Whilst July focused on dazzling, unapologetic pop and root sounds from one of reggae’s most important forebears – releases synonymous with, and perfect for, Summer – August eschews a seasonal theme for an exploration of the places and institutions which bred a remarkable store of homegrown pop, influential doo-wop, and boisterous rock’n’roll. Please Mr Disc Jockey: The Atlantic Vocal Group Sound returns to the early days of Ahmet Ertegun’s now world renowned major label powerhouse for a fascinating trawl through the silken harmonizing of an array of admired and neglected vocal groups, outfits who would lay the foundation for the soul, rock’n’roll and rhythm & blues Atlantic would later champion. From The Clovers, The Drifters and The Coasters to a host of more obscure concerns, these performances demonstrate a set of key players and worthy fringe acts who were at the peak of their powers. Compiled by Clive Richardson (who curated our well loved, long running Soul City series) and conceived as an ideal companion to our earlier club-centric 3CD set Right Now: Atlantic Club Soul And Deep Cuts, Please Mr Disc Jockey is a must for the fanatical and the casual, a chronicle of one of the most important record labels of all time.
Staying in America but relocating from Atlantic’s New York base to the equally iconic environs of Memphis, Tennessee, our second August release sees the next instalment of Stuart Colman’s Sugar series receive the vinyl treatment. Raunchy Sugar: The Pure Essence Of Memphis Rock & Roll cherrypicks the finer cuts from the first CD edition, a compilation praised in Rockabilly Hall of Fame as “the ‘bees knees’ of great rockin’ music.” With a city possessing such a unique lure for rural Tennessee’s many intrepid luminaries (including but not limited to Carl Perkins and Carl Mann from Jackson, Billy Riley from Arkansas and Elvis Presley from Mississippi) it’s easy to speculate that Memphis was the quintessential benchmark that other rock’n’roll hubs aspired to emulate. The city’s record labels were just as profuse and impressive – Sam Phillips’ legendary Sun Records, Hi, Cover, Fernwood, Meteor, Vaden and Satellite (the initial incarnation of the fabled Stax label) – implying that there must have been something in the water at the time. A set which mixes the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Charlie Rich, Sonny Burgess and many discoveries-in-waiting, Raunchy Sugar accords quite convincingly with the reputation of Memphis as the celebrated birthplace of rock’n’roll.
We return to somewhere closer to home for our final August release, a compilation which gathers significant moments in the history of the ‘Singing City’. Liverpool Sounds: 75 Classics From The Singing City is a pop portrait of the city, a 3CD set with a broad purview extending to many periods and styles. Vocal turns from Arthur Askey and Ken Dodd, jazz performed by the Merseysippi Jazz Band and George Melly, folk courtesy of Stan Kelly and The Spinners, and iconic 1965 beat recordings made at the Cavern club’s Cavern Sound recording studio, and of course Liverpool’s favourite sons The Beatles feature too, but as Spencer Leigh’s curation work attests, the sound of the city transcended their eminence. The riches of Liverpool’s enormous contribution to modern pop music; 75 choice selections, all of them classics in their own way.