London soul demos
Demo records of the sixties are much loved by record collectors, often attracting much higher prices that regular issues. There was the Beatles demo of Love Me Do that sold for £3,000 of course, but soul demos often go for eye wateringly high prices as well. London demo 45s do not seem to attract as much interest as quite a few released on the Stateside and Tamla Motown labels, for example, largely because there were fewer Northern soul tracks released on the label, but some of them have a strong appeal. The early demos were one sided only, and I featured some of these on the blog some time ago, but from 1960 onwards they were two sided. Here a few from my collection, mostly soul flavoured.
1. The Miracles - Shop Around/ Who's Lovin' You.
The Miracles' first UK release is a great record and was a huge hit in the States - Motown's first R and B number one - but it made very little impression in the UK. (It reached number one in my personal top ten at the time, but that didn't count for much). Written by Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQGXa3FiXKM
One of the earliest UK releases from Stax, this was the label's house band in fantastic form. Produced by Chips Moman, the prominent organ riff is played by Jerry Lee 'Smoochy' Smith and Steve Cropper also contributed - but not on guitar. 'I wound up playing the hold-down on the organ on the root note,' he said. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FX5T9GvSnbY
This was the high point for New York R and B duo Roland "Don" Trone and Claude "Juan" Johnson reaching number 7 in the US. A superb record, recorded for Big Top, it missed out in the UK (but was another number one in my personal top ten.) Johnson was previously with doowop group the Genies. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrZf3vRHmkw
Well before You've Lost That Loving Feeling, the blue eyed soul of the Righteous Brothers produced a moderate US hit with this Bill Medley number. Another great record that failed to make a mark in the UK. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMS9niabUpA
The Hollies ruined this song when they covered it but in the hands of Doris Troy it was a soul classic. Co written by Doris under her then stage name of Doris Payne, it was recorded as a demo, but Jerry Wexler liked it so much he released it as it was and it reached number ten in the US. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tM_nfDPgcuI
This pre-war song written by two Englishmen for a BBC broadcast was something of a change of feel for James, but he pulled it off successfully and it featured frequently in his revue. B side is a bluesy organ instrumental. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8R8xzF2y5Jo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJgNdxUY00U
Otis's first UK release is an absolute classic but caused controversy at the time. The label states that the writers were Otis Redding and Phil Walden, but it bore a striking similarly to Irma Thomas's Ruler Of My Heart and subsequent issues, including the LP of the same name, attribute it to Naomi Neville, Allen Toussaint's pen name. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=158fwCG27zE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Um6zDTEqPro
By the time this rather downbeat song was released the popularity of the Ronettes was in decline, but it shows off Ronnie Spector's voice to perfection. It only reached number 75 in the US and it's something of a neglected classic, as is the B side. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HxcZ-IZJts https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8tDhAPSk5Y
Great double sider from the genius of Hi records. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3I73iXXKzFI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdliK6IwsYU
After the atmospheric Hey Girl in 1963 Freddy Scott lost his way somewhat as Columbia tried to turn him into a middle of the road singer, but he was bang on form with this 1966 Bert Berns song, recorded for Shout, which gave him his biggest US hit. Back up singers include Cissy Houston and the Sweet Inspirations. The Youtube video is not available for some reason - will have to put it on myself.