Various Artists, South Side Of Soul Street

Holly George-Warren

By Holly George-Warren

on 08.19.13 in Reviews

South Side Of Soul Street - The Minaret Soul Singles 1967-1976

Various Artists

The “boogaloo beat,” name-checked in Genie Brooks’s shake-your-tailfeather title track, is all over this collection of criminally overlooked singles from the Valparaiso, Florida-based Minaret. Though most R&B diamonds cut in Memphis and Muscle Shoals have gotten their due, the 40 sides included here represent a whole other batch of down-South treasures from 11 different artists. The label’s “Otis” is should-have-been-a-contender Big John Hamilton, from Augusta, Georgia. Not only does Hamilton have a magnificent voice, but he wrote distinctive, well-crafted songs like the heart-tugging ballads “I Have No One” and “How Much Can a Man Take.” His upbeat party tunes — “Big Fanny” and “Big Bad John” — illustrate Hamilton’s artistic diversity, as do his soulful duets with Doris Allen.

Criminally overlooked soul singles from a vital, forgotten indie

Minaret’s other stalwart, the honey-voiced Brooks, delivers wrenching ballads, such as “Fine Time,” cowritten by Spooner Oldham, who plays keys on some of the tracks, and the cinematic prison narrative, “Helping Hand.” Johnny Dynamite’s devastating “Everybody’s Clown,” like many tracks here, was cut with a killer house band at Minaret’s Playground Recording Studio, just over the border from Alabama, and still an operating enterprise. <em>The South Side of Soul Street</em> is one address you don’t want to forget.