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.
Leland Owen Clarke was (and still is today) a university teacher of music at Wheetlock college in Boston. In that college town he recorded two strange albums of folky soul with a small group of musicians and singers. The music on this record is very fragile, and some would call it pretentious. To me it sounds lovely, with especially Our Love and This Affair Is Over convincing. Approach with care however as this is definitely not everybody's up of tea.
No, this is not the author of the 50 Shades of Grey novels. Instead, EL James was a singer and songwriter specializing in acting and musicals. The Face of Love is a musical which was performed at the end of the 70s in Brooklyn New York. In 1977 he recorded this LP which is basically the songs of the musical. The album is notable primarily for the title song "The Face of Love" and "Love Affair" which are both brilliant floaters in a vaguely Donny Hathaway style.
In terms of weirdness this one scores consistently high. Blessed (?) with a near operatic voice, Wardell impresses with a batch of sub-hysteric songs accompanied by a soulful band. The most famous track here is the ultra funky "Down on my luck" which is quite extreme.
This LP hails from southern California and was released on George's own label. He hired engineer John Vestman to produce this 1981 record. Soundwise it is 70s soul with a slight dsco influence on one of the three cream tracks, "You're the one" which has a great steppin' vibe (click the picture for audio). The conscious tune "Keep on keeping on" and the melodic romantic "You're all my dreams" are also quite gorgeous.