A misleading title as the majority of the 60 tracks featured on this new double CD would give your average dyed-in-the-wool soulie kittens if heard at a local northern do; yet spun in R&B clubs they’d be a gentle purr emanating from the dancefloor.
A number of these singles, cut mostly in and around Los Angeles, are already established R&B club floorfillers: “Cherrigale” (Ed Townsend), “She’ll Be Gone” (Betty O’Brien), “Don’t Freeze On Me” (Jessie Mae), “Make It Now” (Benny C. Oliver), “Troubles” (Joe Simon) and most notably “You’re A Little Too Late” by Danny Owens which topped many Wants List a few years back.
For a while now I’ve noticed an increasing amount of 45s catching my ear have been from 1962 and the whole second CD here is compiled of tracks from that year (CD1 covers 1955-61). The best stuff is not quite R&B and not quite soul, it falls in the middle ground with traces of blues, doo wop and rock ‘n’ roll. Eugene Church’s “Time Has Brought About A Change” is a great example and the Hammond Brothers’ superb “Thirty Miles of Railroad Track” is another, this time with echoes of Sam Cooke.
H.B. Barnum’s “It Hurts Too Much To Cry” is one of the more familiar tracks (and would get a soul thumbs-up) but hearing it again I’m struck once more by the brilliant arrangement, those fantastic military-style drums and the sheer drama. Just listen closely to the way Barnum strains out the title for the last time.
There’s a few interesting early rarities from future big names. Otis Redding’s 1960 cut for the tiny Alshire label, “Gettin’ Hip”; Billy Preston’s “Volcano”, but best of all is Barry White’s Ray Charles sounding “Tracy” from, yes, 1962.
Soul On The West Coast includes a 32 page illustrated booklet with recording details and short biogs. Not as high production values as Ace Records but the paltry sale price of £7.50 makes this pretty much a must-have for R&Bsters.