The Story Behind Northern Soul's Rarest Record

 

Thursday 7th March 2013
frank-wilspon-copy-2

Northern Soul's rarest of the rare... The story behind Frank Wilson's 'Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)'.

Frank Wilson's 'Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)' is the holy grail for all Northern Soul record collectors. You may or may not know the reason behind this, it is a fabled tale on the soul circuit and even in this modern age of information that we live in many versions are either misinformed or completely wrong. If you do know, then you know that it is a great story, a story of a record whose past perfectly complements the Northern Soul enthusiasts' thirst for rarity, as well as a tune that is so stomping and upbeat, that it would be rude not to get the talc out and do your thing.

'Do I Love You' was recorded back in 1965 on the Motown subsidiary 'Soul', and apparently 250 demo 45s were made. However the single was never released, some say that Berry Gordy, the founder of the legendary Motown Record label, was unimpressed with the song's vocals and so had them all destroyed, (or so he thought). Another version of the story is that Berry Gordy had them destroyed because he did not want any of his producers to have successful recording careers and there are even some who say that the decision not to release the record was made by Frank Wilson himself, so he could concentrate on producing. It is most likely a combination of all of the above, but this story, like all great stories, has its roots steeped in ambiguity.

Whichever version of the story you choose to believe, the decision made was certainly not wrong no matter which way you look at it. Frank Wilson had a tremendously successful career writing and producing at Motown for artists such as Diana Ross & The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Martha Reeves, The Temptations, The Miracles, The Marvelettes, The Isley Brothers, The Four Tops and Eddie Kendricks.

So, the 250 demos were destroyed, if they even existed to begin with. However, what we do know is that there were six promo copies produced and they definitely existed, even after the decision to not release the record had been made. Three copies in the Motown archive and three retained at the ARP pressing plant. ARP then destroyed two versions and kept one for their personal archives. When Motown and its archives relocated to LA in 1972 it was noted that only one copy of the single remained in their library.

For the next part of the story we fast-forward to 1977 and Tom DiePerro, whilst working as a historian for Motown received a copy of the record for research. Simon Soussan a record dealer who was big on the Northern Soul scene back in England (and this is where stories differ again) either bought, borrowed or stole DiePerro's copy when perusing his collection during a visit in LA. Soussan then pressed 2000 (maybe more) bootleg copies and introduced the song to the Northern Soul scene but in true Souly style had changed the label so it said the track was now credited as 'Eddie Foster - Do I Love You'.

This was reasonably common practice amongst Northern Soul DJs back then, a records rarity was integral to their success and by changing the label they could throw off other Djs and collectors. In fact it wasn't until Soussan sold his record collection a year later that it was discovered that the song was actually by Frank Wilson.

Throughout 1978 the original Frank Wilson version got played by Russ Winstanley at the infamous Wigan Casino, as he had borrowed it from a friend who owned it at the time, that is, until Kev Roberts; another casino DJ, bought it in 1979. Public demand that year also saw Tamla Motown release a version dubbed from the Eddie Foster bootleg in the UK.

In 1990 another copy was discovered in Detroit based collector, Ron Murphy's archives. Both existing copies soon found there way into the hands of Tim Brown. In 1999 a copy was sold to Kenny Burrell for £15,000 making it the most expensive record ever. Then in 2009 Burrell auctioned his copy off for a whopping £25,724 to a private unnamed buyer who many speculated at the time to be Frank Wilson himself.

The rumour mill continues to churn and the story surely won't end here, are there more surviving copies hidden in giant collections or in an unsuspecting attic? All we know is that this truly great song will continue to fill dancefloors as future generations of soul lovers pay tribute to Frank Wilson after his tragic death in September 2012. May he rest in peace.

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