Quite a few of the tracks take me back to a time when I'd just left school and was bitten by the 60's Soulscene. Some were being played by every DJ in every nightclub in Manchester's Twisted Wheel The Jigsaw, Taki's and Top of the Town among others. Some are new to me but they all evoke a time of great American soul music that flooded the British music scene and Northern Soul wouldn't exist without them.
This is a very compilation from 'Kent/Ace' records, the third in the series and after a slight dip in form on volume two its nearly back up to the heights of the excellent first compilation. The tracks are in glorious mono, and as usual the sound quality is excellent on the whole with only 'Gotta give her love' by the Volumes sounding a little tired - this is still one of the best tracks on here though. There is a mix of styles here with some fantastic tracks by Brenton Wood, The Platters, The Ad Libs, Carl Henderson and the Showmen from the years 1964 - 69. It comes with a great 24 page colour booklet with very good liner notes and track info by Ady Croasdell and Tony Rounce. Overall, a very good and enjoying MONO listen (as it should be, well done Ace). 8.5/10.
This is the singles release of these early soul seminal classics. I grew up in the Mod/soul scene hearing these songs in this way. This is one of the best series of reissue soul ever and although the emphasis isn't said to be on dance soul, much more than half of the tracks are Northern Soul classics from the pure soul part of the sound. Almost all these tracks don't have stereo mixes so this is as they were meant to be heard. Buy with confidence.
KENT records are a frustrating label, forever mixing the sublime and the mediocre in a seemingly random manner. After an exceptionally patchy 2013 (even by KENT standards) they have started 2014 in an outstanding fashion with this brilliant various artists, multi-label compilation. I've always maintained that KENT various artist compilations drawn from multiple labels/artists always beat their single label/artist compilations hands down and here is more proof of that with a sublime selection of mid- to late- 60's soul with only about 2-3 duds out of the generous 26 tracks. Another bonus is that this release doesn't contain any 'previously unreleased' songs which always makes me apprehensive since more often than not they were this way because they weren't up to snuff, a lesson KENT still don't seem to have grasped.
This compilation even improves on KENT's proven track record regarding multi-label/artist Northern Soul compilations (such as the exceptional 'Once Upon A Time In Wigan', 'Northern Monsters' & 4-volumes of Northern Soul's Classiest Rarities [surely due for another of these this year?]) in that it keeps you on your toes by mixing up the multitude of soul styles from the 60's including deep soul, northern soul, Motown-ish, funky soul, uptown soul and even perhaps a touch of psych-soul on J.J.Barnes brilliant, dramatic 'Baby Please Come Back Home'.
There are a few tracks replicated from earlier KENT releases including 'Funky Fever', 'Freedom Train' and 'The House That Jack Built' but this is forgivable due to the prodigious tracklisting length and that these are superior songs that contribute to the eclectic mix of soul stylings and so don't come across (too much) as cynical recycling.
The price of the CD is justified by the presence of the utterly infectious 'Gimme Little Sign' by Brenton Wood in primo sound, one of the best singles of the 1960's. There are plenty of other superior tracks here including the thoroughly uptown 'Giving Up' by The Ad Libs, the immortal proto-funk of 'Tramp' by Lowell Fulsom, the bluesy girl-group sound of The Ikettes on 'Peaches'n'Cream', the driving instrumental 'The Horse' by Cliff Noble & Co. (who'd form the basis of the Philly International MFSB band in the following decade), the soaring dramatic 'Casanova (Your Playing Days Are Over)' by Ruby Andrews and the similarly epic 'Ooh Wee Baby, I Love You' by Fred Hughes (with heavy hints of mid- to late- 60's Motown) and so on and so on.
The only real duds are the trite, cheesy 'With This Ring' by The Platters and 'Sharing You' by Carl Henderson.
The liners and packaging are exceptional in the usual KENT tradition and it is really a pity that KENT don't follow this multi-label approach more regularly to up the consistency on their releases in order to cut down the chaff such as the notorious compilations where they mix 60's tracks with those of later decades (including the dreaded 80's!). Oh well, a plea that will no doubt fall on deaf ears but we can all live in hope.