Various Artists, The Northern Side of Philly Soul

Lenny Kaye

By Lenny Kaye

on 08.09.11 in Reviews
Rare grooves from a variety of Jamie Records labels

With Northern Soul a catchphrase for virtually any R&B with a dance-floor beat from the ’60s, it’s hard to tell the wheat from the chaff. This selection of rare grooves from a variety of Jamie-umbrella’d labels – Dionn, Arctic, Frantic, and Guyden – bakes a heartier loaf than most, covering a 10 year period from 1963-72, giving insight into a city that was learning from Motown even as it put its own stamp on where it would be heading in the ’70s, when the Philly Sound became a destination for lusher-than-thou production in the hands of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. The former is represented here with the 1966 “The Joke’s On You,” leading the Romeos in a well-conceived and arranged track that hints at his nascent talent, as well as the Rotations’ “(Put A Dime On) D-9″, where he steps behind the console to provide a Miracles-like surround-sound. Another hint of future Philadelphia can be found in the Temptones’ “Girl I Love You,” which features a young Daryl Hall among its ranks. A scarce Pookie Hudson (of the Spaniels) track, with this greatest of lead singers attempting to move in a new direction (“This Gets To Me”); the Volcanoes’ impossible-to-resist “A Lady’s Man”; Moses Smith’s plea to “The Girl Across The Street,” making you yearn along with him; and Sunshine’s shoulda-been-a-smash “Leave Me (And See What Happens),” round out this excavation of unfamiliar yet too-familiar butt-twitching obscurities, all ripe for re-discovery.