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Various - Shrine Records - Rare Soul Sides: Washington DC 1965-1967 [7" Box]
Various - Shrine Records - Rare Soul Sides: Washington DC 1965-1967 [7" Box]
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Various - Shrine Records - Rare Soul Sides: Washington DC 1965-1967 [7" Box]

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Released 31st May 2024 via Ace Records

7 X 7" SINGLES

Set up by Eddie Singleton with Berry Gordy’s ex-wife and co-founder of Motown, Raynoma (Miss Ray) in 1964, the Shrine label, based in Washington DC, has been a buzzword for collectors for over fifty years. Shrine had no hits; in fact very few sales at all. What it did have was musical talent and a business plan that ended in glorious failure - inadvertently making the twenty singles that were pressed highly sought after by collectors.

Interest was first stirred when a few of the uptempo numbers were played on the Northern Soul scene of the 70s, notably Eddie Daye’s pounding ‘Guess Who Loves You’ spun by DJ Richard Searling at Wigan Casino. Then young Turk DJs like Keb Darge and Guy Hennigan at Stafford’s Top Of The World all-nighters in the 80s really took up Shrine’s cause and the search for the hidden gems was on. “People were buying the known records on Shrine, but no-one was buying the unknowns,” recalls Darge. Soon, copies of singles by the Cautions, Cairos and Les Chansonettes went “massive” on the scene - J.D. Bryant’s big ballad ‘I Won’t Be Coming Back’ sold for a fortune.

When the label went out of business in 1966, Singleton left the remaining stock in the office, before locking the door for the last time. Years later, after being introduced to Kent Records’ Ady Croasdell by Ian Levine, Eddie retrieved the original masters from the studio. These tapes revealed unissued gems from the Prophets (later to emerge as a 7”), Tippie and the Wisemen, Traci, Jimmy Armstrong and others.

Those first tape reissues came out on the short-lived Horace’s label and later Ace more comprehensively issued them on CD. Other labels intervened but now Shrine is back in its rightful home. To celebrate this, Ace issued Shrine Northern - The 60s Rarest Dance Label Kent LP, Ace have looked at the tapes again, in greater depth, and found another 14 sides worthy of single releases.

Barbara Long’s great, but elusive, Shrine recording - issued on sister-label Jet Set - deservedly leads off the package and is coupled with the previously CD-only ‘Take It From Me’ by the mysterious Traci – an early tape find. Like Barbara Long, the Epsilons ‘Mind In A Bind’ was issued just after the label folded and sneaked out on Washington’s Hem imprint. It is re-released for the first time as a 7” with their ‘Mad At The World’ debuting as a UK 45. The same scenario applies to the Cautions’ marvellous mid-tempo single ‘Watch Your Step’. We have coupled it with their ever-in-demand ‘No Other Way’; long deleted from its 2009 repress.

Despite Shrine’s reputation for dance tracks, one of the labels most-revered recordings is the beautiful Tippie and The Wisemen ballad ‘Wait Til I Get There’. That previously unissued number came out on the first Horace’s LP in 1990. A decade later Ady Croasdell found the tape of their ‘I Wouldn’t Mind Crying’ in the Universal Studios vaults in Hollywood. This pleased the song’s writer Eddie Singleton who hadn’t heard this particular favourite of his since the recording date. Sidney Hall (of the Enjoyables) cut the impassioned beat ballad ‘I’m A Lover’ as a solo act; it has its first UK 45 release here. We have coupled it with the catchy, raucous groove of the incredibly rare Cavaliers Shrine 45 ‘Do What I Want’. this has improved audio from its previous releases.

The Prophets gorgeous harmony ballad ‘Huh Baby’ gets its first 45 re-release too and we have put a slightly alternate version, found in the tapes, of ‘If I Had One Gold Piece’, the original B side. Finally, another Shrine-recorded Jet Set 45 by Jimmy Armstrong ‘I Won’t Believe It Till I See It’ makes its Kent debut, along with his killer blues ballad ‘It’s Gonna Take Time’ which has never been released before.

Seven new Shrine 45s, complete with an attractively packaged box containing rarely seen photos; soul heaven!