Royales, no cheese!
Anyone who still thinks that soul music began with Ray Charles needs to check out what the former members of the Royal Sons Quintet were creating by melding their jubilant gospel sound with the secular innovations of blues and R&B as the fab "5" Royales .
It's best to start with the "5" Royales classic sides for the Apollo and King labels reissued on Ace 's It's Hard But It's Fair CD. But if you've already got that stuff, you need Ace's new 28-track Catch That Teardrop, which brings together their 1960-64 sessions for the Memphis-based Home of the Blues label with the solo recordings of the group's influential guitarist, Lowman Pauling , for Federal and Savoy.
Listen closely to songs like Goof Ball, Solid Rock and Soul House and you'll hear the origins of Steve Cropper's stinging fills. But what made the "5" Royales so great was that they were the complete package, combining formidable musical chops with powerful harmony singing on their own snazzy tunes.
Staying in Memphis, Ace's Kent subsidiary has also issued a collection of the raw Southern soul sessions by Barbara & the Browns , recorded during the mid-to-late 60s and released on a variety of labels (including XL Records, Sounds of Memphis, Atco, Cadet and Tower), all conveniently compiled on the 20-track Can't Find Happiness set.
A number of Brown's churchy thrillers appeared previously on various Japanese P-Vine comps back in the mid-80s, but this collection adds a couple of unissued gems like her incendiary demo version of Leon Payne's Things Have Gone To Pieces and another called Man Around The House, penned by Act Naturally writer John Russell, which reveal Brown's little-known affinity for country tunes.
Nothing here for northern soul or funk freaks, but those who prefer their soul deep will be delighted.
Once Aretha Franklin went to record in Memphis and came back with the biggest hits of her career, other Detroit artists started thinking about heading south. A group you never hear much about who followed Franklin's lead are the Dynamics , whose impressive First Landing album has just been put out by Hacktone .
The foursome of Isaac "Zeke" Harris , George White , Fred Baker and Samuel Stevenson were clearly influenced by the harmony sound of the Temptations, and they make no secret of the fact by doing the Norman Whitfield burner Ain't No Sun (Since You've Been Gone), which appeared on the Tempts' With A Lot O' Soul LP.
But the familiar sound of Chips Moman 's production and funky studio band comes through, turning the album into a strange hybrid of precise Motown harmonizing and funky Memphis feel-good grooves. It's not surprising the Dynamics didn't click at the time, but some 40 years on, the world may be ready for them.
While the Dynamics were trying to get their vocals around Memphis rhythms, over in Kingston, Jamaica, Leroy Sibbles was trying to get the members of Sound Dimension to slow down the tempo so he could better harmonize Impressions-style with his Heptones pals Barry Llewelyn and Earl Morgan in the Brentford Road studio of Coxsonne Dodd .
The joyous results of those sessions are captured on the dope 18-track Sweet Talking (Studio One/Heartbeat) disc. Unlike numerous previous Heptones packages, this Heartbeat set goes back to the masters to deliver the real goods: full stereo mixes of Equal Rights, How Can I Leave You, Every Day And Every Night, Glory Land and Give Me The Right, along with extended versions of Let's Try and Message From A Blackman and a couple of songs that have never before legitimately appeared on disc. Righteous!