Mainstream Modern Soul 2 1969-1976.

Label: Kent Soul. 

By 1964, had already spent over twenty years working in the music industry. He had started at the bottom and worked his way up, and now he was one of the most respected figures in American music. Bob Shad knew everyone and they knew him. They knew that Bob Shad had worked as a session musician, producer, A&R man and had founded several record labels. With such a wealth of experience, any one of the major labels would’ve welcomed Bob Shad onboard, and could’ve put his experience to good use. However, Bob Shad had other plans, and in 1964, founded a new label, Mainstream Records. The new label would allow to put all his experience to good use.

When Bob Shad founded Mainstream Records in 1964, it was originally a jazz label, which mainly released albums and a few singles. However, by 1965, music was changing, and rock was King. 

Bob Shad decided that Mainstream Records should release a wider and more eclectic election of music. This included rock music. For the next five years, Mainstream Records’ new and expanded roster proved popular and profitable. That changed in  1970, so Bob Shad decided to relaunch Mainstream Records.

The newly relaunched Mainstream Records would feature a newly designed label and would release just jazz. Mostly, Bob Shad intended to return to releasing mostly albums, with the occasional single. This was the way Mainstream Records had originally operated. However, Bob Shad had developed a criteria for choosing the albums he was willing to release. 

He was going to only release what he saw as traditional jazz albums. Bob Shad didn’t want to release albums where synths and electronics featured. This was unrealistic given that fusion’s popularity was on the rise, and it was no surprise that this new policy didn’t last long, The other change at  Bob Shad’s Mainstream Records was that the began to release soul and jazz.

By then, the there had been a blurring of the lines between what was soul and jazz. Even critics and record buyers were confused. This blurring of the lines resulted in Mainstream Records’ musical policy changing, and the label releasing a much wider selection of music. This included the music on Mainstream Modern Soul 2 1969-1976, which was recently  released by Kent Soul. 

Mainstream Modern Soul 2 1969-1976 is a much-anticipated followup to Mainstream Modern Soul 1969-1976. It features the twenty-three tracks from Mainstream Records and its various imprints. Among the artists, are a mixture of familiar faces and new names. Charles Beverly joins Special Delivery, Chocolate Syrup, Almeta Lattimore, McArthur, Jeany Reynolds, Alice Clark, Ellerine Harding, Calvin Arnold, Terry Huff and Linda Perry. These are just a few of the artists that feature on Mainstream Modern Soul 2 1969-1976, which features the soulful side of Bob Shad’s label.

Mainstream Modern Soul 2 1969-1976 opens with Charles Beverly’s debut single Grass Ain’t Greener, which was released on IX Chains Records in 1975. It’s one of the hidden gems on the compilation, and finds Charles Beverly unleashing a soulful vocal powerhouse,as his band fuse elements of rock are combined with Southern Soul. Sadly, the single failed to make any impression on the charts, and Charles Beverly never released another single on IX Chains Records. He went on to release several singles on the Vanessa label and his debut album In The Mood on Torrid Records, Inc. in 1991. However, the song that started it all of for Charles Beverly was Grass Ain’t Greener, which whets the appetite for the rest of the compilation.

When Special Delivery released Come Back With Your Love Pt 1 in 1976, the story of the few years was like the script to a musical soap opera. The problems had started when vocalist Terry Huff was recruited, and with him onboard, Special Delivery recorded I Destroyed Your Love. Just before its release in 1975, an argument led to Terry Huff being thrown out of the group. When I Destroyed Your Love became a hit, Mainstream Records sent Terry Huff and some session singers into the studio to record an album. Meanwhile, the original lineup of Special Deliver were left sitting on the sidelines. Terry Huff and Special Delivery released The Lonely One in 1975, and title-track reached number eleven in the US R&B charts and seventy-five in the US Billboard 100. Despite the success of The Lonely One, Bob Shad had decided that it was time for the original lineup of Special Delivery to resume recording. They were after all, the rightful owner of the group’s name.

