Archive for the ‘Northern Soul’ Category


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Joey Jefferson is a well known producer and label owner that released many excellent 60s soul sides. Breakthrough & Mutt & Jeff are two of Joey’s labels that are of the most interest to Rare & Northern Soul collectors. The most highly sought after 45 on Breakthrough is of course by “No One Else Can Take Your Place” by the Inspirations.  Over the years myths and misinformation has surrounded the recording.  Johnny Hendley who recorded solo on Mutt & Jeff and later on TIE as John & The Weirdest is just one. He was reputedly the lead singer with the Inspirations.  However, during a recent trip Stateside by Kev Roberts who met once more with Joey this myth was dispelled once and for all.

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The line up of the Inspirations, an LA vocal group, consisted of John Gibson who sang lead. Other members include brothers Huey and Lou Bell plus Charles Perry who was on MGM/Magnum, Charles Diamond (real name Charles Pennywell) was also in the studio doing backing and as we will find out he was soon to cut his own take. This line up was confirmed to Kev by Joey in a recent conversation.  The group went into the studio and recorded the track sometime in 1966.  The group however were courted by Motown’s West Coast office and they refused to sign a contract with Joey. With just a few 45s escaping and the group in dispute with Joey over a contact the recording was pulled and consigned to the vaults.

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The Fairlanes

Charles “Diamond” Pennywell was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, the third largest city in Louisiana after New Orleans and Baton Rouge.  The city has a rich musical heritage from soul to gospel, R&B to country and much more and was the home for many of music’s major acts.  Charles was also a childhood friend of Joey Jefferson who would have a part to play in the future musical career of Charles. Charles began singing at the age of ten.  It would be high school where he began to take it seriously.  Along with fellow school friends, Eddie Lejay, Thomas Odom, Steve Ross they formed the The Fairlanes, named after the Ford Fairlane and keeping with the doo-wop tradition of naming the group after cars, The Cadilacs etc.  The group’s first release in 1959 was to be Seventeen Steps” b/w “Johnny Rhythm” which came out on Dee Marais’ Lucky Seven label and in the same year for Pappy Dailey’s Dart label out of Houston, TX the group released “Just For Me”.  They would also record for Eddie Shuler’s Tic-Toc label releasing “You’re Lonesome Now” in 1961.  Charles would record solo for Smash with “Web Of Love” b/w “It’s So Funny I Could Cry”.

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Charles as mentioned was doing backing vocals in the studio whilst the Inspirations cut their take or takes of “No One Else Can Take Your Place”.  It is highly likely Charles Diamond cut his take during the same session, if not the same session it would be very soon after.

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Alas, Joey Jefferson would lose interest in the recording and it would be shelved. Charles Diamond, soon after laying down his vocals to “No One Else Can Take Your Place”  would become a member and sing lead vocals for the vocal group The Sunlovers and whose members would be Eddie LaJay who was a member of the Failanes alongside Charles and childhood friend and Robert Tisby. I have read a conflicting biography that the groups members were also those that recorded as The Inspirations.  If this is true then I guess Joey didn’t bear a grudge, not when money was to be made through music.  I find this unlikely though due to the dispute over a recording contract the Inspirations had with Joey.  The line up of Charles, Eddie and Robert came from an interview conducted with Charles a few years ago.

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The Sunlovers

It would be the Sunlovers and his other label interests that would be the focus of Joey’s productions and “The Inspirations and “No One Else Can Take Your Place” was for the foreseeable future history.  The Sunlovers would record for amongst others Joey’s Breakthrough & Mutt & Jeff label. “My Poor Heart”. was the first release in June 1967 released on both Breakthrough and Mutt & Jeff.  “You’ll Never Make The Grade” came next and “I’ll Treat You Right” being the third and final release on Mutt & Jeff.  None did anything nationally despite selling regionally.  The first two would however become popular on the UK Northern Soul scene in later years alongside the Breakthrough release by the Inspirations and other releases by Joey Jefferson.

