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Jerry Lee Lewis, The Ronettes, Del Shannon, Louis Armstrong Feature On “The London American Label 1964”

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London American 19641964 will forever be remembered on American shores as the year of Beatlemania, when those four moptops from Liverpool led the British Invasion to the top of the pop charts.  That tale has been chronicled many times, but one of the most recent releases from U.K.-based label Ace tells the story of the year’s American Invasion – via the American records imported to London on the London American label.  This latest volume in the long-running series (which now features an entry for each year between 1956 and 1964) may be the most exciting and most eclectic yet.  The London American Label: 1964 takes in an array of artists both familiar (Jerry Lee Lewis, Ben E. King, The Ronettes) and less-heralded (David Box, Ned Miller, Jimmy Holiday) and everybody in between in chronicling this exciting and musically diverse time.

In his liner notes, Tony Rounce sets the scene for the music, detailing the United Kingdom’s seismic shifts that year in politics, sports, architecture and culture.  The London American label issued 111 singles in 1964, and 28 sides appear on the new compilation.  These were drawn from U.S. labels including Philles, Atlantic, Hi, Dot, Stax and Kapp.  By 1964, Pye and EMI both had their own dedicated labels for releasing American repertoire in the U.K., and by mid-year, Atlantic and Dot would cease supplying singles for release on London, too.  Cadence also departed the London roster by the end of the year.  In many respects, this crucial volume in the London American Label series points the way towards the end of an era.  1965 would be the final year that London’s release tally would total a three-digit number.

What will you find on this transatlantic showcase?  Hit the jump for more details plus a full track listing with discography and order link! Read the rest of this entry »

The Magic Touch: Kent Label Celebrates 30 Years with Soulful New Anthology

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Kent 30

The Kent label (part of the Ace Records family) is turning 30, and you’re invited to the party.  In a year which has also seen celebrations for labels including A&M and GRP, Kent 30: Best of Kent Northern 1982-2012 stands out as the toe-tapping, floor-filling compilation most suitable for dancing!  With 30 selections in recognition of 30 years from soul greats like Chuck Jackson, Lorraine Chandler, Lou Johnson, Maxine Brown and Ben E. King, Kent 30 takes in previously anthologized tracks from the label’s catalogue as well as alternate versions and remixes.  (Nearly one-third of the CD is previously unreleased.)  It all makes for an enjoyable stand-alone collection of Northern Soul classics and rarities as well as a continuation of the label’s mission to preserve the best soul and R&B anywhere.

Compilation producer/annotator Ady Croasdell, a Kent mainstay from the very beginning, serves as tour guide in the 22-page full-color booklet that accompanies this release.  Croasdell’s notes entertainingly lay out the history of the label, but the real story is in the music, filled with big beats, irresistible hooks, impassioned vocals and potent brass.  All of the tracks on Kent 30 were recorded in the 1960s or early 1970s, but most weren’t heard until the Kent team rescued them from the vaults for one of the various-artists compilations that were, and are, the label’s calling card.

Some of these songs provided the title for beloved Kent compilations, such as Melba Moore’s “The Magic Touch,” recorded in 1966 for Musicor Records but unreleased at the time.  When the track saw the light, though, it became an instant classic.  As Croasdell writes, “if one record epitomizes the Northern Soul scene of the mid-‘80s, it is the thunderous production of ‘The Magic Touch.’”  Here, Kent introduces an alternate vocal from the singer, actress and Broadway star.  Musicor’s output has been anthologized by Kent on collections like Manhattan Soul (of which two volumes have been issued to date) along with New York’s Scepter and Wand labels.  Those labels have provided a true treasure trove for Kent over the years.  Florence Greenberg’s Scepter/Wand empire has yielded tracks including Chuck Jackson’s “I’ll Be a Millionaire,” written by the team of Luther Dixon and Van McCoy, and unearthed by Kent in 1987, and Maxine Brown’s “It’s Torture,” first released in 1985 but newly remixed here.  Another unexpected Scepter treasure is Johnny Maestro and The Crests’ dramatic and atypical “I’m Stepping Out of the Picture” from 1965.

There’s plenty more after the jump, including the track listing with discography, and an order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 18, 2012 at 10:13