Category Archives: Sounds International

D’Arcy Sound Studios, Sounds International & Nottingham Disc Co.

Gentle-Men Sounds International 45 Only LoveThe Sheepherders with Bubba Bailey Sounds International 45 If Ever You Need Me

D’Arcy Studios was started by Warren Miller, who had cut “Everybody’s Got a Baby But Me” / “Say You’ll Be True” for United Artists in 1958. In 1964 Miller had a label called D’Arcy with two country releases, one each by Charlie Wiggs and Jesse Travers.

In 1966 Miller started D’Arcy Sound Studios in Norfolk, and Sounds International seems to have been the house label for the studio.

About half the label’s releases were soul, of which the Sheepherders is most in demand. The Nite Liters and Del-Notes are good blue eyed soul.

The Rude Awakening is garage, the Outcasts single is heavy organ-based rock. The Common Wealth has been described as folky rock. The Holmes Brothers singles are country.

Of course many artists recorded their at D’Arcy and for release on other labels, such as the Regents with Mel Gaines and the Del Notes.

The Journey Back Nottingham Disc Co. 45 Synthetic PeopleIn 1968 Miller started using a new label, Nottingham Disc Co., which continued the last two digits of the numbering system (for example, changing from Sounds International 640, 641, 642 to 849, 850, 851 for Nottingham Disc Co). Nottingham 853 and 854 read “D’Arcy Studio Center” on the labels instead of “D’Arcy Sound Studios”.

The Journey Back’s single on Nottingham Disc is much sought after, and New Directions “Springtime Lady” is also very good. I haven’t heard the Russ Spooner or Mark III singles yet.

Around 1970 Miller changed the name of the studio to simply Studio Center and began a new five-digit numbering system beginning with “50”. He revived the Sounds International label for at least two releases in a 70s rural rock style.

Twenty Grand Music BMI published all original songs on Sounds International and Nottingham Disc Co.

Sounds International and Nottingham Disc Co. discography:
Any help with this discography would be appreciated.

Sounds International 631 – Nite Liters – “Set Me Free” / “Harlem Shuffle”
Sounds International 633 – Gentle-Men – “Only Love” (Wilson) / “Old McDonald”
Sounds International 634 – Rude Awakening – “Certain Girl” / “Fortune Teller”
Sounds International 635 – ?
Sounds International SI-636 – The Del-Notes – “I Love You” b/w “I Wish I Was Home”
Sounds International SI-637 – ?
Sounds International SI-638 – The Sheepherders with Bubba Bailey – “If You Ever Need Me” (Jones, Lowder, O’Sullivan) / “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”
Sounds International SI-639 – The Outcasts – “While I’m Here” / “Spell” (J.G. Heisler, Twenty Grand Music BMI)
Sounds International SI 640 – Elsie Strong “This is the Last Time” (Gene Casey) / “Ask the Lonely” (William Stevenson, Jobete BMI)
Sounds International SI 641 – Holmes Brothers – “September Love” / “Splendor of Love”
Sounds International SI 642 – Pop Tops featuring Roy Hines – “I Want to Make It With You” (Hines, Weaver, Leibman, Esenberg, Barthlow) / “I Can Live”
Sounds International SI 643 – ?
Sounds International SI 644 – Holmes Brothers – “Searching Eyes” / “It’s a Big Big World”

Nottingham Disc Co. 848 – Russ Spooner with the Sheep Herders – “We Got That” (Bobby Moore) / “The Truth”
Nottingham Disc Co. 849 – The Journey Back – “Synthetic People” / “Run Away Baby” (L. Burnell, B. Sutton publ. Twenty Grand Music BMI)
Nottingham Disc Co. 850 – New Directions – “Springtime Lady” (L.H. Jones, publ. Twenty Grand Music BMI) / “Swlabr” (arranged by Chip Golden III)
Nottingham Disc Co. 851 – The Machine – “Hey Grandma” / “Roll With It” (S. Miller)
Nottingham Disc Co. 852 – George and Judy – “That’s No Way to Ask You” / “Looking For Me” (1969)
Nottingham Disc Co. 853 – Mark III “Gigolo” / “39-21-46” (Norman Johnson)
Nottingham Disc Co. 854 – Plague – “Brighter Side” (T. Charauros, J. Burcham) / “Cherry Road”
Nottingham Disc Co. 855 – George and Judy – “Pocketful of Promises” / “Love Is the Key”

The following releases have a different numbering system and credit “A Product of Sound Center, Norfolk, Va.” on the labels:

Nottingham Disc Co. 50104 – New Directions – “Lalena” / “Them Changes” (1970, Capitol custom matrix #s ZB-737/8)
Sounds International 50120 – Franklin Freight Train – “Full on the Hill” / “Loving What You Can” (Seale-Leighton-Mahl-Seale)
Sounds International 50166 – Common Wealth – “Circles” (Carl Brody) / “It’s Over” (Phil Liebman)

Thank you to Matt Beck for his videos of the Plague 45 on Youtube, and to Max Waller for his contributions to the discography.

Russ Spooner and the Sheep Herders Nottingham Disc Co. 45 We Got ThatNew Directions Nottingham Disc Co. 45 Lalena

Danny and the Del Notes

The Del Notes
The Del Notes (photo from the Peninsula Garage group)

Del Notes Top Cat 45 Don't Leave Me GirlThe Del Notes came from Newport News, Virginia. Danny O’Brien attended Newport News High School and formed the group at school.

Early members included:

Danny O’Brien – vocals and keyboards
Tom Clark – guitar
Earl Howard – guitar and vocals
Ronny Methany (also written as Ronnie Matheny) – bass guitar
Dickey Moore – drums

Danny O'Brien of the Del Notes
Danny O’Brien of the Del Notes
The Del Notes recorded their singles at D’Arcy Studios across the James River in Norfolk, VA.

The first included two original songs, “Don’t Leave Me Girl” by Danny O’Brien b/w “I Been Thinking Lately” by Earl Howard, released on Top Cat 968 in April of 1968.

Earl Howard of the Del Notes
Earl Howard of the Del Notes
For their second single on the Sounds International label, Danny O’Brien wrote a great blue-eyed soul song “I Love You” b/w another Earl Howard ballad “I Wish I Was Home” which a commentator said was written for Ronnie Matheny who had been sent to Vietnam.

Twenty Grand Music BMI published their original songs.

Del Notes Top Cat 45 I Been Thinking LatelyDanny O’Brien periodically revived the Del-Notes over the next few decades. Later members included bassist Garland Reese, guitarist Fred Ordonio and drummer Randy Jackson.

Earl Howard was killed in an auto accident on May 16, 1991. Dan O’Brien passed away on December 4, 2003.

The photos seen here Tom Hudgins submitted to the Peninsula Garage yahoo group some years back.

An article in the Daily Press from November 1991 was a good source of information for this post.

I don’t know of any other releases on this Top Cat label, but D’Arcy Sound Studios and Twenty Grande Music publishing show up on many releases on the Sounds International label.

An early photo shows Earl Howard and Ronny Methany jamming with members of the Nite Liters, including Steve Keith on rhythm guitar, Harrell Baker on lead guitar and sax and Donny Falk on bass guitar. The Nite Liters had their own single on Sounds International, “Set Me Free” / “Harlem Shuffle”.

members of the Del Notes jam with another group
Ronny Methany and Earl Howard of the Del Notes jam with Steve Keith, Harrell Baker and Donnie Falk of the Nite Liters.