Performers include: Ramsey Lewis, Fontella Bass, Little Milton, Etta James, Billy Stewart, Johnny Nash, Sugar Pie De Santo, Marlena Shaw, Bobby Moore, Gene Chandler, The Dells.
Contains 24 tracks.
Recorded in the 1960's.
Liner Note Author: Ady Croasdell.
Recording information: 1963-1968.
Director: Phil Wright.
Arrangers: George Semper; Richard Evans ; Leonard Caston; Oliver Sain; Phil Wright; Rick Hall; Charles Stepney.
If you're trying to differentiate what was specifically "uptown" about these '60s Chess soul sides, you're getting into a game of serious hairsplitting. Basically this 24-track comp offers material -- mostly non-hits -- from 1963-67 that leans toward sophisticated, brassy soul borrowing much from Motown and Curtis Mayfield, but not matching the peaks of either. It's still pretty enjoyable, if sometimes generic, material, including efforts by some stars (Gene Chandler, Billy Stewart, Etta James, Ramsey Lewis, Little Milton, the Dells, Fontella Bass), Jan Bradley's great one-shot "Mama Didn't Lie," Tony Clarke's fine Top 40 ballad "The Entertainer," and barely heeded names like Jackie Ross, the Radiants, and Marlena Shaw (there's also an early non-hit by Johnny Nash). There's also the occasional song that deserved a much wider hearing than it got, like Nash's "Love Ain't Nothin'," the Radiants' infectious "It Ain't No Big Thing," and Mitty Collier's "I Had a Talk With My Man," which was covered by Dusty Springfield. ~ Richie Unterberger