Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vinyl Obscurities - Stateside demos

Demos are much in demand among some record collectors, and this is particularly true, it seems, with original Northern soul records, where demos sometimes sell for double the price of stock copies. For my Vinyl Obscurities this time I've chosen ten interesting demos from the Stateside label which, after London, probably released more great 45s than any other UK label. Some of them are Northern favourites and therefore carry much higher values than stock copies.
1. Gabriel & the Angels - That's Life (That's Tough)/ Don't Wanna Twist No More. Released on Stateside SS150 in 1963. Mint value - £20.
This was a real favourite of mine when it came out but it seems to have been largely forgotten. It's a white doowop song with lead vocals by Richard 'Gabriel' Kellis who asks 'What's Life?' with the response from the Angels (possibly in reality black female doowop group the Swans) 'A magazine'. 'How much does it cost? - It costs 20 cents. But I've only got a nickel. Wo, oh, that's life - that's tough'. The band was a one hit wonder and it's been suggested that they were connected to a black doowop group the Five Sharps. I don't think so: according to the one photo that seems to exist these guys were white.
2. The Jaynetts - Sally Go Round The Roses/ Sally Go Round The Roses (instrumental). Released in 1963 on Stateside SS227. Mint value - £20.
This is another record by one hit wonders and another one with an air of mystery, despite being a big hit in the US, reaching number 2.  It's a haunting girl group record with what's been described as a 'mystical' air written by Zell Sanders, owner of J &S Records, and Lona Stevens, wife of Abner Spector, who produced the record. It's been rumoured that there were as many as 20 voices on the record and that it cost an unheard of $60,000 to produce. Among the Jaynetts were Yvonne Bushnell, Ethel Davis (aka Vernell Hill), Ada Ray Kelly and Johnnie Louise Richardson (of Johnnie and Joe).
3. Martha & the Vandellas - Quicksand/ Darling I Hum Our Song. Released in 1963 on Stateside SS 250. Mint value (demo copies) - £100.
This was written by Holland, Dozier and Holland and was the second Motown release by Martha and the girls on Stateside. It's very similar to its predecessor Heatwave and is still a soul favourite.
4. Martha & the Vandellas - Live Wire/ Old Love. Released in 1964 on Stateside SS272. Mint value 9 demo copies (£100).
Why give up on a successful formula? This was another Holland, Dozier and Holland song and another Tamla Motown hit for the girls.
5. The Temptations - My Girl/ (Talking 'bout) Nobody But My Baby. Released in 1965 on Stateside SS378. Mint value (demo copies) - £150.
This one needs no introduction as it's hardly obscure - indeed the song went on to become the Temptations' signature song - but demo copies are not so common. Written and produced by Smokey Robinson and Ronald White, it was the first Temptations 45 to feature the voice of David Ruffin.
6. The Invitations - What's Wrong With Me Baby/ Why Did My Baby Turn bad. Released in 1965 on Stateside SS478. Mint value (demo copies) - £300.
This is a real Northern favourite and a great record. Recorded for DynoVoice, the Invitations were Herman Colefield, Gary Grant, Bill Morris and Bobby Rivers. It was reissued in 1972 on Mojo but this original goes for big bucks.
7. George Stone - Hole In The Wall/ My Beat. Released in 1965 on Stateside SS479. Mint value - £20.
Another Northern favourite - this time a jazzy, soulful instrumental - this was written by Booker T and the MGs and also recorded by The Packers, who may have been Booker T and the boys doing a bit of moonlighting. As for George Stone, I know nothing about him, but this was his only UK 45.
8. Ronny & the Daytonas - Sandy/ Sandy (instrumental). Released in 1965 on Stateside SS484. Mint value - £20.
Ronny & the Daytonas were a surfing/drag racing band formed far from the sea in Nashville who had a big hit with GTO. This Amy Mala recording was a much softer song similar to some of the Beach Boys records of the time.
9. Jay W King - I'm So Afraid/ I Don't Have To Worry. Released in 1966 on Stateside SS505. Mint value - £22.
I know nothing about this Eddie Holman style soul ballad other than that it was recorded for the Skyscraper label and was written and performed by Jay W (Windsor) King. Another one hit wonder. Any information anyone?
10. The Coasters - Cool Jerk/ Talkin' Bout a Woman. Released in 1972 on Stateside SS2201. Mint value - £30.
This late Stateside cover of the Capitols soul hit failed to make it and may well have been withdrawn shortly after it was issued. According to Bill Millar's book 'The Coasters' it had been recorded for Columbia in 1967 but remained on the shelf until released as a follow up to Love Potion No 9. Bill wrote: 'Leiber and Stoller had tinkered with the Columbia tape but, without hearing the original, it's not possible to say what improvements were gained. Scarcely any, perhaps.'


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