VARIOUS: Disco Love – Compiled and Mixed by Al Kent (Label: bbe)

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VARIOUS: Disco Love - Compiled and Mixed by Al Kent

To old time soulsters the name Al Kent means just one man – the legendary Detroit guitarist/producer best known for the infectious instrumental ‘You Gotta Pay The Price’. The 21st century soul dancers though will tell you different; they know that their Al Kent is one of the best DJs working the circuit. The soul savvy Scot, born Ewan Kelly, fills venues everywhere and on this new 2 CD compilation we can discover why. Kelly (who named himself after our first mentioned Mr Kent) here takes the disco era as his starting point and offers a quite unique selection of cuts that might make you rethink your opinions of the era. Though he says in his notes that the tunes aren’t that rare, in truth I hadn’t come across any before. More’s the pity ‘cos there’s some great stuff in there. The most overt disco tune is Crosstown Traffic’s ‘Love Your Family’. It has the lot – sweet strings, zipping hi-hats, pinging synth drums and a lovely, almost detached vocal. It’s a great period piece (1979) that has travelled exceedingly well – like ‘Nite Life’ from The Midas Touch’ and JNB’s ‘I’ll Be The One’ which could be an outtake from a Mystic Merlin session. At the other extreme Quinn Harris’s ‘I’ll Always Love You’ will make soul collectors wonder why they missed it back in ’76. It has a great southern feel and sounds like Sam Dees. It isn’t of course, but it’s a real delight, rivalled by the collection’s real oddity – ‘Lypso Disco’ from Smile Street People. In that particular mix there’s plenty of almost off-key brass, sweet Philly style strings, Caribbean steel drums and wonderful vocal interplay… sounds weird? It is, but it’s quite irresistible. The album is stuffed with plenty more surprises amongst its 14 cuts and for those who like that kind of thing, Mr Kent shows off his mixing skills on the second CD when the same tunes are effortlessly segued into a session that Al says isn’t meant to represent one of his sets, more a mix tape that he’d sort for a friend – clearly the kind of friend we’d all like to have.
(BB) 4/5