Cherry Red’s RPM Records label has been doing a lot of Looking with its series of themed mini-box sets dedicated to such pop subgenres as freakbeat, mod, and girl group soul. The latest set in the Looking series, established in 2011, is Looking Stateside. This volume is dedicated to U.S. R&B Mod, Soul and Garage Nuggets, and contains 80 such selections on its three packed CDs. Though limited to American recordings, the focus is otherwise diverse. As the compilers explain in the thick booklet of liner notes, the box spotlights “turn-of-the-decade R&B, frat rock and proto-soul on Disc 1, a smattering of bonkers instrumentals, plenty of four-on-the-floor Northern Soul [on Disc 2], Nuggets-friendly fare…and tracks which flirt with psychedelia” [on Disc 3].” As usual, artists range from the familiar (Gene Vincent, Timi Yuro, The Sons of Champlin, The Knickerbockers) to the obscure (The Demetrons, Little Gigi, Silent Glo, The Druids). The primarily independent labels represented in the collection include Challenge, President, Wand, Music City, Lu Pine, Scepter, Cameo Parkway, and more.
The first disc is chockablock with vintage R&B, beginning with Georgia Lynn’s 1963 “Sugar Shack Queen,” an answer song to Jimmy Gilmer’s “Sugar Shack.” Willie Jones, whose scorching new album Fire in My Soul was released by Cherry Red in 2014, is heard on “Where’s My Money,” from 1961. New Orleans’ Eddie Bo is represented by “Now Let’s Pop-Eye,” a dance craze record from the next year. North, in New York, Curtis Knight was busy cranking out tunes such as “Gotta Have a New Dress.” Knight is hardly spoken of today for his own music; rather, he’s notable as the frontman for a number of sessions held in 1965-1966 featuring the young Jimi Hendrix. (A number of Knight’s tracks with Hendrix were collected by Legacy Recordings in 2015 as You Can’t Use My Name.) The Buena Vistas may not be known by that name, but they were known as The Funk Brothers when they played for Motown. Here, Bob Babbitt, Dennis Coffey, Jack Ashford, Mike Terry, Richard “Pistol” Allen and co. lay down the funk on a 1966 Wand side entitled “T.N.T.”!
Emphasizing northern soul selections, Disc 2 has some Philadelphia heavy hitters including producer-artist Richie Barrett (1965’s “I Will Love You”) and The Three Degrees’ Sheila Ferguson (“Are You Satisfied,” produced by Barrett in the same year). Other soul legends are featured, such as Chuck Jackson with “These Chains of Love (Are Breaking Me Down),” Timi Yuro (herself the subject of a recent Cherry Red reissue!) with “Gone,” Joe Tex with “I Wanna Be Free,” and Jimmy Radcliffe with “Soulville.” Jerry Fuller (veteran songwriter and producer for The Knickerbockers, Gary Puckett and The Union Gap and too many others to mention) released “Double Life” in 1966, just before jumping ship from Challenge to major Columbia; he’s also producer of Ron Holden’s stomping “Forgive and Forget.” Future half of Seals and Crofts, Jimmy Seals – also represented on Disc 1 as a member of instrumental combo The Champs – takes a solo turn here with the torridly brassy blue-eyed soul of “The Yesterday of Our Love.”
The third disc eases out of a soul bag into various permutations of garage, psych-pop and rock. ZZ Top legend Billy Gibbons led Texas’ Moving Sidewalks, represented here by the Wand single “99th Floor.” Bill Champlin, later of Chicago and numerous songwriting accomplishments, leads his band Sons of Champlin on the 1967 Verve cut “Fat City.” There are more Champs-related singles here with rockabilly great Gene Vincent’s 1966 “Bird-Doggin’,” featuring members of that band and session veteran Glen Campbell playing on the track, and The International Bongo Band’s “Congo,” written by Champs guitarist Dave Burgess. The Knickerbockers (recently subjects of a splendid box set from Sundazed) are at their soulful best on the 1968 “As a Matter of Fact.” From Michigan comes The Rationals via Cameo single “Leavin’ Here,” and there’s more garage goodness from Orlando, Florida thanks to We the People’s “Mirror of Your Mind.” A selection of rare psychedelia rounds out the compilation including cuts by Love Society and Culver Street Playground.
Looking Stateside has something for every sixties musical taste; its clamshell box houses each disc in an individual jacket as well as a thick, 26-page booklet with an introduction and track-by-track notes. Simon Murphy has remastered all tracks. You can order RPM/Cherry Red’s set at the links below!
View the full tracklisting here!