The general popularity of 60s and early 70s ‘Group Soul’ seems to continue to be on the rise, an increasingly collectable commodity in recent years. This is due in no small part to the swell of interest among doo wop collectors in the past 10-15 years. The line between the very best doo wop cuts and the very best soul harmony sides is not a very long one. Thus it was perhaps inevitable that those collectors who either have every important group record from the 1950s and early 60s – or can’t afford to invest in the ones they don’t have – would eventually unite them with those of us who have long extended a similar level of appreciation in the other direction.
Kent’s “In Perfect Harmony” series was introduced to cater to both camps, with a mixture of tried and trusted soul favourites – by some of the genre’s most outstanding groups – and previously unissued gems from group soul’s golden decade (approximately 1966-1976, in your compiler’s opinion). Its aims, as a series, are to show that these kind of records were both pan-American and multi-racial in their execution and that, as always, soul – and in this case, sweet soul - is not really about where you’re from or what colour you are. This is especially true of our all-new Volume Two. Within its hour and a bit’s playing time, we feature blue-eyed soulsters from Nashville in the Magnificent 7, the mixed race Soulville All-Stars from Pittsburgh, PA (who also played their own instruments, as well as singing as pretty as you like) and the pride of New York’s latin soul community, brother Joe Bataan. We also have the best in African American vocal groups – of both sexes - from cities as far apart as Memphis and Detroit, Los Angeles and New York, New Jersey and Chicago. All, we’re happy to say, fully dedicated to bringing you MORE PERFECT HARMONY in the sweetest and loveliest way.
Aside from the obvious fact that we are joyfully privileged to bring you hitherto unreleased gems from the vaults of Stax, Twinight and Westbound Records, I’m personally delighted - as series compiler - that so many of our inclusions have never previously been reissued, in any shape or form. There’s something great going on here, almost everywhere you point the CD player’s laser, be it the sultry Island Soul of Foxy’s I Like The Way You Love Me, the endearingly low-budget lilt in Lee Williams and The Cymbals’ Northern favourite A Girl From A Country Town, the relentless beauty of the Climates sublime Memphis masterpiece No You For Me or the overwhelmingly intense Chi-town classic Someone Else’s Arms by Channel 3 – at least twenty times better than its much acclaimed Northern flip The Sweetest Thing (something on which annotator John Ridley and compiler yours truly both agree!).
These are just a few of the many delights in store for you in “More Perfect Harmony” – a CD with a heartbeat that is summed up by Joe Bataan’s exquisite version of the Exits’ essential Under The Streetlamp. Doo wop and group soul devotees alike can both agree that, where this kind of music’s concerned, the “Street”s the same, only the “Lamp” has been changed to protect the heritage!
By Tony Rounce