Posts Tagged ‘Northern Soul’


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.


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.


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”.



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.


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.


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…


SJ533 A copy

Real Gone Music have been releasing the complete Atlantic, Atco and related label material recordings for various artists these past few years. Linda Jones, Carl Hall, Patti Labelle, Bettye Swann, The Sweet Inspirations, Jackie Moore and Dee Dee Warwick just some of artists featured so far.

It is the latter, Dee Dee Warwick that we are interested in here.  Her compilation from 2014 feature no less than 12 previously unreleased songs.  One of those 12 “You Tore My Wall Down” has been the most talked about and has caused a stir after receiving extended airplay via several radio shows.  A superb up-tempo dancer, it makes you wonder why such material is left in the can and would probably still be there if it wasn’t for dedicated enthusiasts determined to unearth everything possible.  “You Tore My Wall Down” was crying out for a 45 release and was demanded by some radio jocks.  Thankfully Soul Junction stepped in and licenced the track for their next release, a a welcome release it most certainly is.  It’s already featured at some venues due to advanced copies with plenty of inquisitive collectors immediately wanting a copy of their own.  The flip, an early 70’s mover is equally worthy of turntable action. This is one release destined to sell out so get your copy quick.

Press Release: Dee Dee Warwick   “You Tore My Wall Down/Can’t It Wait Until Tomorrow”   SJ533

Release Date:  Monday November 2nd 2015

Dee Dee

Dee Dee Warwick was born Delia Mae Warrick on September 25th 1945, in East Orange, New Jersey.

Dee Dee came from a very prominent family in the gospel community. Her father was the former director of gospel promotions at Chess Records, while her mother was the manager of the family gospel ensemble ‘The Drinkard Singers. Dee Dee  began her musical career singing alongside her elder and more famous sister Dionne Warwick within ‘The Drinkard Sisters’ who were led by their Aunt Emily “Cissy” Houston (the mother of the late Whitney Houston). Dee Dee and Dionne later formed their own gospel group ‘The Gospelaires’ who also entered the field of secular music singing backing vocals for many of the hit acts of the late 50’s and early 60’s where she gained a reputation as consistent and well respected session singer.

Dee Dee Warwick - You're No Good - Jubilee

This was to change in 1963 when Dee Dee signed as a solo performer with the iconic songwriting team of Leiber and Stoller who were instrumental in all her first three solo outings the original and much covered “Your No Good b/w Don’t Call Me Anymore” (Jubilee 5459). She also followed her sister’s lead by changing her surname from Warrick to Warwick. Dee Dee’s next release was the Van McCoy penned “Standing By b/w Don’t Think My Baby’s Coming Back” (Tiger 103) and “I Who Have Nothing At All b/w I Can’t Go Back” (Hurd 79). Dee Dee also sang with her aunt Cissy Houston as part of Allison Gaye & The Burners on their 1964 gospel outing “Darling/Burn” for the tiny Royo label.

Dee Dee Warwick - Don't Think My Baby's Coming Back - TigerDee Dee Warwick - I (Who Have Nothing At All) - HurdAllison Gary & The Burners - Darling - Royo

Dee Dee then signed for the major Mercury label, where she scored a 1965 pop hit with “I Want To Be With You” which first appeared on Mercury’s subsidiary Blue Rock label. Under the supervision of esteemed New Jersey producer Ed Townsend, Dee Dee was to record several other excellent sides such as “We’re Doing Fine”, “Gotta Get A Hold Of Myself”, “Worth Every Tear I Cry” (although only an album track in the USA it did gain a 45 release in the UK) before being promoted to the main Mercury label.

Dee Dee Warwick-Worth Every TearDee Dee Warwick -Where Is That Rainbow

Mercury released their first album on Dee Dee under the title of “I Want To Be With You/I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” an amalgamation of two of Dee Dee’s biggest hits. With Dee Dee’s original version of “I’m Gonna Make Me Love Me” later being covered by Madeline Bell and as a duet between Motown heavyweights The Supremes and The Temptations. In 1969 Dee Dee recorded the first of her two Grammy nominations “Foolish Fool” which was to become the title track of her second Mercury album. It was from this album that a further two tracks “When Love Slips Away” and “Where Is That Rainbow” would later find favour within the UK Crossover/Modern Soul Scene.

Dee Dee 1Dee Dee Foolish Fool

Other Dee Dee Warwick Mercury releases of note are the excellent up tempo cover version of the American folk/rock group The Mamas And Papas #1 hit “Monday Monday” along with “Don’t You Give Up On Me” with both songs being of interest to Northern Soul devotees.

During 1970, Dee Dee was persuaded by Atlantic records Jerry Wexler to join their subsidiary Atco label. Wexler first placed Dee Dee with her former mentor Ed Townsend with whom she recorded a four song session that Atco decided to leave in the can. Further recording sessions in Miami with the Dixie Flyers and The Sweet Inspirations were followed by later sessions at Muscle Shoals and the Pac-Three Studios in Detroit. Although a highly prolific time for Dee Dee recording wise, only one album “Turning Around” (Atco 33-337) and five 45 singles were released. Although Dee Dee’s first single “She Didn’t Know (She Kept On Talking) b/w Make Love To Me” (Atco 45-6754) did become a top 10 R&B hit and gained her the second Grammy nomination of her career. Her other Atco singles, “I’m Only Human”, “Cold Night In Georgia” “Everybody’s Got To Believe In Somebody” (previously recorded by Sam and Dave) and “Suspicious Minds” (a cover of Elvis Presley’s 1970 RCA #1 pop hit) would only achieve varying modest chart positions and subsequently her career stalled.

