It’s been two years since the last in our “Masterpieces Of Modern Soul” series. We compilers patiently accumulate a list of ingredients for the forthcoming feast and when it appears that the quantity and quality of the components are just so, into the pot they go. Occasionally the concoction doesn’t taste quite right and we jettison a flavour once its replacement has been lined up.
The fun is in the cooking and this time my initial flavour-burst came with the opening track, an obscure 1978 Los Angeles release by 7 Days Unlimited on the Big Town label, a subsidiary of Modern. It’s so laid back, the guys’ heads touch the floor, but the record has so much quality I’m sure it will be acclaimed a classic once heard.
After such a left-field choice, my conservative nature kicked in and I followed up with two sure-shots. Art Gentry’s 1972 Fame Studios recording of a great George Jackson song, ‘This Is My Chance’ has been played by discerning customers since its debut on Ace in 1997; now at last it is featured on a dedicated dance compilation. Similarly certain will be the positive reaction to Candi Staton’s ‘One More Hurt’ – if you’ve got it, flaunt it.
As with the Art Gentry track, the Hesitations’ ‘Go Away’ and Loleatta Holloway’s ‘This Man’s Arms’ first appeared on Kent promotional vinyl. It seems a bit odd to be illustrating our own records in the booklet, but with limited presses and the passing of up to 16 years, these babies ain’t spotted too often.
The contributions of Eddie Hill, the Sweeteens, Nightchill and James Carpenter have all been on Kent CDs before, but mainly on label- or producer-based collections that may have escaped the busy modern soul man about town.
The CD also boasts its quotient of previously unreleased gems. Marshall McQueen interprets his excellent composition ‘Any Fool Can Feel It’ to a fully orchestrated track produced by evergreen Los Angeles legend Kent Harris. Detroit singer Rose Batiste offers her last-known recording ‘The Feeling Is Gone’, created by writer-producers George McGregor and Jerry Williams. If the credits weren’t enough to excite, listen to the wailing desperation in Rose’s voice and rejoice in this long lost tape’s appearance.
Although the modern vibe tends to be mid-tempo and super-soulful these days, we never forget our Northern roots and records such Charles Russell’s Dave Crawford-produced ‘It Ain’t Easy’ helped mould both dance scenes from its discovery in the late 70s, a handful of years after its release. The admirable Jesse Davis gives us an out-and-out uptempo dancer from his San Diego-produced album “Hollywood Gypsies”.
One to raise the eyebrows of the vinyl hounds is Gloria Lucas’ ‘You Won’t Be True’ on the insanely rare Flodavieur label. I doubt if this has had many plays as copies just aren’t around; we have a label scan to prove it exists, though. The Crusaders and Betty Gouché will also set you back a few quid to own the plastic, while Tommy Bush’s first of two Specialty 45s is reasonably priced now, but get onto this winner sharp-ish, while you still can.
We’ve also got deep soul from Barbara Brown, scat singing from Melvin Sparks’ vocalist Jimmy Scott, modern soul monsters from Tommy Tate and Eddie Billups, slow grooves from Darondo and even some hot-lovin’ from Pat Livingstone. If that don’t turn you on, nowt will.
By Ady Croasdell