London-based EPSILON RECORDS is one of a now growing number of indie, boutique vinyl issuing labels that specialise in making available rare and esoteric soul and dance music and they go into the new year with some strong releases.
First off there’s a deep funk 45 from obscure band, KENYATTA. The outfit worked out of New York and comprised James Crabbe Robinson, Paris “Peewee” Ford, Keith “Key Boy” Rose, Henry “Butch” Jackson, Paul (GQ) Service and Kenny Kirkland. Back in 1974 they went into Manhattan’s CBS studios and cut two sides of loose funk with a jazzy undertow. The songs were ‘Kick It Off’ and ‘Movin’ Music’ and they made up both sides of a single that was eventually released by Ndugu Records (owned, as you might have guessed by star drummer Leon Ndugu Chancler). The 45 meant little on release but is now collectable. So step in Epsilon who now make it easily accessible.
After Kenyatta disbanded several of the group went on to other intriguing things. Vocalist Robinson worked with Norman Connors and Lonnie Liston Smith before replacing Luther Vandross in Change. He also recorded a solo album, ‘Guilty’ for Tabu. Bassist Ford has played with people like Rick James, The B.B.&Q Band, Johnny Gill, New Edition, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Lenny White, Tyrone Thomas, Norman Connors, Lonnie Liston Smith, Invisible Man’s Band, The Village People, Glen Jones, Vicki Sue Robinson and Jean Carn while the late Kenny Kirkland, of course, enjoyed a stellar career in jazz.
Kenyatta are pictured below…
Amongst the other current offerings from Epsilon is a 45 on RAY WILLIAMS & THE MAJORTONES which delivers a lovely ‘Girl (You’ve So Sweet ,You’re So Fine’)’ – the vocal’s on the A side; the instrumental on the flip. We believe that Ray and his band hailed from Texas and he got into music via his dad’s group, The Majortones (his dad’s given name was Major!). The band also included several of his siblings. First, Ray wanted to be the drummer and he got his chance behind the skins aged just 11! He eventually got to be in front of the mic and recorded ‘Girl (You’re So Sweet , You’re So Fine ‘in 1978 . The song was written by his father but sadly the cut was never issued despite it being a classy modern soul potential crossover classic . Find out more about both releases and much more @ https://www.epsilonrecord.com