Dee Dee Warwick - Get Out Of My Life - Private StockDede Warwick Private Stock

After leaving Atco in 1972 Dee Dee’s next release came in 1975 when she recorded  the R&B hit “Get Out OF My Life”  under the name change of Dede Warwick for Private Stock Records which featured the excellent “Funny How We Change Places” on the flipside again a popular song with the UK Modern Soul fraternity. A second Private Stock single “This Time May Be The Last Time” again backed with “Funny How we Change Places” was later picked Up By RCA Records.

Recording wise Dee Dee was dormant until the release of her “Dee Dee” album for Heritage Sound Recordings in 1983, followed by her “Call Me” album for the Sutra label a year later.

Dee Dee had struggled with a drug addiction for many years and was in failing health when she sadly passed away on October 18th 2008, in a nursing home in Essex County, New Jersey. Her legacy was a plethora of great music that was loved and appreciated by a worldwide audience, even though she never achieved the same level of notoriety as her more famous sister Dionne. Although Dionne did later claim that Dee Dee was the real singer in their family.

SJ533 ASJ533-B

In 2014 The American Real Gone Music label released a double cd album entitled “Dee Dee Warwick, “The Complete Atco Recordings” featuring the entire 35 tracks (many previously unreleased) that she cut during her time with Atco. It is from this cd that we have licensed the Ed Townsend composition “You Tore My Wall Down” backed with the equally as good Ashford and Simpson penned “Can’t Wait Until Tomorrow” for the initial vinyl debut on a 45 single.

For further information please contact Soul Junction at:

Tel: +44 (0)121 602 8115or E-mail:

Thanks to Mark Hopes for help with scans.

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.

Trey J's Photo


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.



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”.








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

Good, Good Feeling

Posted: September 11, 2010 in Rhythm & Blues, Soul
Tags: ,

The Falcons


Sonny Munro

(Soul Junction SJCD5000)

Steeped in the history of Rhythm and Blues & Soul Music, Detroit (forget all about Motown for a while) has given us some of the finest purveyors of the music of our choice.  One of the groups that is rich in the history of Detroit Soul is the Falcons, who in turn has given Soul Music some of the finest luminaries in the field of Soul Music, Eddie Floyd & Wilson Pickett two of the most renown.

The Falcons were during their history two groups with the first group having two eras.  Coming together in the mid 50’s, with a mixed race line-up of Bob Manardo, Eddie Floyd, Ton Shelter and Arnett Robinson, with Willie Schofield joining soon after.  Eddie Floyds uncle Robert West became the groups manager.

Bob Manardo was soon drafted and Tom Shelter decided to enlist himself.  West held auditions which in turn lead to Joe Stubbs joining the ranks along with guitarist Lance Finnie, Mack Rice following not too long after replacing Arnett Robinson.

Without going into too much detail this was essentially the first era of the group, the second, after changes to the line up lead to Wilson Pickett joining the group to provide vocals.

Not long after signing for Atlantic and after just one session and one solitary release 1962, the group split, most of the group did have solo careers by this time as well as their time with the group.

This left West with just a name, a name he had no intention of seeing become history.  Early 1963 West saw a group play in Cleveland, The Fabulous Playboys, coincidentally one he managed.  After seeing their performances and eager to keeping the name the Falcons alive West asked the Fabulous Playboys to take over the name, something they eventually agreed to seeing a better financial future with the name The Falcons, the line-up of the second group being Sonny Monroe, James Gibson, Johnny Alvin & Alton “Bart” Hollowell.  This is the line-up and era of the group that this compact disc release deals with.

Sonny Monroe (lead), James Gibson (1st Tenor), Johnny Alvin (2nd Tenor), Alton “Bart” Hollowell (3rd Tenor, Baritone). Thanks to Fredrick Gibson (James’s son) and Colin Dilnot.

The first thing that had to be dealt with was the terms of the contract for Atlantic which lead to the second and final release for the label “Oh Baby b/w Fine Fine Girl, a 45 which went nowhere.   The following year the group moved onto West’s own label Lupine for the release Lonely Nights b/w Has It Happened To You Yet, the second track on this CD and a track which for many was the groups beginnings as not just an Rhythm and Blues group but a Soul group.  However time went by with virtually nothing from the group, until that is 1966 when their manager was shot, although not fatally but bad enough to force him from the music business for the foreseeable future.  This left the group with no label and no manager.  Along came Frank Kosian who after becoming the groups manager put the group with his label Big Wheel, a label that went onto become highly collectable on the UK Northern Soul scene with several releases fetching a sum well into three figures and the main focus of this cd.

