Masterpieces Of Modern Soul Volume 6.

Label: Kent Dance.

Format: CD.

Release Date: ‘29th’ July 2022.

Almost nineteen years ago,  in October 2003,  Kent Soul released the first instalment in the Masterpieces Of Modern Soul series. Since then, another six volumes have been released.

The first came in January 2009, when Masterpieces Of Modern Soul Volume 2 was released. 

Just over two years passed, and then Masterpieces Of Modern Soul Volume 3 hit the shops in November 2011. However, connoisseurs of modern soul had to patiently wait the release of Masterpieces Of Modern Soul Volume 4. 

A year passed, and then two became three, and still, there was no sign of Masterpieces Of Modern Soul Volume 4. Then after nearly four long years, the much anticipated fourth volume in one of Ace Records’ most popular compilation series was released to critical acclaim in September 2015.

Then, as 2016 dawned, the Masterpieces Of Modern Soul series converted from CD to vinyl when a compilation Masterpieces Of Modern Soul was released. This was a welcome addition to the long-running series.

Another three years passed before  Masterpieces Of Modern Soul Volume 5 was released by Kent Dance in June 2019. Since then, there’s been no further instalments in this much-loved series. That, however, will soon change.

On the ‘29th’ July 2022 Masterpieces Of Modern Soul Volume 6 will be released by Kent Dance, an imprint of Ace Records. It features twenty-four tracks from familiar faces and some new names. However, all the tracks have one thing in common…quality. This includes the unreleased tracks. Just like previous instalments in the series, the emphasis is on quality.

Opening Masterpieces Of Modern Soul Volume 6 is Wake Up Smiling by Janice. This is a track from her critically acclaimed eponymous album released on Fantasy in 1975. It’s an uplifting, driving dancer with horns and strings that sets the bar high for the rest of the compilation.

Joe Graham had just signed to Aware when the Atlanta-based label imploded in 1975. He had just recorded four tracks earlier that year. One of them was the previously unreleased Higher Than The Sun. This soulful, funky dancer is a welcome inclusion and a reminder of a truly talented singer.

Dee Erwin wrote You Make Me Happy which he recorded for Hotatlanta in 1975. Given the demise of the label, the track was never released. Now forty-seven years later this joyful and anthemic mixture of soul and gospel-tinged harmonies makes it’s debut. It’s one of the best of the unreleased tracks and highlights of the compilation, and is sure to find favour with fans of modern soul.

Legendary jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd, was brought onboard to produce The 3 Pieces’ 1975 album Vibes Of Truth for Fantasy. One of the highlights was If Only I Could Prove To You, which  was arranged and conducted by Wade Marcus. He’s responsible for the string chart that plays such an important part in the song’s success. Guesting on guitar during the session for the Washington-based group’s debut album was Ray Parker Junior. He plays his part on a soulful paean with a soul-baring vocal which is a hidden gem from an album that sadly, failed to find the audience it so richly deserved.

In 1969, Margie Joseph released One More Chance on Memphis-based Volt. Hidden away on the B-Side was Nobody which was penned by Willie Tee and features a defiant but deeply soulful powerhouse of a vocal. It’s  accompanied by horns and harmonies that play their part in making this such a memorable track, and one that’s stood the test of time.

Another of the unreleased tracks is Jean Shy’s What Tomorrow Brings. It was recorded in 1977 and is a Leaptop Production. Soul is combined with disco on what can only be described as a call to dance that’s sure to become a favourite with DJs and dancers on the modern soul scene. 

In 1975, soul man Phillip Mitchell made his way to Muscle Shoals Sounds where he recorded this alternate take of I’ll See You In Hell First for the Event label. Producer Brad Shapiro is responsible for a big, bold arrangement where soul and funk are combined. The lyrics which are different to the final version are akin to a mini soap opera about a relationship that’s gone badly wrong, and tragically, love has turned to loathing. 

Joe Hinton was signed to Atlanta-based Act One label when it crashed and burned. One of the tracks he had recorded that was never released was You and Me Baby. It’s a prime slice Southern Soul with an emotive, heartfelt vocal and a carefully crafted arrangement that oozes quality. 

Maggabrain was an eight-piece funk band from Atlanta, who in 1975, released their debut single New Wavin’. Three years later, in 1978, the ground recorded Sam Dees and Stephen Perry’s Have A Good Time at the city’s Sound Pit studio. Sadly, the track was never released. It’s a fast, funky and soulful dancer that leaves a lasting impression on the listener.

Mickey Stevenson produced I Can’t Turn You Down for Melanie Burke in 1981. The vocal on this ballad is best described as an cathartic outpouring of emotion and hurt that’s complimented by an arrangement where the strings play leading role.

Closing Masterpieces Of Modern Soul Volume 6 is Bedroom Eyes by Betty Everett. It was written and produced by Billy and Gene Page who was also the arranger.  The track was a highlight of the album Happy Endings, which was released on Fantasy in 1975. This beautiful ballad features a tender, heartfelt vocal from the Chicago-born singer and is the perfect way to close the compilation.

Let’s hope that it won’t be another three years before Kent Dance releases the next instalment in the Masterpieces Of Modern Soul series. Even if it is, if it’s anywhere near as good as Masterpieces Of Modern Soul Volume 6 then it’ll be well worth the wait. After all, this is no ordinary soul compilation.

The twenty-two tracks on Masterpieces Of Modern Soul Volume 6 are from a mixture of familiar faces and what will be new names to many people. There’s everything from minor classics, B-Sides, album cuts and hidden gems on this lovingly curated compilation. Then there’s the unreleased tracks which ooze quality. Just like the other tracks, they’re variously uber soulful, sometimes funky and dancefloor friendly. What more can fans of modern soul ask for on a compilation that oozes quality?

Masterpieces Of Modern Soul Volume 6.

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