As 2023 draws to a chilly close, boutique label SOUL DIRECTION are releasing another quality, rare soul 45. This newie pairs two tracks featuring the production talent of Philly’s Wallace “Wally” Osborne. A Korean war veteran, Wally played with bands in and around the city of Brotherly Love and also made a name for himself as a songwriter. He eventually set up his own production company – aptly named Wally-O Productions and collectors will know that that was the source of plenty of classy soul from people like Herb Johnson & The Impacts, The Topics and the soul duo of Jeri Payne and Joe Freeman aka. Jeri & Joe.
The Wally-O cuts on the new Soul Direction 7” are ‘Cement, Plaster & Gold’ from The Natural Soul Brothers Ltd and ‘Kisses & Roses’ by The Four Thoughts.
Not that much is known about The Natural Soul Brothers Ltd save that at their core were Tom McNeil on lead vocals and guitarist Clayton Johnson. Any additional members information is sketchy, but the Soul Direction sleuths have discovered that Clayton Johnson later went on to help form Thomas Buck Nasty who released an LP on RCA in 1980. The oddly named ‘Cement, Plaster & Gold’ dates from 1970 and has never been issued on vinyl (it was anthologized on a Wally-O 2000 CD). Like its title, it’s and odd sound. A little rough at the edges, it has a peculiar haunting quality that brings real charm. The vocals seem to linger over an eerie organ-led backdrop before a horn solo brings things to a climax. Interesting and mellow.
The Four Thoughts’ ‘Kisses & Roses’ was issued on vinyl. In 1967 it was released by the Womar label (owned by Wally Osborne) but it did little on release and remains hard to find. Again not much is known about the Four Thoughts but they peddle a sweet and competent take on Philly harmony soul – think maybe the Intruders. Their ‘Kisses & Roses’, though, couldn’t be more different to the The Natural Soul Brothers Ltd side. ‘Kisses & Roses’ is bright and cheery; busy and bustling and offers a great counterpoint to the 45’s mellow “other” side. By the way, collectors might want to seek out a 2017 Soul Junction collection compilation that featured another lovely Four Thoughts’ track – a beautiful, harmony ballad, ‘Plain As The Nose’.
In the meantime, this new Soul Direction 7” is released on 24th November; pre-orders from 10th November. Learn more @ https://soul-direction.co.uk/