The initially striking thing about Now-Again Records’ compilation of sweet ‘70s soul ballads, Loving on the Flipside, is the packaging. It’s an 80-page softcover book that happens to be loaded with information about the 21 tracks contained on the CD. The disc itself is simply tucked into a purple paper sleeve that features the track list. The book goes track-by-track, examining these obscurities in detail, providing recording personnel information as well.
The music itself is a sumptuous collection of horn-drenched soul grooves, full of the kind of vocals you just don’t hear very often anymore—silky smooth falsetto on one track, impassioned belting on the next. While most of the tracks were laid down in the very early-‘70s, the collection dips back as far as 1969 (Lee Bond’s “I’ll Find a True Love”) and moves ahead to 1977 (Primitive’s “You Are Everything to Me”). Darling Dears kick it off with what I can only describe as psychedelic soul. Their “I Don’t Think I’ll Ever Love Another” is an expansive and unpredictable track, with forceful drumming by Bruce Pitts. The only artists to repeat later in the set, Darling Dears turns up again with the more conventional “And I Love You.”
“Treat Me Right or Leave Me Alone” features a searing vocal by Eddie Finley. Backed by The Cincinnati Show Band, Finley digs deeps and comes up with the rawest performance on the record. But keep in mind, Loving on the Flip Side is all about emotion. There’s nary a dud on the collection. Another stone cold classic is Conspiracy’s 1973 “I Believe (Our Love Has Gone Away)” which funks out with perhaps the deepest, in-the-pocket groove here. I dare you to sit still while listening to it.
Rhythm Machine’s “Watcha Gonna Do” opens with a startling flourish of jazzy, up-tempo horns before settling into a richly dramatic slow simmer. That particular tune was engineered by a gentleman known only by the supercool nickname “Uncle Dirty.” That’s just one of many details available throughout the book. I’d never heard of most of the artist assembled here, but the book offers enough to make an instant expert (or close to it) of anyone. There’s something good to be said about everything found on Loving on the Flip Side and Now-Again is to be commended for compiling these tracks. For those with a taste for deep soul ballads, often with surprising rhythmic and/or melodic shifts, I urge you to seek it out.