Sunday, 3 June 2018

"On The Soul Side" by VARIOUS ARTISTS (May 2018 Ace/Kent Soul 'Expanded Edition' CD Reissue With 10 Bonus Tracks and Duncan Cowell Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...It Will Stand..."

I grimace now at the thought of it - but back in the day when I needed money for our kids or something - I sold my prized collection of 50 Kent LPs into the job (I worked at Reckless Records in Berwick Street and had diligently collected them across years). The idea at the time was that they (Kent LP compilations) were plentiful - turned up at every record fair and were cheap too. There was always 10 or 15 different titles lying around the basement of "Cheapo, Cheapo" in Rupert Street at £2.50 a throw.

Cut to decades later and with the demise of secondhand record shops everywhere and the rise of CD - it's a very different story. What was once plentiful and easy to access on LP is now not so, superseded by Ace's legendary 'Kent Soul' CD compilations which themselves are 32-years satisfying the marketplace and numbers probably 200+ releases and counting (the first showed in 1986).

The label 'Ace Records' began in 1975 but they started their 'Kent Soul' imprint with the vinyl LP compilation "For Dancers Only" on Kent KENT 001 in September 1982. By the time they'd wound down vinyl reissues on Kent in March 1990 with the Green Garland LP "Just For The Doctor" – the imprint had clocked up 97 releases on the black stuff. Which brings us to this fabulous 2018 CD reissue of their popular sixth outing KENT 006...

It gives us the original September 1983 16-track UK LP and adds on a further 10 relevant bonus cuts (not 12 as stated on the rear CD inlay) many of which are either new to digital or previously unreleased. I'd even argue that the 10 Bonuses would make up one helluva VINYL LP of their own right. Here are the steppers, sweaters and kiss-me-quick-squeeze-me-slow smoochers...

UK released 26 May 2018 (8 June 2018 in the USA) - "On The Soul Side" by VARIOUS ARTISTS on Ace/Kent CDKEND 473 (Barcode 029667086929) is a 26-Track CD compilation based around a 16-Track 1983 compilation LP (Tracks 1 to 16 – Tracks 17 to 26 are Bonuses) that plays out as follows (64:42 minutes):

Side 1 of the original September 1983 UK LP:
1. Love And Desire - PATRICE HOLLOWAY (November 1966 US 7" single on Capitol 5778, A-side)
2. Gonna Fix You Good (Every Time You're Bad) - LITTLE ANTHONY & THE IMPERIALS (July 1966 US 7" single on Veep V-1233, A-side)
3. Dr. Love - BOBBY SHEEN (1966 US 7" single on Capitol 5672, B-side of "Sweet Sweet Love")
4. Ready, Willing And Able - JIMMY HOLIDAY & CLYDIE KING (April 1967 US 7" single on Minit 32021, A-side)
5. A Lot Of Love - HOMER BANKS (May 1966 US 7" single on Minit 32000, A-side)
6. Lipstick Traces (On A Cigarette) - THE O'JAYS (April 1965 US 7" single on Imperial 66102, A-side)
7. The Record - H.B. BARNUM (March 1965 US 7" single on Capitol 5391, A-side)
8. It Was Easier To Hurt Her - GARNET MIMMS (March 1965 US 7" single on United Artists UA 848, A-side)

Side 2 of the original September 1983 UK LP:
9. Fortune Teller - BENNY SPELLMAN (March 1962 USA 7" single on Minit 644, B-side to "Lipstick Traces (On A Cigarette)") - Side 2 of Original LP
10. It Will Stand - THE SHOWMEN (September 1961 US 7" single on Minit 632, A-side)
11. Boy Watcher - GINGER THOMPSON (September 1968 US 7" single on 123 Records 1702, A-side)
12. Do-Wah-Diddy - THE EXCITERS (December 1963 US 7" single on United Artists UA 662, A-side)
13. I Want You To Be My Baby - ELLIE GREENWICH (April 1967 US 7" single on United Artists UA 50151, A-side)
14. Point Of No Return - GENE McDANIELS with The Johnny Mann Singers (July 1962 US 7" single on Liberty 55480, A-side)
15. Baby, I Love You - JIMMY HOLIDAY (May 1966 US 7" single on Minit 32002, A-side)
16. What's A Matter Baby (Is It Hurting You) - TIMI YURO (June 1962 US 7" single on Liberty 55469, A-side)

