When it comes to recording top-drawer ultra-emotive deep-soul, only a few exponents have managed to produce more than one supreme example in their recording careers and even the very few, like James Carr for example, who managed to produce several, usually released quite a large number of soul sides in total throughout the classic-soul era from which those few deep gems emerged. However, when we consider that, even including unreleased items at the time, Joe Valentine only put down some 14 tracks in the early-soul era between 1960 and 1968 and yet still managed to produce three stone deep classic performances (all of these actually recorded in the two-year period 1967 to 1968), this clearly says a lot about the man’s impressive voice and its ability back then to be intensely emotive. What’s more Joe wrote all his own material – no external writers renowned for their ability to create such emotional soul (like Dan Penn, George Soule or George Jackson for example) were involved – and, what’s more, Joe’s deep-soul gems were all originally cut for his own Val label out of Austin, Texas.
Joe Valentine, recording artist, musician, and songwriter was born and raised in New Orleans. He began his professional career at age 14, as a featured vocalist with the Mitchell Lennix Rhythm Swing Band and was soon signed to Percy Stoval’s Continental Music Attractions. Apparently he supported a young Ray Charles at one point and he cut his first record, ”I Still Love You”/ “Young Lover” in circa 1960, at the alleged tender age of 16 for Merit Records (#1002), before soon forming his own band, Joe Valentine & The Imperials. He would go on to cut further singles on Rachan 311 (“She’s Gone Again”/”Coming On Home” – reissued on Athens 209) and on Doug 849 (“Sweeter Than Sugar (And Twice As Nice)”/”Let It Be Love”). “She’s Gone Again” was a very good early piece of mournful deep-soul but not quite in the same league as Joe’s three winners from later in the decade.
The Rachan label was out of Winston-Salem, North Carolina (the very next single to Joe’s release, The Ascots with Bob Davidson’s “Have Gun (Will Travel)” coupled with “White House” on Rachan 312, shows this location on its labels). The producers of Joe’s Rachan tracks are shown as Dixon & Douglas but so far I have not been able to identify these guys. The Athens label was based at 1719 West End Building, Nashville. Not much is known about the Doug label but both the songs on Valentine’s Doug 45 were published by Red Stick Music, a company owned by Sam Montel (real surname Montalbano) who was based in Baton Rouge and who, around the time of the Doug single (1963), had launched Dale & Grace on his parent Montel imprint. Another of his labels was Michelle named after one of his daughters but he certainly created a number of other small short-lived imprints, usually using a person’s name, so it seems quite likely (as Joe Valentine was in the Baton Rouge area at this time) that Doug might well have been a local Sam Montel-owned enterprise.
Joe had first moved to Baton Rouge at age 18 and he spent the next 10 years there as a regular attraction at West Baton Rouge’s Carousel Club. After that, he relocated to Austin, Texas where he would remain.
In the mid-60’s in Austin he formed his own Val label and first recorded the moody, typically Crescent City-styled mid-pacer “One Night Of Satisfaction” and the superbly deep “I Can’t Stand To See You Go” on Val 67119, the sides later picked up for issue on his Ronn label (#14) by Shreveport’s Stan Lewis. Next on Val 7225, Joe cut the bouncy dancer later favoured by the UK Northern Soul scene, “I Lost The Only Love I Had”. This was coupled with the ultra-deep winner “Surely I Will Never Do You Wrong”, this latter track seeing a title-change to “You Got To Believe In Me” when eventually picked up (though not issued at the time) by Stan Lewis. However, Joe’s next outing appeared solely on the Ronn label (#30), this being another deep-jewel called “A Woman’s Love” which was coupled with the faster, would-be dance-crazer, “Hands On, Hands Off”
As you will surely have noted, it was within this fine clutch of 1967/8 recordings that we find our three deep-soul gems. They were “I Can’t Stand To See You Go”, “Surely I’ll Never Do You Wrong” aka “You Got To Believe In Me” and “A Woman’s Love”.
For years I have tried to decide which of these deep masterworks I prefer the most and it comes down to almost a tie between “I Can’t Stand To See You Go” and “A Woman’s Love”, with the latter track just shading it. In my all-time Top 50 deep-soul listing I have “A Woman’s Love” at No.12 and “I Can’t Stand To See You Go” at No.32. “Surely I’ll Never Do You Wrong” is just a tad tougher and rougher and is largely an almost spoken rather than sung piece. It doesn’t feature in my all-time Top 50 and yet its almost funerial approach is something which massively appeals to many deep-soul lovers, myself included.
