KENT’S CELLAR OF SOUL VOLUME 3.

KENT’S CELLAR OF SOUL VOLUME 3.

Eight years after the release of Kent’s Cellar Of Soul Volume 2, Kent Soul have belatedly released the followup, Kent’s Cellar Of Soul Volume 3. It’s been well worth the wait. The Kent’s Cellar Of Soul seems to mature like a fine wine. That’s thanks to the two men behind this compilation series.

For Kent’s Cellar Of Soul Volume 3 compilers Ady Croasdell and Tony Rounce have been on another successful crate-digging expedition. They’ve dug deep into the vaults of Atlantic,Bell, Dynamo, Goldwax, Kent, Mirwood, Musicor, Swan and Vee-Jay. The result is Kent’s Cellar Of Soul Volume 3, a compilation that features contributions from everyone from some of the biggest names is soul music.

There’s contributions from James Carr, Fred Hughes, Ruby Andrews, Clarence Carter and Lowell Fulsom right through to The Platters, Thelma Jones, The Inspirations and The Ikettes. Then there’s contributions from Brenton Wood, Cliff Nobles & Co, Clarence Carter and Jesse James and The Dynamic Four. In total, there are twenty-six slices of soul music on Kent’s Cellar Of Soul Volume 3. With a compilation that features some of soul’s biggest names, choosing the highlights isn’t going to be easy. However, here goes.

My first choice is Brenton Wood’s Gimme Little Sign. Written by Jospeh Hooven, Alfred Smith and Hal Winn it was released as a single in 1967, on the Double Shot label. It reached number nineteen in the US Billboard 100 and number eight in the UK. Gimme Little Sign also featured on Brenton’s 1967 debut album Oogum Boogum. This was the first of two albums Brenton released on Double Shot. One of his most memorable releases is Gimme Little Sign. A poppy slice of soul, that’s full of hooks, Brenton’s vocal is needy and hopeful. 

Anytime I see Bobby Martin’s name on a record, I’ve got to investigate. Bobby was the man behind many Philly Soul classics. He never received the credit he deserved and belatedly, is being recognised as one of the architects of Philly Soul. Cliff Nobles & Co’s The Horse was arranged by Bobby Martin and produced by Jesse James. This was Cliff Nobles & Co’s 1968 debut single. It featured on their 1968 debut album, released on the Phil. L.A. of Soul label. Written by Cliff, this is a blistering instrumental that features many of the original members of M.F.S.B. So, it’s no surprise the single reached number two in the US Billboard 100 and US R&B Charts. 

There aren’t many artists who record singles for seventeen labels over a twenty-four year career. J. J. Barnes did. In 1967, he released his biggest hit single Baby Please Come Back Home. It was written by J.J. and Don Davis. Released on Don Davis’ Grooveville label in 1967, it reached number nine in 1967. Accompanied by swathes of the lushest stings, J.J’s delivers a heartachingly beautiful vocal. Oozing with emotion insecurity, it’s no wonder J.J. enjoyed such a long and successful career. Incidentally, listen to the arrangement and it sounds not unlike People Get Ready?

That Thelma Jones wasn’t a huge star is a musical injustice. Just listening to her vocal powerhouse on The House That Jack Built and you wonder why she didn’t enjoy critical acclaim and commercial success? Her vocal is combination of power, passion and frustration. Bobby Lance and Fran Robbins’ lyrics come to life, as she sings call and response with backing vocalists The Sweet Inspirations. They add urgent harmonies while the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section add a pulsating heartbeat on The House That Jack Built which was one of the last records Thelma released on Barry. This is another hidden soulful gem from an artist who should’ve been a huge star.

Without a doubt, James Carr was one of the greatest soul singers ever. Some people consider him the best soul singer ever. No wonder when you listen to Freedom Train. Produced by Quinton Claunch and Rudolph Russell, Freedom Train released on Goldwax in 1968. What follows is an irresistible soulful stomper with a message. James unleashes a vocal masterclass, encouraging you to “get onboard the Freedom Train.” 

Originally,  Gladys Knight and The Pips recorded Giving Up. It wasn’t a commercial success. Nor was The Ad Libs 1969 cover version. Released on Share Records, its laden with drama. That comes courtesy of the cascading strings and cooing, sometimes urgent harmonies. Then there’s a vocal that’s dramatic, emotive and full of heartache and heart. Arranged and produced by Van McCoy it’s another of the hidden gems on Kent Cellar Of Soul Volume 3.

Fred Hughes’ biggest hit single was his debut single Ooh Wee Baby, I Love You. Released on Vee-Jay in 1965, this sultry, sensual and soulful single reached number three in the US R&B Charts. Written and produced by Richard Parker, this was the single that launched the career of Fred Hughes. No wonder. Accompanying Fred were some of Los Angeles’ top session players. This was the start of a career that lasted right through until the late seventies.

