From the design point of view Phil-LA Of Soul has to be my favourite record label. I love it so much I bought the T-shirt!
It’s got it all – I love the fish design, I love the label name’s play on words, I love the starkness of the black on yellow, and I love the (I think) unique way it was chosen to designate each release – that is the initial of the first name followed by the first two letters of the surname of the artist were generally included in the release number.
The release number also has a tell-tale “R” after it to identify a re-issue, and I’m surprised that such a small label actually had an official re-issue run (I think the re-issues were made in the mid 70s, approximately five years after the original releases).
Phil-LA Of Soul started life in 1967 as a Jamie label offshoot. Although based in Philadelphia many of the early releases were on Florida based artists such as Helene Smith and Little Beaver. This was I think because Jamie had picked up national distribution for the Deep City/Lloyd labels roster. Jesse James was a writer at the label and specialised in finding gospel singers in churches and offering them the chance to make a name for themselves as soul singers on wax.
It just so happens that one of absolute favourite deep soul tracks is on a B side of a Phil-LA of Soul 45. To be precise #334, which is designated PH-ABR-1.
Alfreda’s “I’ll Wait For You” is the flip side of “Chained & Bound”, which is a shame in a way because “Chained & Bound” is a dancer loved on the Northern scene which a) puts its price up and b) leaves the B side sadly overlooked. I bet so many of the people who own this record are Northern fans, as such they will be so focussed on the A side they will possibly have never even played the B side – in fact I bought my copy from one such person and when I pointed out I was buying it for the B side he played it for the first and said “Ooh, that’s good isn’t it!”.
Once again I have to thank Sir Shambling for turning me on to this track. I did get a tad anoraky with him when I pointed out that the track on the copy I bought is about 20 seconds shorter than the version he has on his website. My copy is an original issue and I’m guessing his soundfile is from a re-issue copy (certainly his label scan was). What’s 20 seconds, you say? Well in this case a lot I think because to my mind there is only one thing wrong with the track on the original issue it fades too quickly and the extra few seconds allows you to savour the magnificence of this song just a little bit more.
I’m betting Alfreda Brockington came out of the church. I can’t find any information on her, except a woman by that name, and of approximately the right age does, today, seem to reside in Upper Darby PA. The Alfreda, I wonder?