MD Records - New releases from The Pioneer Vaults & Al Lindsey
Well, nearly halfway through 2022, covid is still a thing and is spreading but thankfully not as destructive as the first few times around. There is war in Europe and Brexit has made it more difficult for both refugees and supplies to move around. So overall 2022 is another year for the diary of the unexpected.
We thought it was worth sharing the next batch of releases that are coming due and will hopefully be starting to land as you read this article. But before that I think it is worth carrying on with some more of the Pioneer story and who is doing what in MD Records.
Many of you will know that the label was originally conceived by Mark and Des, but from the very beginning it was planned to involve other people as we wanted to make sure we brought the best people we could find to the collective, delivering the best finished article we can to those who support us and the artists, studios, and writers.
So, behind the collective banner we have Jordan Wilson – who I have no doubt many of you will know. Jordan, like us all is involved with many parts of the business. His key focus though is researching and tracking down artists, label owners and studios for us to work with along with archiving the history. On top of this he is very much a communications guy, speaking with the people we deal with on a regular basis and working alongside of our label and sleeve graphics guy to produce designs and creating his own designs like the Pioneer cards for the unreleased track 45s on our yellow label.
Rich is our lead graphics guy and is instrumental in our label designs and picture sleeves. His lifetime of working in the graphic art industry and his passionate background as an artist has kept us to a standard of quality that has seen many conversations late into the night on colours to make sure we get it right. His designs are so good that he has even had awards won by some of his sleeve designs.
On the Technical side is Thomas and William @TW24, they are the architects of our website and e-commerce systems. Both have a passion for music, with William even producing his own music. Both have been big supporters of the business and were very keen to get involved right at the start.
Of course as we mentioned in the last article, we also have Kevin Fingier of Fingier records on board for his mixing and restoration skills and his overall musicality, Kevin has brought the projects we do to another level and has fantastic enthusiasm for the music we dig out.
Back to the next releases.
Following on from the work that was initiated by Jordan on the Pioneer project, we have the next 4 releases in pressing and due May/June 2022. On top of that we also have the next release on our Gold label which is the contemporary soul label.
On that subject it was interesting to see some comments recently about re-issues and how its not always apparent that a new release is a re-issue. Well on our label all of the Black Tops are re-issues, the yellows are previously unreleased and the Gold is the contemporary music. So easy to know what you are getting when you buy one of our singles.
We believe that there is a place for them in our catalogue and we try to bring re-issues to you all that we feel add something, we fully appreciate and understand that they are not everyone’s cup of tea, but for many they are a way to own the music, and by ensuring that it is done properly and rights owners are paid their dues along with artists, then we think they have a place for many people.
In terms of the Pioneer project it also helps us to spread the costs of all of the digitising, restoring and remastering the tapes so that we can bring the unreleased gems like the Sensations and New Loves to you all.
Al Lindsey – Only You. MDRE003
Al is bringing the modern rare soul grove back to MD records with the title track. This is dedicated to his son Allen who sadly passed away in 2021. Al has thrown himself into his music and we think is coming back strongly with this release. He is looking to plan a trip to the UK to play some dates, but still in the planning stages at the moment so we can share anything yet.
Only You showcases Al’s distinctive voice, highlighted by the great backing vocals and smooth melody. On its digital release in March 2022, it went straight into the UK Soul charts at number 21 having been picked up and played on numerous terrestrial and internet radio stations.
Flip it over and Al treats us to his working of a classic song, Ma Na Na by Ollie Woodson of the temptations. It certainly delivers a brilliant reworking that firmly puts this as a contender for the modern rooms and chillout sets.
Next up are a pair of classic tracks re-issued having been remastered directly from the original master tapes.
On this subject it was interesting to see some comments recently about re-issues and how its not always apparent that a new release is a re-issue. Well on our label all of the Black Tops are re-issues, the yellows are previously unreleased, and the Gold is the contemporary soul music. So easy to know what you are getting when you buy one of our singles.
We believe that there is a place for re-issues in our catalogue and we try to bring records to you all that we feel add something. We fully appreciate and understand that they are not everyone’s cup of tea, but for many they are a way to own the music, and by ensuring that it is done properly, and rights owners are paid their dues along with artists, then we think they have a place for many people.
