CLIFF NOBLES: The Phil-L.A. of Soul Singles Collection (Label: Jamie, Guyden )

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CLIFF NOBLES: The Phil-L.A. of Soul Singles Collection

Cliff Nobles’ magnificent ‘The Horse’ is one of soul’s greatest instrumentals. It was a no. 2 US pop hit in 1968 and, interestingly, it was kept off the top spot by another classic – Hugh Masekela’s ‘Grazing In The Grass’. Those two tunes along with ‘Soulful Strut’ and ‘Green Onions’ would always take top places in soul instrumental listings and every home should have several copies of each. If you’re ‘Horse-less’ here’s the opportunity to saddle up, as Jamie/Guyden reissue all 6 of Cliff Nobles’ singles. ‘The Horse’ clearly takes pride of place. Still fresh and so, so catchy, the sleeve notes confirm, what we’d always thought, that Mr. Nobles had nothing to do with the cut. The tune was the brainchild of Philly exec Jess James and top arranger Bobby Martin and it was used as the backing behind the Nobles’ song ‘Love Is All Right’. When a Florida radio station tried to play the vocal on air, the DJ found it so scratched that he flipped it to the instrumental and the rest, as the clich√© goes, is history. A quirky hit was created and Nobles and James were under pressure to produce more. The follow up, therefore adopted the same pattern – one side a vocal, the other the backing track. No surprise that the instrumental was called ‘Horse Fever’, and though a poor copy of the hit, it did manage to chart at no. 29. More success came with ‘Switch It On’ (another Noble-less instrumental) which reached no. 9, though it’s follow up, ‘The Camel’ was less successful. All those tunes are here along with the Nobles’ vocals which show he had a decent soul voice – a voice clearly influenced by Sam Cooke as witnessed on ‘Burning Desire’. The 12 tracker is a must for Philly collectors and anyone intrigued to hear what the vocal to ‘The Horse’ (‘Love Is All Right’) sounds like. When it was bootlegged some time ago it became a big Northern tune and interestingly, in the sleeve notes, Jesse James has some honest things to say about the UK bootlegging business. Sadly some people do shamelessly exploit the work of others; here you can enjoy some great Philly magic legally!
(BB) 3/5