The “little” record fair, as I like to call it, was in town last weekend. I’ve mentioned it before – it’s mainly focussed on R&R, Doo-Wop, 50s and early 60s but there are one or two dealers who bring along some Soul boxes.
This time my “Mr Reliable” when it comes to Soul had just the two boxes. Not a good sign. “Any new ones?” I asked. “No, you will have seen them all before” was the reply. Oh. I had a little chat and he said it that Soul was now generally too expensive to pick up, he goes to the US fairs and has found that the Americans are getting back into Soul. He also dropped the bombshell that he is planning to retire next year after 46 years in the business. I get the feeling he’s a really nice guy and I will miss him.
Being told there was nothing new to flick through didn’t put me off diving into the boxes one more time. I’m glad I did too. I’m sure I hadn’t seen some of them before. Perhaps it was just that they were discounted a bit more this time so I paid more attention to some of them. Also, now with my trusty portable by my side I am happy to grab handfuls of records and give them a quick spin to see if anything grabs me. And so it was that I came away with nine 45s this time, and I’m really pleased with them all. As I handed over the cash for them he (stupidly I don’t know the dealer’s name) said: “Managed to find a few more then? I won’t bother to bring the Soul boxes next time”. L
Many of these purchases were only a £1 but this obscure Loma 45 from 1966 set me back a few more pounds. This was Mary Lee Whitney’s only 45. Just another fine singer who only got one shot at a recording career then? Well no, not exactly. You, along with many millions of people, will have probably heard her sing, although you may not have been aware of it. In the Seventies Mary Lee Whitney was one of Stevie Wonder’s chosen female vocalists – a Wonderlover. On Songs In The Key Of Life she is the only credited female vocalist on the sublime As, and on Ordinary Pain shares the background vocal duties with Minnie Riperton, Deniece Williams, and Syreeta Wright – now there’s a team! She also makes an appearance on at least one other album - Hotter Than July.
PS: When I was playing this 45 Mrs Darce piped up that she thought Mary Lee sounded a little like Dusty Springfield. I agree, especially on the B side of this 45, and the arrangement on Knockin’ is just the sort of thing Dusty might have recorded.