The mighty Stax Records catalogue got a lot of much-deserved respect in 2013, from a new book exploring the label’s history (Robert Gordon’s Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion) to a variety of catalogue projects, many from the venerable Ace Records label. Ace has recently followed up its reissues of classic albums by The Staple Singers, David Porter and Bettye Crutcher with further Stax discoveries from Darrell Banks and The Newcomers. And not to be outdone, Ace has also mined the legacy of another southern soul hotbed, Muscle Shoals’ Fame Studios, with a new volume of singles from Clarence Carter.
The entire recording career of Darrell Banks can be summed up by seven singles and two LPs. Yet, between the July 1966 release of “Open the Door to Your Heart” and his tragic death by gunfire in February 1970, Banks made a name in the world of soul and R&B. The Ohio-born and Buffalo, New York-raised singer was reared, like so many other great artists, in the church, bringing intensity and passion to his vocals. His debut single of Donnie Elbert’s “Open the Door to Your Heart,” on the small Revilot label, peaked at No. 2 R&B and No. 27 Pop on the Billboard Hot 100, setting the stage for expected future triumphs. Proving that he was no fluke, his second single “Somebody (Somewhere) Needs You” went Top 40 R&B and No. 56 Pop. He was soon signed to Atco Records where he released more singles as well as one full-length album. But by the end of 1968, following a final single for Atco parent Atlantic’s new Cotillion label, Banks was left without a label.
The newly-independent Stax Records had recently severed its ties with Atlantic – and lost its back catalogue to the giant – when it signed Darrell Banks to its Volt imprint. Just one album and two singles (four sides) were released by Banks on Volt, and all of those tracks are included on I’m the One Who Loves You: The Volt Recordings. The Ace/Kent release sweetens the pot by adding four previously unissued demos recorded during Banks’ stay at the label. Banks was still collecting material to record at the time of his death at the hands of an off-duty police officer involved in an affair with Banks’ girlfriend. Banks recorded a handful of songs at Volt that are not included on this compilation; alas, most are missing. This makes The Volt Recordings the most complete account of his tenure at the label we’re likely to see. There’s plenty of treasure among these 19 cuts, including versions of songs by Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Jerry Butler (“Only the Strong Survive”), Don Davis (“Forgive Me,” “Never Alone,” “No One Blinder (Than a Man Who Won’t See)”) and the team of Homer Banks, Raymond Jackson and Bettye Crutcher (“We’ll Get Over” and “Just Because Your Love is Gone,” the latter with Davis). Banks even gives Percy Sledge a run for his money with “When a Man Loves a Woman.” The liner notes by producer Tony Rounce include a full Volt sessionography for Banks. Nick Robbins has remastered.
Banks’ Volt labelmates The Newcomers are the focus of another new Ace release. Hit the jump for more on them – plus Clarence Carter!
Tony Rounce admits in his new liner notes for The Newcomers’ Mannish Boys: The Stax, Volt and Truth Recordings 1969-74, “Memphis was never really a hotbed for sweet soul groups, but most of those that emerged from the city were something special in terms of vocal ability.” One such group was The Newcomers. The Newcomers joined the Stax family after The Astors and The Mad Lads, but before The Dramatics, and between 1969 and 1974, the group issued 11 tracks on three Stax-related labels. Ace’s new CD includes all of those songs plus 13 more rare masters and demos, 11 of which are previously unissued anywhere.
The Newcomers – Bertram Brown, Terry Bartlett, Homer Garris, Carl Lloyd and Randy Brown – were the first male vocal group to be signed to Stax following its freedom from Atlantic. Brown brother William was a member of The Mad Lads, and alerted Stax to the potential of his younger siblings’ quartet. Early on, Garris and Lloyd departed, with William Sumlin joining. The line-up was solidified by the time of The Newcomers’ first recording session (likely backed by the Bar-Kays) in June 1969. “Girl, This Boy Loves You” b/w Open Up Your Heart (Let Me In)” failed to chart, and another Newcomers single wouldn’t be released for a year. But the group continued to record with producer-songwriter Allen Jones; many of these unreleased demo tracks make their debut here.
After the second Volt single (“You Put the Sunshine Back in My World” b/w “Still a Boy in My Heart”), Randy Brown left the group’s ranks, and The Newcomers were transferred to the Stax label proper for 1971’s “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” b/w “Mannish Boy.” The Jackson 5-aping A-side was written by Bettye Crutcher and Marvell Thomas, and the latter side by Allen and Marshall Jones; the single climbed to No. 28 R&B/No. 74 Pop. Two years passed, though, before Stax deigned to release another 45. After one more switch to the Truth label and three more sides, The Newcomers followed Allen Jones to Mercury for one more single. In 1980, Bertram Brown, Sumlin and Bartlett regrouped with Vince Williams, and as Kwick scored one Top 20 R&B single, appropriately titled “Let This Moment Last Forever.” The comprehensive overview Mannish Boys: The Stax, Volt and Truth Recordings has been remastered by Nick Robbins.
