One of last year’s best soul compilations was ‘Disco Love’ – a collection of rare and esoteric dance grooves compiled by Scottish DJ Al Kent. Kent – born Ewan Kelly – took his working name from the legendary Detroit guitarist/producer – and like that first Mr. Kent, he knows what elements go into making great soulful dance music. The success of ‘Disco Love’ meant that label – bbe – had little option but to commission a second volume and the good news is that this new set is every bit as good as number 1.
Kent is an inveterate crate digger, so don’t expect anything here that’s too well known and though rarity isn’t always a guarantee of quality or even soulfulness, Kent’s selections have both those elements in abundance. Picking standouts, though, is tricky ‘cos each track has bags to offer. Vessie Simmons’ ‘I Can Make It On My Own’, for instance, is a real gem and features a sweet string introduction that will recall the very best of Larry Gold, and though the song is aimed at the feet, it’s no lightweight affair – with Ms. Simmons showing some major soul credentials. Her depth of approach is a perfect complement to the same soulful attack on the track that precedes it – Sonny Craver’s ‘Love Exchange’. Even the instrumentals – like Plaza Suite’s ‘Joey’s Tune’- are a cut above the usual ‘Love Boat’ style stirrings that are usually associated with disco era instrumentals. Other goodies include Larry Brown’s ‘Breaking Training’ and Spooky and Sue’s ‘I’ve Got The Need’. The set ends with the outstanding ‘When Did You Stop’ from The Js. To my shame, I know nothing about the outfit – save that they combine all the best bits of bands like The Natural Four, Instant Funk and Blue Magic. The cut is hugely recommended- as is the whole album… and hey don’t forget that ground breaking Volume 1!