Baltimore indie soul label RU-JAC is revered by proper soul collectors who count passion, commitment and honesty above hype, gloss and pretence. The label was founded and survived through real soul’s Golden Age, 1963 – 1980. Originally Ru-Jac was essentially a music publishing and production company established by Baltimore hustlers Rufus Mitchell (Ru) and Jack Bennett (Jac) but as soul’s popularity grew, a label in own right was a logical extension to their operations.
Over the past year or so US reissue specialists Ominvore have started to make Ru-Jac material easily available. They began with two single artists’ sets on arguably the label’s biggest “names” – Winfield Parker and duo Gene and Eddie.
Then at the start of this year, they released two wonderful Ru-Jac compilations covering the period 1963- 1966 and now Omnivore complete the story with two more generous 25 track retrospectives of Ru-Jac material.
Volume 3, ‘Finally Together’ takes its music from two years, 1966 and ’67. Best known name on offer is probably Sir Joe Quartermain. His cut is the Northern flavoured, ‘Nobody Beats My Love’. Collectors will also recognize the name of Winfield Parker. The set boasts a clutch of Parker sides including some rough demos. It’s the label unknowns, though, that bring the real treasures – notably Rita Doryse whose ‘Wait Till Then’ has all the potential to be a soft soul classic. Some of the other tracks don’t even a have an artist credit. Even the dogged Omnivore soul ‘tecs couldn’t dig out too many details and even when an artist is credited (as in the case of vocal group The Caressors) the team couldn’t find too much on ’em. The music, though, speaks for itself.
Volume 4, ‘Changes’ covers a much wider time frame, 1967 – 1980. During this period Rufus Mitchell reined back his Ru-Jac commitment as he gave other business ventures (and marital problems) more time and effort. What was issued, though, was in the same honest, tough, Ru-Jac mould, even though as time passes you can hear a tad more sophistication, as on Jimmy Dobson’s cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Think Of Me As Your Soldier’. Also of interest is a wild, uncredited instrumental version of Archie Bell’s ‘Tighten Up’, but dip in anywhere and serious soul buffs will find treasure after treasure.