22 Feb 2021

USA

"In group collector circles, sweet soul is the new doo wop. Here are 24 more reasons why."

'24 exquisite soul sides by a strong mixture of renowned and obscure names. Less than 25% of these tracks have ever been reissued before. Several have never been issued at all. While the emphasis is on ballads and beat ballads, several tracks do have considerable Northern-crossover appeal, while others are big on the emergent Island Soul scene that has originated among Caribbean collectors of soul.'

'Like many compilations of this nature, there's the feeling that these two dozen sweet soul harmony rarities (five of them previously unreleased) were picked as much for their rarity as their quality. Most of the groups are male, and very few of them will be familiar to all but collector soul specialists, though the Insiders (represented by the 1966 Red Bird single "Chapel Bells Are Calling," produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller) evolved into the Main Ingredient. It's nothing to make you forget the great Philadelphia and Chicago soul groups of this sort, but the tracks are uniformly well produced and decently sung, though they're largely lacking in the kind of hooks needed to implant them in either the memory banks or radio play lists. "Never My Love" might be a kind of wimpy song, for instance, but when you hear the Magictones' version, it really does leap out as something catchier than its immediate surroundings on this CD. With the okay-but-unremarkable vibe so pervasive, you're left looking for oddities and points of interest, and there are a few. There couldn't have been many late-'60s soul songs that referenced baseball great Willie Mays and claimed he hung out "Under the Street Lamp" before reaching the major leagues, as Joe Bataan with Group did on their 1969 single of the same name. The Climates' "No You for Me," with a far more Southern (and specifically Memphis) feel than most of this comp, was one of the final 45s issues on Sun Records, and according to the liner notes was a number one hit on a local (and white!) radio station. Lee Williams & the Cymbals' "A Girl from a Country Town" would fit in just fine on an anthology of Impressions imitations. And the Superbs' "So Glad You're Home," one of the few cuts on the disc to feature female vocals, makes a nice change of pace, and is an above-average romantic ballad to boot.' -AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger

More Obscure Soul Treats!

'I haven't heard the first volume in this series ("In Perfect Harmony") yet, but after being knocked out by the sweet soul music on this CD I aim to order that other set ASAP. The lineup on this collection is made up of mostly obscure recording artists, but these are all very pleasing soul tunes, buoyed by "perfect harmony" galore, covering those glorious soul music years from 1967 to 1975..

The opening track, "Under the Street Lamp" is by the underrated Joe Bataan (perhaps best known for his Latin-Funk cover of Gil Scott-Heron's "The Bottle", retitled as "La Botella"). Bataan goes back to his roots, so to speak, reminiscing about his teenage days in the 1950s, singing doo-wop "under the street lamp." A gorgeous song. But there are plenty of other wonderful tunes on here in addition to that opener. My other favorites include the tracks by The Festivals, The Invincibles (a dead ringer for Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions), the Newcomers (check out their full-length CD too; great group!), C C and Company (they later became C J & Co. and had a big disco hit with "Devil's Gun"), the Mylestones, and the Fantastic Four. A couple of other standout songs are from groups with interesting backgrounds. The luscious "Chapel Bells are Calling" is by the Insiders, a group that later became the The Main Ingredient. The stellar cover of "Never My Love" is by the Magictones, a female act whose members later joined the wonderful Invictus Records act The Eighth Day and also the Undisputed Truth. Those are my favorites this week, but with so many sweet songs on here, I may change my faves yet again.

The CD comes with a 16-page booklet that includes summaries of each track and background on the recording artists. Another soul satisfying compilation from the diligent crate diggers at Kent and Ace Records.' -Donald E. Gilliland

'The general popularity of 60s and early 70s ‘Group Soul’ seems to continue to be on the rise, an increasingly collectable commodity in recent years. This is due in no small part to the swell of interest among doo wop collectors in the past 10-15 years. The line between the very best doo wop cuts and the very best soul harmony sides is not a very long one. Thus it was perhaps inevitable that those collectors who either have every important group record from the 1950s and early 60s – or can’t afford to invest in the ones they don’t have – would eventually unite them with those of us who have long extended a similar level of appreciation in the other direction.

