The Kent label has had a long and happy relationship with Old Town Records and its subsidiary Barry. The first recordings we put out was the wildly named Think Smart Soul Stirrers: Jerk It At The Party In Chinatown" Various Artists LP. A contender and probable winner for any "Let's see how many track titles we can get into an album name" contest. That was in 1987 and featured all the labels' Northern Soul classics like the Gypsies It's A Woman's World, Lorraine & The Delights Baby I Need You and the Fiestas Think Smart. It was also the period when the label was being reassessed by soul fans as a source of "newies", ie 60s soul sounds that had never been played on the Northern scene before. Also the desired tempo of records had dropped and the big beat ballad was very much in vogue. So tracks like Freddie Houston's If I Had Known and Donald Height's You Can't Trust Your Best Friend were more than acceptable to Northern devotees of the time. These sorts of records also made great listening for the general soul fan. In true Kent style we put in a ballad or two and even managed some Latin boogaloo to rile the purists.
When LPs became a doomed species Old Town was one of the first labels to be transferred to CD, which due to lack of space on the cover was merely called Old Town & Barry Soul Stirrers". We went with this soul source because there had been more exciting discoveries on the label, the tapes were great and label owner Hy Weiss and Ace were by then old buddies. The extra music we could squeeze on included: the Sparkels enchanting Try Love One More Time, a Jobete song from the New York pens of Sidney Barnes and George Kerr, Frank Howard's rousing dancer I'm So Glad, Rosco & Barbara (Mr & Mrs Gordon to you) Could This Be Love, a Rhythm and Soul classic and Peggy Scott's magnificent, modern mover Things Have More Meaning Now.
BY ADY CROASDELL