This is about as rare as they come. 27 tracks of rare soul grooves from the late 1960s and early 1970s recorded and released during an explosion of independent record labels. These kinds of rare sides are still being gathered up today into cd compilations like this one and RPM out of the UK has done a fine job of collecting together some wonderful sides from Beacon Records. Beacon Records put out a slew of 45s between 1968 and 1972 and I'm sure these are sides that the likes of Eric Clapton was listening to and then watering down the sound of on his own records. There is that interesting mix of soul and reggae contained herein - a combination that could only have come to pass in the melting pot of the UK at that time period.
There are some great soul duets found here by the likes of Root & Kenny Jackson and Jon & Jeanie - both pack a powerhouse of soul in their grooves with songs like So Far Away, Save Me, and Let's Go Somewhere (performed by the former) and We Got Lovin' (performed by the latter). Save Me in particular by Root & Kenny Jackson is an astounding raver of soul which reminds me of music composed by Roy Budd (for soundtracks like Get Carter) around the same time in the UK.
I was really impressed with the two John Fitch & Associates songs - Romantic Attitude and Stoned Out Of It. John Fitch was the guitarist from The Showstoppers (also heard here and the band that first got Beacon noticed with their hit Ain't Nothin' But a Houseparty a song which is not one of the songs included here) and has an incredible fuzzed out Hendrix meets Funkadelic sound to his guitar solos. This fuzzed out sound adds a seething intensity to the stoned cold soul offered up by him and his Associates. Check out those fuzzed out guitar solos on Romantic Attitude and Stoned Out Of It and tell me you don't think about Jimi rising from the grave.
If you're interested in some of the reggae sounds, check out the Clangers' instrumental called Dance of the Clangers which has a melody reminiscent of the Staple Singers' I'll Take You There. The Paula Parfitt song Love is Wonderful might sound familiar because it was also included on Dream Babes, Vol. 4: Go Girl but fits right in here like a soulful glove of love. Lets Copp A Groove by a youthful sounding Bobby Wells would get any dancefloor pounding with groovin' feet. But it's You Wont See Me Leaving by Cinnamon which wins the award for catchiest Motown influenced tune here and is my favorite cut - I'm amazed it's never been compiled in the past.