Mark IV ‘Signs Of A Dying Love’ LP/CD/DIG (Cordial Recordings) 4/5

It’s a great time to be collecting soul music, reissue CDs appearing weekly of dusties from back in the day, more vinyl surfacing than for some considerable years regardless of the genre you collect, loads of outlets searching for long lost or unissued product, new releases galore finding their way onto vinyl 45’s and albums, and if you’re into the rare soul scene and collect original releases there appears to be more becoming available than at any time I’ve known in the last ten years, I have a ‘wants list’ of eight 45s that I have never encountered in the flesh, five I’ve never seen for sale until this year that is. This album falls into the unissued category, a four piece group who are well-known in rare soul circles with a couple of their early pieces commanding three figures. My first real introduction to this group was the self titled 1973 Mercury set which was produced by Roy C with further 45s seeing a release from the album too.

Some time later I was exposed to the two rare 45s, “If You Can’t Tell Me Something Good”, which surfaced in 1982 and with Soul Sam behind it, it soon became a grail piece and even today rarely turns up as a 45, the 12” mix appears occasionally, it’s become even more collectable due to the stunning ballad “Take This Love” on the flip. Then we have the 1977 OTB 45, “Signs Of A Dying Love”, again not an easy 45 to find, at the time of recording two versions were cut and the slower more impassioned cut is one of the eleven tracks on the album, all of which were recorded between 1975 and 1977 at three separate recording sessions. The album is a very solid mixture of styles and tempo, which is right up my street, kicking off with the scintillating ballad, “I Got Everything”, with lead vocals by Jimmy Ponder, who gives possibly his best performance on the album. There are two enormous dancers on here too, by way of “I Knew It Wouldn’t Last” and “How I Feel About You”, with the latter destined for plays in modern rooms everywhere, with driving urgent percussion and thumping bass, it will have you moving your feet. The track, however, which has taken over my head, is “Give Me Just A Little”, which is a lovely harmony head-nodder reminiscent of the Main Ingredient in places, certainly a great pick for soul radio.

The group for these recordings consists of Jimmy Ponder, Walter Moreland, Lawrence ‘Buck’ Jones and Preston. I wonder what happened to Lucky Antomattei who appeared as part of the group in the Mercury days? There are two very dated sounding dancers here which could get favour amongst Northern Soul devotees and a couple of worthy instrumentals too, a thoroughly enjoyable album topped off with the man himself, Soul Sam, providing sleeve notes, and quite rightly so, as he tells us the Brite Lite 45 is his favourite soul record of all time, and coming from a man who has consistently broken new ground with his music choices and is still today considered by many to be the top DJ in the country and Europe. Available in all formats including 25 demo copies which were made available prior to its official release.

An essential purchase on every front. Thank you Cordial Recordings.

Brian Goucher