If you mention Gallatin, TN to a music freak they’ll certainly reply “Dot Records”. But while Doty were undoubtedly the premier label that was founded there, other smaller ones like Southern City did exist. While the Hal & Jean 45 on the label is interesting, I found the Poodles 45 they were involved in rather disappointing, but this one from the little known Paramount Four is a real beauty.
The top side I’ve Made Up My Mind is a super group ballad, with the chords being very much in the Impressions mould, but with a typically “open” southern arrangement full of horns. Two members of the group have identified themselves on Youtube, Caldwell Jenkins and lead singer William E Turner. Turner does a really bang up job here, in turns gritty and then restrained, with the other guys providing some great harmonies.
The dancers seem to like the uninhibited uptempo flip “You Don’t Know” but it lacks the subtlety of the ballad. Both sides were co-written and co-produced by trumpet player Harold Gilbert, Hal from Hal & Jean.
And as far as anybody knew that was the sum total of the Paramount Four’s recording history until those nice folks at Ace UK discovered a couple more tracks via Nashville producer Bob Holmes. The cool mid paced dancer “Sorry Ain’t The Word” has been a huge crossover title in the dance world, but the other track You Must Leave Her Because You Love Her is a quite superb piece of group balladry. The song structure and the arrangement are quite beautiful while I could listen to Turner’s impassioned haunting lead time and again. These newly discovered songs certainly weren’t recorded at the same time as the Southern City – I’d guess at the early 70s. I wonder if any more tracks from this great group will see the light of day?
Note ~ “You Must Leave Her” is available on the Kent UK CD “Deep Shadows” while “Sorry Ain’t The Word” is only available on a rare custom 45. The "Deep Shadows" is a really fine set - buy it!
UPDATE ~ My friend Greg Burgess writes with details of an obituary for lead singer William E Turner:-
"William Earl Turner was born in Portland, Tennessee on May 26 1943. He enlisted in the US Air Force where he performed as part of a travelling singing group before being discharged in 1962 returning to Portland. He worked as a postal worker from 1966 until 2000 but continued to perform with a number of local groups that included: Bill Turner & the Marksmen, the Turner Brothers and the Paramount Four. Affectionately known as ‘Cat’ Turner died on June 1 2012 aged 69."
More really sad news - but thanks for the info Greg.