Detroit Soul Ambassador


Vampisoul presents the first-ever compilation of the complete early to mid-'60s recordings by Melvin Davis -- an essential figure in Detroit music history. One of the most talented, dynamic and prolific artists in the history of Motor City music, Melvin Davis isn't so much a musician as he is a musical force: songwriter, drummer, performer, producer, arranger, label owner, etc. His bands have included everyone from a pre-Temptations David Ruffin to a post-MC5 Wayne Kramer. His drumming helped define the Miracles' Motown smash "Tears Of A Clown," drove the Lyman Woodard Trio's double-sided funk masterpiece River Rouge/It's Your Thing and became the stuff of legend on Dennis Coffey's seminal LP Hair And Thangs. He's the evocative lead vocalist behind the 8th Day's million seller "You've Got To Crawl (Before You Walk)" and the songwriter who penned JJ Barnes' desperate ode "Chains Of Love." The genre that has come to be called northern soul could hardly claim a more qualified ambassador, for Davis penned many of its most crucial cornerstones: Johnnie Mae Matthews' "Lonely You'll Be," Darrell Banks' "I'm The One Who Loves You," Lonette McKee's "Stop! Don't Worry About It," Edward Hamilton's "I'm Gonna Love You," Ann Perry's "That's The Way He Is," Steve Mancha's "I Won't Love You And Leave You." While Davis' very presence helped to define a myriad of local labels whose output was every bit as essential to the soul of Detroit's golden era as was Motown's, his profile as an artist has often been boiled down to the northern soul floor-fillers "Find A Quiet Place (And Be Lonely)" and "I Must Love You." As brilliant as they are, it should come as no surprise that there is another side to Davis' early Detroit discography, one that is the very essence of the city's rockin' soul aesthetic. A true portrait of Melvin Davis would be incomplete without the superb sides he cut for tiny labels such as Jack Pot and KE KE, fiercely independent imprints like Fortune and Wheel City, and slightly larger concerns such as Groovesville. For the first time ever, every one of them is here, along with several unreleased cuts from the Groovesville vaults. Detroit soul is represented in all its stylistic nuances: the garage R&B of "I Don't Want You," the proto-northern sound of "I Won't Be Your Fool," the bohemian jazz inflections of "It's No News," the frantic rock'n'roll of "Playboy" and "This Ain't The Way," the persistent, minor-keyed mood of "Wedding Bells" and the majesty of "Find A Quiet Place" and "I Must Love You." Comprehensive liner notes by writer, historian and musician Michael Hurtt.