Detroit City Grooves Featuring "Soul Suite" Dave Hamilton


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When Ace Records bought Dave Hamilton's archive of master recordings, it was a deal based around the highly sought-after soul recordings which he had made in Detroit in the 60s and 70s. Most notable of these was a female vocal track that had been played since about 1980 by Richard Searling, who named the artist Rose Valentine and called the track 'When He's Not Around' because no-one knew the real title or artist on the one acetate that had escaped into the world. Some choice detective work by Detroit soul aficionado Gilly led to its uncovering as Little Ann's 'What Should I Do'. Dave Hamilton had several other tracks that were known on the soul scene, but it became very clear that he had worked on funk and jazz as well as soul. The rare soul scene had little interest in these recordings and consequently they had been researched only sketchily. For me this was a boon, and one of the first things that we found was the astounding James Brown-style funk of 'Brand New Girl' by Billy Garner, which on its release as a 45 and on "Super Funk Vol 2" (CDBGPD 137) rapidly became a big club record with funk DJs. Searching for more of Dave Hamilton's funk material led to a whole bunch of funky titles, including the Billy Garner 45s released on the New Day label, the Prophet and the Disciples 45 on Pressco, the Barino Brothers and of course Dave's own 45s on TCB. Along with the great wealth of unreleased tapes these will make up a great compilation of Dave's funkier side of things.

In amongst those tapes were many recordings that Dave Hamilton made as a leader, including the master reels for the LP from which one of those 45s, 'Pisces Pace', was lifted. The album never appeared, so with a little digging in the archives we present this compilation of his solo recordings opening with the eight tracks that we think would have made up his lost "Soul Suite" album.

Dave Hamilton had come to founding his own recording studio and record labels after considerable experience as a session musician. Most notably he had worked as one of the early studio musicians at Motown, forming an especially strong bond with Marvin Gaye. Outside Motown he also covered many sessions playing lead guitar on John Lee Hooker's iconic 'Boom Boom'. At the same time he released a bunch of singles for various labels under the name of Dave Hamilton and the Peppers, then an album for Motown's Jazz Workshop label called "Blue Vibrations".

In 1965 he set up his own studio at 1587 Highland by Woodrow Wilson Avenue. He also set up a new label, Topper. The studio was named Da Da after Dave and the 22 year old singer-songwriter Rony Darrell, who put some money into the venture where he made the funk and soul records that are now honoured by collectors around the globe. He also released a couple of 45s of his own: 'Blue Funk' on Demoristic, and 'Pisces Pace' b/w 'The Deacons' on TCB. However the latter two appear to have been recorded around the time that Dave laid down the tracks for a whole album that can only be described as 'acid lounge-funk'. It would have made a classy item as TCB's first (and only) album, but it wasn't to be, despite reaching the stage were a compiled master was made.

Our CD contains the tracks as it was ordered on that master, but we have added several other cuts. 'Marriage Is A State Of Vibes' was also recorded as a vocal by James Carpenter under the title 'Marriage Is A State Of Mind'; however, the instrumental version has such a fine lead provided by Dave's vibes, that this must also have been intended for release. 'Cracklin' Bread' appeared on the B-side of Chico and Buddy's 'Party Time' single on TCB and seems to come from the same sessions as the album. 'The Deacons' the A-side of the 'Pisces Pace' 45 is also on here; as is Dave's other 45, 1967's 'Blue Funk'. Finally, we have included another unreleased instrumental, 'Blue Vibes', which sits nicely alongside the instrumental version of 'Who Are You Trying To Fool' as an uptempo soul number with just the right touch of vibes, indicating that this is not just a backing track, but was intended to be released in this format.

Only four of these tracks were released at the time of their recording, which, considering how good they are, was is a real shame. We are glad that we have been able to get into the tape vault and release them now. There is plenty more in the Hamilton archive and we're looking forward to their issue in the future.

June 2005


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