May/June 1968, London
Fresh from the soulful ‘state’ visit from Nina Simone (and the hoped-for-but-not-realized possible royal visit from Aretha Franklin!) to Soul City, our little record shop on Monmouth Street in the West End is starting to thrive among the growing cadre of R&B and soul music lovers in Britain. Dave Godin, Robert Blackmore and I are dedicated to the cause of honouring the original recording artists of songs that have been ‘covered’ by British artists and Dave G is on a crusade! He’s determined that UK music buyers hear the by-then somewhat obscure discs that are virtually unknown beyond a small circle of ardent ‘true’ believers in authentic Black American music.
Buoyed by the positive reception to our Soul City Records’ release, “Nothing Can Stop Me” by Gene Chandler, he’s gone to great lengths to secure licenses for two classics that are only known to international audiences via the cover versions by British pop/rock groups. One of them in particular is personal for Dave: The Rolling Stones, fronted by one, Mick Jagger (who apparently went to the same art college as Dave) have had the effrontery to record “It’s All Over Now,” a tune written by brothers Bobby & Cecil Womack, members of the family group The Valentinos, whose original 45 was issued on Sam Cooke’s SAR label in 1964.
As later revealed, The Stones first heard the song when famed New York DJ Murray The K played it to them, terming it “their kind of song.” The Rolling Stones cut it at – of all places – the famous Chess Records’ studios in Chicago in June 1964 and it was released just two weeks later, giving Mick & co. their first big international hit. Later commentary revealed that initially Bobby Womack was opposed to The Stones doing the song and had told the producer of The Valentinos’ version, Sam Cooke. After Cooke prevailed and Bobby got his his first royalty payment as a co-writer of the song, he told Sam that Jagger could record any of the songs he wanted!
So determined is Dave to ‘right the wrongs’ that he gets the ok from Sam Cooke’s SAR label (by then, owned by Allen Klein’s ABKCO Records) to release The Valentinos’ glorious original of “It’s All Over Now” (albeit four years after the song has become definitively associated with The Stones) and it becomes our sixth Soul City single.
In addition, The Valentinos are featured on our first ever full length Soul City LP, “Double Barrelled Soul” along with SAR labelmates The Simms Twins, issued in 1968 and with back cover notes from none other than John E. Abbey, then editor of “Blues & Soul Monthly Music Review,” a magazine – I have no inkling at the time – will play a massively significant part in my life journey. The album contains a number of other gems including “Lookin’ For A Love” which will years later become a hit solo recording for Bobby Womack; and a 1961 recording by The Simms Twins (also produced by Sam Cooke), “Soothe Me,” revived by another duo, Sam & Dave as a summer 1967 US R&B hit.
My own zest and love for what we’re doing at Soul City often overrides any of the day-to-day challenges we may be facing with our precarious finances and the personal drama that often seems a constant, what with Dave’s relationship with Robert Blackmore and Dave’s own larger-than-life presence over everything we’re doing at the shop and with the label. It is the music itself that keeps my passion fuelled and I am proud to be part of a pioneering team of what John Abbey refers to in his notes for SCM-001, the aforesaid mono-only LP by The Valentinos and Simms Twins as “Soul Citizens.” We’re living the motto on our logo, “Soul Deep As You Like And Then Some”!