required listening

CD Reviews

VARIOUS ARTISTS  -  The Complete Anna Records Singles, Vol.1

Hallmark (UK) 717492 (cd)

VOICE MASTERS-Hope And Pray; Oops I’m Sorry; Needed (For Lovers Only); Needed/HILL SISTERS-Hit And Run Love; Advertising For Love/BOB KAYLI-Never More; Peppermint (You Know What To Do)/WREG TRACEY-All I Want Is You; Take Me Back (I Was Wrong)/PAUL GAYTEN-The Hunch; Beatnik Beat; Scratch Back/SHORTY LONG-Bad Willie/JOHNNY & JACKEY-Let’s Go To A Movie Baby; Lonely And Blue/LARRY DARNELL-With Tears In My Eyes; I’ll Get Along Somehow/FALCONS-Just For Your Love; This Heart Of Mine/BARRETT STRONG-Money (That’s What I Want); Oh I Apologise/LETHA JAMES & the RIVALS-I Need You; I Get That Feeling/TY HUNTER-Everything About You; Orphan Boy

VARIOUS ARTISTS  -  The Complete Anna Records Singles, Vol.2

Hallmark (UK) 717502 (cd)

HERMAN GRIFFIN-Hurry Up And Marry Me; Do You Want To See My Baby/BARRETT STRONG-Yes No Maybe So; You Know What To Do/RUBEN FORT-So Good; I Feel It/ALLEN ‘BO’ STORY-Blue Moon; Don’t/JOE TEX-All I Could Do Was Cry (pts.1&2); I’ll Never Break Your Heart (pts.1&2); Ain’t That A Mess; Baby You’re Right/JOHNNY & JACKEY-Hoy Hoy; No One Else But You/BILL MURRAY-The Bigtime Spender (pts.1&2)/CAP-TANS-Tight Skirts And Crazy Sweaters; I’m Afraid/TY HUNTER-Everytime; Free/LAMONT ANTHONY-Let’s Talk It Over; Popeye (The Sailor Man); Benny The Skinny Man/WREG TRACEY-All I Want For Christmas (Is Your Love)/DAVID RUFFIN-I’m In Love; One Of These Days

Berry Gordy (Jr.), in setting up the Motown empire, made himself undoubtedly the most famous of the Gordy clan but he was not the first of the siblings to launch a record label.  That honour goes to older sister, Gwen who named her label, Anna, after a younger member of the Gordy offspring, getting herself a distribution via Chicago’s Chess Records.  These two volumes spotlight the label’s singles releases before having the rights sold into the ever-growing Motown fold n the early sixties.  Several ‘names’ adorned the label’s roster in one way or another, whether visiting the early careers of Shorty Long, David Ruffin, Lamont Dozier - billed as Lamont Anthony - and even Joe Tex, whether the Falcons, Johnny Bristol (in singing and songwriting partnership with Jackie (Jackey) Beavers or Barrett Strong, in a reverse Tamla to Anna deal.  We also have Voice Master and sometime soloist, Ty Hunter - later to pass through the Originals, Motown’s answer to the Dells, and Invictus/Hot Wax group, Glass House; the Falcons and the man who would marry Mary Wells (and be the instrument behind her untimely departure from the rôle of Motown queen), Herman Griffin, plus the already-established Paul Gayten and Larry Darnell.  Quite a history then, starting with the Voice Masters‘ ‘Hope And Pray’, a simple ditty but with clear indication of what might become of a burgeoning ‘Detroit sound’, even though both fast and slow versions of ‘Needed‘ hark back to a distinct doo-wop era.  The name of Berry Gordy Jr. appears in the songwriting credits for the Hill Sisters‘ pop-slanted ‘Hit And Run Away Love‘, it however being bettered by its slower-paced flip, ‘Advertising For Love’.  Bob Kayli, a pseudonym for Robert Gordy, the youngest of the siblings, croons through the self-penned ‘Never More‘ but is not a match for the classy approach of Wreg Tracey - especially on ‘Take Me Back (I Was Wrong)’ - and whose seemingly short-lived career failed to match his ability.  Despite pretty much talking his way through ‘I’ll Get Along Somehow‘ (to possibly his own backing vocal), Larry Darnell’s number makes for fine listening.  History continues on volume two, Wiliam ‘Mickey’ Stevenson taking songwriting credits for Herman Griffin’s pair of items, while Berry Gordy Jr., with Smokey Robinson and Gordy Jr., and Brian Holland do the same on Barrett Strong’s twosome.  Joe Tex takes the song more associated with Etta James, ‘All I Could Do Was Cry‘, to mould into a two-parter to deliver one of his classic monologues on part two, while a rather harsh, twangy guitar somewhat spoils the doo-wop flavour of ‘I’m Afraid‘ by the Cap-Tans, featuring Harmon Bethea.  Lamont Dozier - okay, Lamont Anthony! - did his reputation no favours (with me) by offering up two takes on ‘Popeye The Sailor Man‘, whereas the blossoming David Ruffin equips himself well on the ballad, ‘I’m In Love‘ before upping the beat on a rolling ‘One Of These Days’, a song he had a hand in writing.

review posted 19/12/18