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Label formed in late 1967 by MGM as an outlet for their soul acts. The label was run by former Motown A&R director William "Mickey" Stevenson with help from many other Motown exiles - the company was based in Los Angeles.

What happened to 4001 ? - so far untraced, possibly intended for an unissued Calvin Arnold or Ballads album. Venture was like a West Coast Motown-in -exile as Mickey Stevenson seems to have taken quite a few Motowners with him when he joined MGM not the least of them being Clarence Paul.

Tom Nixon had been an engineer at Motown and later worked at Stax.

Darryl Carter developed into a succesful writer working with Bobby Womack. He also made further solo releases on Hi, TTC and other labels...

Dick Cooper continued writing - he has credits for Martha and the Vandellas among others.

Stephen Bowden had been a Jobete writer - the Natura'elles were apparently led by his wife (?) Loretta Bowden.

Maria Tynes had earlier recorded a soloist for Capitol's soul label, Uptown. She later moved to New Orleans where she continuing writing for Jean Knight among others.

Hannibal - aka The Mighty Hannibal aka King Hannibal. A fascinating character (real name James T Shaw) who'd been recording since the fifties and would continue through the seventies. A career spanning compilation of his work has recently "Hannibalism" was issued recently by Norton Records.

The Ballads - after their Venture follow-ups failed to sell MGM dropped them from their roster - the group returned home and continued to issue the occasional single on the local Boola-Boola label where started their career.

Calvin Arnold - on Venture's collapse he was signed to Dionne Warwick's Sonday label and re-surfaced in the mid-70's on Brown Dogg, the soul subsidiary of the New York based Mainstream label.

Marie Franklin and Madlyn Quebec moved to Ray Charles' Tangerine label for a few unsuccesful singles.

Madlyn Quebec with Bob Dylan... and tearing the house down! Later recorded for Tangerine... 1972

Larry Williams had of course been a huge star in the fifties with hits on Specialty. He was Okeh's head of A&R for the West Coast in 1966-67 and later recorded for Fantasy in the late 70's.

Vernon Garrett moved to a succession of small labels with the occasional single being picked for national distribution by labels like Kapp.

Edward Binns - a total mystery - possibly related to Clifford Binns ?

Neal Kimble - also recorded for Fat Fish among others - another ex-Venture refugee at Tangerine

Toby Ben - no idea who he / they (?)

Southwind - later signed to Blue Thumb where they had an album and a few singles. Basically a white R&B bar band in the same vein as the Hoodoo Rhythm Devils

Johnson Three Plus One - They might be something to do with the Brothers Johnson but no any evidence yet.

Reasons for the labels collapse - MGM issued quite a large number of soul records in the mid to late sixties but their main problem was that they had no promotion staff who had experience ofmarketing soul. When Stevenson was given the job of running Venture he basically had to start from scratch bringing in people who knew the black radio stations - it looks as if running the administration and promotion side of the business left him very little time to write or produce hence his notable absence of credits. MGM itself was in chaos during 68 - 69 with changes of higher management - it looks as if head office decided that Venture wasn't worth their time and pulled the plug on the label after its short life of around 18 months.

Above notes by Davie Gordon

Some singles have the name W.Hutchison.. better known as Willie Hutch.

The 7 Souls were the studio band and played on all Venture releases. Ernie Shelby later made some fine southern soul singles for Polydor ('Bend Over Backwards'... 1972 was recorded in Muscle Shoals Sound in Elvis Presley's old studio. Terry Woodford was the producer. The production and recording contract with Polydor Records was Woodford's) as well as having many further writing credits.

Thanks to Don for the following notes and the photos below!

: The Major IV you are referring about are the Chicago group who had two hit singles on the NS scene before. They went by two group names the Vows and the Majors. First as the Vows with "When A Boy Loves A Girl" b/w "Say You'll Be Mine" on Big Three #403. Later under the moniker the Majors with "Lost In A City" b/w "Say You'll Be Mine". All sides of their Big Three sides all went # in the midwest, the east and the southern cities and regions, especially in Detroit too. Early on the Vows (a/k/a) The Majors IV recorded with the Ran-Dee label, Ran-Dee # 112 with Girl In Red b/w Born With The Rhythm. "Born With..." was written by Andre Williams of "Jail Bait" and "Beacon Fat" fame. Yes, the one and the same. Both sides we're produced by Williams but there is no credit given on the Ran-Dee single, except Williams's name is only credited as producer.

