BIRTH OF SOUL-LOS ANGELES SPECIAL.
Birth Of Soul-Los Angeles Special.
Label: Kent Soul.
Nowadays, the compilation market is hugely competitive and it’s unlikely that many new series will still be going strong after twenty-five years. Sadly, most new compilation series are short-lived affairs and run out of steam after a few volumes.However, Kent Soul’s Birth Of Soul compilation series is still going strong after twenty-five years.
The most recent instalment in this long-running and much-loved series is Birth Of Soul-Los Angeles Special was released by Kent Soul. It’s a welcome addition to the series which began in 1996.
The first instalment in the series was Birth Of Soul which was released by Kent Soul in May 1996. It featured an impressive all-star lineup that included many of the giants of soul. Bobby Bland rubbed shoulders with Otis Redding, Jerry Butler, Etta James, Sam Cooke, William Bell and The Impressions. With a such an impressive track listing it was no surprise that Birth Of Soul was released to critical acclaim and was one of Kent Soul’s most successful compilations.
Despite having released a successful compilation nearly two years passed before the release of Birth Of Soul-Volume Two in February 1998. It featured a mixture of old friends, familiar faces and new names. However, just like Birth Of Soul the emphasis was on quality, on a compilation that featured old favourites and hidden gems. The new compilation proved popular not just amongst the soul community, but with music fans dipping their toe into soul music.
The Birth Of Soul was a perfect place to start and became an important part in many a newcomer to soul’s musical education. Veterans and newcomers to soul compilations eagerly awaited the next instalment in the series.
Over three-and-a-half years later, Birth Of Soul-Volume Three was released by Kent Soul in October 2001. Just like the two previous volumes in the series it featured contributions from familiar faces and new names. Old favourites joined hidden gems on lovingly compiled compilation where dancers and ballads rubbed shoulders. The compilation was released to critical acclaim and welcomed by soul fans young and old.
2,059 days later, and Birth Of Soul-Volume Four was released in May 2007. Ady Croasdell had dug deep for the twenty-four tracks on Birth Of Soul-Volume Four. There were rarities, hidden gems and the usual smattering of familiar faces and old friends on what was a welcome addition to the Birth Of Soul family.
So was Birth Of Soul: Special Chicago Edition, which was released in 2009. This was a celebration of the Windy City’s soulful past. It had been home to Veejay, Kent, Okeh, ABC-Paramount, One-derful, Brunswick, Curtom, Chess and Cadet. The compilation was a celebration of Chicago’s soulful past and featured an all-star lineup. This fifth instalment in the Birth Of Soul series proved a popular addition to Kent Soul’s long-running and successful series.
Despite the success of the series there were no further instalments in the Birth Of Soul series until April 2017. That was when Kent Soul released Birth Of Soul: Special Detroit Edition 1961-64. This soulful feast featured twenty-four cuts from one of America’s musical capital and was welcomed by soul fans.
So will Birth Of Soul-Los Angeles Special which was recently released by Kent Soul. It’s a veritable feast of soulful music from labels like Modern, Combo, Flash, Flip, Mirwood, Money, Doré and Era. There’s twenty-four tracks including four that have never been released before.
Opening Birth Of Soul-Los Angeles Special is Don Wyatt’s previously unissued track But What About My Broken Heart. The song was recorded in Nashville for
Gary S Paxton’s Garpax label in 1962 during a six month spell the producer spent in the country music capital. Ray Stevens is responsible for arrangement while the vocal that is full emotion, hurt and regret.
Richard Berry was a familiar face within the LA R&B scene when he recorded William Green’s Everybody’s Got A Lover But Me with producer Gary S Paxton and the single was released by the Smash label 1962. The singer started working with the producer two years earlier in 1960. By then, he had already spent time signed to Flip and Modern labels but commercial success eluded him. This dry spell continued when the radio friendly and soulful sounding Everybody’s Got A Lover But Me failed to find an audience.
By 1964, Billy Watkins was signed to Modern Records when he covered Irving Berlin’s How About Me? Sadly, this heartachingly beautiful ballad lay unreleased until it made its debut on Birth Of Soul-Los Angeles Special.
Robert Jackson cowrote I Want A Boyfriend (Girlfriend) with Hal Davis who produced the song for The Soul-Mates. It was released on Era in 1963 and features an uber soulful vocal powerhouse from Brenda Holloway.
San Diego-born Kent Harris penned and produced Let Me Be Your Little Dog which was recorded by The Phillips Sister. It was arranged by Jerry Long and this raunchy sounding single was released on the Swingin’ label in 1963.
Darlene Love recorded Let Him Walk Away which was written by Jackie DeShannon and Jack Nitzsche who also the arranger and producer. This demo lay unreleased until 2008 when it made its debut on the Ace Records’ compilation So Much Love: A Darlene Love Anthology 1958-1998. It’s a reminder of the unmistakable Wall Of Sound which was pioneered by Phil Spector with the help of his friend Jack Nitzsche.
Have You Heard by The Vows was produced by George Motola and released as a single on the Markay label. Soul and doo wop melt into one on this beautiful ballad which has stood the test of time.
Another ballad is Help Me by The Classicals and The Rockets Band which was released on the Prudential label in 1961. Producers Cris Christensen, Spellmon Ward and Bob Orrison take a less is more approach to the instrumentation on arrangement. Instead, harmonies accompany a needy, heartfelt and emotive vocal on this oft-overlooked ballad.
Marty Cooper and Bobby Day produced Let’s Go Home which was released on Dore in 1960 and credited to Vic Granton. However, that may have been a moniker for the vocalist and the his identity is not known. That’s despite having a distinctive voice and delivering a soul-baring vocal on this Jules Castron composition.
Way before he found fame with Sly and The Family Stone, Sylvester Stewart still struggling to make a breakthrough and forge a career as a successful singer-songwriter. His career began in 1956 and by 1962 he was signed to the G&P label. He wrote Help Me With My Broken Heart which was produced by George Motola. This was the only single that Sylvester Stewart released using his own name. Although very different from the groundbreaking music he went on to release it’s a melodic and memorable track from a man who became one of music’s legends.
Sneaking And Cheating was recorded by a LA-based singer Esko Wallace and released as a single on the Hangra label in 1963. This dancefloor friendly R&B track is another hidden gem and a welcome addition to the compilation.
Closing Birth Of Soul-Los Angeles Special is Don’t Leave Me Baby by Joe Lover and The Gaylads Band. It was produced by Kim Fowley and Gary S Paxton and released on the Parliament label in 1961. They play their part in a quite beautiful and moving example of gospel-tinged soul.
Four years after the last instalment in the Birth Of Soul series, Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records released Birth Of Soul-Los Angeles Special. It’s the third special edition that’s been released and features the music of the LA. It’s a city that had so much to offer musically during the sixties and seventies.
Many small labels had sprung up across the city, and Birth Of Soul-Los Angeles Special features releases from these labels. While some of these artists went on to bigger and better things, others enjoyed never quite reached the heights their talent deserved. Sadly, some disappeared after releasing just one or two singles. They’ve all played a part of LA’s musical history and make a welcome comeback of Birth Of Soul-Los Angeles Special.
It’s the seventh instalment in Kent Soul’s occasional series, Birth Of Soul. It began in 1996, and twenty-five years later is still going strong. Recently, Birth Of Soul-Los Angeles Special was released, and features songs from old friends, familiar faces and new names. They contribute unreleased songs and a myriad of über soulful singes to Birth Of Soul-Los Angeles Special, which marks the welcome return of this long-running and much-loved series.
Birth Of Soul-Los Angeles Special.