In the course of his short life, Detroit-by-way-of Buffalo, New York soulman Darrell Banks never reached the complete potential suggested by his scant early 45s. In his four-year run between the 1966 release of his first and most popular single, "Open the Door to Your Heart," and his death at the hands of an off-duty police officer in 1970, Banks released only two albums and a handful of singles. None of his work was quite as well received as "Open the Door...," with several label shifts and legal troubles draining momentum for a good amount of his career. I'm the One Who Loves You gathers Banks' complete output for the Volt record label, including his 1969 album Here to Stay, as well as several unreleased demo recordings. As a standalone album, the 11 tracks that comprise Here to Stay are stellar '60s Northern soul. Simmering backing vocals from the MG's and harmony vocals from We Three, a team of backing vocalists -- Bettye Crutcher, Raymond Jackson, and Homer Banks -- add impact and bite to tracks like "Just Because Your Love Is Gone" and "Beautiful Feeling," Banks in the forefront with a voice as soulful and expressive as even the best of his luminous peers. String overdubs and highly orchestrated arrangements fill out the basic grooving template of the Stax/Volt sound, putting Banks in a tempestuous space between the greasy Southern soul of "No One Blinder (Than a Man Who Won't See)" and the beaming Northern soul rush of "Only the Strong Survive." The unpolished demos that round out the collection are a fun addition, and show a more relaxed vocalist trying out new material even before the album he'd just finished was released. The tragic brevity of Banks' life and singing career has left little behind in the way of discography or information about this somewhat obscure singer. What little music does remain ranks with some of the best in '60s soul, and this compilation scours the vaults to bring to light as much of it as possible.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas