Patty & the Emblems
If you’ve run out of Stax and Atlantic and, oh dark days, Motown records to listen to, then this’ll be a treat: NJ’s favourite complete unknowns, Patty & the Emblems might’ve scraped the US top forty just the once, and that almost half a century ago, but it isn’t without reason that they went on to become northern soul staples (which, I suppose, is hardly saying much, but still.) Their big – or as big as they ever got – single was Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl, which is nice enough, but it gets better. Patty Russell is a singer of Martha Reeves’ formidable calibre, the songs themselves are fine examples of sixties’ R&B, more to the pop end of the spectrum than the blues (i.e. more Motown than Stax), and the arrangements feature crisp grooves, horns and strings in equal measure, marvellous tenor backing vocals from the Emblems, and bassplaying of a kind which would later resurface in England in the hands of soul-worshippers like Bruce Thomas.