Kent’s “In Perfect Harmony” series was introduced to cater to both camps, with a mixture of tried and trusted soul favourites – by some of the genre’s most outstanding groups – and previously unissued gems from group soul’s golden decade (approximately 1966-1976, in your compiler’s opinion). Its aims, as a series, are to show that these kind of records were both pan-American and multi-racial in their execution and that, as always, soul – and in this case, sweet soul - is not really about where you’re from or what colour you are. This is especially true of our all-new Volume Two. Within its hour and a bit’s playing time, we feature blue-eyed soulsters from Nashville in the Magnificent 7, the mixed race Soulville All-Stars from Pittsburgh, PA (who also played their own instruments, as well as singing as pretty as you like) and the pride of New York’s latin soul community, brother Joe Bataan. We also have the best in African American vocal groups – of both sexes - from cities as far apart as Memphis and Detroit, Los Angeles and New York, New Jersey and Chicago. All, we’re happy to say, fully dedicated to bringing you MORE PERFECT HARMONY in the sweetest and loveliest way.

Aside from the obvious fact that we are joyfully privileged to bring you hitherto unreleased gems from the vaults of Stax, Twinight and Westbound Records, I’m personally delighted - as series compiler - that so many of our inclusions have never previously been reissued, in any shape or form. There’s something great going on here, almost everywhere you point the CD player’s laser, be it the sultry Island Soul of Foxy’s I Like The Way You Love Me, the endearingly low-budget lilt in Lee Williams and The Cymbals’ Northern favourite A Girl From A Country Town, the relentless beauty of the Climates sublime Memphis masterpiece No You For Me or the overwhelmingly intense Chi-town classic Someone Else’s Arms by Channel 3 – at least twenty times better than its much acclaimed Northern flip The Sweetest Thing (something on which annotator John Ridley and compiler yours truly both agree!).

These are just a few of the many delights in store for you in “More Perfect Harmony” – a CD with a heartbeat that is summed up by Joe Bataan’s exquisite version of the Exits’ essential Under The Streetlamp. Doo wop and group soul devotees alike can both agree that, where this kind of music’s concerned, the “Street”s the same, only the “Lamp” has been changed to protect the heritage!' -By Tony Rounce


1. Joe Bataan With Group - Under The Street Lamp 2:50
2. The Hesitations - Yes, I'm Ready 2:48
3. The Festivals - You're Gonna Make It 2:46
4. The Continental 4 - I Don't Have You 2:46
5. The Sequins - The Third Degree 3:12
6. The Magictones - Never My Love 3:08
7. The Climates - No You For Me 2:23
8. The Persians - Here It Comes 3:06
9. The Insiders - Chapel Bells Are Calling 2:40
10. The Determinations - That Ain't The Way 3:31
11. The Invincibles - Keep On Trying 3:21
12. The Newcomers - Betcha' Can't Guess Who 2:50
13. The Magnificent Seven - Never Will I (Make My Baby Cry) 2:34
14. Foxy - I Like The Way You Love Me 2:20
15. Channel 3 - Someone Else's Arms 3:45
16. The Soulville All-Stars - Won't You Please Be My Girl 2:25
17. C C And Company - Daydreamer 3:03
18. The Notations -I'm Still Here 3:57
19. Lee Williams & The Cymbals - A Girl From A Country Town 2:28
20. The Dynamic Tints - No One Else Will Do 3:16
21. The Mylestones - Love Me Girl 3:10
22. Fantastic Four, The - I Had This Whole World To Choose From (And I Chose You) 3:31
23. The Superbs - So Glad You're Home 3:11
24. The Just Brothers - Things Will Be Better 2:15

Notes
Incl. booklet

Mono except tracks 1-3, 6, 10, 12, 18 and 21 in stereo. Tracks 6, 10, 12, 18 and 20 are previously unissued.