Kent Records’ history with deep, southern and bluesy ballads dates back to 1983 when we issued our third vinyl LP “Slow’n’Moody, Black & Bluesy” on Kent 003. That fine collection of US Kent and Modern label 45s was re-vamped for CD in 1994, but that was deleted four years ago due to legal wrangles over one of the tracks, so there’s been an even longer wait for this CD update.
Every cloud does seem to have a silver disc lining. We have jumped at this opportunity to enhance the sound while expanding the repertoire. Sound reproduction techniques have come on appreciably in the last 15 years and we have found some new tapes that weren’t available before, occasionally with a few extra bars, usually on the fade-outs. We are also now able to give the great Kent public a previously unheard version of Van McCoy’s ‘Sweet Bitter Love’ by the little-known but exceptionally talented Millie Foster, Ruth Davis’ churchy take on the Jim Webb ballad ‘The Smartest Fool’, a big band blues number from master of that genre Ernie Andrews, a weeping blues ballad from the inspired Larry Davis and even a plain and simple love song from Larry Sanders.
That’s to add to goodies like the previously unissued gems which have only ever appeared on the first incarnation of the now deleted CD: Jimmy Holiday’s ‘Everybody Needs Somebody’, Joe Houston’s Crescent City-recorded ‘The Last One To Know’ and Kent favourite Willie Gauff & the Love Brothers with their oh so bleak ‘Farewell’.
Further research has revealed some interesting facts about Mary Love’s ‘Baby I’ll Come’ single and the differences between Jimmy Holiday’s Diplomacy and Kent 45s. Favourite down-tempo Kent/Modern staples like Tami Young’s ‘I Don’t Want To Lose You’, Tommy Youngblood’s ‘Why Should I Be The One’ and Jackie Day’s tour de force ‘If I’d Lose You’ still sound fresh and more than worthy of a turntable revival, while songs like Terry & the Tyrants’ ‘Weep No More’, Jimmy Robins’ ‘It’s Real’ and Willie Gauff’s issued Kent 45 ‘Whenever I Can’t Sleep’ will satisfy the most tortured soul.
Kent/Modern big guns Z.Z. Hill, Clay Hammond, Johnny Copeland and even the mighty B.B. King are all on hand to give the CD some gravitas and box office appeal, while Yvonne Baker and Little Henry & the Shamrocks address the more tender side of the black music ballad.
Alec Palao, while scouring the Bay Area, unearthed a fabulous photo of San Francisco’s Jeanette (aka Jacqueline) Jones and some painstaking harrying of the old picture libraries got us the original LP front cover shot to reproduce in best possible clarity for you, thereby giving the doleful young lady on the cover the opportunity to stare out at you, deep in her thoughts, all over again: surely she must be our own soul music-inspired Mona Lisa?
By Ady Croasdell