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A drizzly Saturday morning. You trip over the doorjamb, spilling some latte, as you hurry into your local record shop three minutes after it opens to pick up Vampisoul’s new King compilation. You were hardly able to concentrate all week; typos were sailing past your desk that under ordinary circumstances you’d never have missed. But these are no ordinary circumstances, are they? Seven days ago you saw a track listing online for the upcoming King compilation and were able to determine, through an annoyingly drawn-out series of hushed office phone calls, that it was scheduled to arrive at the shop on Friday and be on sale Saturday.

This is an odd King compilation, you noticed. For one thing, there’s no James Brown on it – nor any JB productions. It isn’t even, strictly speaking, a funk comp; isn’t northern soul, precisely (no Cody Black or Junior McCants); certainly isn’t R&B (no Little Willie John, no Hank Ballard, no Five Royales). In fact, it’s kind of all over the place.

Like some of the worst compilations in your collection. What is it, then, that has you so eager? Well, the SWINGING SEVEN, for one thing. That mysterious Kentucky outfit whose lone King single, the stuff of myth, you’ve never heard (though you saw the look in the eyes of that DJ you grudgingly respect when you overheard someone asking him about it, and since then you’ve combed Gemm and eBay and Google and sales lists and... nothing!).

Oh! There it is, in the corner, past the cardboard Kelly Clarkson cutout: the Vampisoul comp of King singles. Careful, put your coffee down first. Now reach for the thing. Mmmmm. Glossy, smooth. Almost pretty. And the songs on it! MICKEY MURRAY, yes, his uptempo funky Federal track; you danced to that one somewhere once. One you don’t know by his brother CLARENCE MURRAY – surely not a cover of the Moonglows? Well, you’ll find out soon enough. Ah, quite a bit of southern stuff, recordings from Criteria Studios in Miami, and from Bobby Smith’s Macon, Georgia, setup. ROBERT MOORE, hmmm, these two sides must predate his famous funk outing on Saadia. How will they compare to that monster? Oh, and the PRESIDENTS – from Indianapolis, you learned on Indiana45s.com – the tracks they somehow borrowed from Otis Redding’s ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’ and Eddie Floyd’s ‘Big Bird’.

More: QUEENIE LYONS, with the best ‘Fever’ this side of Bobby Bland’s, you’ve been made to understand by those who’ve heard it. CHARLES SPURLING, Cincinnati tough guy, rumored to have punched out Mr Brown himself (and paid for it). FRANK HOWARD, that Beasties sample! WAYNE COCHRAN – well, at least he looks a bit like a bleached-out JB. But wait, ugh, liner notes by that jive-ass Mr Fine Wine. Well, no matter; you must get home and hear these records!

Matt “Mr Fine Wine” Weingarden

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