Tommy Tate is a cult soul hero and with more exposure could easily aspire to the status of people like James Carr and Sam Dees… hopefully, this new 20 track Kent collection will set the wheels in motion. What we get here are all the recordings Tate made for the notorious Johnny Baylor’s Ko Ko label in the early seventies and they reveal a superb southern soul stylist who could also pen imaginative material as the situation demanded. Take the hugely personal ‘School Of Love’ as an example. The song uses the whole school graduation/rite of passage/teen pregnancy thing as its theme and despite that, it really is a peach. With a big arrangement that uses horn patterns similar to those Ike Hayes’ ‘By The Time I Get To Phoenix’ it was a deserved, if minor, hit. ‘If You Got To Love Somebody’ is just as delicious – rivalling anything by Sam Dees or Philip Mitchell. But dip in to any of Tommy’s solo cuts (many previously unissued) and you’ll enjoy southern soul perfection – heavy and intense yes, but though desperation always lurks in the shadows, there’s a degree of optimism in Tommy’s delivery. As a bonus Kent have added a trio of cuts that Tommy recorded as the temporary lead singer with Stax group the Nightingales – after lead man Ollie Hoskins had flown the coop. All three have that magical, vintage Stax sound and will delight Memphis completists. After Ko Ko, Tate recorded for small labels like Sundance, Juana, and Urgent and wrote prolifically for all kinds of artists, but nothing he did matched the quality of his Ko Ko output – tap into real soul right here.