When asked most collectors and dancers remember first hearing the Inspirations record via Colin Curtis at the legendary Blackpool Mecca.  This copy however belonged to Neil Rushton.  Neil purchased it for £32, two weeks wages, blind from Bob Cattaneo of San Francisco.  This was the first copy to arrive in the UK and Neil as well as playing it himself at venues such as The Ritz in Manchester would take it to the Mecca for Colin to play, this would be late 1973 or 1974 according to various memories. Some years later, whilst the disc was still a one known copy 45, Neil would sell the record to Ritchie Andrew of Wales for £120, something Neil regretted.

Meanwhile, Bob Cattaneo had been in contact with Joey and during the conversations it transpired Joey still had the masters for “No One Else Can Take Your Place”.  Bob relayed this to Neil and a deal was struck through Bob to get 1000 pressed up, this was 1977. However, when the records arrived in the UK Neil was bemused that it was not the same as the record he had bought from Bob and played around the UK but a totally different take.  It transpired that Joey had used the wrong take and the vocal recorded by Charles Diamond and not the original Inspirations was used for the release.  It was though an excellent recording in its own right and all copies have now disappeared into collections and when one does come up for sale it is now commanding a three figure sum.  The Inspirations though has never turned up with just a few known copies and commanding a figure of several thousand pounds.
As for Johnny Hendley, his whereabouts are unknown although Joey is actively attempting to locate him.

Charles Pennywell would continue to record into the 70s and is still touring to this day with his band.

Special thanks to Kev Roberts, Charles Pennywell and Joey Jefferson.

Photos courtesy of Charles Pennywell.

Thanks also to Classic Urban Harmony.

Charles “Diamond” Pennywell has his own website…

http://www.charlesdiamond.indiegroup.com/index.html

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SJ 1000A

It has been a few months since the last Soul Junction release but they are back with the first release of 2015 with more quality unissued 70’s. A new label design is also introduced giving the label a 60’s or 70’s look and feel.

Back to the music, the group in question for the latest release is the Dynamic Sounds Orchestra giving us two great unreleased mid 70’s soul sides. Both very different, the top side “Take Me Back” a great dancer with a lot going on as you would expect from a nine-piece group. Flip it over and we are treated to a nice ballad entitled “All I Wanna Do Is Love You”.

Two excellent mid 70’s Chicago Soul already receiving extensive radio play and a 45 expected to sell out like so many other Soul Junction releases, get in there quick.

The group do though have some history that should be of interest to Rare Soul avids as you will see from the press release.

Press Release: Dynamic Sounds Orchestra   “Take Me Back/All I Wanna Do Is Love You” SJ1000

Release Date: Monday April 27th 2015

The Dynamic Sounds Orchestra was a nine-piece ensemble who would later become the backing and touring band for one of the windy city’s most famous soul groups, The Chi-Lites.

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The Jerma release of Lil Gray, mother to The Dynamic Sounds Norwood Gray.

The original origins of the DSO had begun earlier in the mid 60’s when teenage bass player Norwood Gray Jr along with fellow guitarist Anthony Barnes held performances using several different drummers as a three-piece combo under the name of The Dynamic Sounds. Norwood was the eldest son of female vocalist, Lil Gray who during the mid 60’s recorded three 45 releases “Are You Fooling” (101), “Out Of Nowhere” (102) and “One Day Your Gonna Get Burned (103) for Ulysses Samuel Warren’s Jerma records label. Norwood himself would also later play bass on U.S. Warren’s collectable funk album “For A Few Funky Dues More” which appeared on Warrens other label logo Chytowns (2001).

During 1970 Norwood was invited to play on a session that also featured a brass section that included Charles ‘Butch’ Cater (Trombone), Milton Thomas (Soprano and Tenor Saxophone), Louis Minter (Alto Saxophone) and the late Kevin Thompson (Trumpet). It was from this chance meeting that the concept of the Dynamic Sounds Orchestra was born. Further musicians were added to the line-up, Clifford Conley (Guitar), Ronald Scott (Keyboards), Dennis Howell (Drums) and finally Otis Gould (Conga Drums and Percussion). With the now retired (from her own performing career) Lil Gray assuming the role of the group’s manager.

