The first four years of the Bihari brothers’ last major imprint. 30 of the tracks or takes make their CD debut.
Following our recent 2CD overview of Flair’s R&B releases and two double CDs embracing the RPM label’s output, we’re temporarily skipping over the parent Modern label to turn a spotlight on Kent, which replaced the Bihari Brothers’ earlier imprints in 1958 and outlasted them by several years. “Unlock The Lock: The Kent Story, Volume 1” covers the first four years of the label’s life. The story is told, wherever possible, by previously unreissued material and previously unreleased alternate takes of familiar repertoire. Considerably more than half of what’s here falls into those categories.
Of the generous helping of B.B. King tracks included, most of them adds to his discography by means of alternate takes and mono single mixes that have not yet found their way onto an Ace CD. B.B. was the mainstay of the release schedule, from its incorporation through to the early 70s, but he was by no means all there was to Kent. There’s a wide variety on offer here – everything from doo wop and rockabilly to straight ahead R&B and proto soul.
Although B.B. left Kent in late 1961 (save for the contractual obligation session in 1964 that brought him back to cut ‘Rock Me Baby’) the Biharis filled his position as their flagship artist with successful 45s by his peer Lowell Fulson and upcoming blues-tinged Texan soul man Arzell “Z.Z.” Hill. Hear them and many others in the not too distant future on “The Kent Records Story, Volume 2”.