VARIOUS: Double Cookin’ (Label: Kent)

VARIOUS: Double Cookin'

The instrumental has always been a crucial part of the Northern soul scene and (at least to the best of my knowledge) there’s never been an album dedicated to them… till now. Here the diggers and delvers at Kent have assembled a big 24 of ’em and they just about cover every angle of the phenomenon. Here we have plenty of original, bona fide instrumental tracks (popular at the scene’s inception), a smattering of what became known as “cover ups”, lashings of what were essentially backing tracks, several cuts that were manufactured by unscrupulous dealers to make a quick buck from the scene and few real oddities … and where would Northern Soul be without its oddities? What they all have in common is that very special driving beat… and you either love or loathe it. Outstanding amongst the oldies are Hugo Montenegro’s version of the Four Season’s ‘Sherry’ and Bill Black’s take on Chuck Berry’s ‘Little Queenie’. A tad more elaborate are things like ‘Festival Time’ (the San Remo Strings) – always massive on the scene as too were things like Jimmy Conwell’s ‘Cigarette Ashes’, Just Brothers’ ‘Sliced Tomatoes’ and Earl Wright’s ‘ Thumb A Ride’. Lots and lots more big tunes here. And the oddities? Well, what about the backing track to James Brown’s ‘Hey America’? Even better is a track specially mixed for this album – a stripped down version of Bettye Swan’s ‘Make Me Yours’. Never played on the scene, of course, but it has all the attributes that make the whole thing so appealing to so many, and how lovely that compiler Tony Rounce rounds things off with the delightful ‘California Montage’ by Young Holt Unlimited – sure to bring back so many smiling memories to so many people – especially the hardened denizens of the Highland Room. I think this a great concept album… and sure, some classics are conspicuous by their absence (Al Kent’s ‘You Gotta Pay The Price’?) but we’re told a volume 2 is on its way. I’m looking forward to it already.
(BB) 4/5