An Ultra-Groovy Chunk of Rock History

Soul, Inc. (GearFab Records)

Volume 1

By Tim Roberts

Sherman, set the Way-Bac machine for a certain time - not a specific year - in rock history, in that twilight region where, say, the situations in That Thing You Do are about to spill over into Wild In the Streets. Back when bands looked great in prep suits with skinny lapels and ties as wide as shoelaces, when music had snappy beats, short solos and ride cymbals, when slow-dance crooning and moonlight were the perfect romance cocktail. Back when "combo" meant something other than a greasy burger, fries and a soft drink.

But also back to when rock was freeing itself a little more, when fuzzed-out guitars and bass were nudging out crisp string-plucks, when solos stretched long and horn riffs hooked into Coltrane and blew wild, when studio tricks added a mystical, otherworldly sound. When the prep suits were shed and replaced with dashikis, wide-striped pants and suede boots.

Back during the years of Louisville's Soul, Inc.

The band's drummer, Marvin Maxwell, and Walker Ed Amick, through an arrangement with Ray Allen, have recovered from the massive tape storage room at Allen-Martin Productions several master tapes containing almost sixty tracks of Soul, Inc. sounds. The first volume of tracks has just been released. It doesn't matter if you've been waiting thirty years for it or are just hearing about this band for the first time - you will be rewarded. Amick and Maxwell have reached back and rescued some blazing, overlooked gems of rock-and-roll history.

In its various iterations, Soul, Inc. consisted of Marvin Maxwell, Wayne Young, Jimmie Orten, Eddie Humphries, Tom Jolly, Frank Bugbee, Jim Settle and Wayne McDonald. Together, they played their own material, songs written by others and cover tunes. This first volume brings you a sample of each. To say it shows the band's diversity is an understatement.

There are covers of Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and Wilson Pickett's "I Found a Love" (two versions of each); two versions of "Stronger than Dirt" and its oblique reference to the White Knight Ajax used in its mid-1960s ad campaign. Listen to the guitar-heavy instrumentals of "Ultra Blue," and "727," while papering your imagination with crazy-daisies. Groove on the hard-driving bass line of "I Belong to Nobody." Smile at the lounge-act cheesiness of "Poppin' Good," a promotional theme-song instrumental the band recorded for Southern Star Meats. It's one track that sounds like it was dubbed right from the original 45 rpm, complete with all the pops and fuzzy sound. And be amazed at the proto-punk, slam-dance venom of "I Hate You," which predates Johnny Rotten by more than 10 years.

The many proceeds from your purchase of Volume 1 will go to several charities, notably the Musicians Emergency Relief Fund.

The release of this and subsequent volumes of Soul, Inc. is not mere nostalgia. It is more than just a set of retreaded greatest-hits of a band from more than 30 years ago. Like the Beatles Anthology sets of CDs, these are audio documents of a band's development, treasures of how the music changed as the band changed in membership and musical styles, and of how the world changed as they played.

They are treasures not only of Louisville Music, but also of rock-and-roll itself.