VARIOUS: Good To The Last Drop (Label: Fantastic Voyage)

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VARIOUS: Good To The Last Drop

Way back in 1960, a London-based jazz musician and club owner, Jeffery Kruger, started his own record label – Ember. His original aim was to use the label to issue the esoteric jazz sounds that the punters in his famous Soho club, the Flamingo, were digging. With an eye to the main chance, however, he also released pop and country. Kruger soon realized, though, that the Flamingo customers were turning more and more to soul and with the help of Blues and Soul’s founder and first editor, John Abbey, he began to license American soul product for Ember and through the 60s and 70s the label issued a steady stream of classy soul – right across its many sub genres. Collectors’ label, Fantastic Voyage, has collected 23 of Ember’s very best for this new compilation and it’s clear that Kruger and Abbey had done their homework. They trawled the States for the best underground soul sounds whose esotericism, they knew, would hold most appeal for the 60s mods and soul people. Biggest “name” on the compilation is Johnny Otis. His contribution is ‘Good To The Last Drop’ – the song that gives its name to the compilation. Originally released in 1975, it’s a strong beater with a feel of what Johnny Guitar Watson was then producing. Collectors will be delighted to have two tracks from pre-Philadelphia International era Jones Girls – ‘My Own Special Way’ is a frantic dancer, while ‘Learn How To Love’ heralds their later, smoother work. For their part, The Northern brotherhood will be more than pleased with the opening sequence of five classy dancers – including Mr. Flood’s Party’s take on Gene McDaniels’ ‘Compared To What’, Jewel Akens’ ‘Wee Bit More Of Your Loving’ and the Casinos’ in-demand ‘That’s The Way’. Those who like real passion will enjoy the four cuts from Milt Matthews while covers’ collectors will at last be able to get their hands on Dee Edwards’ version of Brenda Holloway’s ‘Hurt A Little Everyday’. Indeed that’s the attraction of the album – there is something for very kind of soul lover… AND most of the music is here on CD for the first time. Moreover, with vinyl copies of stuff like Fork In The Road’s ‘Can’t Turn Around Now’ going for £200+ the album is worth serious investigation. Watch out for more from a reactivated Ember
(BB) 4/5