New York Soul 1967-Record Store Day Edition.

Label: History Of Soul.

For many British record buyers, the third Saturday in April 2018 was one of the highlights of the year, as it was Record Store Day, when independent and major record labels release a myriad of limited edition releases, including many out of print releases. This resulted in the unusual sight of lengthy queues outside of record stores the length and breadth of Britain. Some people were so keen to  secure the releases on their wish lists that they were willing to queue overnight. Many were fortunate and found what they were looking for, while others weren’t as lucky and arrived home empty-handed. This included some record buyers looking for New York Soul 1967 which was released by History Of Soul as a limited edition of 500.  

There was always the chance that this might happen, as not every record store is guaranteed to receive every release that they ordered. Some record shops received just a fraction of what they ordered which was hugely disappointing for the proprietor and the customer.

Especially if they’ve queued up overnight in the hope that they’ll be able to buy a release that they’ve been looking forward to since the Record Store Day list was announced. However, at the last moment, they had the rug pulled out from under their feet, and they return home cold, hungry and frustrated, thinking that the day can’t get any worse. Sadly, it can and it does.

On their return home, the disappointed record buyer checks online to see if anyone is selling a copy of the elusive album. This is unlikely as only a few hundred copies were pressed, and most record buyers will be desperate to add the album to their collection. Alas that isn’t the case, with scalpers and flippers listing copies at inflated prices. To rub salt into the wound, some scalpers have several copies of the album. Surely this isn’t allowed?

Usually, record shops only allow record buyers to buy one copy of each album on Record Store Day, but there’s nothing to stop the same record buyer doing the rounds of local record shops and buying several copies of the same album. This may not be possible with some of the more popular releases which sold out within an hour or two. However, on Record Store Day releases make their way onto the secondary market in a circuitous route.

This year, many people will have noticed albums were listed several days before Record Store Day 2018, usually at vastly inflated prices. The big question was where did these releases come from? There was speculation that this was “insiders” in record shops getting first choice on the Record Store Day 2018 releases, and listing them for sale to make some extra money? However, this year, others were listing the albums on the secondary market.

It could’ve been small-time flippers who were hoping to buy the same releases and sell them at a profit. The only problem is this is drop shipping, and is illegal on most online sites. These sellers also run the risk of being unable to secure these releases and then having to deal with an unhappy customer. Sadly, this year, it wasn’t just small-time flippers that were profiting from Record Store Day way before the day dawned.

One vendor list hundreds of releases online three days before Record Store Day 2018 at vastly inflated prices. These releases were available to buy before Record Store Day 2018, but would only be posted after the event. Over the next forty-eight hours, over a thousand albums were listed and despite the vastly inflated prices, were hoovered up by record buyer. This begs several questions that the organisers of Record Store Day should address?

Where did this vendor get such vast quantities of stock while many record shops struggled to get what that wanted? Why was this vendor allowed to sell his stock prior to Record Store Day 2018, and why was the vendor allowed to sell the releases at vastly inflated prices? Sadly this type of situation is almost impossible to police and doubtless the same thing will happen next year.

It’s no surprise that some people have fallen out of love with Record Store Day, and no longer bother to participate in what was and still, is a hugely popular event. They’ve turned their back on queuing outside their local record shop with their wish-list of limited releases that they wanted to add to their collection. That is a great shame as record labels big and small spend a huge amount of time and effort on their releases for Record Store Day 2018, including History Of Soul who released the lovingly curated New York Soul 1967 which takes the listener back in time.

Back in 1967, the American music industry was thriving, and this included the various soul labels that had been founded during the last twenty years in towns and cities across America. Some of these labels were now hugely successful companies and were providing the soundtrack to life in America during the sixties. 

This included three of the biggest and most successful soul labels, Atlantic, Stax in Memphis and Motown in Detroit. Other successful soul labels included Goldwax and Hi whose were also based in Memphis, Iowa-based Brunswick and Chicago’s Chess Records. Meanwhile, many new and established record labels were recording and releasing soul music in cities across America, including in New Orleans, Texas and New York, which was still where many artists came to record soul music. 

That was no surprise, as New York was still home to many record companies and recording studios, and was also home to some of the top songwriters, session musicians, arrangers and producers. As a result, many soul, R&B, funk and jazz musicians headed to the Big Apple to record their least single or album, as they knew that they would have access to the best facilities and personnel.

