Ace imprint, Kent has just released a couple of fine soul compilations that will appeal to soul collectors right across the board.

First up there’s the third compilation in the label’s excellent ‘Where Country Meets Soul’ series. Soul and country music, of course, have long been bed-fellows and many soul classics have their roots in country. Naturally it’s the Southern soul contingent that dips into the country catalogue most frequently and here there are lots to justify that assertion. … Percy Sledge’s ‘True Love Travels On A Gravel Road’, Arthur Alexander’s ‘I Hang My Head And Cry’ and Bobby Bland’s ‘Who Will The Next Fool Be’ amongst them.

The 24 tracker, however, also offers lots from – shall we call them, “uptown, urban artists”…. maybe apart in location and taste from country sounds. So here you can enjoy people like George Benson, The Temptations and The Supremes with their take on country.

The Benson song is ‘My Woman’s Good To Me’… his cover of a country song by David Houston. The Benson version dates from 1969 and proves that he was a decent vocalist long before that particular talent was “discovered” circa ‘Breezin”. The Temptations’ offering is their version of ‘Little Green Apples’ –which actually only features one of the group, Paul Williams; perversely the Supreme’s tune ‘It Makes No Difference Now’ features all three girls on alternate lead… Diana, Florence and Mary.

brentThe second new Kent compilation is a snapshot of Brent Records… a New York-based label that existed between 1959 and 1967. It was owned by music biz hustler Bob Shad who’d started in the business in the 40s as a guitarist but he soon graduated to engineering and production. His early credits include work with Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, Lightinin’ Hopkins, the Platters and Dinah Washington. He eventually became a record label owner with imprints like Warner, Sittin’ In With, Castle, Jade, Jackson, Harlem and Brent –the focus of this compilation.

The 24 tracker illustrates that Shad not only made his own records in New York City but that he was also a prolific licenser of discs from across the States. Here there are contributions from studios in L.A. , Florida, Phoenix and Detroit as well as NYC. The Detroit connection comes via a link between Shad and the Correc-Tone label and here you can enjoy some great early Motor City soul from artists like Laura Johnson and Marvie Josie. Best known artist on this collection is probably Brenton Wood who had two Brent singles before finding success on Double Shot Records. The album’s other “big” name is Dave Crawford –the Florida producer and arranger. He harboured early ambitions as a performer and here he offers an impassioned ‘Praying For The Rain To Come’.

Brent’s biggest success was The Donays’ Detroit-recorded ‘Devil In His Heart’. The song, of course, was beautifully covered by the Beatles. It’s not included here – probably because it’s already so easy to find; instead you get a set of rare, quality, indie soul… a great snapshot of a time and a place.