In the last year or so we have released three and a half CDs worth of material from the XL / Sounds Of Memphis group of labels. This in itself isn’t that much of a surprise, what is, is that the wealth of material that we found in their vaults is so great that I’m not sure we are even half way through. Our releases have all been really well received. The Ovations are the premier vocal group to have emerged from Memphis, and our XL / Sound Of Memphis Story featured both sought-after and unknown cuts that were the very finest Memphis soul. Of course no-one was really sure that Barbara Brown really had enough recordings to fill up a CD, but when we found that she did, we also discovered that it was as good as any of the greats of southern soul, and that the CD could stand up against the best that James Carr and Otis Redding could offer. That’s why it is such good news that we are back with a secoond volume of material from the label.
Barabara is back on board, with her superb version of Willie Cobbs’ ‘You Don’t Love Me’ heading up the 60s side of things. This sits alongside Willie Bollinger’s ‘Is It Love’ a previously unreleased monster that is rapidly becoming a floor-filler. He’s also represented by ‘Teardrops’, which shows a different soul side. Rudolph Taylor and Carroll Lloyd offer some deep soul, as does the testifying duet by Richard and Walter. This is simply great stuff.
Memphis in the 1970s offered a slightly smoother, but no less intense, experience and the recordings at Sounds Of Memphis emphasise this. Our opening cut ‘All In Your Mind’ by George Jackson is an absolute monster that cut that could quite easily become a club classic. George appears twice on the compilation – his second number ‘I Don’t Need You No More’ appeared on an impossible to locate 45 on ER - a number only topped by girl group the Minits who are represented by two wonderful unreleased cuts and an inspirational issued one. The Ovations’ harmonies of ‘Little Man’ are breathtaking and the joyous groove of ‘Gotta Move On To My Destiny’, the B-side of their 1975 Chess single, is rapidly becoming my favourite track on the album.
Elsewhere is full of amazing music from the Sweeteens, the Everyday People, Vision and Art Jerry Miller. As I listen I am so glad that we are issuing this music, a vital part of Memphis’ musical history.
By Dean Rudland