Various Artists

ABC Paramount: The Northern Soul Story, Vol. 2

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The first major label formed following the birth of rock & roll -- New York City-based ABC Paramount -- was founded in 1955 as a subsidiary of the American Broadcasting Company and Paramount Theaters. Probably best known as the home of teen pop like Paul Anka's "Put Your Head on My Shoulder," Danny & the Juniors' "At the Hop," and the Poni-Tails' "Born Too Late," as well as easy listening pop by likes of Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gorme and Ferrante & Teicher, ABC Paramount's stature as an R&B factory has long gone under-recognized: Lloyd Price recorded the classics "Stagger Lee" and "Personality" there, and Ray Charles cut "Hit the Road, Jack." During the mid- to late- '60s, ABC Paramount attempted to ride the coattails of Motown, Atlantic, and Stax by moving into soul, forging a dynamic sound typified by bold arrangements and up-tempo melodies. Few of the records made any commercial impact on their original release, but they would prove tailor-made for resurrection via Britain's Northern Soul club culture. The second volume in Maple St.'s ABC Paramount: The Northern Soul Story series compiles 22 more of the company's greatest should-have-been hits; the material here isn't as consistently strong as on the first disc in the series, but it's a solid and well-assembled overview of a label that's been strangely marginalized over the passing years. Highlights include Maxine Brown's "Am I Falling in Love?," the Mam'Selles' "Open Up Your Heart," Tyrone Davis' "What Is a Man" and Geraldine Hunt's "Winner Take All."

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