This, as you can patently see, is the Kent label’s third compilation of material from the King group of labels (King, De-Luxe, Hollywood and Federal) to be aimed at the Northern fraternity. However, this new 24 tracker is marginally different to the first two volumes in that the set features a goodly number of downright funky items. The Kent compilers and musicologists, you see, don’t just work out of their insulated ivory towers. Despite advancing years, they still get out and about to soul clubs up and down the land and in the last few years their in-the-field research has revealed that more and more Northern soul DJs are playing more and more obscure funk records; hence the inclusion of some mighty fine funk workouts here.
Leading the charge is the redoubtable Marva Whitney. Her Hank Ballard-penned ‘Unwind Yourself’ is as raucous as you’d expect. Marva, of course, will forever be associated with King main man James Brown and the Godfather’s influence is evident elsewhere on the set. One time Brown MD, Nat Jones takes writing credit on Mike Williams’ wild n’ funky ‘Something You Didn’t’, while Brown himself takes the writing royalties on ‘Baby Don’t You Know’ from his sometime backing vocalists, the Brownettes. Other decent funky cuts are Charles Spurling’s ‘That’s My Zone’ and Dave and Vee’s ‘Do You Love Me’.
Elsewhere there are all kinds of soul feelings and flavours – given a unity by the fact that their ingredients will appeal to Northern collectors. Indeed there are so many goodies here that we haven’t the space to mention them all. But here’s a sample. Dan Brantley’s ‘You Got To Prove It’ is a classic Northern soul dancer – somehow marrying elements of ‘Uptight’, ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’ and ‘Ride Your Pony’ and getting away with it! James Duncan’s ‘Please, Johnny Don’t You Take My Life’ has a feel of Sam Cooke to it. Hank Ballard’s ‘I’m Just A Fool’ is laid back and lovely –showing a completely different side to the “twister”. Otis Williams and his Charms’ ‘When We Get Together’ could have come out of the Brill Building. Lord Thunder’s ‘Thunder’ is a classic brass riff-laden Northern instrumental while for those who like it slow and dramatic William Patton’s ‘It Hurts Me’ will surely hit the spot. In short, then, another great, varied and well thought out compilation from the Kent crew and don’t be put off by the title either… there’s a lot here that transcends “Northern soul” . For 60s and 70s collectors the album demands investigation.