On The Soul Side.

Label: Kent Soul.

Thirty-five years ago in 1983, Kent Records, which had been founded a year earlier in 1982, released their sixth release, On The Soul Side on vinyl. It was the fourth compilation that Ady Croasdell had compiled for Kent Records. The previous compilations had all been well received and commercially successful, so  Ady Croasdell and the staff at the nascent Kent Records had high hopes for their latest release.

On The Soul Side surpassed everyone’s expectations and went on to become of one of Kent Records iconic releases. That was no surprise, as On The Soul Side struck a nerve with soul fans across Britain, and especially in the capital London. 

Some soul fans in the capital noticed smiled knowingly when they noticed that the 6T’S logo featured on the newly released On The Soul Side. These soul fans knew that 6T’S club was one of the most fashionable soul clubs in London. However, the 6T’S club was much more than a place for the soul fan about town to be seen, and was also a club where DJs with impeccable musical taste played the best in soul music. That was the attraction of 6T’S to soul fans, who were passionate about the music that they loved.

So much so, that many soul fans spent much of their time and money looking for and buying soul music, and were willing go to great lengths to find new music. Some collectors and DJs had even used cheap flights to travel to America on crate-digging trips. However, for many soul fans that wasn’t an option and they had to make do with the latest releases in 1983.

The only problem was that there wasn’t the same amount of reissues and compilations being released by record companies thirty-five years ago. That came much later, when record companies realised just how lucrative the reissue and compilation market was. 

One of the first companies to realise the potential of the compilation market was Kent Records, which was founded and was being run by soul fans who knew that their was a market for lovingly curated compilations like On The Soul Side. This was just the start for the label, and now several hundred compilations and thirty-five years later Kent Soul as the label is still going strong.

Kent Soul’s latest release is reissue of On The Soul Side, which has been released on CD and features twenty-six tracks. That is twelve more than the vinyl version released back in 1983. The newly released CD version of On The Soul Side features Patrice Holloway, Bobby Sheen, Homer Banks, The O’Jays, Garnet Mimms, The Showmen, Ginger Thompson, Ellie Greenwich, Timi Yuro, Bobby Womack, Lou Rawls and Merry Clayton. These are just a few of the names that feature on the CD version of On The Soul Side.

Opening  On The Soul Side is the first of two tracks from Patrice Holloway, Love And Desire. It was written by Billy Page who produced the track with his brother Gene Page. Love And Desire was released by Capitol Records in November 1966, and is guaranteed to entice even the most reluctant dancers onto the dancefloor. Once there, they can enjoy Patrice Holloway’s impassioned and emotive vocal. Later, Patrice Holloway returns with the previously unreleased The Thrill Of Romance which is stomping dance track that is a reminder of a truly talented vocalist.

When Bobby Sheen released Sweet Sweet Love as a single on Capitol Records, in June 1966, hidden away on the B-Side was a cover of Nicholas Caldwell’s Dr Love. It was arranged by Gene Page and produced by Al De Lory, while Bobby Sheen delivers joyous and almost sassy vocal on this hidden gem of a dancer.

In May 1968, Homer Banks released 60 Minutes Of Your Love as a single on the Minit label. On the B-Side was A Lot Of Love which was written by David Porter and Isaac Hayes who unleashes a powerhouse of a vocal against Gene “Bowlegs” Miller’s arrangement which features harmonies and horns.

Way before The O’Jays signed to Philadelphia International Records they released Naomi Neville’s Lipstick Traces (On A Cigarette) as a single on the Liberty label in June 1965. It was arranged by Harold Battiste and produced by Tom Lipuma and Joe Saraceno, who are responsible for a very different sounding single to the slick Philly Soul that made them famous. However, Lipstick Traces (On A Cigarette) reached number twenty-eight in the US R&B charts and showcases a truly talented band who later, would write their names into the history of soul music.

Garnet Mimms released the ballad It Was Easier To Hurt Her as a single on United Artists in June 1965. It was arranged by Garry Sherman and produced by Jerry Ragovoy and features a rueful vocal that is full of regret.

When Benny Spellman released Lipstick Traces on the London label in June 1962, it featured the uptempo track Fortune Teller on the B-Side. It was written by Naomi Neville, which was a moniker Aaron Neville often used. Fortune Teller became a favourite nit just soul fans, but also mods who embraced a song that is a reminder of another era.

Ginger Thompson released Boy Watcher as a single on the 123 label in September 1968, and this was her reply to The O’Kaysions’ Girl Watcher. It’s a catchy, uptempo dance track where horns playing a leading role as Ginger Thompson delivers lyrics that were regarded as quite racy at the time.

Ellie Greenwich wrote I Want You To Be My Baby with Jeff Barry and released the song as a single on United Artists in April 1967. It was arranged by Hutch Davie and produced by Bob Crewe and is a quite irresistible slice of carefully crafted uptempo soulful pop.

In October 1968, Jimmy Holiday released his composition Baby I Love You as a single in Britain on the Liberty label. Cal Carter and  Hal Picken took charge of production on this soul-baring ballad where heartache and regret gives way to hope on what’s one of the highlights of On The Soul Side.

Jerry Riopelle wrote and produced If You Were A Man What You Gonna Do (When Your Love Is Gone) for Clydie King. He released If You Were A Man What You Gonna Do (When Your Love Is Gone) as a single on Imperial in May 1965. Sadly, this hidden gem of a ballad with a vocal full of emotion and sadness failed to trouble the charts.

Bobby Womack was signed to Minit in February 1968 when he released What Is This. Tucked away on the B-Side was What You Gonna Do (When Your Love Is Gone) which was also produced by and features some of Memphis’ top session musicians. They provide the perfect backdrop Bobby Womack, one of the legends of soul as he delivers a vocal tinged with emotion and regret.

As September 1966 dawned, Lou Rawls released Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing as a single in the UK on Capitol Records. It was penned by Ben Raleigh and Dave Linden, while David Axlerod took charge of production as a rueful Lou Rawls lays bare his soul for all to hear.

Closing On The Soul Side is Merry Clayton’s Nothing Left To Do But Cry which was released as a single on Capitol Records in the UK in 1964. It’s a beautiful ballad featuring a tender vocal full sadness and emotion as realises that her relationship is over and that she’s been betrayed. Just five years later, Merry Clayton would add backing vocals to the Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter which is the song that brought her to the attention of a wider audience. However, Nothing Left To Do But Cry is a reminder that Merry Clayton’s career began long before Gimme Shelter.

Thirty-five years after Kent Records as the label was then known, released On The Soul Side on vinyl, the compilation has been issued by Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records. This time round, ten new songs have been added to On The Soul Side, taking the total to twenty-six. 

Expanding what was one of the best of Kent Records’ early releases could’ve been risky. However, original compiler Ady Croasdell returned and chose the new tracks and to quote The Beatles “takes a good thing and makes it better.” That is something of an understatement as the version of On The Soul Side is one of the best soul compilations of recent months. 

On The Soul Side finds familiar songs and hits singles rubbing shoulders with hits and hidden gems that come courtesy of well known names, superstars of soul and artists and groups that didn’t enjoy the success their talent deserved. However, these artists play their part in the success of On The Soul Side which is a lovingly curated compilation that was compiled by the hardest working man in soul music Ady Croasdell, and released by Kent Soul which continues to release top quality compilations thirty-six years after releasing their first release in 1982.

On The Soul Side. 

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