Richard Marks ‘Never Satisfied, The Complete Works: 1968-1983’ (Now-Again Records) 4/5

richard-marksNever Satisfied – The Complete Works 1968-1983 on Now Again Records is a 21 track compilation of known 7” singles by Atlanta based Guitarist Richard Marks who passed away in the Mid 2000’s, As a musician Richard was part of The Tommy Stewart band and played on many of his sought after tracks including the legendary self titled Tommy Stewart LP which contained the club classic Bump & Hustle Music (not wanting to brag but I found my copy of this LP in a second hand record shop in Wolverhampton in their £1.00 box – no wonder the shop did not stay open for to long) – It is basically a CD of three sections – the first part being his Funk period,then his more uptempo (Northern) Soul period and finally his slower Southern Soul material.
The CD kicks off with “Funky Things” a really good organ lead instrumental with a really nice break beat at the start of the track,next up is “Boom Boom” an uptempo tune with a nice saxophone lead one for the Mods). Track 3 is his classic sought after Funk single “Funky Four Corners” vocal version a track that sounds as if it came off a Dyke & The Blazers album followed by the Guitar led Instrumental version – as a 7” single you would be expecting to pay up to £80 to own an original copy. The heavy Funk of “Crackerjack” follows next – a highly collectable single which asks the listener to do the latest dance craze of the same name – as release “Crackerjack” was released with the next item which is a real James Brown slice of funk entitled “I’m The Man For You” – a mere £800 is what this double dancer would set you back.

The JB’s Funk thang continues on the CD with it’s title track “Never Satisfied” another one of Richards real sought after 7’s which has fetched a whopping £1500 in auction though this may well be because of the next track on the CD which was again the flip side on the single but in this case a more soulful northern dancer entitled “Did You Ever Lose Something” highlighting a different side to his voice than the first 7 tracks on the release. Track 9 “You Ain’t No Good” is an Atlantic sounding funky groove which reminds me a lot of what Sam & Dave were recording in the late 1960’s.

Finally the pace of the CD slows down on the next track with “Why Did You Leave Me” which sounds a lot like the type of material Charles Bradley has been recording lately though the whole feel of the track is ruined for me by the most irritating female backing vocal.

The next two tracks will certainly not garner Richard Marks any new fans and were probably released together as an A & B Side – “Mr Santa Claus (Santa Claus Helping Hands)” a bluesy type Xmas song & “Home For The Holidays (Mother’s Wish For Christmas” a slightly more uptempo track do exactly what it says on the box – Christmas Humbug – let’s move on
“Don’t Take It Out On Me” & “Love Is Gone” were released as a single together on Shout records and both have that great beating rhythm that has made the release a sought after Northern single – These are then followed by a real Richard Marks soul rarity “Ups & Downs” which got its original release on Note records though to my mind can only be worth the £500 it fetches for its scarcity value as it really is just an average slow southern soul track.

The CD continues with the Southern Soul feel for the next two tracks “Living My Life (Day To Day) & “Speak Now” which although must have been released as singles would really have been LP fillers had Richard ever got round to releasing said album. Track 18 is a real oddity and also his most expensive single to try to pick up – it’s title “Purple Haze” and yes I was expecting another version of the Jimi Hendrix classic but instead it is a sub standard slice of Funkadelic like psychedelica with plenty of heavy guitar – definitely not one for the soul boys but somehow as managed to make somebody fork out £2000 on original 7” single.

Now we do get a nice piece of soul with a good Bobby Womack feel to it “Innocent Bystander” was released in 1976 and if you want an original start saving because it has fetched up to £600. “Pretty Woman” is another nice midtempo guitar led tune though not one that would make you rush for the dance floor – which finally brings us to the final track on the CD “I’m With You Love” a lovely midtempo modern soul groover which gives real feel good factor for the end of the compilation
All in all plenty of great collectable tracks whether you be a Funkateer/a Northern Soul fan or into your more deep Southern Soul but I just feel that the whole balance of the CD is wrong by putting the releases of these genres together one after another so if you are just after the funk you are probably only going to listen to the start of the album and the same with the other genres.

As a CD Compilation 3 out of 5 due to track layout
As a collection of great collectable releases by Richard Marks 4 out of 5

Stephen Ward