In terms of the Pioneer project, it also helps us to spread the costs of the whole project of the digitising, restoring and remastering the tapes so that we can bring the unreleased gems like the Sensations and New Loves to you all.
So first up on the Black tops is;
Jock Mitchell – No Mad Woman. MDJW004
Originally released on Jocks Golden Hit Productions label out of Detroit, this track has always had questions around it. Is it meant to be No mad woman or Nomad woman? Well listen to the lyrics and make your own mind up. During our conversations Little Jake – Jocks current stage name – and his manager Charles explained that it was meant to be Nomad woman – bit of a clue in the lyrics when Jock sings of a woman of the desert sands.
The reason that the Golden Hit released James Barnes and then Jock’s version of Free at last, was purely because Jock couldn’t get the sound, he wanted, on the James Barnes one.
So why have we done a re-issue on our black top label? Well firstly why not, many of the original Jock Mitchell copies have a hiss from a production faut in the pressing. Landing the masters from the Pioneer studio project gave us an opportunity to have the songs freshened up by JJ at Golden Mastering who really digs the soul sound, more so having worked for Daptone on all their production.
Historically it allowed us to fill in some blanks on the tracks, especially that they were recorded at Pioneer. It also gave us a chance to speak to Little Jake and to come to an agreement to ensure he received royalties on the tracks release. This guy is still out there singing his heart out for audiences in the US. Little Jake also explained he lost the master copies he had years ago, so we have been able to arrange to get him a set of digital masters. Luckily Gary had archived his tapes and kept copies.
Both Nomad woman and Free at Last have been digitised direct from the tapes and then been remastered to ensure the very best sound on modern pressing technology.
Gambrells – Jive talk. MDJW005
Pat, Sharon and Sandra are all still well and healthy and could not believe it when Jordan got in contact over us finding their songs, including the New Loves takes in the Pioneer tapes. The excitement they had in being reconnected to Gary and their music, being able to share it with their children and grandchildren has been great to see. Jordan got sent a video of Sharon and Sandra singing and dancing with their families which is brilliant to watch. You may have seen some of the photos on social media when the girls received copies of their songs recorded over fifty years ago.
Like our other releases on the black top label, the opportunity to bring freshly remastered copies of what is turning out to be a difficult 45 to acquire and the price is rising quickly due to its rise in popularity, really meant it was not a difficult choice. More so given that the artists will be benefitting from the increased exposure and sales.
So, in all its remastered and refreshed glory, including a picture sleeve with background notes by Jordan from his interviews with the girls, we are please to present the 5th release on our black top series.
As we mentioned earlier, the sales of all our releases benefit the copyright owners and artists and go towards the cost of projects such as the Pioneer tapes. Not all the tapes contain songs, or songs that are releasable. For example, we are currently wondering what to do with an interview with Pete Townsend, where he talks about the Who’s tour of the US promoting the Tommy Album. This was recorded just ahead of them kicking of the Tour with a three-night Detroit gig in 1969.
Next up are four more unreleased masters from the Pioneer tapes. Now these two 45s are absolutely stonking and provide more missing pieces of the Detroit music scene back in the late 60s and early 70s.
Imagine the surprise when Jordan starts going on and on about tapes marked up with the Tomangoes and James Lately. Two iconic names from the rare and northern soul scene that is littered with many hugely influential tracks. To say that the wait to get the tracks digitised to hear the contents was agonising would be an understatement of massive proportion.
Tomangoes ft the Gambrells – Loves Got A Hold On Me. MD119
What is there to say about this release, well firstly what a surprise to find it in the tapes owned by the Pioneer Studio, and Tru Soul Publishing. The surprises kept coming when we discovered that not only did the tape have an unreleased song Loves got a hold on me, but also an alternate take of Since you’ve been gone.
The next surprise was that the Gambrells were providing the backing on both tracks, this came out of a conversation with Gary when he explained that he originally signed the girls to the studio for both their own songs and to be backing artists for the studio’s clients.