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Top row – Left to right

Milton Thomas (Saxophones), Kevin Thompson (Trumpet), Clifford Conley (Guitar

Middle row – left to right

Norwood Gray Jr. (Bass), Louis Minter (Saxophone), Otis Gould (Percussion)

Bottom row – left to right

Ronald Scott (Keyboards), Charles Carter (Trombone), Dennis Howell  (Drums)(lower right hand corner)

From early 1972 till 1978 several different permutations of the DSO (at one point containing 13 members) supported the vocal talents of Chi-Lites, Marshall Thompson, Robert ‘Squirrel’ Lester, Creadel ‘Red’ Jones and Eugene Record, as well as later additional members along the Chi-Lites meteoric rise to world stardom. When Eugene Record left to pursue a solo career in 1976, some of the members of the DSO also followed him to Warner Brothers and are featured on the three albums that he recorded there. Eugene also produced an album for former ‘Lost Generation member Lorrell Simon entitled “Mellow, Mellow, Right On” again with musical accompaniment provided by some members of the DSO.

When Eugene Record later returned to the Chi-Lites line up he again called on some of the former members of the DSO to provide the orchestration on the 1982 Chi-Sound album project “Me And You” which featured the popular 12”/7”single release “Hot On A Thing (Called Love)”, a US R&B number 15 chart entry.

Back in 1976 the DSO using some of their earnings from their time with the Chi-Lites embarked upon an album project of their own although they never quite finished the project, also due in part to a later house fire, which destroyed their master tapes. The band later disbanded in 1978, but still remained in contact while following their, own careers and lives. Fortunately for us, a later discovery of a cassette tape of the unfinished DSO sessions by Otis Gould would lead to the groups lost masters eventually being heard by a wider audience. Otis painstakingly set about re- mastering the tracks, which he eventually released via several internet based outlets.

Through one of Soul Junction’s Chicago A&R contacts, this project was brought to our attention and two subsequent DSO tracks have been licensed, so before you, you have the uplifting dance track “Take Me Back” backed with the excellent sweet soul ballad “All I Wanna Do Is Love You” both finally gaining a vinyl release (SJ1000), its intended format at the time of its conception.

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To this day all the members of the DSO have remained in contact with the exception of their trumpet player Kevin Thompson. Kevin lost his life during a house fire at his Chicago home, initially safely exiting the building he was then severely injured when he re-entered the building to save his beloved instruments, later dying from his injuries. His spirit is sorely missed. Kevin was also the lead vocalist on “Take Me Back”.

Both Clifford Conley and Dennis Howell relocated to the West Coast. Dennis did eventually return to his native Chicago where he still occasionally plays with The Chi-Lites. Clifford currently resides in Altadena. CA. where he still plays within a band at his local church.

Percussionist Otis Gould following the breakup of the DSO moved south to Atlanta, GA, to pursue a career in Education. Now a retired school administer he has just recently completed a two year tour with the Broadway show ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’. Otis is also the driving force behind the reclamation of the DSO’s previously unissued material.

Trombonist Charles Carter still resides in Chicago where he still plays with an Earth, Wind and Fire tribute act by the name of ‘Shinning Star’.

Alto-Saxophonist Louis Minter too still lives and works in the Windy City as a car salesman, he too continues to perform, some of his performances at the ‘Apostolic Church Of God’ can be found on You Tube.

The final member of DSO’s brass section Tenor and Soprano Saxophonist, Milton Thomas now resides in Ypsilanti, MI. Although now suffering from a deterioration in his hearing. He still continues to play in between his day job in the construction industry.

Keyboardist Ronald Scott later became an ordained minister at The Beyond The Veil Ministries. He is also an undertaker for Scott Funeral Services and continues to write and play around Chicago.

The final surviving group member, bass player Norwood Gray Jr still lives with his family in Chicago. In 1980 Norwood graduated with a degree in electrical engineering that allowed him to enjoy a long and successful career with HP Computers, from whom he is now retired. Sadly his mother Lil Gray passed away in 2000 due to heart failure.

Words By: David Welding.

With acknowledgements to: Norwood Gray Jr, Otis Gould, Clifford Conley, Ronald Scott, Dennis Howell, Charles Carter, Milton Thomas and Louis Minter.

