I was 26 and needed to hear more of that inspiring, original 60s club soul music that was a recent revelation. There were no dances to go to, so my new mate Randy and I thought we’d give it a go ourselves. Thirty years on, we’ve tragically lost Randy and a few others along the way, but we’re still opening the club doors for the fans of that same great music, as we have for a generation now.
The first Kent LP we issued featured the very essence of that 6Ts Rhythm ‘N’ Soul Society who can be seen whooping it up on the LP cover, our resident DJ Ian Clarke, an inspiration to so many, designed most of the first 50 sleeves and Randy himself told me which tracks to go with, if I was ever in any doubt. The label and club were always inextricably linked and when I had the bright idea of a free record, instead of a poxy cloth patch, it was Ace who copped the plea.
First up - Mary Love, Etta James and the Ikettes: simple and very effective. It was the essence of R&S. Two years later, though, the penny dropped. I realised we were sitting on some dance floor dynamite with all those unissued 60s soul tracks begging to be allowed into collections where as singles they would be revered. In September 1986 Melba Moore’s ‘Magic Touch’ was issued on the second Kent 6Ts Anniversary Single and with those internationally recognised, dramatic opening piano bars, the legend began.
Perhaps I’m guilty of a little self-delusion here, but I believe this series of 25 singles is up there with the best original US 60s soul series on any UK label and the standard on this CD demonstrates just that.
The “big”, tracks are all here: the San Franciscan TKOs, Chuck’s ‘Loneliness’, the Magicians historical vocal to ‘Double Cookin’’, Lorraine Chandler and Gigi with her charming Charmaines. But those are the ones we regularly hear played out in clubs across the Northern Soul galaxy. It’s the ones who I believe have yet to have their day that excite me, particularly now that I’ve had time to reassess their charms. Take Johnnie Taylor’s growling and grooving on ‘Please Let Me In’; it won’t outdo J J Barnes’ original Ric Tic version, but listen to those opening clean, crisp guitar licks and dig those Staxy horns as they drive the song.
Here’s another one for you - the Devonnes singing Larry Banks and Jaibi’s ‘Doin’ “The Gittin’ Up”’. Two lovers with superb writing and singing talents, who could turn a lightweight dance number into a work of art.
Not destined to become a dancefloor staple, but a stunning record nonetheless, is ‘Can’t Say No’ by the M-Ms and the Peanuts.
Get your fine selves down to Ladbrokes and put a tenner on Mill Evans ‘Ain’t You Glad’ being the next £100 anniversary 45. Butch has picked up an original acetate and is playing it and all of a sudden its quality is appreciated.
Then there’s the sheer class of Sharon Scott’s Detroit-inspired masterpiece ‘(Putting My Heart Under) Lock And Key’, Peggy Woods’ underrated Modern mid-60s mover ‘Love Is Gonna Get You’ and owzabout Wally Cox’s Golden State Recorder -produced soulful reading of his Wand stomper ‘This Man Wants You’.
The notes are substantial; I ramble on about a subject which, after all, is very close to my heart and now I finally know the truth about one of the greatest soul records ever from Ms Carla Thomas, I share it; not even sparing the boss’s blushes.
Strike me down if I ain’t gorn and revealed the 30th anniversary single before the dance ‘as ‘appened. But you don’t know what the flip is yet (any more than me), do yer?
NB: due to contractual problems we have had to drop the Moments aka The Fabulous Impact single, but you can still read all about it in the booklet.