Sunday, November 02, 2014

ST-0047: Cover up at source

Sorry for another gap in posting. This has been, at least in part, due to being a bit preoccupied with a bit of detective work of late. Warning! Anorak on!....   

I bought a little batch of Stax 45s the other day. An attraction of this stack of Stax was the inclusion of a copy of STA0011 Carla Thomas I’ve Fallen in Love (With You) which I had recently…er… fallen in love with. But when I dropped my newly acquired copy on the turntable I was crestfallen - it didn’t play I’ve Fallen in Love at all but instead a slow soul/jazz instrumental (featuring amongst other instruments a guitar that immediately made me think of George Benson). So, a mispress - you could say a cover-up manufactured in the pressing plant.

After the initial disappointment I decided to try and identify the track I was hearing, which was actually pretty good. Off and on over a number of days I have had tremendous fun with a bit of sleuthing.

The starting point was the deadwax etched ST-0047 and a ZTSB number. The ZTSB number matched the label, but the label stated ST-0046 not ST-0047. This led me into the wonderful world of Stax master numbers and a comprehensive, but not exhaustive, list of them at 45cat complied by Peterh. The penny finally dropped with me that the numbers are consecutive, and the letter prefix denotes the label (Stax or one of its subsidiaries) that it was released on. Interestingly 0047 and 0048 are two of the only early numbers missing on Peter’s list of masters.

So this mystery track was presumably destined for a Stax release that never happened? But it didn’t sound like a track that would be released on Stax (it certainly wasn’t Booker T & The MGs). So was the master misnamed, could it have been released on another label? The Stax related Hip and Magic Touch labels for example had releases around a similar time. The style of the track made me think it would have been more at home on Enterprise though. Researching Enterprise releases and artists led me eventually to Art Jerry Miller and I was beginning to think that maybe it could be a track from the 1969 album Rated X Suggested For Mature Souls, especially as the track times were all in the ballpark. It wasn’t any of those I could find on YouTube though. Looking elsewhere for other possible links to Art Jerry Miller soundfiles led me to a couple of old Ace/Kent compilation CDs. No links to any soundfiles, but what is that last track on that compilation? – The Soul Merchants For: Wes – Wes Montgomery? not George Benson but close … So back to YouTube, it has most things, would it have For: Wes? Yes, I click play and… 


(The feeling I experienced was not dissimilar to the one the lad in the Northern Soul film had when he found out the cover-up the big DJ had been playing was the Salvadors!)

My Carla Thomas 45 on one side plays TheSoul Merchants For: Wes.

It turns out For: Wes was released no less than three times on the WEIS label in ’68–’69 (W3436, W-3439, WEA-3001). It is undoubtedly obscure, but of no particular value it seems. The last two releases were distributed by Volt, which is of course related to Stax. Peterh at 45cat has copies of the first two releases and has confirmed that neither of them has 0047 in any guise etched in the deadwax. But does WEA-3001 I wonder?
In the end how this WEIS release got a ST master number is a mystery. Perhaps they had considered releasing it on Stax but then decided it wouldn’t get a national release and of course as I said above the track didn’t really fit with the Stax sound. How it got onto my copy of this Carla Thomas 45 remains a mystery too. I know the person I bought it from has multiple copies of this 45 that were unplayed deadstock pulled from a warehouse in the US around 1972 (yes from the same batch as I mentioned here). I asked him if he could check his other copies, and it turns out they are all correct pressings, which does make my copy a nice curiosity.

A copy of the Carla Thomas 45 that actually plays what it is supposed to is on its way to me now too.  


UPDATE: Marc's comments sent me down the Eddie Silvers rabbit hole. Eddie was credited on the Weis release of For Wes and is undoubtedly the saxophonist on the track. You can learn some more about Eddie Silvers here (near the bottom of the article) and there you can also find a picture of The Soul Merchants! The full story on Eddie would make a very intererting read I think and give a good insight into the workings of the R&B/Soul world in the 50s and 60s down at the grass roots. Unfortunately I believe Eddie Silvers passed away in the 70s.   


drew said...

That was a great bit of sleuthing and an even better read.

george said...

It's fantastic the lengths that some people go to when investigating records. You should get a paid to do this stuff, Darcy. Top-quality read, thanks very much.

charity chic said...

Inspector Darcy cracks another case
A piece of trivia for you Wes Montgomery's son,Kevin is an Americana artist who is forever touring the UK and has released some good records

Marc said...

Nice tribute to the late 'Wes Montgomery' sound.I like the 'Varitone' saxophone too.


Marc said...

Robert L. Weaver's Chicago-based Weis productions had three record labels - Weis,Unisfere and Charific.

Byron 'Slick' Gipson aka Wild Child Gipson:...The Soul Merchants was the last band I had.That'd be '66...(The Byron 'Slick' Gipson Story by Daria Labinsky - Blues & Rhythm # 106 February 1996)

Darcy said...

Thanks for all the comments guys.

@CC - I'm sure i've seen Kevin Montgomery billed in my home town. Didn't know he was Wes' son.

@Marc - are you sure It's the same Soul Merchants? I'm presuming Gipson was a vocalist judging by the couple of tracks I found on the internet, and the Weis Soul Merchants tracks are all instrumental.

Your mention of two more labels I had never heard of sent me down another rabbit hole which ended up with me learning a whole lot more about Eddie Silvers (and wanting to find more out too - an interesting story there I reckon). Eddie is the saxophonist on For Wes. I found reference to a UniSfere release by Robert (Hill), Ron (Dawson) & Eddie (Silvers) which is undoubtedly also the Soul Merchants. I also found a picture of the Soul Merchants(!) which i have linked to on my post.

Marc said...

Darcy said...

"@Marc - are you sure It's the same Soul Merchants? I'm presuming Gipson was a vocalist judging by the couple of tracks I found on the internet, and the Weis Soul Merchants tracks are all instrumental."

Marc says:

Wild Child Gipson played guitar and piano.He recorded at Boulevard Studios in Chicago,and cut an unreleased session for Chess Records.

I stumbled upon another 45 by Wild Child Gipson & The Peoria Soul Merchants - 'Boogaloo Train To Peoria / Coal Mine N° 2'(C.A.B. RECORDS 70238).

'Bogaloo Train To Peoria' is an instrumental,'coal Mine N°2'is a re-write of the Lee Dorsey hit.

Darcy said...

I'm still thinking this is a different Soul Merchants group.

Marc said...

Most probably.