Later, in 1976, Bob Shad returned the name Special Delivery to remaining members of the original group. With a new recruit, they headed into the studio and recorded Come Back With Your Love Pt 1 which is slick, soulful and showcases Special Delivery’s trademark. Sadly, this beautiful, string drenched, soul-baring single failed to chart. This was a first for Special Delivery, and was remembered as the one that got away.

In 1975, Almeta Lattimore went into the studio to record her new single with producer Leonard Jones. For the B-Side Almeta Lattimore had written Oh My Love. Despite being destined for the B-Side arranger Jimmy Roach and producer Leonard Jones deployed layers of lush strings and a subtle chiming guitar. They provided the backdrop for Almeta Lattimore’s impassioned vocal on this hidden soulful gem.

All-male quartet McArthur was founded by former Royal Joker Willie Jones in 1974. The group was named in honour of the United States Supreme Commander of the Allied Pacific Forces during World War II, General Douglas McArthur. Just a year after McArthur were formed, they released their debut single I’ll Never Trust Love Again on Brown Dog Records in 1975. It’s a slow, confessional ballad where tight harmonies and sweeping strings accompany the soul-baring ballad. Sadly, I’ll Never Trust Love Again was the only single the talented and soulful McArthur released. Forty-three years later, and it’s a welcome addition to Mainstream Modern Soul 2 1969-1976.

Lenny Welch’s recording career began in the late-fifties, and over the next fifteen years he had moved between record labels. Cadence, Kapp Records, Cadence, Columbia, Mercury and Atco Records were all home to Lenny Welch at one point. Then in the summer of 1973, Lenny Welch left Atco Records and signed to Bob Shad’s Mainstream Records. In December 1974, he released When There’s No Such Thing As Love (It’s Over). It was arranged by Bert DeCoteaux who produced the single with Lenny Welch. He’s joined by backing vocalist, lush strings and horns during this lush, orchestrated production. If finds Lenny Welch delivering an impassioned, emotive and soulful vocal on what was his fourth single for Mainstream Records. Sadly, it was also his swan-song. When the single failed to find the audience it deserved, Lenny Welch left Mainstream Records. However, he had kept one of his best until last.

Alice Clark should’ve and should’ve gone on to enjoy a long and illustrious career. She was a hugely talented singer, and had a vocal that could breath meaning and emotion into lyrics. This she showcased it on her 1972 eponymous debut album, Alice Clark. It was released on Mainstream Records and featured Never Did I Stop Loving You, where Alice Clark combines power and passion and delivers the lyrics as if she’s lived and experienced them. Sadly, after the release of her eponymous debut album, Alice Clark turned her back on music. That day, soul music lost a singer who had the potential to become one of the great female vocalists of her generation. Never Did I Stop Loving You is a reminder of what soul music lost the day Alice Clark turned her back on music.

Sadly, the story of Ellerine Harding is one of what might have been. She only ever released the one album Ellerine in 1972, which featured I Know Something You Don’t Know. Bob Shad produced Ellerine which featured some top session players. They’re joined by strings and horns and provide a soulful, funky backdrop for Ellerine Harding. Her vocal soulful, sassy and playful on what’s one of the highlights of Ellerine which was released on Mainstream Records in 1972, Just like Alice Clark, Ellerine Harding was a truly talented singer who should’ve reached greater heights.

In 1976, Nia Johnson released what proved to be the only single of her career, You Are The Spice Of My Life. It was penned and produced by Willie Lester and Rodney Brown. They’re responsible for a lush, orchestrated arrangement and cooing harmonies that provide the perfect accompaniment to Nia Johnson as she deliver a beautiful soulful, heartfelt paean.

