Loma Records existed for only four years, releasing its first single in 1964 and last in 1968, but the Los Angeles-based subsidiary of Warner Bros. is beloved by soul collectors. A lot of the cult surrounding Loma celebrates how the label never quite found an identity, spitting out singles that veered from uptown soul to hard grooves while hitting stops everywhere in between. The Complete Loma Singles, Vol. 1 -- the first installment of a four-volume set chronicling all the A-sides and B-sides Loma ever released -- illustrates the label's weaknesses and strengths, balancing modern soul with throwback R&B. Led by Bob Krasnow, a record man who previously worked at the San Francisco branch of King, Loma demonstrated a keen ear for talent, signing Bob & Earl before they had a hit with "Harlem Shuffle" and providing a home for Ike & Tina Turner while the pair were figuring out their high-octane revue. Both of these artists grab attention on The Complete Loma Singles, Vol. 1, as do the Olympics, who cut the first version of "Good Lovin'," which was later popularized by the Rascals. While a couple of the acts feel generic, usually in a pleasant sense, those are also the artists that veer toward a showbiz mainstream: Sugar N Spice are a sweet girl group without a strong spark and Billy Storm hams it up on "Goldfinger." These sides show how Loma was searching for a hit more than looking for a unifying narrative, but that scattershot approach can result in enjoyably oddball one-offs like Dick Jensen & the Imports turning "Tom Dooley" into a "Farmer John" stomp. And "Tom Dooley" is the reason why The Complete Loma Singles, Vol. 1 is so much fun: it's not a great single, but it's cheerful ephemera that would not be collected elsewhere. When combined with the strong work from Bob & Earl, the Olympics, Ike & Tina Turner, the Enchanters, Little Jerry Williams, and the Smiley Lewis Band, the set turns into a gas.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2