Just before he spearheaded funk, James Brown posted a series of hits that alternated between gospel-fired dance workouts and riveting ballads.
That period in the Godfather of Soul?s saga is spotlighted on Hip-O Select?s The Singles Volume 2: 1960-1963, a two-CD set that picks up where its equally essential predecessor left off.
With ?Night Train,? ?Shout And Shimmy? and ?I?ve Got Money,? Brown was already experimenting with proto-funk, but ?Bewildered? (the hit?s here as well as a battered demo acetate), ?Lost Someone? and a violin-enriched ?Prisoner Of Love? found him pleading more intensely than ever. Brown also spotlighted his band on a series of instrumentals that are here too. (www.hip-oselect.com)
Already a suave Chicago soul luminary when he journeyed to Philly to collaborate with producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, Jerry Butler rocketed to a new level with the hits ?Never Give You Up,? ?Hey Western Union Man,? ?Are You Happy,? ?Only The Strong Survive,? ?Moody Woman,? and ?What?s The Use Of Breaking Up.?
Collectors? Choice Music teams Butler?s classic Mercury LPs, The Ice Man Cometh (1968) and Ice on Ice (1969), on one CD, both gliding along like a luxury limo on velvet. (www.collectorschoicemusic.com)
Alternately sweet and sassy, Carla Thomas was the reigning queen of ’60s Memphis soul. The Queen Alone, her sublime 1967 Stax album, was spiced with captivating hits (?Something Good [Is Going To Happen To You],? ?I?ll Always Have Faith In You?) and songs that should have been (?When Tomorrow Comes,? ?Lie To Keep Me From Crying?), and its backing cast including Booker T. & the MGs, the Memphis Horns, Isaac Hayes and David Porter.
Concord Music/Stax?s mono reissue of the set is augmented with five unissued gems.
Concord/Stax?s Live at the Summit Club captures Johnnie Taylor in all his sweat-soaked, soul-searing glory, roaring through his hits during a ’72 set in L.A. that?s previously gone unissued except for ?Jody?s Got Your Girl And Gone,? which was a highlight of Wattstax.
The band?s a mite ragged, but the chitlin?-circuit authenticity runs bone-deep. (www.concordmusicgroup.com)
Although they hailed from Detroit, the Dynamics ventured down to Memphis to cut their ’69 Cotillion debut set, First Landing, under the supervision of Chips Moman and Tommy Cogbill.
Now out digitally on HackTone, the set grooves mightily from start to finish, with the vocal quartet?s scrumptious hit ?Ice Cream Song? just one of its soulful charms as they tear up the Masqueraders? ?I Don?t Need Nobody To Lead Me On? and Jimmy Ruffin?s ?Since I?ve Lost You,? as well as their own tasty material. (www.hacktone.com)
L.A. was a hotbed for female R&B vocal groups during the late ?60s and early ?70s. The Sisters Love brought a gospel fervor to their uplifting harmonies that enriches all 16 tracks on Soul Jazz?s Give Me Your Love.
The Curtis Mayfield-penned title track, cut for MoWest in 1973, anticipates disco (for better or worse); their previous work for Manchild and A&M, more in a soul pocket, better showcases the quartet?s vibrant harmonies. (www.souljazzrecords.co.uk)
Cincinnati?s answer to the Shirelles and Supremes, Gigi & the Charmaines began recording in 1960 and waxed a varied series of 45s for Fraternity, Dot, Date and Columbia through ?67.
Twenty-eight of their rare single sides are assembled on Ace?s eponymous overview of the