New Breed R&B-Saturday Night Special.

Label: Kent Dance.

Format: CD.

In 2001, Ady Croasdell coined the phrase New Breed R&B when he was  compiling a new compilation for Kent Dance. This was New Breed R&B: Soulful 60’s Blues For Today’s Dancers, which featured a selection of songs from the original Kent and Modern labels.  When it was released in the summer of 2001,  little did compiler Ady Croasdell realise that this was the first instalment in another long-running and successful series.

Nineteen years later Kent Dance have just released New Breed R&B-Saturday Night Special, which is the seventh instalment in the series. It was compiled by Ady Croasdell  and features another twenty-four dance floor fillers. Seven of the tracks have never been released before, while another six were made their debut on previous Ace Records’ compilations. They return for a well deserved encore on New Breed R&B-Saturday Night Special.

Just like previous instalments in the series there’s contributions from familiar artists and groups. They’re joined by  some new names. There’s also some rarities and hidden gems on New Breed R&B-Saturday Night Special. It features contributions from Aaron Collins and The Teen Queens, The Corvairs, Prince Conley, Freddie Williams, Margaret Lewis, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, King Solomon, Pee Wee Foster, Jarvis Jackson, Tony Clarke and Curly Mays. They recorded tracks for labels like Arock, Carnival, Chant, Cleveland, Fascination, Galaxy, Graham, Modern, Stax and Sylvia.  For fans of the New Breed R&B series it’s a welcome release.

Opening  New Breed R&B-Saturday Night Special is Every Saturday Night by Aaron Collins and The Teen Queens. It’s one of the unreleased tracks and was recorded in 1966 for Modern. By then, Aaron Collins had been a member of the LA group The Flares and had established himself as a songwriter. This was his last session with The Teen Queens, which featured his sisters Rosie and Betty.  Tragically they both died just a few years later. They add punchy harmonies that play a part in the sound and success of this hidden gem of a dancer, that was covered by Ray Charles in 1972.

In 1961,  Memphis born bluesman  Prince Conley had a session booked at Stax. Taking charge of production that day was Chips Moman and it was guitarist Steve Cropper’s first session for the label. Four tracks were recorded but they were all shelved. This included Ain’t That Good which made its debut on 4,000 Volts Of Stax in 1995. Twenty-five years later and this underrated bluesy dancer from Prince Conley returns for a well deserved encore.

Henry “Hank” Graham already owned and ran a successful restaurant and club in LA when he decided to launch his own record label. His first signing to the Hangra Records was Esko Williams who released Sneaking and Cheating in 1962.  It was the only single the label released and the Graham label  was launched in 1963. Tucked away on the B-Side to I Don’t Think (There Could Be Another You) was another underrated R&B dancer Triple Zero. It’s a great find and a welcome addition to the compilation.

Margaret Lewis was just eighteen when she released her debut single No No Never on Myra Smith’s LA-based RAM Records. Two years later she travelled to Nashville and backed by some top session players cut a cover of Melvin Underwood’s Something’s Wrong Baby. They play their part in a tough, swinging slice of R&B that features a vocal powerhouse from Margaret Lewis. Despite its quality it failed to find an audience when it was released in 1961.

Paso Records was founded in the Windy City of Chicago by musical entrepreneur Richard Stamz. One of his signing was a local singer Flora D who recorded You Gonna Cry as a single in 1961. Hidden away on the B-Side was Way Out Baby where Flora D  is transformed into a blues shouter on a mid-tempo  track that features guitarist Freddy Robinson. 

Big Charley and The Romans recorded  You’re Gonna Need Me for the Hilltop label in 1961.  It was produced by Shelley Haims at Audio Recording, in Cleveland, but the song lay unreleased until 2016. That was when Hilltop Records released Can’t Even Enjoy My Home as a single. On the B-Side was You’re Gonna Need Me which makes a welcome return on New Breed R&B-Saturday Night Special.

Johnny “Guitar” Watson is remembered as one of the great R&B and electric blues guitarists. His career began in the fifties and in  1964 he wrote and recorded Wait A Minute. It was released later that year on the Highland label but wasn’t a commercial success. Despite that, it’s a reminder of a legendary guitarist and showcases his vocal  prowess which is often underrated.

By November 1966, King Solomon was signed to Kent and entered the studio and recorded several takes of Almost Midnight. After the session the track was shelved and King Solomon left the label. In 1999,  Almost Midnight featured on the P-Vine compilation West Coast Modern Blues 1960’s Volume 3. However, this time around, it was Take 3 of this moody and bluesy hidden gem that was chosen and features on New Breed R&B-Saturday Night Special.

Pat Garvis recorded the Zelda Saunders composition Turn The Lamps Down Low for the Freida label in 1963. It features an impassioned vocal and an arrangement that epitomises everything that’s good about early sixties R&B.  It’s also one of the rarest singles on the compilation.

When Jarvis Jackson released his debut single Head Doctor on Chant, in 1963, he was known as Gay Meadows. His manager Bill Haney felt he needed a more soulful sounding name and Gay Meadows became Jarvis Jackson. In 1966 he was meant to release The Long John on the Sims Records but it was mistakenly pressed as The Long Dog. This was eventually corrected and much later, The Long John resulted in a new dance craze that filled dancefloors across Europe.

Way before Tony Clarke signed to Chess Records, he was signed to Fascination, and recorded Cry which was released as a single in 1961. On the B-Side was the slick and soulful dancer Love Must Be Taboo. 

Curly Mays is often described as Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown’s nephew. However, just like his uncle he was a talented guitarist. He also unleashed an array of impressive tricks when he played live. This included playing his guitar with his toes as he read a newspaper. In 1964 he sent five tracks to the Carnival label, including three instrumentals. The label decided to release one of the vocal sides as a single. This was I’m Walking On, a soulful slice of R&B that also showcases Curly Mays’ guitar playing. However, one can only wonder what would’ve happened if  one of the flamboyant showman’s instrumentals had been released as a single?

It’s never easy for the compiler of a long-running and successful compilation series to keep finding tracks that are as good as the ones on the previous volumes. Often, the first few volumes have used up the best tracks and it’s downhill after that. That isn’t the case with the New Breed R&B series. 

Compiler Ady Croasdell knows where to look for the best in New Breed R&B. However, he has to dig deep to find singles, B-Sides, alternate takes and unreleased tracks that were released between 1961 and 1966. There’s contributions from some old friends, familiar faces and new names. Just like previous instalments in the series Ady Croasdell has unearthed some hidden gems and rarities. When all this is combined the result is New Breed R&B-Saturday Night Special, which is another veritable musical feast and the latest instalment in a compilation series that looks likes it’s going to run and run.

New Breed R&B-Saturday Night Special.  


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