THE DELLS: Always Together (Label: Shout)

THE DELLS: Always Together

Any Dells’ compilation is always welcome and this new 21 tracker is particularly pleasing because it focuses on what most soul commentators believe is the veteran group’s forte – articulating passion through the soul ballad. Here compiler (and soul veteran himself), Clive Richardson has been let loose on the Chess archive, and using his intimate knowledge of the group, he’s chosen some obvious tunes, some lesser known gems – and, to his credit, he’s unearthed a couple of real rarities. Let’s deal chiefly with those. First there’s ‘You Changed My Life Around’ which dates from 1972 and till now has never been released. It’s a typical Charles Stepney/Dells’ collaboration, featuring searing lead vocals and those magically ethereal harmonies and vocal counterplays… why its been allowed to lie dormant all these years beggars belief. It’s a soul treasure – as is the second, ‘Since I Found You’. That one’s a beautiful Skip Scarborough song and has only ever been available on a now-deleted 1992 compilation. Both those inclusions make the album a must for Dells’ fans. Said fans will probably have all the other cuts countless times over – but when you hear old favourites in a new ordering it somehow offers them a vitality. Biggest surprise with this collection is the omission of ‘Stay In My Corner’ – surely the defining Dells’ ballad. Clive explains its absence by saying that he wanted his collection to complement and not duplicate the Dells’ Universal double album from earlier this year. Fair comment, but why then do we get ‘Always Together’, ‘I Can Sing A Rainbow’ and other cuts that were also on the Universal set? A small point, granted – and, thankfully, one that doesn’t detract from the beauty of what’s on offer here… an unmissable collection from one of soul music’s most enduring acts.
(BB) 5/5