Looking at these 3 gems in a little more detail, “A Woman’s Love” has an almost regal beauty about it. It’s a super-emotive slow-paced paen to womanhood and the need a guy has to be loved - and when Joe lets go vocally (melodiously but powerfully) in front of the impressive brass it’s surely a goose-bump-inducing moment for any deep-soul fan.
“I Can’t Stand To See You Go” is Joe’s most reissued side and the lovely, almost drifting organ work and the sparse but so effective guitar fills and runs beautifully complement the tear-inducing, oh-so-emotionally-involved mellifluous vocal. No huge histrionics here – one can just wallow unashamedly in Joe’s sheer involvement in the piece and his utter sadness at the departure of his loved one.
The scene for “Surely I’ll Never Do You Wrong” is set by some lovely striking but mournful brass work in the introduction and then Joe enters the fray, almost speaking rather than singing his demonstrative appeals to his girl to believe in him and to not ditch him for a third party. Then the emphasised parts of the vocal are sung before speech returns - but it’s a spoken plea which is so phenomenally soulful in its delivery that the listener simply becomes enveloped in Joe’s expressive prose. This is an outstanding listening experience rather than an outstanding song but it’s still ‘deep-soul heaven’.
Also a consummate live performer, in his time Joe has apparently shared the stage with not only Ray Charles but also Chuck Berry, Joe Simon, Johnny Taylor, Jackie Wilson, Eddie Floyd and Joe Hinton. In the early 70’s, he toured the U.S. and Europe with the late Joe Tex as both his bandleader and additional featured vocalist. Around this time Joe also co-wrote the 1971 releases of "Wheels of Life" (King 6373 and People 2503) for Lynn Collins, who was a performer with the James Brown review from 1969 through the 70s and who enjoyed 9 R&B hits in that decade (2 of which were Pop hits too).
In 1979 Joe cut a one-off solo 45 for Cocoa Studio (#0369) (see track-listing below) but by the late-80’s Lynn Collins was touring with Joe Valentine’s own Band and on his 1991 album “For Ever And Ever” (recorded in Austin TX on Tee-Jay NR 18554) he duetted with her on 3 of the tracks (see discography below for track-listing).The recordings were produced by Ron Brown and Nolan Smith and Joe’s manager at the time is shown as Tobe Addison. His 90’s Tee-Jay sides would also include at least 3 duets with another female vocalist, Linda Green (see tracks 24, 25 and 26 of “Then And Now” track-listing below).
An earlier also Austin-recorded Tee-Jay extended-play 12 inch album called “One Night Stand” (NR 17381) had emerged in 1988. This had contained just 4 solo Valentine tracks, 2 each of which had been also paired on two separate 45s (see track-listing below for details). By this time, Joe had also become owner of the Valentine’s Night Club in Austin and from 1995 he would become a regular performer at the 311 Club in Austin’s Sixth Street Music District.
In 1990, Japanese P-Vine issued 6 of Joe’s Val/Ronn tracks on their various-artist CD named after one of those tracks, “A Woman’s Love – Classic Soul Jewelry #1” (PCD 2162) (see track-listing below). Then, in 2001, UK Westside issued four of the same tracks on their compilation “Soul Jewels Vol.1 – Losers Win Sometime” (WESA 912) and, in the same year, Fuel included “I Can’t Stand To See You Go” on their “From Chicago To Shreveport” various artists compilation (#2000). Fuel would also reissue the same Valentine track on their later “Jewel/Paula Story” CD in 2011 (once again, see discography below).
Meanwhile, in 2000 Joe issued two CD’s semi-privately. These were “From The Soul” and “Love Is On My Mind” (see track-listings below).
Then in 2002, he released a 2-volume CD set, "Then and Now" (subtitled “Singing In The Key of Love”). Volume 1 ("Then") contained 14 of Joe's best songs from the 60's & 70's, while Volume 2 ("Now") featured 15 Tee-Jay tracks from the 80's & 90's. These were issued as two separate CDs in their own individual jewel-cases, each being given the same issue number, Val 2001 (see below for track-listing).
Joe sadly passed away July 13, 2018. A report of his passing states he was 81 years of age but if the reference to him being only 16 at the time of his first recording is true, then he would have been only 74 years of age.
Merit 1002 I Still Love You/Young Lover (c.1960)
Rachan 311 & Athens 209 She’s Gone Again/Coming On Home (1963 on Rachan, 1964 on Athens)
Doug 849 Sweeter Than Sugar (And Twice As Nice)/Let It Be Love (c.1963/4)
(Note: this Doug 45 was also issued with “I Need You” as the flip – but this song is identical to “Let It Be Love”).