                                 CALVIN ARNOLD at the California the left...Fay McGee and Jill of the Natuara'elles 
                                                 CALVIN ARNOLD at the California Club....Jill & Denita James to the left
                    NNATURA'ELLES at the California Club...Danita (and/or} Denita James (cousin of Kim Weston- 
              future member of Hodges, Smith, James (& Crawford), Judy____, Faye McGee and Loretta Bowen
                                                                                  DARRYL CARTER
                       BALLADS....(top)John Palmer, Rico Thompson, (bottom) Nate Ramerson & Leslie Palmer
                        MAJOR IV..Advert for release of 'Down In The Ghetto, with mention of a Calvin Arnold release
                                                                                    FANTASTIC   7    SOULS

Songwriter and producer William "Mickey" Stevenson was one of the unsung heroes behind the extraordinary success of the Motown sound. As the label's first A&R director, he not only recruited major stars like Martha Reeves [+], but also assembled the company's legendary roster of studio musicians, additionally authoring a number of perennial hits for acts including Marvin Gaye [+] and wife Kim Weston [+]. Stevenson began his career in gospel and doo wop before joining the Tamla/Motown staff in 1959; in addition to co-producing and arranging records for Marv Johnson [+], the label's first recording artist, his earliest duties included organizing the company's house band. Installing pianist "Ivory" Joe Hunter as bandleader, Stevenson brought together a truly remarkable (albeit relatively unknown) group of Detroit-area jazz and club musicians, including bassist James Jamerson [+], guitarists Robert White [+] and Joe Messina [+], and drummer Benny Benjamin [+]. Though their lineup changed frequently in the years to follow, the so-called "Funk Brothers" remained the bedrock of the Motown sound throughout the company's golden age.

In 1961, Stevenson teamed with co-writer Barrett Strong [+] to score his first major hit, Eddie Holland [+]'s "Jamie." For the Marvelettes [+]' "Beechwood 4-5789," he partnered with Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr., as well as recent roster addition Marvin Gaye [+]. Weeks later, Motown released Gaye's first hit single, "Stubborn Kind of Fellow," which Stevenson co-wrote as well. Backing vocals on the record were contributed by Martha Reeves [+], then Stevenson's secretary, and her group the Vandellas [+]; when singer Mary Wells [+] failed to show up for a subsequent session, Stevenson cut a record with Martha & the Vandellas instead, resulting in the group's 1963 debut "I'll Have to Let Him Go." That same year, the producer inspired the Miracles [+]' smash "Mickey's Monkey." In 1964, Stevenson, Gaye, and Ivy Hunter [+] collaborated on Martha & the Vandellas' "Dancing in the Street," his biggest songwriting hit for the label. Equally important, and around that same time, he hired Norman Whitfield [+] as his A&R assistant, launching the career of one of Motown's most influential and successful staff producers.

Stevenson's last major hit for Motown was 1966's classic "It Takes Two," a duet between Gaye and the producer's wife, Kim Weston [+].
In early 1967, both Stevenson and Weston left Motown to form their own label, People. That spring, Weston signed to MGM and her husband was offered a reported million-dollar deal to assume control of the company's floundering Venture subsidiary. The Midas touch Stevenson possessed in the past soon dissipated, however, so in 1969 he shifted gears and scored the film Changes. He went on to write and produce a series of theatrical musicals, including Swann, Showgirls, Wings and Things, The Gospel Truth, TKO, and Chocolate City. For 1999's Sang, Sista, Sang -- a tribute to legendary vocalists like Bessie Smith [+], Billie Holiday [+], and Josephine Baker [+] -- he reunited with fellow Motown alum Smokey Robinson [+].


Tracks in yellow can be downloaded
Titles in mauve were 'non-soul'

605 Calvin Arnold Funky Way To Treat Somebody (C Arnold)
Snatchin' Back (C Arnold)
606 Major IV Sugar Pie
Down In The Ghetto (Basemore - Relf - Stevenson)
607 Neal Kimble I've Made A Reservation (Paul - Basemore)
Ain't It The Truth
608 Major IV All Of MyLove
I Don't Believe In Losing (Leon Ware - Basemore)
609 Natura'elles Love Has Joined Us Together (C Arnold - Tom Nixon)
Show Me The Way
610 Calvin Arnold Scoobie Doo(W.Hutchison)
Produced by Willie Hutch

Lovely Way To Go (C Arnold)
Produced byClarence Paul
611 Darryl Carter

L-O-V-E (D Carter- Jimmy Holiday- Bobby Womack)
I Keep Begging You To Stay

612 49th Parallel

Blue Bonnie Blue Missouri

Not a soul record - this is a Canadian Band - 05/68
613 Toby Ben

Peace, Wake Up To The Sunshine ???

