required reading

Book Review

Spinning Around : A History Of The Soul LP, Vol.2 - L-Z


John Lias (UK) ISBN 978-1-5272-2303-5  (hardback)

Celebrate!  The eagerly awaited second volume of John Lias’ in-depth-and-then-some look at the soul lp is here!  I nearly added, ‘at last’ but, in truth, that would be a rather unfair and unnecessary two words as it is only two years since volume one and, as I said then, despite it being a labour-of-love, compiling and solely authoring such a vast commitment as this in such a conscientious manner and not regarding it in any way to be a task is a work beyond the ideas and ideals of 99.9% of even the most totally-dedicated ‘soulies’ and certainly not one to be rushed.  Thus, two years to put together a further 434 glossy pages in such a timespan would be better referred to as ‘remarkably soon’ rather than ‘at last’.

Again, as I stated last time, of course we all have personal tastes and ideas as to what does and what doesn’t constitute what we think of as soul music and we may pause to question certain omissions but, for every ‘personal omission’ I wouldn’t mind betting there will be a dozen entries that reveal artists and/or albums of which you’ve never heard.  John’s personal viewpoints are well expressed in the ‘introduction’, his opinion of drum machines very much coinciding with my own - even if we don’t (always) share the same feelings about ‘Disney ballads’ (!) - and his thoughts about suppression of passion, by both producers and record companies in the eighties, are spot on.

So, to the contents...  from Patti LaBelle to Zulema, as before the intensity of the text is broken up midway by twelve colour pages of 108 reproduced album covers, nicely chosen not for the ‘I’ve-got-this-and-you-haven’t’ one-upmanship that sometimes sadly taints the attitudes of the record collector (and ‘northern’ deejay) - as opposed to the music lover - but to reflect the colourful cross-section of the soul music contained within.  Again, as before - it’s difficult to say more than what has already been said re volume one and the accompanying superlatives - this is more a book to be dipped in and out of than read from cover to cover so, despite having now had it in my possession for almost a month, I would have to confess I have still not read every word but not a day has gone by without my picking up this tome to devour what has been written about whom and then, rather like the compulsion generated by the YouTube bar, moved on to a further subject - and then another and another and another, either thanks to the running list of contents or the frequent detailed cross-referencing!  As just one example, Debra Laws led to Eloise Laws and then to Joyce Lawson, the next featured artist; Laura Lee across the page had me turnng over to find previously never-heard-of names such as Lemuria and (the) Andrew Lewis Band.  Flipping over the pages as I write this, I learn about for the first time Cecil Lyde - who? - Mother Freedom Band, their one-off album produced by Al Goodman of the Moments and an All Platinum label escapee, Prince Gideon and Shake.  John closes the volume with a three-page appendix of records/artists missed from volume one , a Top 100 of his favourite lps covered within these pages and a list of 25 recommended collections by artists not featured within that Top 100.  The whole work is truly remarkable and, as before, I am in awe of such an in-depth publication.  Taken together, the two volumes - a review of the first can be found here - should sit on the shelves of any self-respecting soul music lover, ideally within arms length of (a) an easy chair and (b) what else but a turntable.

review posted 11/6/18