Lenny McDaniel was born and brought up in New Orleans, where he played bass and guitar for many local bands. By 1968, Lenny McDaniel’s recording career began, and a year later, in 1969, Lenny McDaniel and The Last Nikle released I’ve Been Trying To Love You as a single on Mainstream Records in September 1969. It was penned by Lenny McDaniel, who unleashed an emotive vocal powerhouse, as he lays bare his soul. I’ve Been Trying To Love You also features on The Last Nikle’s 1969 debut eponymous album. This was the only album  Lenny McDaniel and The Last Nikle released together. Instead,  Lenny McDaniel became a session musician, and didn’t release any further albums until the nineties, when he released two solo albums.

Before signing to Bob Shad’s IX Chains Records, Calvin Arnold was something of a musical nomad. He had wandered from label to label, searching for that ever elusive hit single. His luck changed when he met Bob Shad and signed to his IX Chains Records’ imprint. For his IX Chains Records’ debut, Calvin Arnold released Satisfy My Love later in 1975. It reached seventy-nine in the US R&B charts, and gave Calvin Arnold a minor hit single. Tucked away on the B-Side was You’ll Do It another Calvin Arnold composition. It’s a chugging slice of Southern Soul where occasional strings punctuate the tight arrangement. Meanwhile, Calvin Arnold delivers a lived-in, emotive vocal that showcases a truly talented singer. Sadly, he only enjoyed one other minor hit single, (I’m Your) Friendly Neighbourhood Freak in 1975. That was as good as it got for the journeyman soul man, Calvin Arnold.

After leaving Special Delivery, Terry Huff embarked upon a solo career at Mainstream Records. In July 1976, Terry Huff released one of his own compositions Where There’s A Will (There’s A Way), which became his third single. Despite being an irresistible fusion of disco, funk and soul, this dance-floor friendly single failed to find an audience. For Terry Huff this modern soul classic was his Mainstream Records’ swan-song. He had kept his best single until last.

Closing Mainstream Modern Soul 2 1969-1976 is Linda Perry’s 1974 single Everyone Has Someone. This was the second single that Linda Perry had released for Mainstream Records. Accompanied by backing vocalists, Linda delivers a vocal that is full of hurt and heartache on a song that successfully fuses soul with fifties rock ’n’ roll. When it failed to find an audience, that marked the end of Linda Perry’s career at Mainstream Records.

These are just a few of the tracks on Mainstream Modern Soul 2 1969-1976, which was recently released by Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records. It’s the followup to Mainstream Modern Soul 1969-1976, which was the first in the is occasional series. This was followed up by Super Duper Love-Mainstream Hits and Rarities 1973-76, which was another welcome excursion into the Mainstream Records’ vaults. It was  one of the finest compilations of music from the Mainstream Records’ vaults. Mainstream Modern Soul 2 1969-1976 picks up where its predecessors left off. 

Again, it’s quality all the way during this welcome excursion into the Mainstream Records’ vaults. A total of twenty-three tracks from Mainstream Records and its various imprints were chosen, and made their way onto Mainstream Modern Soul 2 1969-1976. Some of these artists and groups featured on Mainstream Modern Soul 1969-1976 or Super Duper Love-Mainstream Hits and Rarities 1973-76, while others make their debut on Mainstream Modern Soul 2 1969-1976. These tracks feature the soulful side of Mainstream Records and various imprints. 

Among the artists on Mainstream Modern Soul 2 1969-1976, are many familiar faces, old friends plus a few names. They sit side-by-side on Mainstream Modern Soul 2 1969-1976, which is a compilation that oozes quality. It’s the Kent Soul third excursion into the Mainstream Records’ vaults. Hopefully, there will be further excursions in the future. Meanwhile, the this triumvirate of compilations is the perfect introduction to the soulful side of Bob Shad’s Mainstream Records.

The triumvirate began with Mainstream Modern Soul 1969-1976 in April 2016, then Super Duper Love-Mainstream Hits and Rarities 1973-76 in October 2016 and the recent release by Kent Soul of Mainstream Modern Soul 2 1969-1976. This trio of compilations are a welcome reminder of the soulful side of Bob Shad’s Mainstream Records and will be worthy addition to any record collection.

Mainstream Modern Soul 2 1969-1976.

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