For a company who only put out nine R&B singles on its own logos, GWP sure had some soul. Originally a production set-up that placed recordings on major labels, they had a fruitful history before the initial 1969 GWP release, but at least half the story is about the recordings that didn’t come out.
The Devonnes, the Shaladons, the Modettes, Bobby Penn and Milton Bennett were acts who cut some very worthy music for the company that never saw the light of day. Others like Benny Gordon and Larry Banks & Jaibi had top quality material left over from their singles sessions that will be welcomed by soul fans of all persuasions.
The dance tracks featured here are particularly good. The earliest is probably Lilly Fields pacey and pure Northern ‘Changes’, a Detroit Pied Piper recording from a New York/New Jersey artist. Sadly, most of the paperwork was destroyed just prior to Ace’s purchase of these tracks, so the history is speculative, but the recordings were made at Detroit’s United Sound and the rhythm track is indicative of the Funk Brothers featuring Joe Hunter on piano. Bobby Penn is virtually unknown; there was one 45 by an artist of that name on Uptight Records in 1968, which could well be the chap. His version of the Larry Banks/Joan Bates song ‘Without Your Love’ is probably the best of the several versions. Banks and Bates combined vocally to great effect on the self-written ‘My Life Is No Better’, a Dynamics number, even out-performing the creators. We just released this previously unissued RCA recording as the flip of the latest 100 Club anniversary 45 and already demand for this track is massive.
The latter period GWP provided some fabulous singles and tracks like ‘Detour’ by the Persians. ‘Stop’ and ‘Never Gonna Let Him Know’ by Debbie Taylor would ironically be more revered over here if they hadn’t been so abundant, due to good Stateside sales. The Hesitations’ ‘Go Away’, however, was found on an unreleased multi-track tape and its release two years ago as a 100 Club anniversary 45 has already created demand for this sublime slice of mid-tempo soul dance music. The rest of the GWP and GWP’s Grapevine releases are also high quality. Debbie Taylor and the Persians recorded exquisite ballads in ‘How Long Can This Last’ and ‘Here It Comes’. The Hesitations then funked-up Aretha’s ‘Good To Me’, as did Little Rose Little on her Pazant Bros-backed recording of Otis’ ‘Tennessee Waltz’. Both of these only ever came out on GWP’s two compilation LPs, a year after the 45s had ceased.
More beautiful balladry comes from the Devonnes with another Banks/Bates creation, ‘I Don’t Care What He’s Done’, and a real grower from the terminally obscure Modettes with ‘I Won’t Be Such A Fool’, which is my current top play. Southern soul fanciers will be pleased that Benny Gordon has three previously unreleased songs, including a 1967 update on Saint Maxine’s ‘All In My Mind’ and the rhythmically complex ‘Never Give Up On Love’. He also presented a version of his Estill recording ‘So Much In Love’ by the vocal group the Exceptions, who really excelled on this fine song. (The recording does not suffer the terrible sound distortion as Benny’s 45 of the song.)
There’s a Northern soul standard from Alice Clark with the George Kerr-produced and wonderfully titled ‘You Hit Me (Where It Hurt Me)’, a Larry Banks demo of the Cavaliers’ RCA 45 ‘I Really Love You’ and mo’ George Kerr from Plus 4’s lead singer telling us how she’s ‘The Happiest Girl In The World’ and really sounding like she is. The finale is certainly grand, a master tape of Dave Godin’s “greatest soul record ever”, ‘You Got Me’ by Jaibi that is the Kapp 45 version but with extra added girl backing vocals. Now that’s something every self-respecting soul freak’s just gotta have.
by ADY CROASDELL