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Together: The Complete Kent And Modern Recordings (MP3), MP3 (£7.99)
It’s true that we don’t release as many CDs of R&B and blues as we used to, for a variety of reasons, but Ace’s commitment to those genres remains strong. We’ll be stepping up our schedule in 2011 with several releases already planned for the early months of the year, including a further volume in the well-received “Mellow Cats & Kittens” series and a package of rare and unreleased 60s and 70s Ted Taylor material from Ronn. The next volume of material from John Dolphin’s tapes will also appear this side of next summer. Meanwhile, as a real end of year treat, we bring you, for the first time in once place, the complete Kent and Modern recordings of two west coast bluesmen whose work for the Bihari brothers has long been ripe for reappraisal – Al King and Arthur K Adams.
“Together” contains at least one version of every track that the two recorded for Kent-Modern between 1966 and 1969. Although Arthur’s tracks lean more towards soul than those of his CD mate, there is synergy between the two groups of recordings, in that Adams is also the lead guitarist on most if not all of the Al King sides. Neither man cut enough solo material to fill their own CD but the sum of their work for Kent-Modern does that in a most satisfying manner.
Al’s sides include the classic ‘My Name Is Misery’, its even better sequel ‘Get Lost’ and a slew of fine tracks that showcase his Percy Mayfield-influenced lyrics and delivery – many appearing in stereo for the first time ever. Arthur’s reputation among blues collectors was initially forged by his spellbinding ‘She Drives Me Out Of My Mind’, which first gained UK release on Blue Horizon. Here it’s also in stereo, taken from the mastertape that runs almost a minute longer than the original 45. Between the two of them they cook up a fine mess of blues and proto-bluesoul, aided by the fabulous arrangements of Maxwell Davis (who co-produced the sessions), musicians that number another west coast legend, Big Jay McNeely, among their ranks and – in Arthur’s case - duet partners of the calibre of Modern’s own Mary Love and Darlene Love’s sister Edna Wright (future lead singer of the Honey Cone).
It’s a shame that Al’s and Arthur’s singles for Kent and Modern didn’t meet with the sales that they deserved at the time. That they didn’t is not due to the quality of repertoire or performance, which is first rate in every instance, as you’ll hear yourself, when you invest your money – wisely – in “Together”.
By Tony Rounce