Ken Hidaka / The Soulful Sounds & Disco Boogie Delights Of Salsoul & West End
Ken Hidaka was one of the first people I met when I arrived in Tokyo about eight years ago. Phil Mison had given me his details in case of emergency (i.e. if I got lost, which happened immediately). Ken had interviewed Phil for Flower Records, in his capacity of “International Liaison” for the label. For the last two or three years Ken has been heavily involved in Octave Lab / Ultra-Vybe`s Salsoul / West End reissue program (which we covered here / http://testpressing.org/2012/11/tracks-on-the-rebound-009-salsoul-octave-lab-ultra-vybe). Researching and writing extensive liner notes, translating lyrics (with the help of Max Essa), remastering and reissuing over seventy albums. The program has now moved onto mix CDs, to date one by DJ Nori and one by Danny Wang, and compilations, the first four of which were selected by Ken and released in Japan on March 25th: “Ooh, I Love It: The Soulful Sounds Of Salsoul”, “Boogie`s Gonna Get Ya: The Disco Boogie Delights Of Salsoul” and their West End counterparts, “You Are The Star” and “Keep On Dancin`”. All are double CDs and all contain over two hours of music. By way of promo (well, what are friends for?) I asked Ken, Salsoul and West End expert, to take us through ten of his favourites from the compilations.
Debbie Trusty / Searchin’ For Some Lovin
Similar to Karen Young, West End picked up on many promising Philadelphia soul singers and Debbie Trusty was one of them. This track was produced by Frank Fioravanti and Novarro Smith. Frank Fioravanti ran a label called Sound Jam Records and along with producer, John Davis of The Monster Orchestra fame, produced William de Vaughn’s soul masterpiece, “Be Thankful For What You Got”. Fioravanti also produced another West End gem, Shirley Lites’ “Heat You Up (Melt You Down)”. “Searchin` For Some Lovin`” was mixed by David Todd and Nick Martinelli who worked on a string of West End tracks which are included on these compilations. Nu Groove classic, 33 1/3 Queen`s “Searchin’” sampled this track.
B.T. (Brenda Taylor) / You Can’t Have Your Cake And Eat It Too
This was originally released on a small Washington D.C. label, After Hours Records. A label famed for releasing Dyson’s Faces` rare & great soul album “Slow Your Body Down” (reissued by P-Vine in 1995). As it was such a great track and already mixed by David Todd and Nick Matinelli, it was quickly picked up by West End for wider distribution. A Boogie classic in England and a Wigan favourite, Greg Wilson did an edit of this track for his Credit To The Edit Volume One and Joey Negro’s In The House Mix CD.
Mahogany / Ride On The Rhythm
This track was produced by Nick Brady and Richard Bassoff who co-wrote many Boogie classics, such as Tracy Weber, Sure Shot, Empress, Take A Risk. Nick Brady also wrote Komiko`s “Feel Alright”. This is one of the first songs that I got to know from the West End catalogue when I got into Disco and Garage back in the early `90s in London. Nick Brady and Richard Bassoff teamed again with singer Bernice Watkins for a song called “Let’s Call It A Day” which is included on the Disco Boogie Delights of Salsoul.
Carl Bean / I Was Born This Way (Tom Moulton Mix)
As I was supervising the extensive Salsoul and West End catalogue reissues, I was always curious as to why this track was included in the West End Records catalogue. I knew it was reissued by the label in 2005, but it had been originally released on Motown in 1977, and previously reissued by Profile in 1986. All the more confusing. Well, it`s great to be able to set the record straight and great to have the opportunity to do the research to find out the amazing story and astonishing history behind this song. The Carl Bean version is actually a cover. The original was sung by a singer / actor called Valentino and came out of a label called Gaiee in 1975. A lady by the name of Bunny Jones who owned a chain of hairdressing salons in Harlem wanted to produce a gay anthem. She employed gay hairdressers in her shops and sympathized with their plight. It became quite big, especially in the U.K. apparently, and Motown found out about it and offered to distribute it nationwide. They then suggested producing a remake and asked to Bunny Jones who she wanted to sing it. Jones recommended Carl Bean, a gay preacher who released a gospel record on ABC in 1974 called “Gotta Be Some Change”. Motown found Bean in L.A. and brought him over to Philadelphia to record the song at Sigma Sound Studio. Bean`s version was produced by Norman Harris of Baker-Harris-Young rhythm section (and producer of Loleatta Holloway, First Choice amongst many others), with Ron Kersey and T.G. Conway who also did the arrangements. Tom Moulton did the mix, so it was a star-studded production from the start. It became the gay anthem and garage classic. For ten years or so, West End Records head, Mel Cheren wanted to purchase the track and in 2005, he finally did. And right before he passed away, West End reissued his beloved track, with mixes by Larry Levan, the Prelude mixes by Shep Pettibone & Bruce Forest and a brand-new mix from Japanese producer, DJ Gomi. The Petshop Boys selected and included this track in their “Back To Mine” compilation.
