Welcome to Part Two of our Ace Super Soul Round-Up! You can read Part One here!
Birmingham, Alabama native Sam Dees has worn many hats in a long and illustrious career – producer, singer, songwriter, among them. He’s gifted music to George Benson and Aretha Franklin (“Love All the Hurt Away”), Atlantic Starr (“Am I Dreaming”), Gladys Knight and the Pips (“Save the Overtime (For Me)” and Loleatta Holloway (“The Show Must Go On”) – as well as Larry Graham, whose No. 1 R&B/No. 9 pop hit “One in a Million You” lent its title to Kent’s 2014 compilation One in a Million: The Songs of Sam Dees featuring performances from Jackie Wilson, The Temptations, Knight, Holloway and many more.
That wasn’t Kent’s first celebration of Dees, however. The label also released Second to None and The Heritage of a Black Man, two sets dedicated to Dees’ own recordings of his music. Kent has recently followed up those titles, as well as One in a Million, up with It’s Over: ’70s Songwriter Demos and Masters. This new collection features 19 tracks of seventies vintage, 13 of which are previously unissued in any format. Most are previously unheard demos, while a couple of tracks are alternate takes from Dees’ Atlantic solo album The Show Must Go On and one was released as a single on the Clintone label.
It’s Over, named for the closing track which is reprised from Kent’s 1998 “Hotlanta Soul” compilation Good Guys Don’t Always Win, showcases the various sides of Dees’ voice as both a singer and a songwriter, and includes songs popularized by Loleatta Holloway (“I Know Where You’re Coming From”) and the groups Brainstorm and Solaris (the disco-flavored “A Case of the Boogie”). “What’s It Gonna Be” and “So Tied Up” are alternate versions from Dees’ 1975 The Show Must Go On (previously reissued on CD by Real Gone Music). This collector-oriented compilation has been compiled by Ady Croasdell and Sean Hampsey, with the latter providing new track-by-track liner notes and an essay in the eight-page booklet. Nick Robbins has remastered this latest treasure trove from the Sam Dees archives.
Kent returns to the southern soul factory known as Goldwax Records with George Jackson and Dan Greer at Goldwax. Soul man Jackson’s recordings for Fame, Sounds of Memphis and XL Records have already been chronicled by Kent, and Greer’s Sounds of Memphis sides have also been collected by the label. This new set brings together 23 tracks, 17 of which are previously unreleased, from the singer-songwriters’ tenures at Quinton Claunch’s Goldwax label – a small but potent rival to the Stax empire.
Both Mississippi natives, Jackson and Greer came to Goldwax via the support of Earl Gage, a songwriter, producer and talent scout. 1966’s “You Don’t Know It But You Had Me,” backed with a cover of Sam Cooke’s “Good Times” on Goldwax single 313, marked the debut of “George and Greer,” perhaps Goldwax’s answer to Sam and Dave. But despite the strength of both sides, the 45 failed to make any commercial noise and the two tracks likely earmarked for a follow-up single (“To Me It’s Storming” and “Do the March”) were left in the vault until Kent issued them in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
The remaining songs on this set are all derived from Jackson and Greer’s prolific writing sessions recorded in 1966 and early 1967. Compiler/annotator Dean Rudland notes that “the tapes are labeled as being by George and Dan, or George solo, but identifying who is on each individual track is difficult. George and Dan both grew up in the same area at the same time and were influenced by similar music, consequently sounding alike.” Rudland goes on to assert that Jackson is the likely vocalist on most of these tracks, but both men worked closely on these songs and Greer would have participated in, at least, an engineering and/or producing capacity.
Regardless of who’s on lead vocals, however, these sizzling sessions are filled with the raw Memphis deep soul sound. These piano-and-vocal performances (sometimes spiced up with background vocals) sound as if they were written in the style of other hitmakers of the day, a not-uncommon occurrence for publishing demos. “Will You Be Around” evokes “People Get Ready.” The torrid “I Don’t Want to Be Hurt” recalls Otis Redding, and “That’s Why I Love You” has a Marvin Gaye-esque swagger and bounce, showing that Jackson and Greer were nearly as comfortable in a Motown bag as in a Stax one.
Following the recordings preserved here, George Jackson went on to a songwriting and recording career first at Fame Records, then at Sounds of Memphis and Hi. Greer also found a home at Sounds of Memphis where he reteamed with Jackson. George went on to remain active in music, writing for Muscle Shoals Sound and Malaco, while Dan started a sign-painting business that he remains active in today. Jackson died in 2013, aged 68. Nick Robbins has mastered this collection of exciting R&B rarities which includes an eight-page booklet featuring Rudland’s notes.
Both titles are available now from Ace and Kent Records!
- Today is a New Day
- I Know Where You’re Coming From (Kent CDKEND 256, 2005) (*)
- I’m Your Biggest Fan
- Singing in Poverty
- Everybody’s Trying to Get Over (Kent CDKEND 256, 2005) (*)
- We’ve Got to Get It Together (*)
- Anything is Fair in Love and War (Kent CDKEND 183, 2000)
- Married, But I’m Still in Love (Kent HIQLP 018, 2014)
- Somewhere to Run To (Alternate of Kent CDKEND 183, 2000/Alpaca PHASE 3, 2015)
- Gimme a Little Action
- What Good is a Love
- Total Love
- A Case of the Boogie
- Claim Jumping (Clintone 010, 1972)
- What’s It Gonna Be (Alternate of Atlantic SD 18134)
- So Tied Up (Alternate of Atlantic SD 18134)
- Child’s Play
- Touch Me with Your Love (Long Version)
- It’s Over, Nobody Wins (Kent CDKEND 163, 1998)
All tracks previously unreleased except as indicated above.
All tracks stereo except (*) in mono.
George Jackson and Dan Greer, At Goldwax (CDKEND 428, 2015) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. )
- You Didn’t Know It But You Had Me (Goldwax 313, 1966)
- To Me, It’s Storming (Kent CDKEND 313, 2009)
- Good Times (Goldwax 313, 1966)
- Do the March (Kent CDKEND 335, 2010)
- Coming Back to You Baby
- Love Attack
- Don’t Wake Me Up (CDKEND 335, 2010)
- Nothing Can Touch My Love I Have for You
- That’s Why I Love You
- Come On and Make Up My Mind
- I’m Going to Straighten Up and Do Right
- It’s So Nice
- A Road to Nowhere
- I Don’t Want to Be Hurt
- Come Back and Help Me Save Our Romance
- I Can See Sadness Ahead for Me (CDKEND 335, 2010)
- If I Thought I Could Ride My Troubles Away
- I’m Still in Love with You
- I Don’t Wanna Take a Chance
- Will You Be Around
- What Do You Do
- To Me, It’s Storming (First Version)
All tracks previously unreleased except as indicated above.
All tracks mono.