The classic Los Angeles vocal group the Superbs are featured here on their glorious ‘It Hurts So Much’, but it is mainly the records discovered by sweet soul collectors that dominate. The Carnival label has a great reputation on this scene; Lee Williams & the Cymbals’ ‘Please Say It Isn’t So’ and ‘Follow Your Heart’ by the Manhattans are a pair of killer ballads perfect in tempo and harmony for the cruisers. Other East Coast offerings include the Persians’ captivating ‘Here It Comes’ and two gems which were only on master tape prior to their Kent releases – Melvin Hicks & The Versatiles’ ‘I’m Just Passing Time’ and the similarly unknown outfit the Exceptions, with the wailing ‘So Much In Love’.
Chicago has always been a breeding ground for black harmony groups. The Esquires saw much success at Bunky; ‘No Doubt About It’ was their equally great first release at Wand. Little Ben & The Cheers hailed from the same city; their ‘I’m Not Ready To Settle Down’ fetches big bucks due to Lowrider demand, as does ‘What Am I Gonna Do’ by the mysterious Houston Outlaws – their origins are uncertain, but must be Midwestern. The Vanguards hailed from Indianapolis and deservedly charted with ‘Somebody Please’, licensed to LA’s Whiz label. All of their seven singles on Lamp are also fine, harmonic soul tracks. The Lovers were a Bay Area group who recorded in Los Angeles with the maestro Arthur Wright; their ‘Someone’ was tipped for the charts when licensed to Philips, but flopped, leaving it ripe for revival by the soul connoisseurs. Like the Lovers, the reputation of Reuben Bell’s ‘It’s Not That Easy’ has grown over the decades and a record once considered common can now fetch hundreds of dollars – class will out.
So Much In Love - The Exceptions
Please Say It Isn't So - Lee Williams & The Cymbals
Somebody Please - The Vanguards
Follow Your Heart - The Manhattans
Someone - The Lovers
It Hurts So Much - The Superbs
(I'm Not Ready To) Settle Down - Little Ben & The Cheers
That's The Way Our Love Is - The Radiations
It's Not That Easy - Reuben Bell with The Casanovas
No Doubt About It - The Esquires
I'm A Lonely Man - Bobby Burn
Here It Comes - The Persians
I'm Just Passing Time - Melvin Hicks & The Versatiles
What Am I Going To Do - Houston Outlaws