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Cooler Than Ice: Arctic Records And The Rise Of Philly Soul (Box Set)
Cooler Than Ice: Arctic Records And The Rise Of Philly Soul (Box Set)

By JR on 7:01 AM

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Review from Amazon:

"The Arctic Records label helped Philly Soul find its footing. Their complete discography of 121 sides,spread over a six-disc box set, are raw, washed-out, occasionally sloppy - a young Kenny Gamble before he hopped on the love train, a young Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes before you knew them by now - essentially the sound of Philadelphia in the 10 years before TSOP. The 27 tracks from dynamic soulstirrer Barbara Mason are the biggest victory here, tracing a slow evolution from the vulnerable, sugarysad, girl-group era (Girls Have Feeling Too, the No. 5 hit Yes, I'm Ready) to the assured, brassy tip of the funky '70s. We'd be remiss not to point out the inimitable tenor of a young Daryl Hall (yes, that Daryl Hall) levitating over the only four released sides from his circa-1967 white-boy soul crew the Temptones, when dude was doing straight Temptations-jacking sans the big bam booms. --SPIN Magazine, December 2012

Major shout outs for this home-grown, six-disc megaset of long-lost music from the 1960s and '70s. Founded by former WDAS DJ and program director Jimmy Bishop, Arctic was a training site for many a local musician and producer who'd go on to really big things at Philadelphia International Records.
It's got tracks from the lead singer of a group called Kenny Gamble and the Romeos. And there's some songs featuring a certain tenor singing lead with the pale-skinned though R&B stylized Temptone - Pottstown's very own Daryl Hall.

The distinctive Barbara Mason was Arctic's star; often sonically dressed to the nines with lustrous string players (some plucked from the Philadelphia Orchestra) as she strove for a worthy follow-up to I'm Ready.

You'll be equally taken with the stomping, Motown/Philly explosions of the Volcanos, sugar-pie cute Honey Bees and spiritual-meets-pop pioneering Lane Relations (produced by Bishop's wife, Louise Williams).

Oh, and we were staggered by how much the vocal stylings of Cindy Gibson resembled what ''complete original'' Laura Nyro would put forth a few years later. Kudos to Bill Dahl for the deep-digging liner notes. --Jonathan Takiff, Philadelphia Daily News, December 10, 2012

The Sound of Philadelphia story is usually told through Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff's Philadelphia International soul label. Another chapter is added on Cooler Than Ice, which gathers every single from 1964 to 1967 on the Arctic label founded by WDAS program director Jimmy Bishop. Arctic's biggest hit was with teenage phenom Barbara Mason's Yes, I'm Ready in 1965. The label was a proving ground for a number of artists, including Daryl Hall (known as Daryl Hohl when he was with the Temptones, who have four charming faux-Motown tunes here). Gamble struts his stuff in style as a singer with his bands the Romeos and Floaters. Essential for Philly Soul completists. --The Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 29, 2012

Product Description
(6-CD + 6-7'' set) Founded by WDAS program director/deejay Jimmy Bishop in conjunction with Jamie/Guyden Records in 1964, Arctic Records was one of Philadelphia's most important early soul labels, greatly influencing the subsequent rise of Philly soul.
Barbara Mason's classic Yes, I'm Ready was the label's biggest seller in 1965; she quickly became Arctic's flagship artist. Kenny Gamble gained invaluable experience at Arctic, not just as a songwriter and producer but as a smooth-voiced singer. Arctic hosted the Volcanos and the Ambassadors, two of the City of Brotherly Love's finest male vocal groups, and the sexy, sultry Honey & the Bees. Daryl Hall got his start at Arctic as lead tenor with blue-eyed soulsters the Temptones; Della Humphrey's debut Arctic single hit when she was barely in her teens.

Arctic was an incredibly consistent Philly soul label, from its inaugural issue by the Tiffanys to the stirring Royal Five 45 that closed out Arctic's release schedule. Artists included Kenny Hamber, Kenny Rossi, Winfield Parker, Herb Johnson, Cindy Gibson, Dee Dee Barnes; Billy Floyd, and Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes.

Surely the soul boxed set of the year, Cooler Than Ice contains both sides of every Arctic single, including many that haven't seen light of day in any format since their original issue nearly 50 years ago. The 120 songs on 6 CDs also include 3 coveted singles by the Rotations and Three Strangers on Arctic's short-lived Frantic subsidiary. Vinyl aficionados will delight in the half dozen actual 45s created from freshly unearthed tapes in the Jamie/Guyden vaults. Comprehensive track-by-track liner notes include newly conducted interviews with Arctic's stars, along with full release information and unique historic photos."

Arctic Records helped define Philadelphia soul. This box is so cool it's ice!

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