All the sides recorded for Big Wheel (the first two Golden World and United Sound for the last two all under the guidance of Dale Warren) are included as is the Sandy Hollis release.  The cd kicks off with Good Good Feeling, with its unmistakeable intro and pounding beat ideal for the Northern Soul scene which also makes it highly collectable and a regular seller for three figures.  Following the Lupine release Has It Happened Too You Yet comes Standing On Guard, fabulous mid-tempo soul with great harmonies from the guys perfectly complimenting the lead of Sonny Monro.  Standing on Guard was not only a smash locally but went top 30 R&B.  This was reworked by the group in the 80s’ and features on this cd.  The flip I Can’t Help It is almost as good and a worthy inclusion on the CD.  Sonny Monro telling us he can’t help it falling in love complimented again by the superb harmonies of the group.

Sandy Hollis with the mid-tempo cut I’m Tempted is next up, why you ask?  Simple the Falcons provided the backing vocals.  Sonny’s vocals feature so much it’s fair to call it a duet, why the Falcons were not credited is a mystery to say the least.  Again the trademark harmonies of the Falcons also stand out.  The flip, Tables Will Turn, a fantastic moody mid-tempo number again with the Falcons providing backing is another worthy inclusion further down the cd playlist.

The flip to the cd opener, the mid-tempo Love Like You Never Been Loved Before comes next.  “You’re The One For Me” pleads Sonny and that all he wants to do is spend his life with her so all he can do is “Love You Like You Never Been Loved”. Again the harmonies are a prominent feature and it’s a side that deserves to see more exposure.

Next up comes the flip Love Look In Her Eyes, In Time For The Blues, Sonny telling us how late he is for everything but In Time For The Blues, great moody soul with again some fantastic harmonies.  One of my favourites from the group is up next.  I’m A Fool I Must Love You.  “I’ve been around but I’ve never found one that makes me feel like you do, I must love you”.  With this following the hit Standing On Guard it also sold well and it’s another the Northern Soul scene took to its heart and has gained plenty of turntable action over the years. Following I’m A Fool is its flip Love Love Love, a track I’ve not heard since I first bought the record so many years ago, it’s now had  plenty of plays to make up for it.  Set at a quicker pace than I’m A Fool again features the tight harmonies of Gibson, Alvin and Hollowell with Sonny pleading with presumably his lover “Love Look What You Made Me Do….You Made Me Leave My Happy Home.”

Next comes arguably the most in demand of all the outing on Big Wheel from the Falcons, Love Look In Her Eyes.  Although not as upbeat as Good Good Feeling its a dancer none the less and one that features often amongst the playlist of the DJ’s around the world.  Again superb vocals from Sonny telling us how “Heartaches won’t leave you alone, when you find the girl you love has been some other place a hurting with some other guy giving him that love look in her eyes, what can you do, what can you say!!”  How true and soul music at its best.  Listening to this you can see why it is so in demand and commands a figure of £300 plus.  This brings to an end the Big Wheel era with Kosian bringing the curtains down on the label and disappearing from view after owing money to some guys you don’t argue with.

The cd is then made up of unreleased cuts kicking off from one recorded after leaving Big Wheel and getting involved with Ollie McLaughin, You’ve Got The Power, a ballad that actually features Deon Jackson on vocals pleading with his cheating lover to leave him alone. Great vocals from Deon but not much in the way of the harmonies from the others in the stly we became accustomed to on the big Wheel outings which makes you wonder if the Falcons featured at all on the track?

Next up are several solo outings from Sonny.  The Happiest Days Of My Life is the first, a nice enough mid tempo number, the first of several recorded for Epic.  It’s an easy going pleasant enough number cut in the early/mid 70’s.  Next up is a great ballad titled On The Other Side Of Town.  Don’t Leave Me Alone another soulful ballad with Sonny’s vocals pleading to be left alone by another cheating partner, seems to be a reoccurring theme.

Why Do I Let You Do The Things You Do, an upbeat mover followed by another ballad I’m Tired Of Being Your Plaything.  To quote John Ridley’s sleeve notes, “the lack of orchestration in these early versions of songs is a really good way to hear just how well Sonny could phrase a song”.  I’m Tired of Being Your Plaything “where he is accompanied by  just a piano and a tambourine-simply outstanding vocals.  Your Love Is Dy-No-Mite, a change from the heartbreak tells how his loves love is Dynomite!! An excellent ballad/mid tempo offering.  The upbeat dancer See The Finished Product brings the CD to a close, a CD that documents a period in history of one of Detroit’s finest vocal groups, maybe not the most prolific recording wise but the quality more than makes up for that.  The release does come with extensive liner notes courtesy of John Ridley which are worth the price alone.

1. Good Good Feeling – The Falcons

2. Has It Happened To You Yet – The Falcons

3. Standing On Guard -The Falcons

4. I’m Tempted – Sandy Hollis

5. Love You Like You Never Been Loved – The Falcons

6. I Can’t Help It -The Falcons

7. In Time For The Blues – The Falcons

8. I’m A Fool I Must Love You – The Falcons

9. Love, Love, Love – The Falcons

10. Love Look In Her Eyes – The Falcons

11. Tables Will Turn – Sandy Hollis

12. You’ve Got The Power – The Falcons

13. Happiest Days Of My Life – Sandy Munro

14. On The Other Side Of Pride -Sandy Munro

15. Don’t Leave Me Alone – Sandy Munro

16. Why Do I Let You Do The Things You Do – Sandy Munro

17. I’m Tired Of Being Your Play Thing – Sandy Munro

18. Standing On Guard – The Falcons

19. Your Love Is Dy-No-Mite – Sandy Munro

20. Finished Product – Sandy Munro /

Label – Soul Junction

Catalogue # Sjcd5000

Thanks to Dave Welding, John Ridley,

Marv Goldberg for some research help with the history.