Photograph courtesy of: Otis Gould.

Buy this and previous Soul Junction releases direct from Soul Junction or the usual stockists: http://www.souljunct…/buydirect.html


Trey J's Sign

The Trey J’s Story.

The Trey J’s were a vocal duo which featured James Binford and Joseph Smith. James Binford originally from Indianapolis, Indiana began singing in various local Doo-Wop and church ensembles from the age of 9. Something he continued to do after enlisting in the Marine Corps as a 17 year old, often performing in Officers clubs where he was stationed. He also ventured out of camp to perform in local clubs, building a solid reputation as a performer. While stationed in Albany, Georgia James was introduced by his then wife to one of her relatives Mr Eddie Harris, the band leader of one of Alanta’s most popular acts, the Eddie Harris Review.   Following his release from the Marine Corps James took a job with International Harvester in his native Indianapolis before being transferred to the Macdonald Douglas Aeronautical Engineering Company in Atlanta. Here he once again hooked up with Eddie Harris working as a backing singer as part of his Review. James later had aspirations of forming his own ensemble so under the guidance of his manager Johnny Glover, James, began to form his own review.

 

In 1968 James and Johnny held an audition for a baritone vocalist through a local radio station. From a 150 hopeful applicant’s a 28year old Detroiter by the name of Joseph Smith was chosen. Joseph who had previously moved to Atlanta some 10 years earlier where he had married his first wife Jacklyn and raised a family of 3 children.

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Joseph Smith and James Binford

Thus with the addition of Joseph the Trey J’s were born, their name being taken from the Americanisation “Trey” a derivative of the French word for the number three “Tres” and the first initial of James and Joseph and their late manager Johnny Glover’s christian names, hence Three J’s equals the “Trey J’s”.

By the early 1970’s The Trey J’s had become regular performers at Atlanta’s most infamous Black night club ‘The Pink Pussy Cat’. It was while performing at the Pink Pussy Cat that the Trey J’s came into contact with a local record producer by the name of Thomas Fletcher Davis more commonly known as Tee Fletcher. Tee a successful recording artist in his own right with a string of recording for several labels such as Josie, Shurfine, and Tragar had begun his own production company Tee Gem Records.

 

Trey J's - We Got A Thing (Going On) - Tee Gem

The Trey Js – We Got A thing (Going On) – Tee Gem

 

James Binford had previously written the basic lyrics for a songs entitled “We Got A Thing Going On” and one day while at the Pink Pussy Cat with Tee Fletcher accompanying him at the piano he began to recite the lyric’s. Together they composed this and a further song entitled “I Found It All In You” which Tee eventually released on his Tee Gem label (PS-4044).

Trey J's - I Found It All In You - Tee Gem

The Trey Js – I found It All In You – Tee Gem

Although the Trey J’s only ever had the one 45 release, they continued to performed live shows on both the college and Chitlin circuit as the Trey J’s Review. The Trey J’s Review also featured Ray Ransom and Reggie Hargis who later became members of another Atlanta ensemble, known as Brick who enjoyed a successful recording career of their own from the mid 70’s through to the mid 80’s, scoring a number 1 R&B/pop hit in 1976 with the song “Dazz”. The Trey J’s also once featured as part of a tour that included Chicago recording artists, The Chi-lites and Ruby Andrews. (Due to Ruby being a friend of Johnny Glover’s wife).

In 1972 Joseph who by now was married to his second wife Barbara a former pastry chef who he had met while working as a waiter at the Morrison Cafeteria returned home to Detroit. Although he initially tried to find work as a singer he eventually embarked upon a career as a social worker, gaining a masters degree in social studies, his full time occupation until his retirement. Sadly Joseph passed away in 2010 from lung cancer.

In 1974 James Binford entered into the Islamic faith, taking up the name of James Hassen Ameen. He later returned to Indianapolis where he became a promotional booking agent his occupation until his later imprisonment during 1992 although he is reputedly due for parole sometime during late2014.

The Trey J’s “I Found It All In You” is currently enjoying a current reactivation due to it’s dramatic funky edge guitar and horn rifts fitting perfectly into the current funky soul genre. While it’s haunting deep soul ballad flip “We Got A Thing (Going On)” is a must for any real soul collector.