Back in July 2012, we reported on the first volume of Clarence Carter‘s The FAME Singles. That compact disc collected 24 tracks originally released on the Fame and Atlantic labels between 1966 and 1970 including the stone-cold classics “Slip Away” and “Back Door Santa.” The FAME Singles Volume 2: 1970-1973 features another 22 slabs of the singer-songwriter-guitarist’s torrid brand of soul produced by Rick Hall at Muscle Shoals’ FAME Studios. It gets off to a rousing start with “Patches,” originally recorded by The Chairmen of the Board on their first album. Carter’s version of the Ronald Dunbar/General Johnson song eclipsed the original’s fame and became the artist’s biggest hit when it reached No. 2 U.K. and became his third million selling record stateside. Volume 2 encompasses “Patches”‘ hit follow-ups “It’s All in Your Mind” (co-written by southern soul great George Jackson) and “The Court Room,” as well as the 1972 single on which Carter duetted with his wife (and FAME hitmaker) Candi Staton, “If You Can’t Beat ‘Em.” That turned out to be Carter’s final Atlantic single, as Rick Hall decided to take FAME from Atlantic to United Artists.
The FAME Singles Volume 2 concludes with 10 post-Atlantic sides released through United Artists including the Allen Toussaint-inspired “Put On Your Shoes and Walk” and an actual Toussaint song, a cover of the Ernie K-Doe hit “Mother-in-Law.” Carter’s success continued through the UA years, with “Put On Your Shoes” and the double-A-side single “Mother-in-Law” and “Sixty Minute Man” all charting. “I’m the Midnight Special” in 1973 hit No. 15 R&B, giving Carter his most sizeable hit since “The Court Room.” One final single was planned but never released (George Jackson’s “Love’s Trying to Come to You” b/w Mark James’ “Heartbreak Woman”) but compilation producer Dean Rudland has included it as a special bonus. In 1974, Clarence Carter moved to ABC Records, which is a tale for another day. But this second and final collection of his classic FAME sides, newly remastered by Nick Robbins, captures the artist at his soulful peak.
All three titles – from Darrell Banks, The Newcomers and Clarence Carter – are available for order at the links below!
- Just Because Your Love is Gone
- Forgive Me
- Only the Strong Survive
- Don’t Know What to Do
- When a Man Loves a Woman
- We’ll Get Over
- Beautiful Feeling
- I Could Never Hate Her
- Never Alone
- No One Blinder (Than a Man Who Won’t See)
- My Love is Reserved
- I’m the One Who Loves You
- Love is Not an Easy Thing
- Mama Give Me Some Water
- Love Why Have You Forsaken Me
- My Life is Incomplete Without You
- Just Because Your Love is Gone
- Beautiful Feeling
- No One Blinder (Than a Man Who Won’t See)
Tracks 1-11 from Here to Stay, Volt LP VOS 6002, 1969
Tracks 12 & 17 from Volt single 4014, 1969
Tracks 13-16 are previously unreleased demos
Tracks 18-19 from Volt single 4026, 1969
All bonus tracks are in mono.
- Girl, This Boy Loves You
- Open Up Your Heart (Let Me In)
- You Put the Sunshine Back in My World
- Still a Boy in My Heart
- Pin the Tail on the Donkey
- Mannish Boy
- The Martian Hop
- Humpty Dumpty
- Keep an Eye on Your Close Friends
- (Too Little in Common to Be Lovers) Too Much Going to Say Goodbye
- The Whole World’s a Picture Show
- Betcha Can’t Guess Who
- See Saw Lovin’
- Reaching the Age
- (Paint on Me) The Face of a Clown (Demo)
- It’s Me Who Loves You
- I Don’t Want to Lose You (Demo)
- She’s Gone (Demo)
- Since You Don’t Care (Demo)
- Spare Me the Hurt of Losing You (Demo)
- What a Girl I’ve Got (Lovin’ Me) (Demo)
- Stop by Here (Demo)
- The Exit (Demo)
- Sweet Purity (Demo)
Tracks 1-2 from Volt single 4022, 1969
Tracks 3-4 from Volt single 4049, 1970
Tracks 5-6 from Stax single 0099, 1971
Tracks 7-8 from Stax single 0186, 1973
Track 9 from Truth single 3204, 1974
Tracks 10-11 from Truth single 3213, 1974
Track 12 originally unissued, first released on Kent CDKEND 252, 2005
Track 13 originally unissued, first released on Stax CDSXD 116, 1998
Tracks 14-24 are previously unreleased
Tracks 4-6, 14-15 & 21 are mono.
- Say It One More Time
- It’s All in Your Mind
- Till I Can’t Take It Anymore
- The Court Room
- Getting the Bills (But No Merchandise)
- Slipped, Tripped and Fell in Love
- I Hate to Love and Run
- Scratch My Back (And Mumble in My Ear)
- I’m the One
- If You Can’t Beat ‘Em – Clarence Carter and Candi
- Lonesomest Lonesome
- Back in Your Arms
- Holdin’ Out (On Me Baby)
- Put on Your Shoes and Walk
- I Found Somebody New
- Sixty Minute Man
- I’m the Midnight Special
- I Got Another Woman
- Love’s Trying to Come to You
- Heartbreak Woman
Tracks 1-2 from Atlantic single 2748, 1970
Tracks 3-4 from Atlantic single 2774, 1970
Tracks 5-6 from Atlantic single 2801, 1971
Tracks 7-8 from Atlantic single 2818, 1971
Tracks 9-10 from Atlantic single 2842, 1971
Tracks 11-12 from Atlantic single 2875, 1972
Tracks 13-14 from Fame single 91006, 1972
Tracks 15-16 from Fame single XW 179, 1973
Tracks 17-18 from United Artists single XW 250, 1973
Tracks 19-20 from United Artists single XW 330, 1973
Tracks 21-22 slated for United Artists single XW 415, 1974
All tracks mono except Tracks 3-5, 7-12 & 14-15.