JAY AND THE TECHNIQUES: Baby Make Your Own Sweet Music (Label: RPM)

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JAY AND THE TECHNIQUES: Baby Make Your Own Sweet Music

Philadelphia’s Jay and the Techniques never made it to the soul Premier league, but in the mid sixties (working chiefly with super-producer Jerry Ross) they created some excellent sweet, uptown soul that deserves serious consideration from anyone who likes their soul tuneful and polished. First a brief bio: the band featured on this ‘best of’ assembly grew out of a street corner group called the Sinceres. Fronted by Jay Proctor and George ‘Lucky’ Lloyd, they cut a couple of singles on the Jordan label, but lack of success and an offer to Jay and Lucky to front an all white showband saw the sudden demise of said Sinceres and the birth of the Techniques. A talent show victory in 1966 won them some studio time with Jerry Ross (then hot with Spanky And Our Gang and Bobby Hebb) and they cut their first hit – the jaunty ‘Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie’ – on the Mercury subsidiary, Smash. Other hits followed and it’s not surprising that songs like ‘Keep The Ball Rolling’, ‘Strawberry Shortcake’ and ‘Baby Make Your Own Sweet Music’ followed the same easy-on-the-ear pop-soul template of that debut hit. Those hits form the nucleus of this generous 28 tracker and they still sound infectious if a little more pop than soul. Much better are some of the cuts taken from the group’s albums – notably versions of ‘When Love Slips Away’ and ‘I’m Gonna Make You Love Me’ . This comprehensive overview also features the band’s sole recording for the Gordy label ‘Robot Man’, a version of Barry White’s ‘I Feel Love Coming On’ (recorded for Event) and lots of tasty dancers that have long made Jay and the Techniques favourites on the real underground Northern soul scene. Jay Proctor is still touring with a band called the Techniques (featuring some original members) and I’ve no doubt he still belts out this album’s featured songs with the same tuneful conviction, and hopefully the set will bring him to a wider audience. Compiled by Jerry Ross himself, ‘Baby Make Your Own Sweet Music’ will appeal to general collectors and anoraks alike… and I bet the anoraks already know that Ashford and Simpson and Melba Moore were the backing vocalists on the Techniques’ hits!
(BB) 3/5