The New York label concentrated on soul in the 70s: Philly-style dancers, beautiful ballads and smouldering southern productions.
Mainstream and its subsidiaries IX Chains and Brown Dog were classy New York labels owned by veteran producer Bob Shad. Formed in 1964 as a jazz imprint, Mainstream diverged into rock and soul, then re-launched in 1970 and reverted to jazz, but assimilated soul and funk until its demise in 1976. Soul offshoots IX Chains and Brown Dog followed in 1973 and 1974.
Tracks by Ellerine Harding, Nia Johnson and Sarah Vaughan have jazz elements, while the Steptones and the Dramatics are where soul moves close to disco but without ruining a good song. Lenny Welch’s ‘A Hundred Pounds Of Pain’, the Fantastic Puzzles’ ‘Come Back’ and Linda Perry’s ‘It’s All In The Back Of Me Now’ were big on the progressive northern soul scene of the 70s, although most of the in-demand items have found favour in later decades. Almeta Lattimore’s gorgeous ‘These Memories’ and Calvin Arnold’s chugging southern burner ‘Satisfy My Woman’ could have been made for the crossover scene. Big ticket items ‘We’re Not Too Young To Fall In Love’ by the Jackey Beavers Show and Randolph Brown’s ‘It Ain’t Like It Used To Be’ have more of a beat yet retain their soul quotient, while contributions from Words Of Wisdom, Charles Beverly and Lee Bates are below the radar but tremendous soul songs.
‘Don’t You Care’ was an Alice Clark LP track that took off in the 90s. Soul ballads from McArthur, Sarah Vaughan and a killer version of ‘When Something Is Wrong With My Baby’ by Jackey Beavers vary the pace, while J.G. Lewis and Bobby Earl Williams provide tracks that are too-long neglected. Two previously unheard Linda Perry soul dancers could well seal the deal for the discerning fan and the J.G. Lewis tape discovery ‘I’m The One Who Loves You’ is a hell of a soulful bonus.
This is the first time this acclaimed catalogue has been looked at in depth and the history of its creation makes fascinating reading. All from master tape.