March 1968, London
The plans to launch the Soul City Records’ label as an adjunct to the record shop of the same name that Dave Godin, Robert Blackmore and I own are now in full gear and, sporting the same colours as the Central London shop, our first release (distributed by Island Records) is a record licensed from the US Fire label: “Don’t You Worry” by Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford was originally issued in 1962 and was a US Top 10 R&B hit.
Musically, it is a far cry from the kind of soul music that is being enjoyed by our customers at the shop, reminiscent of the kind of ‘old’ style R&B of the late ’50s. I have no recollection of the conversations between myself and Dave about the wisdom of putting out a first release that was so far away from the kind of in-demand US rarities that would have put us ‘on the map’ as a legitimate new source for the issue of discs that had previously failed to gain release in Britain. All I know is that, while I could just about find some redeeming qualities to the ‘B’ side, the slow-tempo ballad, “I’m Coming Home To Stay,” I am clear that the title of SC 101 (the catalogue number!) is actually the exact opposite of the sentiment I am feeling. Worry indeed I am that Dave’s personal eclectic tastes are going to cause financial strain for us when we’re barely breaking even as a business!
Fortunately, other independent labels are providing releases that are making much headway such as “Ain’t Nothing But A House Party” by The Showstoppers (on Beacon Records), a Top 20 pop hit in the UK proving that soul music is as vibrant and alive as ever among the ever-expanding number of British record buyers, who are embracing the likes of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (“If I Could Build My Whole World Around You”) and Otis Redding, whose ‘live’ version of The Temptations’ “My Girl” (from the Stax/Volt shows in London in the spring of 1967) is providing him with (2) UK chart hits along with the final release before his untimely passing in December 1967, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay”…. Soul music is indeed alive and well in Britain and is certainly keeping me in good spirits as I continue to navigate the turbulence of my relationship with boyfriend William and my challenges with Dave Godin at Soul City….