ROY HAMILTON: Warm Soul (Label: Poker Records)

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Roy Hamilton was an acclaimed church-reared vocalist who first rose to prominence in the 50s. By the early 60s he was still scoring hits as ‘real’ R&B began to morph into classic soul. Working with Epic, his hits included ‘Unchained Melody’, ‘If I Loved You’ and ‘Ebb Tide’, and on the back of that success, he signed with MGM; this new 26-track collection from Cherry Red’s Poker imprint chronicles his time with that label. The set contains all the tracks from Roy’s MGM ‘Warm Soul’ album along with both sides from his seven MGM singles and the previously unreleased ‘After He Breaks Your Heart’. Sound wise, Hamilton comes on like Brook Benton with a hint of Jackie Wilson in his pre-full-on soul days and though much of the music is maybe too near the middle of the road to be classed ‘classic soul’, there’s still plenty here to stir emotions. Working with people like Leiber and Stoller, Bert Berns, Van McCoy and (possibly) Dee Dee Warwick and Cissy Houston there are some big ballads like ‘Let Go’ (penned by the aforementioned McCoy) and the eminently danceable ‘The Panic Is On’ – rightly a Northern fave back in the day – but bear in mind it’s not a frantic hurtle, more a pleasing, almost sedate groove with bags of implied soul. It’s one of the album’s standout cuts and though Roy Hamilton will never figure in too many of those listings of soul’s all time greats, this collection should interest both serious students of the genre and anyone who digs classy mid-60s sounds.
(BB) 3/5