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Kent (CDKEND390)

Jackie Paine, Jean Knight, Big Walter, Warren Storm, Sunny & The Sunliners, Margo White, James Young, Charles Berry, Johnny Adams, Johnny Copeland, Maxine Davis, Barbara Lynn and more.

This terrific CD is a bit of a tease, promising as it does to be the first in a longer term project of opening up of the vaults of Music Enterprises Inc, the owners of the master tapes of recordings made for the various Houston labels of Huey Meaux. As a risk-taking musical entrepreneur, Huey offered recording opportunities to singers and musicians that were finding it difficult to secure studio time with more established labels, and in so doing created an enormous back catalogue of rare sides of artists, some of who eventually did go on to later success elsewhere while most were never, or barely, known of outside of their locality.

Within these 24 tracks of rare mid-60s R&B and soul sides, taken from the original tapes and virtually all on CD for the first time, there are great early sides from the soon to be famous Johnny Copeland, Jean Knight, Johnny Adams, Barbara Lyn, Warren Storm and Joe Medwick (included here as Joe Melvin).  The Insight's rockin version of James Brown's Out Of Sight from 1966 may also sound vaguely familiar to some, featuring as it does a very early appearance on record of brothers Johnny and Edgar Winter.

Warren Storm's reputation as a poster boy of swamp pop is difficult to predict from the inclusion here of  his affecting Otis Redding-like deep soul ballad Tennessee Waltz, while those of you who know Johnny Copeland from his later successes as a gritty Texas blues singer and guitarist will be more than a little impressed with his earlier incarnation as a gravel voiced soul singer - his Slow Walk You Down is a particular highlight here.

Johnny Adams also forged a high profile career as New Orleans' The Tan Nightingale but here he is with an rare early cover of Little Willie John's classic Let Them Talk.

It's not all, or even mostly, about rare sides of artists that would later make it big. The beauty of this CD is that it is fabulous in its own right, just listen to Jean Knight's Doggin' Around with an impassioned plea to her lover to stop breaking her heart, or the strong vocal performances on unfinished demo versions of a couple of tracks that end this CD; the first by Alton Valier's on Neighbour, Neighbour and the second by Barbara Lynn on You'll Lose A Good Thing. There are even tasty versions of Eddie Boyd's blues classic Five Long Years (by Tee Bee Fisher) and Earl King's New Orleans favourite Trick Bag (by Sunny & The Sunliners).

All in all, this CD is a fabulous addition to the Kent imprint's series of southern soul and the next release from these newly-opened vaults is already eagerly awaited around here




Review Date: March 2013

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