Billy Woods goosebump enducing "Let Me Make You Happy" is not just one of the most incredible 45's ever played on the Northern Soul scene, it comes with a typical weird world of Northern Soul fable with it too.
An original (beware recent bootlegs) 45 on the USA Sussex label will set you back £5,000 if you can find anyone willing to part with a copy, but let's talk about the music first, not the rarity..
Produced, arranged and co-written by the late great Van McCoy, "Let Me Make You Happy" showcases perfectly his genius at fusing magical melodies,angst driven lyrics,wondrous lead vocals supplemented by in-the-pocket backing singers,and pull you like a magnet to the dancefloor groove. Sufffice to say it manages to overshadow his other great Rare Soul gems from the likes of The Vonettes, Sandi Sheldon,The Ad Libs and Chris Bartley.
It's rarity is based on Sussex losing its distribution deal with A&M the week it was due for release in the mid 1970's.. A handful of copies were found at the time by record dealer extraordinaire John Anderson, who duly sold them to key Rare Soul DJ's and a legend was born.
This is the first time it has had a UK release courtesy of Sussex, and the flip is another gem from the label. The Decisions "I Can't Forget About You", produced by Detroit studio kings Dennis Coffey and Mike Theodore epitomises hardcore male group harmony uptempo Soul beloved by the Northern scene. It was actually released on a UK A&M 45, and is subsequently not a big dollar rarity, but sounds like it should be £5,000 worth
a1. Billy Woods - Let Me Make You Happy
b1. The Decisions - I Can't Forget About You
It's a bit of a misnomer to say that The Carstairs "It Really Hurts Me Girl" is one of the best Northern Soul records.
The bittersweet jewel is actually one of the best Soul Records ever, forget any other genre. .
And the pedigree of the "I came across your maiden name in my little red book" song, fautless Proto Soul meets kind of but not exactly disco production,and anguished vocal is matched by the stange world of northern soul story behind the record.
Originally heard on a Miami Radio station WBCKO by uber Rare Soul DJ Ian Levine in 1973, he then spent 6 fruitless months chasing a copy as it had turned out the promo only 45 never got to the release stage owing to the distribturs, Chess, going out of business.Levine eventually got a copy from Soul Bowl record dealer John Anderson in the UK.
Levine introduced the track to his Blackpool Mecca crowd, telling them in advance it was not tradtional Northern Soul, and begging them to give it a chance. They went mad for it. It was the eureka moment that led to the introduction of contemporary recordings to the Northern scene, and led to a war for supremacy between Blackpool Mecca (Seventies) and Wigan Casino (Sixities).
A further twist to the sago came in 1979. Inferno had tracked down the master as now belonging to DeLite Records, the New York home of Kool & The Gang and Crown Heights Affair.Surprised to be asked by a tiny independent UK label for a a recording they had acquired and forgot about, their lawyer, Allen Grubman, who went on to become the most powerful music lawyer in America, brokered the deal and then in passing mentioned that they had found a remix by Tom Moulton, and would Inferno like to be the first label in the World to release it? They did not say no. Incredibly, it turned out that this "A Tom Moulton Mix" was the first ever remix by the man who became the master of the genre, and invented the twelve inch single. "I'm glad it's appreciated in the UK because I always liked it. The chords go from major to minor and it almost puts you in a trance to listen to that record, it's so beautiful. The voice and the instruments were a marriage made in heaven and all I wanted to do was bring out more of the instruments without htout taking away the great vocals," remembers Tom.
The 1979 Inferno release used the remix supplied by De-Lite, but this 2012 issue actually contains ANOTHER Tom Moulton remix that was found on an acetate, The Heat 1001 issue is the only issue of it on vinyl.
Cleveland Horne,who co-produced "It Really Hurts Me Girl" and co-wrote it about his ex-wife, was persuaded to appear with a reformed The Carstairs to peform "It Really Hurts Me Girl" to a sold out and bedazzled Soul crowd where else but at Blackpool Mecca's Highland Room in 1988, the same spot place where Levine had implored his followers to give this new style 45 a chance in 1974.
Before going on stage he said he doubted if anyone would know the song, how could they as it had never been released?.
He is captured on film, reduced to tears ,as the 800 plus audience sang every word back to him. Later Cleveland said he was worried about the future of his daughter as he had a heart ailment, and had lost contact with his "I came across your maiden name" former wife.
Eighteen months later the crowd at a packed all-nighter at the Manchester Ritz was stunned to hear that the It Really Hurts Me Girl man had died. Like I said earlier, a bittersweet record. But a bloody wonderful one.
A1. It Really Hurts Me Girl (Previously Unreleased Mix)
B1. It Really Hurts Me Girl
Shipping mid August
The Crow "Your Autumn Of Tomorrow" is one of the quirkiest of all records cherished Northern Soul devotees..
Hailing from New Jersey, and definitely not a Soul record in any form that Motown, say, would recognise, the made in a garage production of frenzied almost desperate vocals, mashed up beats, a sort of pyschedelic feel and tapes going backwards was released on the tiny Look-Up label in the 1970's and immediate fell into obscurity until it came across the radar of UK Soul guru Dave Godin.
He recognised that the only place for this weirdness was the avante garde last hour on a Saturday night at Blackpool Mecca's Highland Room, venue under the control of Colin Curtis. Godin's ultra rare only copy was loaned to Colin and the discerning Mecca crowd made into a left of field favourite.
Original USA copies have always been impossible to find, a copy now will fetch you back at least £1,000, but exposure came via UK seven inch releases on Godin's Right-On label in 1976, and in 1979 on Inferno.
The Northern Soul renaissance saw Inferno's Neil Rushton dig out the contract and tapes 4 years ago, and demand for the re-release on a lookalike of the Inner Ear label was fuelled by the track being included in Elaine Constantine's film "Northern Soul".
Flip side is the Funk favourite "Uncle Funk".
a1.Your Autumn of Tomorrow
b1. Uncle Funk
Released on limited edition Made In Detroit label with neat engraved single on the flip.
The side that does play is a monster - Detroit's "they could have been bigger than The Temptations" mighty mighty The Precisions and the iconic Northern Soul album "If This Is Love (I'd Rather Be Lonely'.
Motor City magic.
a1. If This Is Love