LOMA: Volume 2: Get In The Groove 1965-68 (Various Artists) LP
A soul music love affair
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Although the Warner Bros. record division had almost collapsed in the early 1960s it showed signs of recovery in the year the Beatles first took to American shores. To capitalize on the soul and R&B market, the future home of Black Sabbath and Van Halen launched a subsidiary focused on 45s intended to reach the African American market. Low overhead meant greater potential for profits. Bob Krasnow, a veteran of several smaller R&B imprints oversaw the launch of this new home called Loma.
Between its formation in 1964 and its 1968 demise, Loma issued more than 100 singles and fewer than 10 LPs. There were no hits and so its folding was seemingly inconsequential. Less than a decade later England's Northern Soul boom became a haven for music Americans had cast aside and Loma was its crown jewel. UK Warner Bros. ordered up a couple compilations and watched as they sank without a trace. Four decades on, Loma lives again thanks to this four-volume collection. Each of the four discs is arranged thematically, providing the listener with a heightened sense of adventure.
The first volume brings together the best-known and best-loved sides the label had to offer. Ike and Tina Turner's 1965 rendition of the Frank Wilson and Frank Gordon tune "Somebody (Somewhere) Needs You" lacks the Acid Queen fire of the couple's later hits and rave-ups, but it's still better than most. Tina sounds powerful and the rhythm section finds a quick and insistent groove that propels the track. All that's aided by an irresistible hook and some gospel-inspired lyrics. But the final judgement comes that it is restrained, just a half step off from breaking down the door and demanding to be Number One. In fact, a terminal politeness pervades many of the early sides, relegating them to would-be contenders.
Charles Thomas' "The Man with the Golden Touch" could have been a hit a decade later, even with its cornball production or perhaps even because of it. The Apollas' "Pretty Red Balloons" is danceable and sweet and completely married to its time. Bob & Earl's "Everybody Jerk" is a dance craze cash-in that never saw release here and only came to light in the UK after the duo struck gold with "Harlem Shuffle".