Billy Jones was from Texas and a big fan of Archie Bell & the Drells. He ended up living in Amsterdam and sang in Oscar Harris' Twinke Stars. As Billy Jones & The Stars they made this spectacular album which is wholly in the Archie Bell style. The production on this LP is fantastic, just as on Billy's other LP "Birds of the sea". Billy's version of "Love is gonna rain on you", the self-penned ballad "Change your mind" and "My baby's gone" are all classics.
The Flamingos were one of the original Doo Wop groups, with Tommy Hunt an original member. The group had many incarnations over the years, with the brothers Zeke, J.C. and Jake Carey a constant factor. This LP finds them in 1972 on the small Ronze label for which they recorded several excellent lp's. This one is worth seeking out for the superb remakes of some of their own classic 50s hits, primarily "Golden teardrops" which is transformed into an early seventies anti-drug song. Also noteworthy is "let it be me" which has a running faucet audibly throughout, apparently to give the impression of a thunderstorm...
Here is a sought after Canadian soul LP by the obscure Carla Whitney. Backing is by Choker Campbell & his Super Sounds. Choker is a Motown legend and also produced the LP. Our fave track is "I've been hurt (so many times)" but the whole LP is great 70s soul.
Paul Connor's sole LP was released only in the UK on Polydor in 1971. He was originally from Aruba and was a classic crooner. He lived for a while in Portugal where he participated in song festivals. His best song is the marvellous beat ballad "Nobody loves me" which kicks off the LP on Side 1.
This is a reggae album by (then) early teen star Junior Tucker. It is his debut lp which is not as difficult to find as his second and much more expensive LP "Take a message". The reason to include this LP is his cover version of the Jackson Five "Who's loving you" which is done in straight soul mode (click image for soundclip)
Here is a piece of ultra rare Miami Soul, and a crucial document in the history of soul: the only album by songstress Helene Smith, This is a beautiful deep soul album and thankfully many of its tunes are available on 45s. Interesting is also that the strident proto funk track "You got to be a man" (click link for audio) was lifted wholesale by none other than Prince for his mega hit "Kiss".
The cover of this LP by Retta Young is special because it does not contain any track listing. This is something that more releases on All Platinum and related labels (Stang, Turbo, Astroscope, Maple) shared. The production values of almost all these records are basically the same: a primitive sound, drums that sound as if they were recorded in a bathroom, but brilliant nonetheless. Great songs abound on this disco-inspired LP, with my favourites being "Making up for lost time" (Click picture for audio) and "Really Really".
The Speed label out of NYC released quite a few gems in its day, in different styles. This one from 1968 is a Latin Soul / Boogaloo LP of some merit. It is mainly famous for the track "Spanish Maiden" as sung by Tony Middleton who features on the LP as a singer. Other nice tracks are "Hey Funky Mama" and the beautiful ballad "Wish I Could". The Spanish language tracks are also pretty funky.
Here's a Gospel group out of Chicago who released a hard and primitive LP on the Peace label in 1968 sporting one of the greatest LP covers in history. Although the music is great if you love Group Gospel, the cover is the reason this is such a sought after record. For me the best track on the LP is "Lord walk with me" (Click the picture for the audio). But I always come back to the amazing cover...
The great Al Jarreau created many jazzy and soulful records, but the most soulful records of his career were two albums released on Tax Scam label Koala in the late seventies. "Call me" is an LP of Al Green covers where Al Jarreau sounds very Al Green-ish throughout. The "Lonely Town. Lonely Street" LP is an album of Bill Withers covers, also excellent and this one was released in at least three different versions in the late seventies.
"Call me" is by far the rarer of the two but both albums are well worth seeking out.