Summits - "Sleepwalking" (Eccentric Soul: A Red Black Green Production)
Eccentric Soul: A Red Black Green Production is the latest in the Numero Group’s excellent line of rare soul reissues. The album collects 1970s soul produced by Robert Jose Williams, a D.C.-based engineer/producer/impresario who worked under the auspices of Red, Black, and Green Productions (RBG). Stylistically, the RBG touchstones are the slow-swaying love song and the mid-tempo, funk-inflected groove. Six little known regional acts — Skip Mahoney & the Casuals, the Summits, the Exceptions, Father’s Children, Dyson’s Faces, and East Coast Connection — performed all but one of the tracks here. More than a third of the song titles contain the word “love.”
Roughly a year ago, the Numero Group reissued a compilation of work by Father’s Children. Three additional tracks by the group are on offer on A Red Black Green Production, including two that bookend the collection. “I Really Really Love You,” which opens the record, is a smooth, slow, sweet ballad in the mode of the Delfonics and the down-tempo side of Philly Soul. “Linda Movement,” which concludes the set, is instrumental, oh-so-gentle funk: a slinky bass-line, hand drums, wah-wah guitar, and a pretty minimalist keyboard line.
The other artists documented here offer an abundance of ballads and mid-tempo jaunts. With respect to the former, Skip Mahoney and the Casuals weigh in with particular frequency, delivering the one-line refrain “We Share Love,” the overstretched, spoken-word interlude-laden “I Need Your Love,” and the wistful recognition of love lost “Seems Like.” On the livelier side, Mahoney offers “Town Called Nowhere,” which pairs an emphatic, memorable refrain and an equally catchy, syncopated electric guitar loop. The Summits also supply several brisker, mid-tempo tracks including the funky anthem “Sleepwalking” (“Sleepwalking / Walking all over the world / Trying to find someone / To be my girl”).
As the Eccentric Soul series commendably documents, there is no shortage of good to excellent soul music that has gone unnoticed and unreleased, even in an era of exponential growth in opportunities to access niche offerings. This newest release in the ever-flowing stream of reissues doesn’t stand out among the pack for its quality, but it lives up to the impressive standard the Numero Group has set for itself and its Eccentric Soul line. In any case, one needs only the experience of stumbling on a handful of rare soul gems to be set on the course of (at least vicarious) crate digging. The Numero Group continues to make both easy for us.