VARIOUS: Manhattan Soul (Kent)


Kent’s latest compilation focuses on rare material from three important New York labels – Wand, Scepter and Musicor. Wand and Scepter were, of course, the fiefdoms of the redoubtable Florence Greenberg while Aaron Schroeder’s Musicor shared the same iconic NY address – 1650 Broadway. Between them they were responsible for countless hits that defined the uptown soul sounds of the Big Apple and though here the complier, Ady Croasdell, has, by and large eschewed the hits there’s still plenty of that same infectious sound. Best examples are Helen Henry’s rolling ‘A Little Bit Of Heartache’, Johnny Maestro and the Crests’ Drifters-esque ‘Afraid Of Love’, the Shirelles’ ‘One Time Too Many’ and Maxine Brown’s ‘I Want A Guarantee’ –which because of UK support is now part of her live repertoire.

Like lots of soul labels, though, Scepter, Wand and Musicor often licensed material from outlets beyond New York and the 24 tracker is peppered with some outstanding “outsources”. Amongst them is a Curtis Mayfield written and produced ‘Ain’t No Love Lost’ from Patti Jo and ‘Speed Up’ from Betty Moorer. That one is a quite superb Chicago dancer from a lady who was the sister of Gil Moorer of the Esquires and the group add their wonderful, distinctive harmonies to the track. It’s one of the album’s real delights. Others include Porgy and the Monarchs’ ‘Its A Dream I’ve Always Had’, ‘Walking With Pride’ from Dan and the Clean Cuts and ‘Girl I Love You More’ from The Buckeye Politicians. Good too to hear the Platters’ ‘I Love You 1,000 Times’ again – a timely reminder of the excellence of their Musicor output.

The set boasts no less than 6 previously unissued tracks – including the above mentioned Shirelles outing and a wonderful Southern-style funkster from Jackie Moore, ‘The Same Change’. As with all Kent albums, the sleeve notes provide all the information you’d ever need and even the most anal anorak will find plenty to love on this album.

(BB) 4/5