Dave Hamilton needs no introduction to Motown and Detroit collectors, but for the more casual soul fan, a brief intro; Hamilton was a celebrated Detroit guitarist and music biz entrepreneur who was there right at the start of Motown. His sharp licks graced many early Gordy stable classics but in the mid sixties he struck out on his own – gigging in Detroit’s numerous jazz and soul clubs, finding session work on the burgeoning recording scene and, more importantly, running his own labels and studio. The music he produced was often licensed out with varying degrees of local success; a lot of Hamilton’s work though remained unissued.
Over the years much of Hamilton’s output has been made available to collectors – chiefly via UK reissue label Ace/Kent’s careful stewardship of the Hamilton back catalogue and here they assemble another 24 archive gems.
There are lots here to interest collectors, with pride of, place probably going to the previously unreleased ‘It Takes Two’ from the Del Phis, who Motown fans will tell you were the first incarnation of Martha and the Vandellas! Then, there’s a rare Carolyn Franklin track – a starkly beautiful ‘Guess I’ll Go Packing’. Another previously unissued gem which Aretha’s sister recorded for Hamilton during the period when she was looking after her father (he’d been shot during a robbery). By coincidence, the Rev Franklin’s church was right over the road from Dave Hamilton’s studio! I guess it was natural for Carolyn to just pop in… soul serendipity!
Other known “names” on the album include Little Ann and OC Tolbert but most of the tracks here are from relative unknowns, like vocal group Anxiety. Their ‘Love Me Or Leave Me’ is a superb slab of sweet soul and even the usually thorough Ace/Kent soul detectives can find out nothing about the group and this previously unissued cut.
As on previous Dave Hamilton collections, the compilers give plenty of space to Dave’s own recordings. There are three here, including the funky ‘Crackling Bread’ – the previously unissued vocal mix and a wonderful ‘I’m Shooting High’ (another vocal) which in just over two and half minutes manages to synthesise the up-town optimism of the best of Detroit soul.