Various Artists

Henry Stone's Hidden Treasures

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Henry Stone was an old-school independent record producer, label owner, and distributor based out of Miami, FL, one of the last of those guys who actually sold records out of the trunk of his car. He was also among the first to record such stars as Ray Charles, James Brown, and Wilson Pickett, and his unfailing ear for what made a good dance track makes this collection of sides recorded between 1950 and 1980 a whole lot of fun. Outside of the Charms' "Hearts of Stone," a hit for one of Stone's labels in 1955, Clarence Reid's "Nobody But You Babe," and Betty Wright's "Clean Up Woman," nothing here particularly set the national charts on fire, but tracks like Little Beaver's Marvin Gaye-like "Party Down" and T-Connection's "Do What You Wanna Do," a huge slab of dance-funk, would slip easily into a party mix anywhere. It makes for a fun set, and proves once again how vital and important these early independent record guys were. These days you just put together a website and hang out a virtual shingle that says open for business. When Stone started out you needed a good car with a big trunk and dependable tires and it helped, too, to have a good ear. Luckily Stone had a car, a trunk, tires, and that kind of ear.

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