When you first hear The Inspirations’ Touch Me, Kiss Me, Hold Me (Goose Pimples), it sounds like a single released on Motown. It’s not. Instead it was released on Black Pearl. Inspired by The Supremes, The Inspirations mix sixties pop and soul. Sweet, soulful and dance-floor friendly, hooks certainly haven’t been rationed. As the lead vocal changes hands, it’s accompanied by horns, harmonies, dancing strings and Motown-esque rhythm section. Later, this track went on to become one of the rarest soul singles in the UK at one time.

From the opening bars, Clarence Carter’s Funky Fever has you hooked. Released on Atlantic in 1968, Clarence penned this track with Rick Hall, Marcus Daniel and Joe Wilson. Rick Hall arranged and produced what was originally a single. A couple of weeks after the release, Atlantic decided to flip the track. Slip Away, which was the B-Side became the single. The decision was vindicated. It reached number six in the US Billboard 100 and number one in the US R&B Charts. Eventually, the single sold over a million copies in the UK and was certified platinum. Despite this Funky Fever is still an infectiously catchy track. Accompanied by a driving rhythm section, rasping horns, Hammond organ and harmonies, Clarence struts his way through this track. The Funky Fever is the only fever you’ll ever want to catch.

Ruby Andrews’ Casanova (Your Playing Days Are Over) was released in 1967 on Zodiac. It was written by Josephine Armstead and Milton Middlebrook. This was the original version of the track, where Ruby accompanied by swathes of cascading strings delivers a scathing vocal. As she warn her “Casanova (Your Playing Days Are Over),”  frustration, anger and hurt fill her voice. Although this is a good version of this track, Loleatta Holloway’s version of the song is the definitive version.

The last track I’ve chosen from Kent’s Cellar Of Soul Volume 3 is Baby It’s Over. For those unfamiliar with Bob and Earl, their biggest hit was Rockin’ Robin, released in 1958, Eight years later, Bob and Earl, a.k.a. Bobby Day and Robert Day released Baby It’s Over in 1966. It was arranged by none other than Gene Page and produced by Fred Smith. It’s the perfect track to close Kent’s Cellar Of Soul Volume 3. Quite simply, it’s oozing with heartache, hurt and emotion.

Although there’s been a gap of eight years between Kent’s Cellar Of Soul Volume 2 and Kent’s Cellar Of Soul Volume 3, which was recently released by Kent Soul, it’s been well worth the wait. Compilers Ady Croasdell and Tony Rounce surpassed themselves, as Kent’s Cellar Of Soul Volume 3 surpasses the quality of the two previous volumes. They were good, but Kent’s Cellar Of Soul Volume 3 is even better. That’s saying something, given the quality of music on Kent’s Cellar Of Soul and Kent’s Cellar Of Soul Volume 2. That’s down to Ady and Tony’s crate-digging exploits.

They’ve been on another successful crate-digging expedition. They’ve dug deep into the vaults of Atlantic,Bell, Dynamo, Goldwax, Kent, Mirwood, Musicor, Swan and Vee-Jay. Unlike other compilations, they’ve not eschewed some familiar faces. Indeed, Ady and Tony have picked contributions from everyone from some of the biggest names is soul music.

There’s contributions from James Carr, Fred Hughes, Ruby Andrews, Clarence Carter and Lowell Fulsom right through to The Platters, Thelma Jones, The Inspirations and The Ikettes. Then there’s contributions from Brenton Wood, Cliff Nobles & Co, Clarence Carter and Jesse James and The Dynamic Four. In total, there are twenty-six slices of soul music on Kent’s Cellar Of Soul Volume 3. Many of these artists you’ll be familiar with. Others may be new to you. However, you’ll be glad to have heard these singers for the first time. Just like so many compilations, Kent’s Cellar Of Soul Volume 3 is a musical voyage of discovery.

Kent’s Cellar Of Soul Volume 3 is a musical journey I’d recommend you embark on. You’ll music recorded by some of the legends of soul music. Other artists may not have enjoyed the same success, but they certainly weren’t lacking in talent. Thelma Jones is an example of this. So, with a combination of music from old friends and some hidden gems, Kent’s Cellar Of Soul Volume 3 is a welcome addition to Kent’s Cellar Of Soul compilation series. Kent’s Cellar Of Soul Volume 3 will also be a welcome addition to any record collection. Standout Tracks: Brenton Wood Gimme Little Sign, Cliff Nobles & Co. The Horse, Thelma Jones The House That Jack Built and James Carr Freedom Train.

KENT’S CELLAR OF SOUL VOLUME 3.

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