Amongst the latest releases from archive label JASMINE RECORDS are a pair of CDs that feature two real soul legends… CHUCK JACKSON and GLADYS KNIGHT.

CHUCK JACKSON, of course, died in February aged 85 and in a lengthy  career he recorded countless classics  with maybe his most famous outing being his reading of Burt Bacharach’s ‘Any Day Now’. So, little wonder, then that this Jasmine 32 tracker is named for that 1962 song… ‘Any Day Now… The Early Years, 1957 – 1962.’

Something of a child prodigy, Jackson got his grounding in the church before finding secular music and working with various doo-wop groups. He was then recruited to join a line up of the  hitmaking Del Vikings. Encouraged and eventually mentored   by Jackie Wilson, Jackson went solo in 1959 and recorded for a number of labels before finding a home at Scepter/Wand where he eventually found huge success.

The Jasmine collection focuses on all the singer’s early recordings – including plenty of rare tracks alongside all those  well-known (up to 1962) Wand releases. The opening tracks come from his time at labels like Fee Bee, Clock and Petite and they’re a mix of  styles and sounds … doo-wop, R&B, R&R and MOR. You can hear an artist searching for his sound  – a signature sound that eventually came via his connection with Luther Dixon at Wand. Between them they crafted a delicious “uptown” embryonic soul sound typified by songs like ‘I Wake Up Crying’, ‘Make The Night A Little Longer’, ‘Getting Ready For The Heartbreak’ and of course, ‘Any Day Now’ – all included!

The still-working GLADYS KNIGHT has enjoyed even more success than Chuck Jackson. Indeed she’s bagged seven Grammys, but even Grammy winners have to start somewhere, thus Jasmine’s ‘Every Beat Of My Heart’ harvests 28 of Ms Knight’s very early outings.

Like Chuck Jackson, Gladys Knight was something of a child prodigy and had her music  apprenticeship in gospel before embracing the “devil’s music”. With  brother Merald (“Bubba”), sister Brenda and cousins William and Eleanor Guest the  group (known as Gladys Knight and the Pips… named for their manager, James “Pip” Wood) ) won plenty of local Atlanta talent contests which eventually led  to their first recording contract with Brunswick. By 1959 Brenda and Eleanor had left the group to be replaced by cousin Edward Patten and friend Langston George (who himself soon quit). Working with Hank Ballard and  the Midnighters, they came across his song, ‘Every Beat Of My Heart’  which became a show-stopping part of their act.  At an Atlanta gig, the club owner offered to get Gladys and the group into the studio to record the song for his tiny Huntom label. The release  became a local hit but for all sorts of complicated reasons, the song was also released by Vee Jay and Fury.

Both the Huntom and Fury versions are included on the Jasmine album along with more Fury recordings, including the still spine -tingling ‘Guess Who’, a collection of Vee Jay tracks and the early Brunswick cuts. You also get all four sides of the two singles that the Pips recorded  for Fury in their own name while Gladys was taking out some family time.