This was why the New York studios were constantly busy, and by 1967, it was sometimes difficult to book time to record a single. Despite that, the sixteen artists on New York Soul 1967 all made the journey to one of the Big Apple’s many studios to record the single that they hoped might transform their fortunes. Among them were Little Charles, Donald Height, Don Covay and The Goodtimers, JJ Jackson, Shirley Wahls, Joe Beck, Freddie Scott, Jesse Gee, Jimmy Tate, Ben E King and Hoagy Lands. They all feature on New York Soul 1967 which features contributions from new names and familiar faces.

Side One.

Little Charles and The Sidewinders open Soul Of New York 1967 with A Taste Of The Good Life. It was the B-Side to their single Talkin’ About You, Baby which was released on Decca in 1967. It’s James C. Boykin composition that was produced by Fred Bailin. He adds blazing horns and a stomping beat as Charles Walker delivers a powerful and uber soulful vocal. Sadly, despite their undoubted talent Little Charles and the Sidewinders’ music never found an audience nationally, but they were popular in the New York area.

When Bongi and Judy released a cover of Ashford and Simpson’s Running Out on Buddah Records in October 1967, very few record buyers realised that this was a collaboration between the daughters of two successful singers. Bongi Makeba was the daughter of South African Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Miriam Makeba, while Judy White was the daughter of singer, songwriter, guitarist and civil rights activist Josh White. Just like their mothers, Bongi and Judy were both talented singers, and deliver heartfelt and emotive vocals on Running Out which is produced by Bob Schwaid and is regarded by connoisseurs of New York soul as a cult classic. 

Donald Height’s recording career began in 1962, and by 1967 he had already released singles on Jubilee, Old Town Records, Roulette and Shout Records which had been his home since 1966. In January 1967 Donald Height released his composition Three Hundred And Sixty-Five Day which was produced by Dyno Productions. Despite a testifying vocal from Donald Height,  commercial success eluded Three Hundred And Sixty-Five Day this irresistibly catchy single which today would be popular on the UK Northern Soul scene.

Many record buyers of a certain vintage will remember Don Covay’s 1964 album Mercy! which was released by Atlantic Records. Three years later, in May 1967, Don Covay and The Goodtimers released 40 Days-40 Nights as a single on Atlantic Records. This Don Covay composition which was produced Bob Gallo, bursts into life and is guaranteed to test the stamina of even best dancer.

Fifteen months after JJ Jackson released his best known single But It’s Alright on Calla Records in March 1966, the New York based singer, songwriter and arranger returned in June 1967 with a new single Four Walls (Three Windows And Two Doors). It was writer by JJ Jackson and Windsor King who co-produced the single with Lew Futterman. When Four Walls (Three Windows And Two Doors) this impassioned and soul-baring ballad reached seventeen on the US R&B charts.

In February 1967, Johnny Thunder and Ruby Winters released the single Make Love To Me on Diamond Records. Buddy Killen and Phil Kahl had produced Make Love To Me, which is a sensual and soulful duet with Johnny Thunder proving to be the perfect foil to Ruby Winters. Despite the quality of the single, Make Love To Me, stalled at just ninety-six in the US Billboard 100 and was the one that got away for Johnny Thunder and Ruby Winters.

Like many soul singers, Shirley Wahls started out singing gospel, and before crossing over, was a member of The Argo Singers, the Ward Singers and the Dorothy Norwood Singers. However, by 1967 Shirley Wahls had crossed over and released her debut single Why Am I Crying on King in February 1967. Eight months later, she released her sophomore single Because I Love You, which was produced by Bill Shephard and released on the Calla label. It features vocal from Shirley Wahls that is a mixture of power, emotion and soulfulness,  which is delivered against a Motown-inspired arrangement. Sadly, the single failed commercially and Shirley Wahls’ only released four singles between 1967 and 1969.

Although Zerben R. Hicks was born in Detroit, which was home to Motown, he recorded his one and only single Lights Out in New York. Joining Zerben R. Hicks in the studio was his group The Dynamics. When Lights Out was released on RCA Victor,  Zerben R. Hicks And The Dynamics’ only single failed commercially. That is a great shame as it’s a beautiful, string drenched ballad that features a needy vocal full of hurt. Indeed, Lights Out is one of the highlights of New York Soul, and the perfect way to close side one. 

Side Two. 

