Eccentric Soul: The Young Disciples (Numero Group)

Every few months another volume of the Eccentric Soul series drops out of the sky to shine a spotlight on a forgotten local scene from the glory days of Soul and R&B. More amazing than the sheer number of releases in the series (ten volumes in five years) is its ridiculously high quality, and the latest volume is no different. The focus this time is The Young Disciples, a loose conglomerate of East St. Louis musicians operating under the tutelage of Alan Merry, a teacher who worked with his neighborhood community center to get kids with musical talent away from gangs and into the recording studio. The results, captured here, are a mix of eclectic styles (girl groups, solo acts, straight up James Brown-style funk, vocal harmony groups) that often recalls a less polished Motown sound, sometimes with orchestral accompaniment. It’s amazing to think that such an embarrassment of musical riches existed without garnering any notice beyond their hometown, but that’s exactly what happened as great act after great act recorded for the YoDi and Merry labels between 1967 and 1972 to little or no acclaim. I’m not sure how nobody picked up on LaVel Moore’s “The World Is Changing” (a distant cousin of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On”) or the slinky funk of “People” by the terrifically named Ames Harris Desert Water Bag Company, but let’s not let that same mistake happen again – this is essential listening for anyone with an ear for great soul and R&B.




1. Lavel Moore – The World Is Changing

2. The Young Disciples Co. – Crumbs From The Table

3. Third Flight – Third Flight

4. The Debonettes – Tears

5. Ames Harris Gesert Water Bag Company – Checking Myself

6. Sharon Clark and the Product Of Time – I’m Not Afraid Of Love

7. DeDe Turner Happening – Anyone Or Anything

8. The Young Disciples Co. – Girls Girls Girls

9. Dauphin Williams – I Love You

10. Georgettes – Hard Hard

11. Bobby McNutt – Country Loving, Country Style

12. Sharon Clark and the Product Of Time – It’s Not Your Business

13. Ames Harris Gesert Water Bag Company – People

14. Georgettes – Would You Rather

15. Third Flight – Love Love Love

16. The Debonettes – Choose Me

17. DeDe Turner Happening – Outside Of Memphis

18. Sharon Clark and the Product Of Time – That’s A Good Reason

19. Dauphin Williams – I’m Your Man

20. The Young Disciples Co. – Bang Bang Bang

21. Eddie Fisher and Allen “Dealth” Merry – Homeboy Pt. 1

Eccentric Soul: Smart’s Palace (Numero Group)

This installment of the Eccentric Soul series shines a spotlight on over a decade’s worth of soul and R&B from the unlikely city of Wichita, Kansas, where a small community of groups recorded for the local Solo label, never to get any recognition outside the confines of their hometown. While I consider Eccentric Soul the best reissue series for rare funk/soul/R&B singles, this volume doesn’t quite live up to the high standard of past releases. Perhaps after so many releases – this is the eleventh – the well of undiscovered local scenes worth documenting is running dry. Some of the blame can be placed on the muffled lo-fi source material, but there’s no point in beating around the bush – most of these groups just didn’t have the talent. There’s just too many off-key vocals and unimaginative soul vamps. There’s some good, but not great, material on Smart’s Palace (I’d rate eight of the nineteen songs as keepers…pretty low by Eccentric Soul standards) but even those songs aren’t strong enough to justify all the sifting it takes to find them.


01. I’m Not Ashamed – Baby Neal

02. I Was Made To Love Her Theron & Darrell

03. Tell Her – Fred Williams

04. Barefoot Philly – Smart Brothers

05. A Day In The Life – Chocolate Snow

06. Lorraine – Baby Neal

07. Everybody Needs Someone – LT & the Soulful Dynamite…

08. It’s Your Love – Theron & Darrell

09. If You Really Love Me – Hard Road

10. Inflation – Chocolate Snow

11. Don’t Hate Let’s Communicate – Kenneth Carr

12. Herbie’s Bag – John Smart’s Band

13. The Dance Got Old – Fred Williams

14. I’ve Got A Funny Feeling – Smart Brothers

15. Crazy About You Baby – LT & the Soulful Dynamite…

16. Mercy Baby – Tim Jacob

17. Dedicated To You – Hard Road

18. Let Me Be Your Christmas Toy – Chocolate Snow

19. It’s Like Heaven – Chocolate Snow

Eccentric Soul: The Tragar and Note Labels (Numero Group)

