Hello Heartbreaker-Uptown Soul From Scepter, Musicor and Wand.

Label: Playback Records.

Format: CD.

During the sixties, Scepter, Musicor and Wand played an important part in New York’s vibrant soul scene. These three record labels were among the finest purveyors of uptown soul and their releases were favourites of the Big Apple’s DJs and dancers. They were guaranteed to fill the dancefloor, and that’s still the case nearly fifty years later.

At soul nights across the world, DJs sill play single released on the Scepter, Musicor and Wand labels. This includes the twenty-eight tracks on Hello Heartbreaker-Uptown Soul From Scepter, Musicor and Wand which was recently released by the Australian label Playback Records.

Among the twenty-eight artists and groups on this compilation of lavishly produced big city soul are Jack Montgomery, Dean Parrish, Marie Knight, Bobby Hebb, The Shirelles, Big Maybelle, The Inspirations, Maxine Brown, Roscoe Robinson, Chuck Jackson, Judy Clay and Kenny Ballard and The Fabulous Soul Brothers. These are just some of the artists and bands who contribute dancefloor fillers and beautiful ballads that range from old favourites and hits to hidden gems and rarities.  

Ironically for a compilation of New York soul Jack Montgomery’s Dearly Beloved was recorded in Detroit but released as a on Scepter in July 1966. Sadly, the single failed to chart when it was released. However, it later became a favourite on the UK Northern Soul scene where it’s still a favourite of DJs and dancers. No wonder as it oozes quality and is the perfect way to open Hello Heartbreaker-Uptown Soul From Scepter, Musicor and Wand.

Dean Parrish recorded Bricks Broken Bottles and Sticks which was arranged by Bert Keyes and produced by Stan Kahan and Bill Stanley. It was released in June 1965 but failed to find an audience. That’s despite being a hook-laden dancer that even today will fill a dancefloor.

Marie Knight started off as a gospel singer but in 1956 crossed over and started singing secular music. Her first top forty hit came in 1966 when she covered  Cry Me A River which was released on Musicor. It’s one of her finest releases and features a soulful vocal powerhouse that’s accompanied by gospel-tinged backing vocals.

After enjoying a hit with Sunny, Nashville native Bobby Hebb released another of own compositions I Love Mary on Scepter in 1966. Although it didn’t replicate the commercial success of Sunny, it features a tender, heartfelt vocal and an understated arrangement that features lush strings. 

By 1965, Big Maybelle was signed to Scepter and entered the studio to record an album. Instead of recording the tracks from scratch, she added her vocal to backing tracks that had been used by other artists. The album became The Soul Of Big Maybelle and was released later in 1965. One of the highlights was an impassioned and soulful cover of the classic Only You.

Although The Inspirations were from New Jersey they were based in Philly when they released Kiss And Make Up on Wand in April 1965. Hidden away on the B-Side is the hidden gem Love Can Be So Wonderful 8 Maxine Brown – I Don’t Need Anything which was penned by John Stiles and Bobby “Electronic” Eli.

In February 1967, Roscoe Robinson released What You’re Doin’ To Me on Wand. On the B-Side was A Thousand Rivers which was anther of his own compositions. It epitomises everything that’s good about uptown soul from the Big Apple.

Nowadays, Ronnie Milsap is best known as a successful country singer. However, during the sixties he recorded a string of soul sides. This included a cover of  Never Had It So Good which was written by Ashford and Simpson with Joshie Armstead. The single was arranged by Ed Martin and produced by Stan Green and became Ronnie Milsap’s debut single for Scepter when it was released in October 1965. Sadly, this beautiful ballad which features a soul-baring, lovelorn vocal failed to trouble the charts.

Between 1961 and 1967 Chuck Jackson was signed to Wand, and in March 1965 released a cover of Carol King and Gerry Goffin’s I Need You. It’s another beautiful ballad with a needy and emotive vocal that’s accompanied by lush strings and soaring harmonies.

J.J. Barnes recorded the ballad Hey Child I Love You with postman turned producer Fred Brown in Detroit. However, the single was released by New York-based Scepter Records in 1964. Many people will recognise the song from the 2017 film Detroit which was set during the riots that took place during 1967.

Tommy Hunt is one of a small number of artists who recorded for both Musicor and Scepter. However,  The Biggest Man was the very first single that was released in January 1967 on Dynamo, which was a new imprint of Musicor. The single reached the top thirty in the US R&B and features an impassioned vocal powerhouse from the Pittsburg-born soul man. 

Judy Clay originally recorded the ballad Turn Back The Time for Scepter. It features a vocal that’s a mixture of power and emotion as she breaths life and meaning into the lyrics. Sadly, the song was never released until it belatedly made its debut on Big City Soul which was released by Kent Soul in 1986. Twenty-five years it returns for a well deserved encore.

Closing Hello Heartbreaker-Uptown Soul From Scepter, Musicor and Wand is Kenny Ballard and The Fabulous Soul Brothers’ There Will Never Be Another You. It’s a wistful but beautiful ballad that was released as a single on Dynamo in 1969 and is the perfect way to close the compilation. 

For anyone interested in New York soul or soul music in general, Hello Heartbreaker-Uptown Soul From Scepter, Musicor and Wand. It features twenty-eight tracks and there’s contributions from some of the stars of soul as well as what will be new names for some people. They’re responsible for this compilation of dancefloor fillers and beautiful ballads that features hits, hidden gems and  oft-overlooked rarities that were recorded during the sixties and are a reminder of the Big Apple’s uptown soul era. It’s celebrated on Hello Heartbreaker-Uptown Soul From Scepter, Musicor and Wand which was released by the Australian label Playback Records, and just like the previous releases is another lovingly curated compilation of soul.

Hello Heartbreaker-Uptown Soul From Scepter, Musicor and Wand.

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