Val 67119 & Ronn 14 One Night Of Satisfaction/I Can’t Stand To See You Go (1967)
Val 7225 I Lost The Only Love I Ever Had/Surely I’ll Never Do You Wrong (= *You Got To Believe In Me – Ronn unissued) (c.1968)
Ronn 30 A Woman’s Love/Hands On, Hands Off (1968)
Ronn unissued: *You Got To Believe In Me (P-Vine PCD 2162 & Westsde WESA 912)
I Can Feel My Love Coming On Strong (P-Vine PCD 2162 & Westside WESA 912)
Soul City USA (P-Vine PCD 2162).
Cocoa Studio 0369 Until The Real Thing Comes Along/There Goes Another Dream Of Mine (1979)
Tee Jay NR 17379 One Night Stand/All The Love I Have For You Is Gone (1988)
Tee Jay NR 17380 Sharing Your Love/True Love (1988)
“One Night Stand” (Tee Jay NR 17381) (1988)
Side 1: 1 One Night Stand 2 All The Love I Have For You Is Gone
Side 2: 1 Sharing Your Love 2 True Love
“A Woman’s Love” (Jap. P-Vine PCD 2162) (1990)
various artist compilation.
6 tracks by Joe Valentine 1 A Woman’s Love 2 I Can’t Stand To See You Go 3 One Night Of Satisfaction 4 I Can Feel My Love Coming On Strong 5 Soul City U.S.A. 6 You’ve Got To Believe In Me.
“For Ever And Ever” (Tee Jay NR 18554) (1991)
Side 1: 1 Our Love Will Last Forever 2 One More Night With You 3 If You (duet with Lynn Collins) 4 Let’s Have Tonight (duet with Lynn Collins)
Side 2: 1 Forever My Love 2 To Be In Love With You 3 You Know (duet with Lynn Collins) 4 Our Love Will Last Forever (instrumental version)
“From The Soul” (Val 1937D) (2000)
1 Turn Back The Hands Of Time 2 I Can’t Give You More (Than All The Love I Have) 3 That’s What Love Is About 4 In The Name Of Love 5 I Should Have Known 6 This Time 7 I Had It All The Time
“Love Is On My Mind” (Val 2001D) (2000)
1 I Need Some Lovin’ Tonight 2 Make Sweet Love To You 3 Let’s Make Love Tonight 4 Kick Me When I’m Down 5 You’re Bad 6 Since I Met You Baby 7 Come To Me
Val 7225 I Lost The Only Love I Ever Had/Surely I'll Never Do You Wrong (2001) (Note ~ this was a legal reissue by Joe himself of his c.1968 Val 45 – see above)
“Soul Jewels Volume 1 – Losers Win Sometime” (Westside WESA 912) (2001)
various artist compilation.
4 tracks by Joe Valentine 4 You’ve Got To Believe In Me 9 A Woman’s Love 15 I Can Feel My Love Coming On Strong 25 I Can’t Stand To See You Go
“From Chicago To Shreveport” (Fuel 2000 3020611452) (2001)
various artist compilation.
1 track by Joe Valentine 6 I Can’t Stand To See You Go
“Then And Now” (Val 2001) (2002)
(Disc 1 – Vol.1 - 60’s & 70’s) “Then” 1 I Lost The Only Love I Ever Had 2 Surely I Will Never Do You Wrong 3 Woman's Love 4 I Can't Stand To See You Go 5 One Night Of Satisfaction 6 I Can Feel My Love Coming On Strong 7 Soul City U.S.A 8 Another Dream Of Mine 9 Until The Real Thing Comes Along 10 Our Love Will Last Forever 11 You Know (Joe Valentine With Lynn Collins) 12 Let's Have Tonight 13 Our Love Will Last Forever (Instrumental) 14 Hands On Hands Off
(Disc 2 – Vol.2 - 80’s & 90’s) “Now” 1 One More Night With You 2 If You (Joe Valentine With Lynn Collins) 3 Forever My Love 4 To Be In Love With You 5 One Night Stand 6 All The Love I Have For You Is Gone 7 Sharing Your Love 8 True Love 9 If You Let Me 10 Look What We've Done (Joe Valentine With Linda Green) 11 Let Me Be There For You (Joe Valentine With Linda Green) 12 Don't Know How to Live Without You (Joe Valentine With Linda Green) 13 Come to Me 14 Let's Have Tonight (Joe Valentine With Lynn Collins) 15 First Day of Your Life
“Jewel/Paula Story” (Fuel 2000 3020618972) (2011)
various artist compilation.
1 track by Joe Valentine 8 I Can’t Stand To See You Go
Joe Valentine - I Can't Stand To See You Go
Joe Valentine - Surely, I'll Never Do You Wrong
Joe Valentine - A Woman's Love Ronn