614 Seven Souls

Got To Find A Way
Groove In

Produced by Larry Williams? - 06/68
615 Ballads

God Bless Our Love(B.Butler)
Produced by Jesse Mason & Willie Hutch
My Baby Knows How To Love Her Man(W.Hutchison)
Produced by Stephenson/Hutch

The biggest hit on the label. Group were from the Bay Area (San Francisco) and had recorded for the local Boola-Boola label. Made the Billboard Hot 100 at # 65 (#48 on Casbbox) - Peaked at # 8 on Billboard's soul chart

616 Southwind Get On Board The Train (D Brown - Vicki Basemore)
Got To Get Myself Together (Brown- Dalton- Hope)
This group were formed by Doug Brown whose earlier legendary Detroit group The Omens included a very young Bob Seger
617 Robert Thomas True Love Is Hard To Find
Bye Bye Baby 
618 Jay Lewis

Oh(Jay Lewis)
That's Enough(Jay Lewis)
Both sides produced by Clarence Paul

619 Major IV

Just Another Lonely Night (Stevenson - Hunter) 
This Little Girl Of Mine (Stevenson - Hunter)

"Just.." originally recorded by the Temptations
620 Johnson Three Plus One

Testify ???

621 Southwind

You've Been On My Mind ?

622 Larry Williams

Shake Your Body Girl (Bowden - Paul - Pauling )
Love, I Can't Seem To Find It

623 Vernon Garrett

Love Has Caught Me (Darryl Carter-Curtis Colbert)
Second To None (Carter - Cooper - Shelby)

Produced by ClarencePaul
624 Edward Binns For The People
Pledge For Freedom
625 Ballads

I Love You, Yeah (Willie Hutchison)
You're The One(Adolph Smith)

Produced by Willie Hutchison
Produced by Clarence Paul
626 Calvin Arnold

Mama In Law (C Arnold - W Hutch - Maria Tynes)
Mini Skirt (C Arnold)

627 Larry Williams Wake Up
628 Contributors
Of Soul

You Can't Help But Fall In Love (Gerald Dickerson)
We Can Get It On Later On

This is a Chicago record-
originally issued
on Tad 101) - 11/68
629 Unissued    
630 Ballads

Goodnight My Love
Hey Diddle Diddle

631 Neal Kimble I Consider Myself Lucky (Paul - Basemore)
You Sure Got A Funny Way (Cooper- Carter-E Shelby)
Both sides produced by Clarence Paul
632 Vernon Garrett
& Marie Franklin

Without You
Second To None

"Second To None" uses same backing track as on
Vernon's solo version, the b-side of #623)
Prod : Clarence Paul
633 Natura'elles

So Much In Need (C Paul - L Pauling) Show Me The Way (Dick Cooper - Ernie Shelby)

Produced by Clarence Paul - 03/69
634 Calvin Arnold

Just A Matter Of Time
Got To Live For Yourself

635 Vernon Garrett Angel Doll (Paul -Stevie Wonder -Morris Broadnax)
Produced by Clarence Paul

Hop Skip And Jump
636 Hannibal

I'm Getting Ready
I'm Your Man

637 Ballads

I Wish I Knew(Leon Ware/Susaye Greene)
Produced by Clarence Paul
Gift Of Love

638 Nu People

I'd Be Nowhere Today ?

Prod : Mike Theodore - Dennis Coffey
639 Madlyn Quebec

Better Than My Best (C Paul)Produced by Clarence Paul
The Love I've Been Lookin' For (E.Shelby/D.Cooper/C.Paul)
Produced by E.Shelby/D.Cooper/C.Paul
The last single... and for the Soul Brother, a highlight!

Original listing and notes from Davie Gordon
Also.. the 2 Madlyn Quebec photos
Additional notes, songwriting credits, scans from the Soul-Brother & Friends