Kent has a long tradition in presenting the best of soul group harmony recordings. 25 years ago we came up with the LP “Great Sixties Soul Groups” and in the digital age Ady gathered together 24 Impressions sound-a-likes on “Impressed” and Tony followed with his two “Perfect Harmony” CDs. The last of those was issued in 2005, so this new volume is long overdue.
The time span is wide with a fascinating alternate take of the Mad Lads ‘Don’t Have To Shop Around’ from 1965 while a late switch of tracks when we faced some licensing difficulties meant a 1984 track by the superb Detroit vocal outfit Nightchill was included at the last minute. We feel certain that our aural license will be forgiven once the track is heard.
Only four of the acts have appeared on previous volumes of the Harmony series and only three of the recordings have been compiled onto Ace CDs before and so the majority are digitalised for the first time.
Major attractions include the Dynamic Soul Machine’s original version of the Sam Dees and Frederick Knight song ‘Boom-A-Rang’, also covered by Corey Blake as ‘Your Love Is Like A Boomerang’. The Four Sonics take on Dusty’s ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’ was an inspired cover choice and a big R&B record two years after the hit. Also from Detroit comes the Dramatics first Volt 45, ‘Since I’ve Been In Love’, making its CD debut.
Harmony certainly does not only feature in ballads. The offerings of Philly’s Festivals and Detroit’s Brothers Of Soul are mid-tempo movers of the highest vocal and musical quality.
How the Pretenders never had an R&B hit is a mystery. Their beautiful ‘Just You Wait And See’ didn’t make it onto our Carnival CDs but fits in perfectly here. For the many soul group collectors who came to the music through doo wop the inclusion of the very scarce and expensive Flodavieur 45 by the Inconquerables will be welcome with its echoes of the 50s in ‘Wait For Me’ as there is with the Imaginations melodious ‘Strange Voice’, remixed from the original multi-track tape. Tape talk neatly brings in the quarter of the album never heard before. Dave Hamilton’s Detroit studios supply the Webb People ‘Who’s The Biggest Fool’ and the Nightchill number ‘Once Again’. If we add his rare TCB-pressed ‘Heavenly Thing’ by the Mark-Keys we can see how deeply he was into this sound.
New York producer David Blake is the link between the Stylistics-sounding Radiations ‘Love Be Not A Stranger’, released on Valise Records, possibly sung at an even higher pitch than their mentors could manage, and the Quotations whom he produced for DiVenus Records. Their ‘Anytime You Want Me’ has a slick 60s Big Apple production but missed release when the label folded.
The soul harmony sound is most often performed by men but here we have two excellent renditions by girl groups. Carnival’s Joe Evans excelled at this style of soul and released ‘Need Someone To Love’ on both Norma Jenkins and the Symphonies, whose group arrangement we chose. We have also added a delicate, unreleased ballad by the Lovettes, ‘I’ll Be Waiting’, its gentle harmonies the perfect ending to this latest Kent offering.
By Ady Croasdell and Tony Rounce