Brad Hales, Breck T. Bunce and Robert Wells have started up the very nice 'Magic City Soul Club' dance party at Cliff Bell's. It takes place the second Thursday of each month. Entry is free and the parquet dance floor is even freer.
Brad runs Peoples' Records on Woodward. Hands down the best rare record shop in metro Detroit. He is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. Brad was one of the original dj's at the infamous Detroit Funk Night. That's the dance party that hit it so big that all the original dj's abandoned ship and attendance grew into the thousands. Pretty scary stuff.
Breck is a local collector of near mythic proportions. Know to some as "Brekula," few people have ever been inside his house to see his collection in person, let alone see him out at night. But if you've ever been to any of Detroit's record stores, thrifts, or junk shops, you've probably seen him. Once you hear him dj you will never forget how deep the man is. Game over.
Robert Wells is a friend who lives in Ann Arbor. Brad and Robert started Ann Arbor Soul Club when I was in grad school there, a few years back. Breck's a dj member of that club now, too. The party happens the first Friday of every month at the Blind Pig. It's one of the finest rare soul nights in the country (Brad and Robert will tell you this with a straight face). Those two put me on to the local soul club scene that happens throughout the Midwest, and websites like midwest45s.org. In fact, when Robert and I turned up in Chicago at the same time one weekend, he took me to the Windy City Soul Club there. It was in a fantastic artists' loft up on the 4th floor of an apartment building that had a beautiful bar in it - with booths and everything!
This Thursday Robert, Breck and Brad have invited Danny Kroha to spin records with them. Yes, rocker Danny of the Demolition Dollrods, the Gories and the Readies. He's been collecting soul 45s himself for years, so it should be a treat to see him give 'em a spin in the mahogany splendor of Cliff Bell's. PBR's will cost $2 and cover will be nil.
Check out the dusty magic on this great mix recorded by Robert (aka Northern Rob aka Rawberto aka Ern) and his track commentary below....
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I recorded this mix back in October of 2009, as a means of promoting our first party at Cliff Bell’s. I only know so much about these records, really, so if anyone has anything else to contribute, please feel free to do so.
(1) Just Can’t Leave You – Tony Hestor – Karate. Sublime mid-tempo soul, feat. the Pied Piper production team and an arrangement by Mike Terry. On a local label, feat. a dude in a kimono.
(2) Under The Moon – Rufus Wonder and the Additions – Lando. The dramatic vocals, background vocals, and music track knock me out on this one, every time. I think it has some sort of local connection, too.
(3) I’m Tempted – Sandy Hollis – Big Wheel. Local release. Chorus may wear a bit thin by the end… But lovely vibes work and duet vocals.
(4) Hide & Seek – Lillian Dupree – D-Town. Dig those drums! Tough D-Town, garage-sounding production. Her only release, local or otherwise, I believe.
(5) He Don’t Love You (And He’ll Break Your Heart) – Levon and the Hawks – ATCO. The band that recorded this r&b mover would later become “The Band.” No stuff!
(6) Where’s My Money – Willie Jones – Mr. Peacock. Essential r&b with some local ties. I think many people can empathize with Willie on this one – “Mr. Landlord, please give me a break!”
(7) I Had A Dream – Nathaniel Mayer – Fortune. Screaming, local, singalong doozy by one of the greats!
(8) Can You Win – Charlene and the Soul Serenaders – Paradox. Rare first release of this now very “in demand” sister soul/funk track with gospel-tinged lyrics.
(9) Hey You! Don’t Fight it! – The Montclairs – Arch. Gorgeous group harmony northern soul from the St. Louis area. Gotta love any track with two exclamation points in the title.
(10) I Thought You Were Mine –The Natural Four – ABC. The second, and for me, superior release/label of this northern soul staple.
(11) I’m Loving You – Cloudburst – Stormy Monday. Top-shelf 70s soul all the way from Kalamazoo, MI. Lovely vocals and a wicked guitar solo. “Books rather high,” as they say. (Sorry the recording isn’t better for this one.)
(12) Trying To Find A New Love – Percy and Them – Roulette. Local group with a few releases on different labels. Always great harmonies exhibited in their work.
(13) I Feel A Song –The Brothers Gilmore – Bantu. Thanks to Brad Hales for this killer modern soul track. “Cheers, mate!” Singalong 70s soul at its finest, recorded locally at Tantus studios.
(14) Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue) – The Temptations – Gordy. Motown monster alert! Thanks to Breck T. Bunce for turning me on to this one. Known by northern soul enthusiasts to be one of The Temps’ best, though maybe not necessarily as well known by the public at-large.
(15) Baby Don’t You Weep – Edward Hamilton and the Arabians – Mary Jane. Tough to find local release, w/ production and writing credits going to Lou Beatty, the Brothers of Soul, and Mike Terry. Hard to top that pedigree, to be sure. And possibly the best northern soul string breakdown of all time ¾ of the way thru the track.
(16) Please Stay – Ivorys – Despenza. Big time Chicago soul action here that actually received some radio attention when it was released. This record, like many northern soul tracks, does an amazing job of capturing and expressing certain affects. Here, we’re confronted with loss and desire, as heard in the sweet distance of the string melody, the frantic immediacy of the guitar, and the alternately sassy and plaintive vocals.
(17) Where Did You Go – Four Tops – Motown. Speaking of affect… This was the B-side to the Four Tops’ first 45 single on Motown. The symphonic touch at Motown can be felt and heard on this one, to where pop music approaches and conflates itself with classical music. Levi Stubbs’ vocal performances rank among the strongest of all time, in my opinion.