23 November 2004
A pair from Eric
The Eric label goes back about 35 years or so; I have lots of their reissue 45s, which generally sounded better than the small-label originals they managed to license. In the CD era they're a small player, but one with a solid reputation among collectors of Vintage Pop: an Eric release can be counted on for the best possible sound and a surprise or two.
The two most recent Eric CDs, just arrived here, maintain the company's standard. The Hard to Find 45s on CD series continues with Sweet Soul Sounds, twenty tracks of fine R&B wax, some well-known, some hardly known at all. In the latter category is "I'm the Lover Man" by Little Jerry (later "Swamp Dogg") Williams, a song he'd hoped to sell to Frankie Valli, and which came out with a horn chart by 4 Seasons arranger Charlie Calello. Among the bigger hits on hand is "(I Wanna) Testify" by the Parliaments; any similarity to the Parliafunkadelicment Thang is deliberate, since this mid-60s group was led by George Clinton himself and provided the beginnings of both Parliament and Funkadelic. And there's also Doris Troy's "Just One Look," a recording which has generally sounded pretty crummy on CD until now.
One Eric specialty has been producing stereo mixes for recordings generally available only in mono, when they can get their hands on the original multitracks or stage tapes, and Sweet Soul Sounds has three such, of which the most remarkable is "Dry Your Eyes" by Brenda and the Tabulations, which never sounded so clean before.
Dick Bartley Presents: Classic Oldies 1965-1969 has eighteen tracks, mostly somewhat familiar, though "You Wouldn't Listen," an early Ides of March single, is relatively obscure, and Dee Jay and the Runaways' "Peter Rabbit" is more so. Among the better-known tracks are Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale," in beautiful stereo at last, and the American Breed's "Bend Me, Shape Me," for the first time in stereo at the correct speed. (The original two-track tape was speeded up for the 45.)
The artwork is nothing special, though the young lady in fishnets on Sweet Soul Sounds catches the eye; the booklets, though, are informative, and most important, the sound is great.