Fredrick Gibson (James’s son) and Colin Dilnot for the photo.

Further reading at

Further information from

Chalky (July 2008)

Rob Moss wrote……

Just received a copy of the fantastic Falcons cd from Sonny Munro. Spent a fascinating evening at his home revisiting past glories and reliving former triumphs. One of the things he did tell me was that the “You’ve got the power’ track that is credited to the group is definitely not them. It is, in fact, Deon Jackson and appeared on the second Hayley cd ‘Ain’t that something’ under its correct affiliation. Another conundrum that continues to astound many is the identity and lineage of ‘Doll Face’ on the Enterprise label out of Detroit. One side of the single is ‘Please return’ with songwriting credits to The Falcons (C.Munro, A. Halliwell, J.Alain and J. Gibson) yet Sonny has no memory of the song at all. Nothing is mentioned in the sleeve notes of the latest cd about it either – a real Poirot moment indeed. Can anyone help?

Highland Records

I first compiled the Highland label listing for the April 2004 issue of Shades Of Soul (31). Derek Pearson was a great help with text and info for the article. Also Arthur Wright and various other collectors.

West Coast Highland Records, owned by Sid Talmedge was based at 2580 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90006. The label distributed by West Pico Merchandising and was a subsidiary of Malynn Enterprises.

By no means a soul based label but amongst its releases are some classic dance floor favourites, Larry Atkins, The Penetrations, Soul Patrol, Bobby Montgomery, Mike And The Censations and the daddy of them all Kell Osborne and his pounding Law Against A Heartbreaker.

We cannot be sure if all these records were released by the same company, for one the numbering system is all over the place although there are definite connections between some of the numbering systems, neither is it consecutive. There was definitely a series of re-issues certainly some distributed by Oldies Music of Hollywood. Others were exact replicas of earlier releases except the label colour, as in the case of Luckey Davis, both releases some 11 years apart.

Mike and The Censations are the only group/artist who can claim any longevity with the label releasing 5 discs, Al Casey with 3 and Rosie and the Originals with 2 are the only other acts who actually put out more than one record. The rest were one off releases for the label. As Arthur Wright said “Like many independents around that time the label found it more cost effective to lease masters on different artists and just deal with the producers of those masters. It gave rise to the term production deal which was great for independent producers who also dealt with a number of record companies”. Rosie and the Originals massive number 5 hit “Angel Baby” probably single handedly financed the label throughout the early period in the labels history.

1001 Al Casey (Got The) Teenage Blues/ Adventures Of Frankenstein 10/59
1002 Al Casey (Got The) Teenage Blues/ Give’n Up 11/59
1003 Pat Mowry Come What May/ Shadows Of The Shrine 1958
1004 Al Casey The Stinger (instrumental)/ Night Beat (instrumental) 11/59
1010 Bobby Hughes Berlin Bounce Part 1/ Part 2 1960
1011 Rosie And The Originals Angel Baby/ Give Me Love 1960
1014 Ronnie And The Premiers Cha Cha/ Sharon 1961
1015 Sandra And The Highlanders What’s Left/ Written In The Stars 1961
1016 Millie Patterson I Love An Angel/ Last Tears On Me
1018 Ray Marten Now That You’re Gone/ Broken Heart 1961
1019 Billy Duke & The Dukes Pledging My Love/ Crazy Pete 1961
1020 Wil-Sones Let Me Help You/ Come On, Mama 1961
1024 Johnny Manjelli Five Foot Two/ Five Foot Two (Eyes Of Blue) 1961
1025 Rosie And The Originals Angel From Above/ Why Did You Leave Me 1961
1026 Rumblers Intersection/ Stomping Time 1962
1030 Troy Cory Mighty Ocean/ Teeny Weeny Wiggle 1962
1031 Dee Jays Bongo Beach Party/ Mr. Bongo Man 1962
1032 Rosie And The Originals Lonely Blue Nights/ We’ll Have A Chance 1962
1034 Carol Slade I Saw You/ I Wanna Know Right Now 1962
1035 Grunion Hunters Four Eyed, Tongue Tied, Swimmin’/ Surfer Swimmin’Surfer Biter 1963
1050 Don And Dewey Don’t Ever Leave Me/ Heart Attack 1964
1051 Little Winfrey Slauson USA/ Charlie’s Blues 1963
1052 Larry Bright Should I/ Twinkle-Lee 1964
1100 Bobby Day Little Turtle Dove/ Saving My Life For You 1964
1150 Frankie Anthony You Were Mine/ The Wonders Of Love 1964
1151 Johnny Guitar Watson Wait A Minute Baby/ Oh So Fine
1152 Ray Agee Mr. Clean/ Keep Smiling 1964
1160 Sonny I’ll Change/ Try It Out On Me 1965
1161 Ed Lee Country Boy Part 1/ Part 2 1966
1166 Tommy Cooper No Arms Can Ever Hold You/ Sweet Words Of Love 1966
1167 The Huntingtons Is There A Way/ You Lose, I Win 1966
1168 Willie Riley Groovin’ With Willie (instrumental)/ Shoehole (instrumental) 1966
1169 Angelenos (Down In) East LA/ Lori 1966
1170 The Runaways It Don’t Mean A Thing/ Please Do 05/67
1171 Thee Counts Someday I’m Gonna Get You/ So Far Away 1966
1172 Chris May Hey Baby/ So Far Away 1966
1173 The In-Be-Tween (Early Slade!) Security/ Girl Child I’m An Evil Witchman 1966
1175 Mike And The Sensations Victim Of Circumstance Part 1/ Part 2 1966
1177 The Two Shades of Soul Thief Of Love/ A Little Bit Of Soul 1966
1179 Doug Brooks What Do You Do/ Boys Will Be Boys 1967
1180 Chris May I’m Livin’ Good/? 1967
1181 Mike And The Censations Don’t Mess With Me/ There Is Nothing I Can Do About It 1967
1182 Kell Osbourne A Law Against A Heartbreaker/ Trouble, Trouble, Baby 1967
1183 Penetrations Sweet Sweet Baby/ Champagne (Shing-A-Ling) 1967
1184 Deddie Williams And The Unwritten Law Love Seems So Hard To Find/ Ask Me 11/67
1185 Insects Girl That Sits There/ Then You Came My Way 1967
1186 Mike & Censations I Need Your Lovin’/ Be Mine Forever 1967
1187 Kenny Nolan Save It For Me/ Ever See Somebody Needin’ Lovin’ 1967
1188 Alan Gary Good Lovin’ Woman/ At The Love In 1968
1189 Mike & Censations Don’t Sell Your Soul/ Baby What’re You Gonna Do 1968
1190 Harry Hellings And The Radials Tale Of A Crystal Ship/ Wake Up Sweet Mary 11/67
1192 Ray Agee Mister Clean/ Keep Smiling 1968
1193 Larry Atkins Ain’t That Love Enough/ Lighten Up 1968
1194 The Hinge I’ll Pretend/ Now Let Me Love You 1968
1195 Little Incidents The Thing/ Walk On 1968
1196 King Soloman The Natural Look/ No Woman’s No Stranger 1969
1197 Bobby Denton That’s The Way I Want It To Be/ Nothing Can Take The Place Of Your Love 1969
1198 Genuine Family Parts Cherry/ Fall On Me Rain 1969
1199 Griz Green Ginger Ale And AppleJack/ Grandpa’s Searsucker Suit 1969
1201 Luckey Davis (original yellow label) It’s Not Where You Start/ Instrumental 1969
1201 Jim Gamble When You Move You Lose 1969
1201 Luckey Davis (re-issue orange label) It’s Not Where You Start/ Instrumental 1980
1202 King Solomon The Miracle Worker/ The Moon Walk 1969
1202 Frank Lucas You Got Me High Part 1/ You Got Me High Part 2 1980
1203 Mike And The Censations Baby,What’re Gonna Do/ I Need Your Lonin 1969
1203 ? I’ll Always Be In Love With You/ I Feel Good Feeling Good 1980
1204 The Bounders Mia / They Call The Wind, Mariah 1970
1205 Four Sale (aka 4 Sale) Baby, Please Don’t Tease/ Try To Remember
1206 Joe & The Fantastics Chicken Chicken/ Darlin’ Darlin’ 1970
1208 Explosions Animated Heart/ Face To Face 1970
1301 Frank Lucas Your Love Got Me High Part 1/ Your Love Got Me High Part 2
1401 Frank Lucas Your Love Got Me High Part/ Ding Dong
2000 Ernie Fields In The Mood/ Christopher Columbus
2001 B. Bumble & Stingers Bumble Boogie/ School Day Blues 1961
2002 The Wiz Kids Sweet Honey/ Big Teaser
2004 Bobby Day Rockin’ Robin/ So Long Baby
2006 Oscar McLolugh and Jeanette Baker Hey Girl Hey Boy/ Let Me Know Let Me Know 1976
2505 Virtues Bye, Bye Blues/ Happy Guitar 1960
300 Precisions Eight Reasons Why (I Love You)/ Mama Told me 1962
4000 War Babies Jeanie’s Pub/ Love Is Love 1969
44 Sherwood Fleming Good Woman/ Holdin’ On
77 Soul Patrol Need Of Love/ Save Your Love
78 Bobby Montgomery Make Me Yours/ Seek And You Shall Find
CW-10 Possum Chula Vista/ The Cockroach That Ate Cincinnati
MX-09 Rose & The Arrangement My House Up The Tree/ Sunshine Through My Window Pane

Mike And The Censations

(taken from the liner notes to the 1996 released Luv N Haight label re-issue of Michael Kirklands “Hang on in there” album from the late 70’s.)

Mike Kirkland’s recording debut came about because of a bet. At an LA party, where his friends were singing the praises of Berry Gordy and Motown, Kirkland’s brother Robert offered a wager. He said he and his brother Mike could cut a record every bit as good as a Motown disc. This was August and Robert guaranteed he would have the disc out by Christmas. Mike was initially sceptical, but nevertheless they had formed a group (Mike and the Censations), hired a band from Grants Music Centre (The Roger Spots Orchestra) and by Christmas 1965 had recorded and cut a single, “Victim Of Circumstance”, which they initially released on their own Bryan label. That single, which gained radio play and entered the R&B top 50, aroused the interest of several major labels although the band was unwilling to sign away their song fro the measly amounts that were being offered. A second 45 “There’s Nothing I Can Do About It” scored even bigger and Mike and The Censations sined a short lived deal with MCA.*

“We Didn’t realise that we were going to have to do all the work ourselves, unless you were Neil Diamond they wouldn’t even answer the phone”.
Derek Pearson – * the short lived deal with MCA he talks about was the couple of records released on Revue in 1969. Mike later made his money under the name Bo Kirkland whose duets with Ruth Davis made the American charts between 1975 and 1978. Their “You’re Gonna Get Next To Me” was a big hit on the UK charts during 1977.

In Ruben Molina’s “Low Rider Music 1950-75 book, it states that Kirkland’s group at the time of the Highland recordings comprised of Michael Kirkland, Robert Kirkland, their sister, her husband Armand Postell and Michael Trotter. Victim of Circumstance was recorded at Madelon Baker’s Audio Arts Studio. Origianlly released on their own Bryan label, it was re-issued on Sid Talmadge’s Highland Records.

Pete Smith suggests how the In-Betweens (1173) who later became well known UK chart toppers Slade, signed up to this West Coast label….”Nobody has ever said how this came about, However, their manager at the time was Kim Fowley and he was a well known LA eccentric producer/songwriter. I would guess he got the single released on Highland as he was their one and only American contact they had, he also produced the record”.

Bill Spoon’s Highland release, 1000 “Love Is On The Way/Don’t Play With My Love” is unconnected to the Highland we are discussing. It is from Cleveland, Ohio and later re-released on Hense Forth. More about Bill Spoon and the Soul Notes can be read at John Smith’s excellent website in the soulin section.

The rarest disc on the label is Kell Osborne’s Law Against A Heartbreaker. Just two demonstration/dj copies are known to exist, not even Kell has a copy. It took me some months but I finally tracked Kell down and having not heard the record since it was recorded I played it down the phone to him and his reaction was to say, “WOW”. He was gob smacked. A recording was duly sent to him along with most of his releases (Kell’s story will be in the next issue of Shades of Soul). Covered up at Stafford as Jimmy Gresham the record simply pounds along, gaining momentum as it nears the end. It also shares the same backing as Kell’s Loma release “You Can’t Outsmart A Woman”.

Thanks to Tim Brown for the above scan. The 45 is actually vinyl, many Highland 45’s styrene.

Larry Atkins is another release that has given many hours of dancing pleasure to soulies on the UK’s Northern Soul scene, in fact it’s one of the best double siders released. Ain’t That Love Enough and Lighten Up have graced the turntables for many years at venues all over the UK and dare I say the world now, and continue to do so to this day. Also released on Romark (Lighten Up was titled Have Mercy On Me) and it was also covered by Ty Karim.

The Penetrations is another that has gained some turntable action and also commanded a three figure sum.

Highland picked up quite a few local Southern California small label records, to provide them with better distribution. The 2000 series was for releases of “oldies” hits, gathered from the rights to Class Records, Rendezvous Records, and other small ’50s L.A. labels.

You Can’t Outsmart A Woman

The Kell Osborne Story

Kell Osborne (Born in 1939 on the 12th March) was raised by his deeply religious stepfather since the age of two and he wanted Kell to become a minister of the church, something Kell had set his sights on until he came across secular music.  Kell had to make a decision to either go into the church or sing, luckily for us he chose the latter but it was something he had to keep from his stepfather and one of the reasons that eventually led to his decision to leave Birmingham as he couldn’t possibly sing the music he wanted to sing there with his step father in the background.

Around 1955, four childhood friends, Kell Osborne, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks and Willy Waller were an unknown quartet in 10th Grade at Olin High School (later Jackson Olin High after the High School principal) in Birmingham, Alabama, who later trimmed to a trio when Willy Waller dropped out.

The trio, like many kids their age had dreams of making it big as singers and Kell upon leaving High School took a job in a local hardware store for six months to save money to get them out of Birmingham, Alabama.  Just six months and one day after beginning work at the hardware store, at just 18 years of age and just out of High School, Kell, Paul and Eddie took a Greyhound bus out of Birmingham and headed for Cincinnati.  Upon getting off the bus they headed for the King studios but unfortunately for the trio being so early in the day it was closed at the time.  It was dark and cold and the three of them deliberated about what to do.  They decided that rather than wait for the studios to open they would head onto Cleveland where Willy “Boochie” Waller was now living.  Upon arriving in a snowy Cleveland they hooked up again with Willy Waller who put them up at his mother’s house for a few weeks until the trio could sort something out for themselves.

Once in Cleveland Kell took a job at the Majestic Hotel washing dishes, Kell later getting Paul a job along side him and Eddie a job as Bellhop/dishwasher as well.  The trio also worked the Majestic in the Rose Room as The Cavaliers (after a religious/gospel group).  It was here that they would sing to the major acts that played the Hotel, an audition of sorts hoping that they would impress the acts so much that they would get a recommendation to one of the labels of the acts, unfortunately to no avail.   They did however get noticed by the local press who ran an article about them dubbing them the Dishwashing Trio.
The trio was eventually spotted by a local Pimp by the name of Milton C Jenkins who saw potential in them and he approached Kell, Eddie & Paul, telling the boys how much he liked them and that he wanted to take them under his wing and be their manager!  After discussing the offer the three of them decided that they had suffered enough, starving & broke they accepted Milton’s proposal and signed a five year contract with Milton who persuaded them to leave Cleveland for Detroit promising better opportunities in Motor City….he also blessed the trio with a new name, The Primes!!!  The name came about after lengthy discussion and was chosen because it meant Number One!  Milton also kitted out the trio with clothes and suits to make them look the part as well.

Once in Detroit the trio began working the local circuit including the Flame Bar.   They rehearsed every day, 12 noon till 3 in the afternoon under instruction from Milton singing music from various genres as he wanted them to be as versatile as possible.  Tracks were learnt from various LP’s of the time and some 25 tracks were chosen for the act and rehearsed continuously.

One day Milton came round with three girls he had met at the local High School (just what a pimp was doing at a local High School is anyone’s guess), the three girls were Flo Ballad, Mary Wilson and Diana Ross and they wanted Milton to be their manager and so the Primettes were born and became the Primes sister group.  The Primettes couldn’t do harmony, well not very well so they were taught harmony, tunes and routines etc by the Kell, Paul & Eddie on a daily basis and this in turn took the natural talent the girls had and improved upon it.  Kell remarked that Flo as well as being very beautiful, was also the better singer of the girls.  Of course working close together every day there was every chance of them becoming closer on a personal level and Diana Ross became interested in Kell and Mary in Eddie!

After some six months in Detroit, rehearsing, doing the local circuit yet getting no where with no recording contract in sight, Kell became disenchanted and disappointed and he decided to leave but he decided he wasn’t just going to up and leave Eddie & Paul.  Kell wrote to Mr. Jackson, the trio’s old High School principal, who had been very supportive of the boys, and asked about the chances of putting on a performance at their old High, to which Mr. Jackson agreed and proceeded to set up the arrangements.   The trio then headed back to Birmingham and where they did the concert which by all accounts was a huge success.  However it wasn’t enough for Kell, he phoned both Eddie & Paul and told them both he was leaving for LA, he wished them both the best for their futures and off he went to, this was the latter part of 1959 according to Kell.  What happened to Eddie & Paul is history but it didn’t quite work out that way for Kell.

Kell’s first stop was Lester Sill and Lee Hazelwood’s Trey label and a young up and coming producer by the name of Phil Spector.  Using a forty piece spiritual voce choir and elements of what later went on to become the wall of sound technique made famous by Phil Spector Kell cut his first solo release, Bells Of St Mary’s b/w That’s Alright Baby.  Recorded in Phoenix Arizona, all Kell had to do was lay down his vocals, everything else was all ready done and dusted elsewhere.  The record did nothing nationally despite distribution by Atlantic but did hit locally in Baltimore of all places.  Bells Of St Mary’s was later recorded by Bobby B Soxx & Blue Jeans (Bobby Sheen).  Bobby’s version rocked a little more than Kell’s and was more pop orientated.  Kell regrets that the release didn’t hit as he really wanted to sing standards in this vein, the flip the up-tempo rocker That’s Alright Baby wasn’t liked by Kell at all as he didn’t really feel that it was “him”.

Something like ten tracks were laid down at the above session, a session Kell went to with Laryngitis upon which Lester Sill gave Kell a bottle of Castrol (must be some 60’s cure for sore throats?) to get him through the session.  So there must be some unreleased material tucked away somewhere?

Lester Sill thought of Kell as being similar to Jackie Wilson and had big ideas for him but Kell’s impatience got the better of him and not wanting to be another Jackie Wilson but a Kell Osborne he was off to seek pastures greener.  Kell was introduced to Leon Rene (Googie’s father) of Class Records but the label unfortunately for Kell was in the process of winding up and Kell just caught the tail end of the labels life releasing two singles, Little Chickadee b/w Do You Mind & with it’s quasi reggae beat Would You Laugh b/w Eye Of The Fire.

Next along came what looked like being Kell’s big break, a major in the shape of Capitol where Kell signed a five year contract 1963.  But sadly for Kell he was drafted that year and this put an end top any hopers of a future with Capitol.

It was while Kell was serving his time in the forces that Billy Revis, Kell’s close friend and personal manager, put out in 1963 Yaya Yaya b/w Something For The Books, thus keeping Kell’s name out there whilst away doing his bit for his country.  Yaya Yaya would later be released as the flip to the Highland rarity Law Against A Heartbreaker, although titled Trouble, Trouble Baby.

It would appear that whilst in the draft Billy also released Something For The Books b/w Lonely Is The Night on Rayco (1965) (recorded prior to Kell doing his draft circa ’63).  This release wasn’t under the name of Kell Osborne but Ozzie Osborne, why Kell hasn’t a clue why Billy Revis changed his name to Ozzie and didn’t really take kindly to this but what could he say?  Billy was his closest friend and he was still out there so to speak whilst away in the forces so he couldn’t really complain too much.  Kell was backed by Bobby Day (who Kell did regular sessions with when available) and the Hollywood Flames on this release although the Hollywood Flames were anyone who was round Bobby’s place at the time, Kell mentions the likes of the members of the Coasters or Tony Williams of the Platters .

