This CD is a look at the Kent label’s Northern Soul history, heritage and future. There’s more to Kent than just Northern Soul, but that’s how we started in 1982 when Mary Love’s ‘You Turned My Bitter Into Sweet’ kicked off the “For Dancers Only” vinyl album. We covered the ballad side recently on “Deep Shadows: The Best Of Kent Ballads” CDKEND 342.
The “For Dancers Only” LP gets a nod with Gene & Gary’s duet of Danny Monday’s ‘Baby Without You’, here on CD for the first time. There is a host of exclusives, several not issued in any format before: Alexander Patton’s ‘True Love (Is In The Heart)’ will open traditional Northern fans’ eyes and ears the most, being from the same session and of a similar feel to his classic ‘A Lil Lovin’ Sometimes’, and Marva Holiday’s ‘Rising Higher’ is a fabulous Sherlie Matthews’ song that will be admired by progressive Northern fans.
Modern soul has been a part of the Kent landscape since 1984’s “Moving On Up” album. We celebrate that branch of our music with Darrow Fletcher’s ‘No Limit’ and the Paramount Four’s anthemic ‘Sorry Ain’t The Word’, both debuting on CD. 70s soul fans may well buy the CD for these two alone.
Our forthcoming Pied Piper spring range is launched with the original alternate take of Lorraine Chandler’s 60s Detroit opus ‘You Only Live Twice’; the song that gave birth to Yvonne Baker’s ‘You Didn’t Say A Word’. From the same stable comes the Pied Piper Players (aka Motown’s Funk Brothers) on ‘Ooh It Hurts Me’, a massive 60s newie of recent years as a stunning, unheard instrumental.
Representing the Dave Hamilton chapter are O.C. Tolbert and Little Ann’s rare soul classics, both presented in mixes different from our previous releases. Ben E King with ‘Gettin’ To Me’ heads our legendary discoveries section. Melba Moore, Chuck Jackson and Maxine Brown’s unissued recordings that re-floated the grounded SS Northern Soul in the 80s are here, as are the Magicians, whose vocal to ‘Double Cookin’’ shook up the Northern nation.
There are vinyl-finding tales of two of the biggest big beat ballads of them all and a story concerning picking up a handful of sleeveless singles in a producer’s house and seeing an undocumented Wand label for Walter Wilson’s 60s stomper which had been assumed to exist as tape only. Luther Ingram supplies the mother of all R&B/Northern crossover numbers, while Bobby Wisdom preens over his potential price tag of £4000; if you can find one.
There are classy crowd-pleasers from Toni & the Showmen, Sugar & the Spices, the Fiestas and the Sweethearts that have been marooned on Kent label stories, neglected by all but the pure in heart.
Advances in technology mean that the audio is vastly improved on tracks we first released 10 or 15 years ago. On some titles we were able to access superior quality multi-track masters and in Melba Moore’s case we even found an alternative vocal take. It is the first time the 45 mix of Johnny Maestro’s dramatic ‘I’m Stepping Out Of The Picture’ has been reissued. The quality of Chuck Jackson’s ‘Millionaire’ in particular is awesome, while the Magicians now has a potentially life-threatening dynamic.
The booklet contains 9,000 words of wisdom, re-telling the Kent Northern saga for long-term inmates or explaining where it all came form for the more recent converts. That’s 30 stunning soul sounds; one for each glorious year. It is not only a celebration but a revelation too; we hope you enjoy the hyperbole.
By Ady Croasdell