17. If You Were A Man - CLYDIE KING (May 1965 US 7" single on Imperial 66109, B-side of "The Thrill Is Gone")
18. Nobody Treats Me The Way You Do - THE MAGNIFICENT MEN (From the 1968 US Stereo LP "The World Of Soul" on Capitol ST 2846)
20. It's What's Underneath That Counts - JUNE JACKSON (July 1966 US 7" single on Imperial 66185, A-side)
21. What You Gonna Do (When Your Love Is Gone) - BOBBY WOMACK (February 1968 US 7" single on Minit 32037, B-side of "What Is This")
22. Trick Bag - EARL KING (January 1962 US 7" single on Imperial 5811, A-side)
23. Don't Let Your Eyes Get Bigger Than Your Heart - SYLVIA ROBBINS (March 1964 US 7" single on Sue 805, A-side)
24. The Man Who Don't Believe In Love - MARV JOHNSON (January 1964 US 7" single on United Artists UA 691, B-side of "Unbreakable Love")
25. Love Is A Hurtin' Thing - LOU RAWLS (August 1966 US 7" single on Capitol 5709, A-side)
26. Nothing Left To Do But Cry - MERRY CLAYTON (December 1963 US 7" single on Capitol 5100, A-side)

The 20-page booklet features new liner notes from ADY CROASDELL and aptly so too because he wrote the original rear sleeve under the pseudonym Harboro Horace aka 'Horace & The Boys' – all 161 words of it. In fact he jokes that in 1983 an essay of such brevity was all you got – today of course you expect and get more like 3 to 10 thousand words. Across the jam-packed pages there's the usual plethora of fabulous memorabilia (a publicity still for Little Anthony & The Imperials – Tom Waits will be pleased), those gorgeous Minit, Imperial, United Artists and Capitol labels (some British demos and American promos), trade adverts and sheet music for cool dudes like Homer Banks, Garnet Mimms, The Showmen and Gene McDaniels, even an early picture sleeve for the gorgeous Merry Clayton who of course duetted to such stunning effect with Mick Jagger on "Gimme Shelter" later in 1969 (those boys knew their stuff). On top of all that there is a track-by-track breakdown and fantastic-sounding transfers mastered by one of Ace’s long-standing Audio Engineers – DUNCAN COWELL who handled many of the brilliant Blue Horizon CD Reissues for Sony back in 2006 and beyond (I've reviewed most). It's the usual classy affair from Ace – to the legendary music...

The original LP (Tracks 1 to 16) still stands up so well - a great run of tracks - dancers, smoochers and all points in-between. It's all Sixties music - mostly 1966 in fact - that pivotal year. The boppers like Jimmy Holiday's joyous "Ready, Willing And Able" and Patrice Holloway's gorgeous Girl Soul number "Love And Desire" already elevate Side 1 - but there's no slacking on Side 2 either with the shuffling R&B of Spellman's "Fortune Teller" and the grandstanding vocal performance from songwriter Norman Johnson on The Showman's "It Will Stand" - a talent he would bring to bear with Chairman Of The Board in the early Seventies. The racy talk of the 'other sex' in Ginger Thompson's "Boy Watcher" on the obscure 123 Records was new to Soul fans when the LP came out (a great discovery too) - while the three ladies in The Exciters (Brenda Reid, Lillian Walker and Carol Johnson) brought their version of "Do-Wah-Diddy" to the Oasis Club in Manchester (a 1963 Lieber & Stoller Production). Ellie Greenwich turns a 1953 Louis Jordan hit written by Jon Hendricks into a 'yeah yeah' raver - the famous and revered songwriter's only chart success (low hundreds in 1967). Britain's beat boys The Alan Brown covered Little Anthony & The Imperials and a rare flop for them - the very Motownish "Gonna Fix You Good (Every Time You're Bad)" while the upbeat "Dr. Love" by Bobby Sheen is the very stuff of Northern Soul magic and may indeed induce you to cover the linoleum with Talcum Powder.

The quality of the BONUS TRACKS is shocking. Of the 10 new additions Croasdell quite rightly sings the praises of the gorgeous "If You Were A Man" - Clydie King lifting the Jerry Riopell and Nick De Caro production up into the Soul premium seats. The Magnificent Men has Lead Vocalists Dave Bupp and Adrian 'Buddy' King sounding like girls on the initial stages of "Nobody Treats Me The Way You Do" - but as the tune progresses their prowess turns into fantastic growls. Winner number three comes from June Jackson whose self-penned "It's What's Underneath That Counts" feels like Tammi Terrell tearing it up over at Motown as she eyes MG with affection in the booth opposite. Speaking of fantastic growlers - any compilation is enhanced in my book by including Bobby Womack's Minit Records material - and the "What It Is" flipside "What You Gonna Do (When Your Love Is Gone)" is another dancefloor cool one - the kind of shuffler NS fans love. R&B looms large in Earl King's cool "Trick Bag" - the kind of song that every white-boy band in the Sixties covered. Even better is a fab morality tale on the hugely likeable organ-and-brass grinder "Don't Let Your Eyes Get Bigger Than Your Heart" from Sylvia Robbins - a great singer and savvy Soul lady who went on to form the All Platinum label. Marv Johnson's sweet shuffler "The Man Who Don't Believe In Love" combined with the classy CD finisher "Nothing Left To Do But Cry" from Merry Clayton make you want Ace to issue these 10 tracks as a stand alone LP. Groovy baby...

What did we expect because Ace has made a winner better - yet again. It's only taken 30 years to do it. It will stand indeed. Well done to all involved...

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