Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Various - Big City Soul Sounds (Kent 061)

The Tangiers
- This Empty Place

Big City Soul Sounds: NYC Soul of the 60's

256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Kent 061

Another Kent request came my way the other day and it's one I'm more than pleased to fill since it's in a dead heat with Shoes as my favourite Kent comp and at minimum a medalist on the podium. Although it features more than a few then-previously-unreleased rarities, my love for this comp is largely due to the bluesy ballads, brimming with intensely emotional sentiment as delivered by some of the finest soul and R&B vocalists the big apple had to offer in the 60s.

While most of the names below are fairly well-known in soul afficiando circles, especially of the Northern persuasion, Billy Byers' bio is as much a mystery now as when Harbro Horace wrote the liner notes. This Byers is not the multi-instrumentalist/arranger who also worked as Q. Jones' assistant at Mercury and, some 25 years on, it seems as if still no one really knows squat about this cat. In retrospect, that added historical dimension kinda gives this lost soul's plaintive moans on "Remind My Baby Of Me" an almost eerily spectral quality.

A special shout out to gentle Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier who was still an LA Rams football player when he belted out "In My Tenement" (he retired the following year). He deserves honourable mention for being a cousin of the lovely and talented Pam Grier who is a big fave here at Soundological - in case you hadn't placed it prior to now, that's her green and purple silhouette gracing our banner above.

This selection has seen considerable spins on the home hi-fi system in the last 15+ years and continues to win its fair share of time on the turntable. There are a few joints that are jumpin' but the majority of the collection is on the slow jam to mid-tempo tip. Some folks may find it a little sappy at points, what with all the strings to which Sceptre was so partial but hey, sometimes I'm a sucker for 'em. What can I say?

Although this specific album is long out of print, many of the tracks found their way onto assorted revamped comps Kent put out on CD in the late 90s, particularly New York Soul Serenade. In his review of same, AMG's Richie Unterberger puts it this way:
The Scepter and Musicor discs were characterized by grand, melodramatic songs and production, and while these are not lost classics, they do boast some good tunes and arrangements. This is recommended above most of Kent's other soul rarities collections for that reason: there's a good deal of variety and range of emotion, not just the standard uptempo happy music so beloved on Northern soul dance floors.
IMHO it's a perfect aural picture of the downtown sound on a hot summer night taken through a 60s lens. It would optimally be heard after dusk, coming in through the window from a nearby neighbour's kitchen as the AM waves spread out of their transistor radio, bounce off the linoleum tiles and the ceramic and stainless steel surfaces, then escape to ride the soft breeze wafted up by cooling sidewalks and the sluggish traffic six storeys below.

1 Chuck Jackson - Castanets
2 Tommy Hunt - New Neighbourhood
3 Sammy Ambrose - Welcome To Dreamsville vid
4 Roosevelt Grier - In My Tenement vid
5 Junior Lewis - The Man Who Had Everything
6 The Tangiers - This Empty Place
7 Billy Byers - Remind My Baby Of Me vid
8 Jackie Wilson - No Pity (In The Naked City)
9 Bessie Banks - Do It Now
10 Big Maybelle - If I Had You
11 The Shirelles - I'm Yours
12 Judy Clay - Turn Back Time
13 Theola Kilgore - This Is My Prayer vid
14 Baby Washington - The Time vid
15 Maxine Brown - Love That Man
16 Marie Knight - Say It Again

By special request, Big City Soul is broadcasting from Soundological HERE or HERE.


InnaSoul said...

He's back with the Kent flava !

Peace and love man.

Goofy said...

Great compilation, thanks!

cheeba said...

You're welcome friends! I've dusted off a few more to throw in the pile since the Kents remain a popular feature and there's always a couple nuggets on them that are hard to find elsewhere.

DJInnaSoul said...

Legend !

Anonymous said...

Great site you have here! was hoping to grab the KENT albums, but the download links, appear to be broken, any ideas thanks