Al Sears’ NYC stable of labels and publishing created superb black music from the 50s through to 1966.
Kent are in it for the long haul. Although our first volume of recordings from Al Sears’ Arock and Sylvia labels was issued in 2002, we always intended to continue the story. Since then, more information has been garnered and further reviews of the tapes have revealed some musical treats and surprises. Take the opening track by the Corvairs, ‘Love Is Such A Good Thing’. We have learnt they are probably the same Corvairs who recorded for UA and Columbia and that ‘Deep Down Inside’ on our first CD is by them, rather than an unknown artist. We also now know that Garrett Saunders was in the first incarnation of the duo Gary & Gary, and that the B-side of Tutti Hill’s ‘He’s A Lover’ was identified on the label as ‘When The Going Gets Rough’ but actually played ‘Baby Take It Slow’. ‘When The Going Gets Rough’ gets its CD debut here.
Elsewhere, the highly rated Junior Lewis demos two early 60s songs and adds a terrific call-and-response chorus to Marie Knight’s powerful demo of ‘Nothing In The World’, a song he wrote, while Don Covay shows that Sears’ Rual and Sylvia publishing companies took their demos seriously, particularly on numbers such as Covay’s big city ballad ‘Did You Hear’. ‘Get In My Arms Little Girlie’ is an extended stomping blues from Sterling Magee, and Joan Moody sings her final release, ‘Music To My Ears’, and the unissued but equally fine ‘I Can’t Stay Away’, which we issued on a Kent 45 last year. Ansler Montell’s ‘Chained Am I’, another recent Kent single, also makes its CD debut.
We also look at the work of producer/songwriters Ron Miller and Lee Porter in more detail and examine Sears’ Serock label in depth. The extended version of Theola Kilgore’s ‘This Is My Prayer’, previously available only on a Kent LP in the 80s, sounds amazing on CD. Her Los Angeles stable-mate Sinner Strong also gives a performance worthy of goose-bumps. Vivian Collins’ ‘Hey Officer’ stems from Sears’ dalliance with early Detroit soul and the Larks’ offering shows he also went for the Philly sound. Van McCoy’s 1964 offering demonstrates his talent as a songwriter and vocalist, while he and his brother’s studio group the D.C. Playboys also feature and the Diplomats perform his fabulous beat ballad ‘I Really Love You’.