Volume 2 is a mixture of familiar faces, minor classics and hidden gems. They’ve all one thing in common, quality. 

That’s the case whether the tracks on Dave Hamilton’s Detroit Soul Volume 2 are soulful, funky, bluesy or jazz-tinged. On occasions, pop soul and gospel can also be heard on Dave Hamilton’s Detroit Soul Volume 2. It’s a truly eclectic compilation, was recently released by Kent Soul, an imprint Ace Records. This is compilation of Detroit based Dave Hamilton’s productions. There’s even three songs from Dave Hamilton himself. However, it was as a producer that Dave Hamilton wrote himself into Detroit musical history.

The former Funk Brother guitarist and vibes player became one of the most talented, respected and prolific producers in Detroit’s musical history. That’s why it’s taken several series of  compilations to release just a fraction of the music Dave Hamilton produced. Dave Hamilton’s Detroit Soul Volume 2 is just latest instalment in Kent Soul’s long running, and much anticipated compilation series, that documents and celebrates the career of Funk Brother, songwriter and producer, Dave Hamilton.






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: