Let’s pause for a moment and spare a thought for the collectors who volunteer to turn the rest of us on to the lost and obscure gems that are so unceremoniously scattered throughout the car boot sales and bargain bins of the world. Where would we be without their diligent digging? Alone in the dark, more likely than not, listening to some unadventurous pap.
Nick Solomon, the one-man-psych-band behind the Bevis Frond and head honcho at imprint label Psychic Circle, is the latest in a long line to accomplish the mission by delivering a range of uncomped collections that have teetered on the edge of the musical abyss and returned full of prog rock mayhem, psychedelic whimsy and rug-cutting R&B.
Get Ready: UK Floor Fillers Volume 3 is the most recent addition to Solomon’s excellent series (each album comes with an informative eight-page booklet) that digs back into the swinging merry-old-England of the 1960’s and dishes out prime cuts of forgotten soul-pop danceability. When ex-Riot-Squad frontman Graham Bonney kicks off the set with a blistering blue-eyed soul reading of the Temptations’ hit “Get Ready”, you can just picture the Lambrettas lined-up outside London’s the Scene on Great Windmill Street, or Manchester’s Twisted Wheel, while the pill-popping in-crowd cut loose on the dance floor.
What happens next just flashes past in an unbridled frenzy of 19 tunes filled with fluid, pumping hammond organs, blasts of cool brass, and soulful vocals. Scottish soul-belter Barry St. John reappears, after turning up on the 2007 compilation Hide and Seek: British Blue-Eyed Soul 1964-1969, with her gutsy rendition of the Box Tops’ “Cry Like a Baby”, the Bill-Wyman-produced Warren Davis Monday Band swing smooth-and-low with “I Don’t Wanna Hurt You”, a great version of Don Covay’s perennial Northern Soul smash “See-Saw” by an unknown singer Tony Rich comes on like a fist in a velvet glove, and Spanish band Los Bravos, who had a UK hit with “Black Is Black”, go for some thumping, swamp-soul with German lead singer Mike Kogel coming on like a hip-swivelling Tony Joe White.
Elsewhere, a couple of brown-eyed American ex-pats slip-and-slide into this package of soulful blue-eyed pop. There’s P.P. Arnold, a native of Los Angeles and former member of Ike and Tina Turner’s Ikettes, who landed a solo deal on Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham’s short-lived independent label Immediate (home to the Small Faces, Chris Farlowe), and provides the collection with a deep-down soul groove on “A Likely Piece of Work”, while ex-G.I. Herbie Goins, who stayed on in London after being de-mobbed singing in various bands, including Alexis Corner’s Blues Incorporated, contributes, along with his backing band the Night-Timers, a ska-inflected piece of southern-style soul “Coming Home to You” that vocally brings to mind the sadly forgotten ‘60s Chicago soul singer Syl Johnson.
But amongst all the great could-have-beens, should-have-beens and one-hit wonders on offer here, the real left-field highlight has to be the sultry vocals of a 16-year-old London scenester from Hungary called Sarolta on “L.O.V.E”, a curious mix of lilting Nico and bluesy Grace Slick that pulsates with a sensual beat. A young lady who was to find fame on returning to her homeland in the 1970s only to end up in prison for fraud—sad but true.