Brunswick Lost Soul, Vol. 1

Various Artists

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Brunswick Lost Soul, Vol. 1 Review

by William Ruhlmann

In the history of American popular music, the name "Brunswick" has meant different things at different times, so it is worth pointing out that the music on this compilation is drawn from the R&B-oriented Brunswick (and its Dakar subsidiary) label run by Carl Davis in Chicago in the 1960s and ‘70s, not from the catalog of the Brunswick Records originally founded during World War I by the Brunswick-Balke-Collendar company, an Iowa piano manufacturer, and phased out at the end of the ‘30s, when it was owned by Columbia Records. Brunswick was revived as a subsidiary by Decca in the ‘40s, but by the time Davis was its A&R supervisor, it was in the process of being purchased by Nat Tarnopol. Throughout this latter period, its flagship artist was Jackie Wilson (whom Tarnopol managed), but, as this collection demonstrates, it also boasted such major artists as Major Lance and Little Richard. Mostly dating from the late ‘60s, these non-hit tracks show a group of artists closely shadowing the successful R&B styles of the period. For example, Billy Butler (brother of Jerry Butler) turns out a heavily Motown-influenced track on "Come Over to My Side," which sounds like it might have escaped from a Four Tops session. Tommy Green, lead singer of the Artistics, makes their song "You Left Me" sound a lot like Marvin Gaye. On the other hand, Johnny Jones & the King Casuals take a more gutbucket soul approach on "Chip Off the Old Block," sounding more Stax than Motown. Seemingly, it would have been easy for several of these records to have been R&B hits in place of similar ones that actually were, which, decades later, gives the album an oddly familiar sound; a listener keeps thinking the music has been heard before, only to realize it has not.

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