Billy and Wolfe who open side two of New York Soul, only released the one single Another Lovin’ Kind Of Feelin’ on the Coral label in 1967. It was written by Jimmy Radcliff and Buddy Scott and was produced by Lis Cris Productions. They added rasping horns to the arrangement which provide the perfect accompaniment to Billy and Wolfe on this beautiful ballad which is a welcome addition to the compilation.

Joe “Daddy Cool” Beck released five singles for Charles label between 1966 and 1967. This included Blow My Cool which was one of his own compositions and was released as a single in 1967. It’s a bluesy slice of sassy soul from Joe “Daddy Cool” Beck.

Singer, songwriter and producer Freddie Scott was thirty-four when he released Cry To Me as a single on the Shout label in March 1967. Tucked away on the B-Side was No One Could Ever Love You which was arranged by Gary Sherman and produced by Bert Berns. It’s a heart-wrenching ballad with a rueful vocal where harmonies provide the perfect foil for Freddie Scott on this stunning hidden gem.

In September 1967, Jesse Gee released her debut single Don’t Mess With My Money on the Barry! label. Don’t Mess With My Money was penned by Jesse Gould and Kelly Owen and although the single wasn’t a hit, many people will recognised the song which was used two films Self Service Girls in 1976, and Man Up in 2015. That is no surprise as  it’s catchy and memorable slice of funky soul.

Jimmy Tate is another artist who only released the one single, Get Some Dues on Mid-Tune Records in 1967. Tucked away on the B-Side was Please Come Back, which was another song penned by Robert who arranged and conducted both sides. The stronger of the two sides is the string-drenched ballad Please Come Back, where Jimmy Tate’s vocal is full of hurt and despair, but also needy. It’s another welcome addition to New York Soul 1967. 

By 1967, Ben E. King had already enjoyed a string of hit single including the soul classic Stand By My. In March 1967, Ben E. King released the Fred Parris’ penned ballad Tears, Tears, Tears as a single on Atco Records. It features a heartfelt and emotive vocal where Ben E. King lays bare his soul. Despite oozing quality, Tears, Tears, Tears stalled at ninety-three in the US Billboard 100 and thirty-four in the US R&B charts. For Ben E. King it was a case of what might have been. Sadly, soul music was no longer as popular by 1967 with pop, psychedelia and rock singles selling in huge quantities.

During his career, many people likened soul man Bobby Harris to the late Sam Cooke. That is apparent on the hurt filled ballad Baby Come Back To Me which was the B-Side The Love Of My Women which was released on Shout Records in March 1967. Baby Come Back To Me is another hidden gem and from one of soul music’s best kept secrets, Bobby Harris.

Hoagy Lands’ The Next In Line closes New York Soul 1967. It was released on Laurie Records in March 1967 and featured The Chiffons on backing vocals. They’re the perfect accompaniment to Hoagy Lands on this joyous dance track that fifty-one years later will still fill a dancefloor at a soul night. The compilers have kept The Next In Line up their sleeve, and ensure that New York Soul 1967 ends on a high.

For anyone with even a passing interest in soul music, then New York Soul 1967, which was one of the compilations the History Of Soul label released for Record Store Day 2018, is a must-have release. Sadly, only 500 copies of New York Soul 1967 were pressed and finding a copy of the compilation will be easier said than done. However, there are still copies in the racks of record shops up and down Britain. 

Sadly, some copies of New York Soul 1967 are being sold online by scalpers and flippers for inflated prices. This seems to be the case every Record Store Day. However, the majority of people who have bought New York Soul 1967 are fans of soul music and want to own this lovingly curated compilation.

New York Soul 1967 features a total sixteen songs, from familiar faces and new names.  While many record buyers will know artists like JJ Jackson, Freddie Scott and Ben E. King, they won’t have heard of many of the artists on New York Soul 1967. However, they should treat New York Soul 1967 as a voyage of discovery and a learning experience as they’re introduced oft-overlooked singles and B-Sides which are known by only the keenest crate diggers. They were first to discover the musical gold and hidden gems that can be found on New York Soul 1967. This includes beautiful, soul-baring ballads and the irresistible dancefloor fillers which sunk without trace in 1967, and now fifty-one years later return for a welcome and well deserved encore on New York Soul 1967.

New York Soul 1967.

1 Comment

  1. Such a fascinating accounting of RSD and the associated experience as well as changes. I can’t imagine such an event in the US though we have lots of long lines for various things. Great article.

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