Los Angeles Soul : Kent-Modern's Black Music Legacy
Released: 14th October 2016
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The Bihari brothers, owners of Los Angeles’ Kent and Modern labels, knew their black music, signing artists of the calibre of Etta James, Jesse Belvin and Jimmy Witherspoon in the 50s. Their travels to New Orleans, Memphis and elsewhere saw them expand their horizons, recording acts in those locales or licensing in material for release. In the soul era the Other Brothers fromTexas, Jeanette Jones and Wally Cox from the Bay Area, and the Memphis-recorded Earl Wright fit that pattern.
Wally Cox’s group ballad ‘I Need A Love’ was scheduled to be issued in 1971 but didn’t make it to wax. Other group vocals include a hard-to-find update of Marvin & Johnny’s ‘Cherry Pie’ by Lord Charles & the Prophets, the Other Brothers’ ‘It’s Been A Long Time Baby’ and the exquisite harmonies of the Windjammers’ ‘All That Shines Is Not Gold’. Johnny Copeland’s ‘I Was Born To Love You’ is a mid-paced dancer omitted from his Kent CD, while Jeanette Jones gives a raunchy treatment to Ruby Winters’ ‘I Want Action’, which like the southern soul-influenced ‘Tear My Love Down’ by Wayne Boykin was never issued.
The Pace-Setters’ ‘Push On Jesse Jackson’, a combination of politics and harmony vocals over a psychofunk rhythm, is here in the full five minutes-plus vocal take for the first time. ‘You Saved Me From Destruction’ by Difosco (aka Dee Ervin/Big Dee Irwin) is another “out there” cut. Also from that late 60s experimental era for black music, the Robert Ramsey and Larry Sanders tracks are spacey numbers, both on CD for the first time. Willie Gauff’s ‘I Know She’s Gonna Leave’ on the other hand is so crazed and intense it’s taken 30 years to pluck up the courage to release it.
Other unissueds include a take on Mary Love’s ‘Move A Little Closer’ by jazz singer Millie Foster and Felice Taylor’s version of the Glories’ ‘Sing Me A Love Song’, which is all Diana Ross-inspired sensuality with a lush production. We end with ‘Your Gonna Miss Your Chance’, a rare gospel 45 from a Compton Baptist church. Maurine Williams’ haunting vocals produced goosebumps on this hard-bitten compiler.