Sugar & Spice / You’re My Sugar, You’re My Spice
I thought I`d reached the end of West End`s catalogue, turned almost every stone, when I found this soul gem. The story behind it is pretty interesting for a music geek like me. The track was produced by a great session drummer by the name of Hershel Dwellingham. Dwellingham played drums on Weather Report’s 4th LP “Sweetnighter”. He and his family established a label called Helva Records and their first release was this song, which they asked West End to distribute. Helva also released the rare, and pricey, modern soul gem “I’m Gonna Ball Baby” by M.J. Wade.
Inner Life / The Moment Of My Life (12″ Version)
I chose this track to kick-off Disco Boogie Delights of Salsoul since for me it sets the tone of the whole compilation and is one of the great Boogie classics from Salsoul. It was also one of the first major Boogie tunes that I ever discovered. Twenty plus years ago when I was getting into Disco and dance music, living in London in the early 1990s, I bought the Street Sounds Edition 1 compilation and this track was included along with Raw Silk`s “Do It To The Music” and The Peech Boys` “Don’t Make Me Wait”. I was mesmerized by all of these tracks. Moment Of My Life. Indeed it was. Subsequently, I bought both Inner Life`s LPs, and got obsessed by all things Patrick Adams &Greg Carmicheal like one does who dig it! It’s still one amazing track that one can not get enough of. It’s as pure Boogie as it comes!
Edwin Birdsong / Rapper Dapper Snapper (Orig. LP Mix)
Salsoul released a lot of great stuff but also some very interesting and quirky tracks as well and this is one of them. But if you knew who was playing on this track, like Marcus Miller on bass, you know where it came from. New York’s finest! It’s actually not so quirky as the drum break was sampled for “Me, Myself & I” by De La Soul and some other Hip Hop tracks as well. Edwin Birdsong was quite a character. He was inspired by Hendrix, hung out with Stevie Wonder while working on “Superstition”, and worked with Roy Ayers. “Bird” as he is called by his mates. Oh yeah, and Daft Punk sampled his “Cola Bottle Song”…
The Strangers / Step Out Of My Dream (Orig. LP Mix)
This is one of the all-time great Boogie tracks to come from Salsoul. Whenever I hear this I imagine the New York skyline and this song being mixed by Shep Pettibone on his mastermix show. The coolest soundtrack to the Big Apple in the 1980s. It was produced by Hubert Eaves III, Howard King and Edward Moore. A dream team of producers who produced some serious Soul and R&B at the time. D-Train for starters.
First Choice / Chances Go Around (Original LP Mix)
Most people know all their hits, “Let No Man Put Asunder”, “Dr. Love”, etc., but I really got into this song when I was supervising the reissues of their albums. “Chances Go Around” is on “Delusions”, their first LP. It really has a magnificent groove courtesy of the MSFB rhythm section and marvelously exquisite Philly Soul female chorus and vocals done properly by the ladies of First Choice.
Instant Funk / Can You See Where I’m Coming From (Orig. LP Mix)
I found this track recently after some extensive research. OK, the truth, I saw it on another Salsoul compilation so became curious and looked it up. It is such a great track that it needed to be included and not hidden on a pretty obscure Instant Funk album. I also discovered that it was quite popular back in the day, in London in the 1980s. KISS FM`s then label, Kiss Records released a Salsoul compilation called “Salsoul 1” in 1988 which had this track on it as well. Instant Funk were originally from the Philly Soul scene, but they soon went all out Funk. So to find such soulful item from their later phase is quite a treat.
There`s a launch party for the compilations on April 11th at Bonobo in Harajuku (http://bonobo.jp/schedule/2015/04/001661.php). DJs on the night will be Ken, Gordy & Max Essa.