March 3rd, 2011
Artist: Various Artists/David Lee
Label: Paradise of Bachelors
Release Date: November 26th, 2010
Rarely does one set a needle to an LP and then find themselves frozen in amazement at the music lying within the grooves. This compilation of work from entrepreneur, song-writer, and producer David Lee spanning 1960-1988, is so beautifully crafted in and out that it leaves one astounded as to why these songs did not receive more attention and pressings. Most of his original 45s are now rather hard to find, even for the seasoned vinyl archaeologist.
David Lee spent his time running Washington Sound, a record shop in North Carolina which served as the main hub for his labels: Impel, Washington Sound, and SCOP (Soul, Country, Opera, and Pop). Lee had an array of groups and musicians of differing races from North and South Carolina that recorded with him. One of the most incredible aspects of Lee’s career is that he was the original songwriter on most of the tracks from this compilation. Lee’s writing did not fit into standard audience conventions of the South; he insisted on writing music that moved him.
This collection of music exemplifies the creativity present in the ’60s and ’70s contemporary gospel scene as well as pop, soul, and rock. Some of his multi genre compositions reach deep into your soul and make you lament lost love or feel disappointment, such as “You’re Letting Me Down” and “I’ll Never Get Over Losing You.” Other tracks, including “Soul Night Pt.1,” “The Party,” and “Peace in the Land,” get your feet moving like a James Brown record! Funky walking bass lines with the drummer in the pocket, swinging tracks in 6/8 time, and beautiful slow ballads make this record enjoyable beginning to end no matter what mood you are in.
Paradise of Bachelors deserves an immense thank you for putting together such a solid compilation and sharing the work of David Lee with the world. The LP comes with extensive liner notes describing Lee’s relationship with the music and the artists he worked with; as well as recollections from his past while listening to the tracks with the Paradise of Bachelors label group. The photos within the liner notes, of the family of musicians Lee held so dear to him, lend a nostalgic feeling.
David Lee recently won the Brown-Hudson Award from the North Carolina Folklore Society. Two tracks may be previewed and downloaded from the Paradise of Bachelors website, although I highly recommend that you purchase the album.
Reviewed by Jason Cyrus Rubino