It’s an almost embarrassing wealth of riches the folks at British reissue label Ace have been unearthing as they sift through the vaults of America’s greatest soul studios. Here we have two more releases, each featuring over 20 tracks of classic deep soul from the late 1960s and early 1970s. And though you won’t find big names like Aretha or Otis or Wilson among them, these lesser-known (or in some cases completely obscure) artists prove that Muscle Shoals, Alabama and Memphis, Tennessee were teeming with talent 40+ years ago.
Nobody Wins: Stax Southern Soul 1968-1975 features 21 tracks recorded at the Stax studio in Memphis during the last years of the famous label’s existence. By this time Otis Redding and Sam & Dave are gone, but artists like The Soul Children, Sir Mack Rice, Mable John and William Bell (who was at Stax from the start) show that there was still plenty of quality music coming from Stax.
Highlights included a previously-unreleased track by The Charmells, produced by Isaac Hayes and David Porter, the funky Nobody Wins by Sir Mack Rice (who wrote Mustang Sally among other soul classics) and William Bell’s string-driven soul ballad Lovin’ On Borrowed Time. Little Milton closes the collection out with the bluesy Woman Across The River from 1974.
Hall Of Fame: Rare And Unissued Gems From The Fame Vaults finds the Ace crew searching through Rick Hall’s Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals, looking for previously unheard gold. This is the first of a series of previously unreleased Fame tracks and the 24 cuts featured here are a sign that there’s plenty more to come.
The quality is uniformly high with many of the song written by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, who were staff writers for Fame in the 60s. Artists included Joe Simon, Jimmie Hughes, Otis Clay and Travis Wammack and the only “hit” featured is a demo version of Clarence Carter’s Too Weak To Fight. Listen closely and you can hear Carter’s then-wife Candi Staton feeding the blind singer lyrics just off-mic.
These are perfect companion pieces to previous sets such as The Fame Studios Story and Light In The Attic’s Country Funk release. Can’t wait for the next batch!
Click here to listen to Charlene & The Soul Serenaders’ Love Changes from Nobody Wins:
Click here to listen to Prince Phillip’s Keep On Talking from Hall Of Fame: