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I’ve spent far more hours perusing the Dusty Groove Web site for soul reissues and even more money purchasing what I’ve found than I’m comfortable admitting. With all of the records I have, many still in their shrink-wrap, it’s kind of embarrassing. But when summer rolls around and you’re stuck unpacking moving boxes, nothing ameliorates the agony like old soul. There seems to be a never-ending stream of reissues of great music I’d never heard of, which suggests things were a whole lot better back when regional music was more of a force.
My latest revelation comes courtesy of Hacktone Records, which just reissued the 1969 album by Detroit’s Dynamics, First Landing (originally issued by the Atlantic subsidiary Cotillion). The album was recorded in Memphis with Chips Moman and Tommy Cogbill, and the sound nicely splits the difference between Detroit’s lush polish and Memphis's gritty rawness. I was already familiar with the sublime "Ice Cream Song," a sweet ballad that was also a minor hit, but the entire album kills. The four vocalists created gorgeous harmonies—sometimes silky, sometimes screaming—and they alternated leads, which gave them significant range in terms of emotion, articulation, and intensity. The lean grooves were expertly enhanced by carefully deployed horns and strings. The Dynamics made one more album in 1973 (which I haven’t heard) and then faded away, but it seems absurd that this record is considered an obscurity; it’s really a classic.