 

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Words by: David Welding.

Acknowledgements to: James Binford, Carolyn Binford, Barbara Smith and Thomas (Tee) Fletcher.

The above article is an extract from the sleeve notes of the forthcoming Soul Junction CD album “We Got A Sweet Thing Going On” Catalogue number SJCD 5009. This compilation will feature both of the Trey J’s tracks, “I Found It All In You” and We Got A Thing Going On”.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Press Release: August Heat You And Me/Hooked On You SJ524
Release Date: Monday September 9th 2013

The August Heat Band, hail from the small town of Bristol near Opelousas, in the state of Louisiana. The main core of the August Heat band consist of the gospel trained lead soprano vocalist Eltonez Salton otherwise affectionately known as “Cookie”.
Veteran lead guitarist, background vocalist, and the August Heat album project producer, John Kent Pierre-Auguste. Who more frequently uses the abbreviated name of Kent August.

Along with bass guitarist Ronny Sonnier, drummer Michael “Joe Monk” Caesar and keyboardist Tony Lea. On the “Closer” album project additional keyboard parts were provided by local musician and studio engineer Michael Lockett. Who also recorded and mixed the entire album at his Lockdown studio in Lafayette, La.

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The “Closer” album project began in 2010 and was a further two years in the making.
It is from this excellent album that we at Soul Junction have taken the delightful mid-tempo offering “You And Me” backed with the more up-tempo dancer “Hooked On You” for our next 45 release. In doing so, we hope to introduce the great sound of the August Heat Band to the appreciation of a greater worldwide audience. Here’s to a successful future, August Heat.

For further information please contact Soul Junction At:

Tel: +44 (0)121 602 8115. E-mail sales@souljunctionrecords.co.uk

 


Lou Beatty’s DETROIT SOUL

Ask any soulie, dancer, collector or dealer to name a city closely associated with the scene and most would probably say Detroit first.  Ask them to name a label from Detroit and La Beat would be near the top of the list.  Both are synonymous with the scene and deservedly so.

This release from Grapevine is in the opinion of many long over due and rightly deserves a lasting tribute to the joy the label has brought to many soulies for over 30 years.

One look at the people involved behind the scenes at LaBeat, its subsidiaries Mary Jane, Coolschool and Rambler and also Lou Beatty’s early collaboration with James Hendrix and his Carrie Label….Fred Bridges, Bobby Eaton and Richard Knight writing team, Curtis Trusel and John Mills, not just writers but part of the in house production team/musicians The LPT’s, Melvin Davis involved writing and of course the famed Mike Terry to name but a few, you just know you are in for a treat!!!!

The CD kicks off with the ever popular dancer from Edward Hamilton “I’m Gonna Love You” (the flip “Call Me” features later in the cd).   Edward is represented several times the soulful “My Darling Baby” with the Natural Looks and of course with the Arabians with the superb and vastly under-rated and definitely underplayed “Thank Your Mother” and lastly with the all time classic “Baby Don’t You Weep”…Northern Soul just doesn’t get any better…or does it!

Al Williams is probably the name most associate with LaBeat.  First played at Wigan although not what you would call a typical Wigan sound, “I Am Nothing” personifies just what the scene is all about, Rare, obscure and above all a dancer.  It has remained out of reach for most collectors not just because of it’s rarity but also it asking price of £2500 plus.  The flip the soulful midtempo “Brand New Woman” also features on the cd and rightly so in my opinion it probably deserved a release of its own.  Cheaper but not by much is the later release on Palmer.

Al Williams other recording for the label remained in the can but have at long last seen the light of day and it was well worth the wait.  A ballad called “She Does It” and very good it is but it’s the dancer “Try Them” that will appeal to most I guess and rightly so….due for limited release on Grapevine 7” I can see this one taking off and becoming a firm favourite with crowds up and down the country once one or two DJ’s get behind it..
Another LaBeat release that went on to gain legendary status at Wigan and still as popular to this day is “This Won’t Change” from Lester Tipton, his solitary release for the label.  Again this fills all the criteria needed to make it a Northern Soul classic, the intro instantly drags you to your feet making you want to dance with Lester still saying he still loves his girl and things won’t change, despite the hurt she’s caused.  Again an asking price of £3000 plus puts this way out of reach for most collectors plus the fact it’s as rare as the proverbial rocking horse s***!