First hearing the master tails was a great and memorable experience and we all agreed that Kevin should hear them and give us his input on getting them mixed. He agreed on how great they were and was thrilled to be able to work on the restoration and mixing of the original tails. Once that was done it was off to JJ for the final mastering for vinyl.
Loves got a hold on me starts with the original studio count in before the band launch into the upbeat brass and keyboard led track, the vocals seal the deal and if you listen you can hear the same inflection in the vocals as ‘I Really Love You’ the upbeat bounce of the track is also very reminiscent of the Washpan outing – I really love you.
Flip it over for a sweet and deep piece of group soul magic in its alternate release version. Again, the Gambrells adding what we consider to be the backbone to the track that the flute could not achieve on the original Washpan B side. This track just oozes soul from every note and is rightly deserving of its place in our release catalogue.
We could go on about how sublime the releases are, or that they are seminal finds in the history of Northern Soul – but that’s not our style. We are excited by the finds and to be able to bring them to vinyl for the first time so others can share in the excitement of listening and playing these tracks at home, to friends or out to appreciative crowds.
Just for reference there is more to come from this tape, so keep em peeled.
The second on the MD yellow label for this article is another bomb of a find. I know, its hard to believe and the advertising of many labels leads you on a hyperbolic journey that any politician would be proud of – but make your own mind up by visiting the site and listening for yourself…
But just as a quick recap on the Pioneer project, it has produced so far in 6 releases, The Sensations – Blinded by Pride, the New Loves – Paradise of Love and now the Tomangoes – Loves got a hold on me and James Lately – What you’re doing. I don’t think that we need to add any sales marketing spin to these. They speak for themselves.
James Lately – What you’re doing. MD120
James Lately is mostly known for his rare soul 45 ‘Love, Friends & Money’ b/w ‘Tears Running And Falling In My Eyes’. Co-written with Dave Hamilton, both songs were recorded for Hamilton’s ‘Temple’ label in November 1964.
James – originally born in Georgia – Atlanta in 1937, moved North as part of the mass migration from the South to the North, settling in Mansur Street, Detroit with his parents and 11 siblings. Like many aspiring songwriters and musicians, he worked in the car industry in Detroit – not surprising given it was the hub of motor car production for the USA at that time.
He was also a keen boxer and is rumoured to have got in a fight with Berry Gordy while in School, a move that cost him a career later in his life with Motown.
While James’ Temple release is well loved in the UK, he is better known for being a writer and had a dozen or so titles to his name. He was often partnered with Dave Hamilton for writing and also worked alongside Mike Valvano, Cholly Bassoline and Martin Coleman. So, to find more of his own singing and song writing is pretty historic. Its even better when the tracks are so good and hit the Detroit Northern button.
James died at an early age - 37, leaving behind 7 children. How do we know that, well our very own Sherlock Wilson [Jordan] has done it again. A few people have traced the family previously, but none have managed to illicit responses.
Jordan has been in contact with the youngest daughter of James Lately, who has kindly checked the information with her older brothers and sisters and we will continue to work with them to ensure the story can be told in full.
What you’re doing is a fantastic moody piece of Detroit soul, the rise and fall of the instrumentation creating the presence that is supported by the bass line – the handclap and stripped back feel of this really set it up as a raw slab of street soul. Flip it over for the instrumental which is just as good and stands on its own as an example of great composition.
So, if you loved the Sensations and the New Loves, you cannot afford to miss out on these previously unknown and unreleased Detroit masterpieces. We have no doubt they would have been monster dancefloor tracks if they had of existed before now.
You will see some changes coming to our releases as we have taken a chance to make sure we can bring you the quality 45s you love while maintaining the standards we set ourselves. We continue to look to get better at what we are doing, and this started with bringing other people on board that could add to what we do, improving design, archiving, historical information, picture sleeves, mastering and sound restoration and mixing. So, expect more of the same as we continue to look for like minded souls to drive what we do forwards.
We are also adding some extra features to provide provenance of our singles and will also be adding company sleeves to all releases where we do not have a picture sleeve. So watch this space and thank you all for your continued interest and support in what we are doing.
All the best from the MD Collective.
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