We’ve not had an out-and-out ballad CD on Kent for over a year and after 28 years of compiling, we thought that a retrospective look at the very best tracks was due.
Many deep, southern or ballad collectors may not have gone for CDs such as “Mirwood Soul Story” or “Dave Hamilton’s Detroit Dancers”. As there were gems of these styles within those and other packages, we knew they would be enjoyed in another CD setting. Similarly, other pieces of beautiful music from the Charmels, L.V. Johnson and Johnny Gilliam were on similar but deleted CDs. Picking a “Best Of” CD felt valid and to strengthen it even more, we are including a handful of recordings that have not been issued on CD before, in some cases never issued at all.
These newbies deserve the most attention as they will be fresh to most soul fans. Of the issued tracks, the least rare is the Quotations’ ‘It Can Happen To You’ on DiVenus, which was a good seller in NYC on issue, though the current price tag of £150 (due to its Northern flip) would put the casual buyer off. Rarer is the Austin Taylor offering from Zell Sanders’ J&S subsidiary Sprout Artist. That set-up was never known for production subtleties and the single opens as if in an echoing Harlem Church, with the chorus belting out Hymn #94 before Austin’s tough vocal preaches his message.
The master tape contenders are of incredible quality. Bay Area songstress Jeanette Jones was probably only demoing ‘What Have You Got To Gain By Losing Me’ but sang it from the heart, which now means that an excellent Gerry Goffin co-composition was saved for the world, with its first airing here. Down in Nashville, Tennessee ace arranger and producer Bob Holmes cut a Gallatin act called the Paramount Four on a stunning group ballad ‘You Must Leave Her Because You Love Her’. If you invest in this CD, I can guarantee that you will be singing along to this beauty with gusto.
From the previously released but now deleted pile we re-present the Charmels’ brilliant ‘I’ve Done It Again’. Featuring on the same deleted Kent CD was L.V. Johnson’s ‘Seeing Is Believing’, which I now realise is right up there with it. Giving the track another lease of life also gives me the chance to correct the assumption that it is the same song the Mad Lads cut (also for the Volt label); it isn’t and we don’t know who penned it. I hadn’t even noticed that it was over four and a half minutes long – it doesn’t drag for a single second.
Personal favourites include the tracks by Phillip Mitchell, Loleatta Holloway, Sam Dees, the Modettes, Debbie Taylor and the bittersweet and haunting voice of Little Ann singing her self-written title track to the CD. If you don’t recognise any of the titles, please rest assured that these are the best of Kent – that’s going to be very good indeed.
By Ady Croasdell