Dave Hamilton's Detroit Dancers, Vol. 3

Dave Hamilton's Detroit Dancers, Vol. 3


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Dave Hamilton's Detroit Dancers, Vol. 3, the third volume of rare soul from the vaults of Detroit producer and musician Dave Hamilton, adds a couple dozen more cuts to what's already available from that source, most of them previously unreleased, although a few are taken from rare singles. It's not easy to characterize what's here, since it's a grab bag of local soul with various approaches, most of it done in the 1960s from the sound of things (the copious liner notes do not always give dates, or even estimates of dates, for specific tracks). Unsurprisingly, Motown casts a large shadow over much of the material in the production, songwriting, and even the singing. It's not like listening to a bunch of Motown outtakes; the style isn't quite replicated so imitatively and, to be more blunt, you wouldn't mistake any of the people involved for Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, or Martha Reeves. Instead, it's a varied, listenable assortment of tracks, usually with a pop-soul slant, in which the artists who are involved exhibited some talent, but not enough to make you think they should have been famous or have had big hits. Some tracks make the grade more than others: Simon Barbee's "The Wind" is a nice, lush, sweet soul ballad, and Charmaine's "Send My Baby Back to Me" (which actually made it onto a 1964 single) is rather like early-'60s Motown girl group-influenced records by the likes of the Marvelettes and Mary Wells. It's one of the few songs here where everyone involved seems focused on creating a catchy commercial disc, instead of just throwing some ideas that are in line with commercial trends together to see what sticks. More idiosyncratic are Priscilla Page & Pepe the Poodle's "Throw the Poor Dog a Bone," with constant irritating dog barks, and the Tolbert Family Singers' "Ride the Gospel Train" (from the late 1980s), with exceptionally hoarse vocals by O.C. Tolbert. There's no harm being done by combing through Hamilton's holdings so thoroughly, and the music's not bad, but these compilations are digging so deeply into the barrel that they have a limited appeal even to soul specialists.

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