One of the great revelations of the last few years has been the Eccentric Soul series from Numero Group. Each volume (this being the ninth) compiles classic ’60s and ’70s soul, funk and R&B sides from a small local label whose roster came and went without getting noticed beyond their own area code. The acts celebrated on Eccentric Soul may be unknown to all but the most hardcore collectors, but each volume contains at least a handful of songs as good as anything the genre had to offer. The latest volume, an exhaustive two-disc look at the Tragar and Note labels, is no different, with these two Atlanta labels making a strong argument for the city’s inclusion on the road map of American cities with a vital funk/soul/r&b scene. The songs run the gamut of popular black styles: glossy Philly soul sounds from The Young Divines, tight James Brown funk shouters from Tee Fletcher, Stax-esque r&b workouts from Bill Wright (who gets in a few good Little Richard-inspired “whoooooo”‘s on “You Got A Spell on Me”), Motown girl groups are represented by Eula Cooper, Otis Redding/Solomon Burke-styled soul ballads come via Nathan Wilkes whose heart-wrenching soul stunner from 1969 “Now That I’m Wise” is probably the collection’s best song. My only complaint is with the second disc which focuses mostly on boring quiet storm and disco sounds. Perhaps this dilutes the overall potency, but there’s still enough great music that you won’t mind skipping around a bit to find it. Add in extensive liner notes and rare photos, and you’ve got another great entry in a great series. More please.

Tracklisting CD1 :

01. Down In the Country – Tee Fletcher 02. You Got a Spell On Me – Billy Wright 03. Heavenly Father – Eula Cooper 04. The Clown – Chuck Wilder 05. Now That I’m Wise – Nathan Wilkes 06. Nite Cap – L. Daniels 07. I’ll Be There – Franciene Thomas 08. Sweet Thing – Frankie & Robert 09. Shake Daddy Shake – Eula Cooper 10. What Can the Matter Be – Tokay Lewis 11. Love is So Mean – Richard Cook 12. Tumbling Down – Langston 13. Love Makes Me Do Foolish Things – Eula Cooper 14. Too Beautiful To Be Good – Franciene Thomas 15. Tippings Strings – The Knights 16. Somebody Got’ a Help Me – Richard Cook 17. Love (It’s Been So Long) – Frankie & Robert 18. Strange Feeling – Nathan Wilkes 19. I Can’t Help If I Love You – Eula Cooper 20. Why – Chuck Wilder 21. Who Wants Me Now – Tokay Lewis 22. You’re the Only Thing I’ve Got Going For Me – Billy Wright 23. Let Me Be Free – Sonia Rosa 24. Would You Do It For Me – Tee Fletcher 25. Try – Eula Cooper

Tracklisting CD2 :

01. Watch the Dog That Bring the Bone – Sandy Gaye 02. All Because of You – Tee Fletcher 03. Messing Around – Bobby Owens & the Diplomats 04. Let Our Love Grow Higher – Eula Cooper 05. Ain’t Tha Sharp – Young Divines 06. Charade – Four Tracks 07. Breaking My Heart – Sonia Rosa 08. Love is Gone – Cherry Blend 09. I Need You More – Eula Cooper 10. I Think It’s Time (You Were Mine) – Alice Swoboda 11. The Hump – The Knights 12. Beggars Can’t Be Choosey – Eula Cooper 13. Standing By Love – Eula Cooper 14. Deep In Your Heart – Young Divines 15. You Mean Everything To Me – Four Tracks 16. I’ll Show You With Love – Young Divines 17. Every Now and Then – Sonia Rosa 18. Love Makes Me Do Foolish Things – Andrea Williams 19. Have Faith In Me – Eula Cooper 20. Talk is Cheap – Sandy Gaye 21. I Can’t Stand It – J.J. Jones 22. Let’s Get Funky – Langston & French 23. That’s How Much I Love You – Eula Cooper 24. Black Midnight – J.J. Jones 25. Potters Field – Alice Swoboda