After serving his draft, Kell set about trying to establish his career again.  He hung about on a daily basis with close friend Billy Revis who kept Kell working on a regular basis, working with the likes of Eloise Hester who later left to go with Ike and Tina Turner.  After Eloise Kell, at the request of Billy Revis hooked up with Rosalind Madison (who was Billy’s wife) working the local circuit.

Warner Brothers were looking to get a foot in the thriving R&B scene and this was to be Kell’s next port of call under its Loma subsidiary.  Just one release came from this deal, released in November 1965,the up-tempo dancer You Can’t Outsmart A Woman (written by Osborne and Revis) b/w That’s What’s Happening (in the words of Kell, a true story written by himself about married life and what a Guy should do before and after getting married).

Again Kell was discouraged waiting for the next release he asked to be released from WB…in the words of Kell “I was always in a hurry, too big a hurry”.

Many labels were interested in Kell but his close friendship with Billy held Kell back with Billy keeping him away from many good opportunities and interested parties, presumably because the interested parties weren’t interested in Billy Revis?   ABC just one major label interested in Kell but not in Revis.  Kell finally managed to break from Billy Revis and he finally signed for another major, Mercury but nothing became of this partnership, not one release.

This just about sums up Kell’s recording career, impatient and unable to wait for the right deal or material, always thinking the grass greener elsewhere and his close friendship with Bill Revis probably cost Kell a successful recording career, hopping from label to label with little or no success, a sad testament to a mighty fine and unique vocalist.

Kell did stay in the business working the circuit, “top of the map to the bottom” until around 1995, at which point he was leading the world famous Drifters working for Hollywood International Talents.  Due to the work slowing down and not making the kind of money he once was, Kell at this point decided that he needed a regular and stable income and got out of the music business and took to driving buses.

This wasn’t the last of Kell Osborne though, he has recently (2005) completed and album of new material and Universal was interested in some sort of deal, what becomes of this we shall have to see.  Also at the time of writing Arthur Wright was working on a cd of Kell’s 60’s output.

The Motown Alumni Association has also contacted Kell in recognition of his part in the early part of the history of the Temptations….if only Kell had stayed with Eddie & Paul in Detroit?

Kell thankfully did leave the Northern Soul scene with some gems though, Quicksand which first became popular during the Stafford era of the mid 80’s and in later years its flip The Lonely Boy Song started getting some turntable action years later.  Another from the Stafford era is the Highland outing Law Against A Heartbreaker which is one of the rarest records on the Northern Soul scene with just two or three demo copies known to exist.  The Highland release shares it’s backing with the earlier release on Loma, You Can’t Outsmart A Woman, considerably cheaper yet every bit as good.  Small Things on New Bag has also gained in popularity over the years and again a very rare disc.

Kell Osborne – Trey 3006 (1960)

Bells Of St Mary’s

That’s Alright Baby

Kell Osborne – Cenco 1003 (1961)

Lonely Is The Night

Little Darling

Kel Osborne & Chicks – Class 302 (1962)

Little Chickadee

Do You Mind (Kell Osborne/Jimmy Thomas) (Jimmy Thomas is Leon Rene)

Kel Osborne – Class 306 (1963)

Would You Laugh (Kel Osborne/Jimmy Thomas)

Eyes Of Fire (Jimmy Thomas)

Kell Osborne – Revis 1010 (1963)

Yaya Yaya  (Later released on Revis 1224 and  Highland as Trouble Trouble Baby)

Something For The Books

Kell Osborne c/w The Rockets – Revis 1224

Trouble Trouble Baby

Tater Pie

Kell Osborne – Titanic 5008 (1963)


Lonely Boy Song – Titanic (1963)

Ozzie Osborne – Rayco 512 (1965)

Something For The Books

Lonely Is The Night

Kell Osborne – Loma 2023 (Nov/1965)

You Can’t Outsmart A Woman (Osborne/Revis)

That’s What’s Happening (Osborne)

Kell Osborne – New Bag (subsidiary of Class) 101 (1966)

Small Things (Make A Big Difference) (Osborne/Joanne Vikki)

Nothing From Nothing Leaves Nothing

Kell Osborne – Highland 1182 (1967)

A Law Against A Heartbreaker (Kell Osborne)

Trouble, Trouble Baby (Bill Revis)

Kell & Cherry b/w Kell Osborne’s Band – Glow Hill (196?)

That’s What’s Happening

That’s What’s Happening Instrumental

Kell Osborne & The Primes – NSP 1044 (1988)

A Woman Is Sweet (Osborne)

That’s The Trouble With Love (Osborne)

That’s The Trouble With Love is an 80’s remake of Yaya Yaya (Trouble, Trouble Baby).

If anyone can help with any more information on the career of Kell, any other release, dates etc it will be more than welcome.

This article wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Steve Propes.  The Steve Propes 45s Show has been heard weekly on, generally live, on Saturdays, 9 to 11 a.m., PT. (1600 to 1800 GMT), check your local time zones.

Thanks also to the Rare Soul Forum and Soul Source and to the patience and nagging of Derek Pearson J