The Volcanos - Storm Warning

Volcanos Records -

    Arctic 103 Baby b/w Make Your Move 12/23/64
    Arctic 106 Storm Warning b/w Baby 5/18/65
    Arctic 111 Help Wanted b/w Make Your Move 9/9/65
    Arctic 115 (It's Against) The Laws of Love b/w
    (It's Against) The Laws of Love - Instrumental 11/16/65
    Arctic 125 A Lady's Man b/w Help Wanted 6/3/66
    Arctic 128 You're Number 1 b/w Make Your Move 11/7/66

    Harthon Records - Volcanos / Body Motions
    Harthon 138 It's Gotta Be A False Alarm b/w Movin' and Groovin'
    Harthon 147 Take Me Back Again b/w All Shucks
    Harthon 103074 - Body Motions - False Alarm b/w Puttin' You On

The Volcanos - It's Against The Laws Of Love

Welcome To Northernsoultrain


For all the thousands of soul groups that committed the fruits of their talents to wax in the 1960's, there are the legends, the cult artists, and then groups like the Volcanos. In their years together, the Volcanos hit the R&B charts just once. They only ever recorded nine 45's for three different labels (comprised of only 13 distinct songs), and never managed to get an album released. They also had the misfortune to be a soul group from a city (Philadelphia) that was absolutely overflowing with talent. Forget the national charts. Locally they had to compete for airtime with the Intruders, Bunny Sigler, The Ambassadors, Eddie Holman, Patty & The Emblems, and Brenda & The Tabulations among others, not to mention all of the amazing groups that never made it to the national charts. Arctic Records alone was home to the Ambassadors, Della Humphrey, Barbara Mason (who gave the label it's biggest hit with 'Yes I'm Ready'), Honey & The Bees and The Temptones (featuring a young Daryl Hall) among others.

They did have the advantage of having a dynamic lead singer in Gene Jones (later Faith), and the backing of some of Philly's most powerful and talented music figures. Originally composed of Jones (lead vocals), John Hart (keyboards), Stanley Wade (guitar, vocals), Harold 'Doc' Wade (bass, vocals), Steve Kelly (vocals) and Earl Young (drums), the Volcanos were formed in Philadelphia in 1964. Jimmy Bishop, co-owner of Arctic Records and DJ /program manager at local AM radio powerhouse WDAS signed them and they released their first 45 in December of 1964. 'Baby' is unique in the band's catalog as their only ballad. Written by Jones, it's earlier 'harmony group' sound sets it apart from their largely upbeat, modern soul sounds. The b-side, 'Make Your Move' is closer in sound to the sounds coming out of Motown (like the Contours) at the same time. Written by Philly composer/producer Johnny Styles (or Stiles depending on the record), someone obviously thought 'Make Your Move' was going to be a hit, as it appeared on no less than three of the Volcanos 45's between 1964 and 1966.

Volcanos It's Gotta Be A False Alarm

Their next disc for Arctic (released in May of 1965) was to bring them their biggest success. 'Storm Warning' is known today as a Northern Soul favorite, and as a song that would make the rounds of Philadelphia soul. Written by the Vibrations' Carl Fisher, 'Storm Warning' would not only be the Volcanos biggest hit, but would also be recorded a few years later by the Ambassadors (appearing on a 45 and on their Arctic LP) and as an instrumental by Philly studio band the Electric Indian (also as a 45 and LP track). Opening with a memorable guitar/piano line (that would be echoed in the beginning of Herb Johnson & The Impacts' 'I'm So Glad', which also has a similar chorus), the beat kicks in with a great snare roll. The stomping beat (which no doubt had a lot to do with the record's Northern popularity), Gene Jones' vocal, and the group's falsetto repetition of the title backed by Vince Montana's trademark vibes make this track a classic. It's one of the most memorable 60's soul records, let alone one of the best out of Philadelphia. It peaked at 33 on the R&B charts in July of 1965. In a pattern that would be repeated, a previous release 'Baby' was placed on the b-side for second chance

Arctic chose to follow up the group's success with 'Help Wanted' in September of 1965. Penned by soul legends Kenny Gamble (who recorded his own records for Arctic) and Leon Huff (who had recorded for Jamie), 'Help Wanted' is another storming dancer, with more of the group's trademark harmonies and a fantastic chorus. 'Help Wanted' would also reappear as a b-side later on.

The fourth Arctic single (from November of 1965) is at least in Northern Soul circles their best remembered. Another Carl Fisher tune, '(It's Against) The Laws of Love' features a great vocal by Jones, Motown inspired horns (check out that baritone sax), more vibes by Montana and a great beat.

The flip side is an instrumental dub of the tune. Ironically, though '(It's Against) The Laws of Love' managed to make it all the way to 179 in the recent Northern Soul Top 500, it was the worst selling of the Volcanos 45s for Arctic. There wasn't to be another Volcanos 45 until June of 1966. 'A Lady's Man' is another storming dancer, co-written by Jimmy Bishop and Kenny Gamble. 'Help Wanted' makes another appearance on the b-side.

The Volcanos were to have one last shot on Arctic. In November of 1966, their last 45 for the label 'You're Number 1', co-written by Eddie Holman and James Soloman was released with 'Make Your Move' making it's third and last appearance on the flip. 'You're Number One' is one of the best/poppiest tunes in the Volcanos catalogue, and it's easy to imagine Eddie Holman recording his own version. It has a stellar arrangement and even sports a modest drum-break toward the end of the song.

The period after the last Arctic single is where the Volcanos story becomes confusing. Many of their Arctic singles bear the mark 'A Dynodynamic Production', the trademark of the Harthon team of Weldon McDougall III, Luther Randolph and Johnny Stiles who recorded and leased tracks to many labels including Arctic. At some point the Volcanos recorded two 45's for Harthon. Though McDougall has stated in the past that the Harthon 45's were recorded before the Arctic sessions, the solid dates of the Arctic releases, and the overall sound of the Harthon releases seem to refute that. My guess is that the Harthon recordings (likely involving many of the same musicians and producers as the Arctic 45's) date from late in the Arctic period to just after, probably no later than 1967.

Since the 1960's, due in large part to Northern Soul collectors, DJs and fans in the UK, the sound of the Volcanos has been kept alive. Many of the group's tracks have been reissued on compilations, and as 45s (some bootleg). Some of the Arctic 45's have been out and out bootlegged (with original looking labels), though some have been legitimately repressed by the original distributor. Some of the Harthon recordings (as well as records by the United Four and Lee Garrett) have been reissued as 45's with a plain orange label with black print. In fact, two instrumental tracks of vocals from the Harthon catalog ('It's Gotta Be a False Alarm' by the Volcanos and 'She's Puttin' You On' by the United Four) were reissued as a single - for the Northern Soul market.

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The Volcanos - Moving & grovin

The Volcanos - Take Me Back Again

The Volcanos Your Number 1

The Volcanos help wanted

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