The Masqueraders although pretty well known for their musical output and many discs that have gone on to be scene classics are pretty much soul superstars to UK soulies due to their recent live performances over here during the last couple of years.  “How” kicks off their input to this cd and the track has become very much sought after in recent times and gained a high asking price a price considered ridiculous by some.  On listening you can see why its coveted by collectors and DJ’s…perfect Northern.  Personally I prefer the driving “I Got The Power”, also considerably cheaper as well!  If you prefer your soul that bit grittier with a bit more bite then “I’m Gonna Make It” will be right up your street.  The mid-tempo lovers won’t be disappointed either with the inclusion of “Be Happy For Me”.

Clifford Binns with his Carrie outing “You Got To Help Me” rightly deserves it’s inclusion, a firm favourite in the mid 80’s during the Stafford era the disc has received some re-activation in recent times.

James Shorter and Don Hart, two friends who as well as being a double act also recorded individually.  James Shorter’s “Modern Day Woman” is probably the best known by him.  As soulful as they come and becoming very much in-demand and probably more so after the release of the cd.  The flip also represented on the cd, “Getting Ready For The Heartbreak”, more of an up tempo dancer make this a highly collectable double sider, watch the price rise!!  Don Hart best effort in my opinion is his Cool School release the delightful mid-tempo effort “I’ll Keep Holding On”.  The track hasn’t had the recognition it deserves in my opinion and hopefully that will now change.
Nelson Sanders has two releases included on the cd, “This Love Is Here To Stay” and “Mojo Man” suit those who love the more R&B/funkier sound while his “I’m Lonely” and “Tired Of Being Your Fool” are two great ballads.

Not too be outdone by his artists, Lou Beatty chips in with his version of the Masqueraders “A Family” and the previously unreleased “Wet Pillow”.

With the inclusion of the unreleased instrumental of “I Am Nothing” there’s pretty much something for everyone on the cd, deep to dancer, ballad to mid-tempo to R&B.  You also get the added bonus of a pretty good read whilst listening from the comprehensive sleeve notes from Dave Welding!

LaBeat, although just a tiny label in Detroit’s thriving music scene of the 60’s and what would be considered a commercial failure, has played a large and influential part in  the history of Northern Soul and with this release a small band of musicians and artists have at long last had all their efforts recognised and hopefully they will at long last reap some reward for their efforts.

Karl “Chalky” White

June 2006

GVCD 3029

01. Edward Hamilton – I’m Gonna Love You
02. The Masqueraders – How
03. Lou Beatty – A Wet Pillow *
04. Edward Hamilton – My Darling Baby
05. Don Hart & James Shorter – All The Love I Got
06. Nelson Sanders – This Love Is Here To Stay
07. The Masqueraders – I Got The Power
08. Don Hart – I’ll Keep Holding On
09. James Shorter – Modern Day Woman
10. Al Williams – I Am Nothing
11. Lester Tipton – This Won’t Change
12. Edward Hamilton – Thank You Mother
13. Clifford Binns – Take It From Me
14. Nelson Sanders – I’m Lonely
15. The LPTs – I Am Nothing (Instrumental) *
16. James Shorter – Ready For The Heartbreak
17. Clifford Binns – You’ve Got To Help Me
18. Al Williams – Try Them *
19. Don Hart & James Shorter – It’s In My Mind
20. Lou Beatty – A Family *
21. Nelson Sanders – Mojo Man
22. The Masqueraders – I’m Gonna Make It
23. Al Williams – She Does It *
24. Don Hart – I Can Make It
25. Edward Hamilton – Call Me
26. The LPTs – Long Cool Summer
27. Nelson Sanders – Tired Of Being Your Fool
28. Al Williams – Brand New Love
29. Edward Hamilton & The Arabians – Baby Don’t You Weep
30. The Masqueraders – Be Happy For Me

* Previously unissued