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30 Years of Kent Northern Soul


30 Years of Kent Northern Soul magazine cover

For those growing up in the early to mid 80's, with little knowledge of "Northern Soul" Kent Records introduced many great sounds to young eager lads and lasses eager to hear more of the music. Who would have thought Kent Records would still be here today and still introducing many great previously unheard records to not so young lads and lasses and to the next generation of "soulies" eager to see and hear what the fuss is all about.

Northern Soul is still the greatest underground music scene in the UK although it does garner a lot of publicity today. It is thanks to the likes of Ace/Kent Records that many artists are still getting the recognition they never got when the records were laid down in the studio, ignored by the US market at the time only to be picked up by the UK youth (and not so young) many years later.

This year marks the 30th Anniversary of Kent Records, from the very first LP compiled by Harboro Horace aka Ady Croasdell, "For Dancers Only" to the 100's of releases on vinyl, LP and 7 inch, to all the CD's featuring many of the greats of the Rare Soul Scene, King Records, Detroit's Dave Hamilton, the fantastic Fame series, many unreleased Motown, LA Soul from Kent Harris, Ty Karim, New Yorks Big City Soul, Lou Johnson, GWP and Harlem Soul, Getting' To Me, Goldwax, Money, Spring…the superb unreleased RCA Masters which unleashed many great records to the UK dance floors , Luther Ingram, Tommy Tate, Eddie and Ernie, Memphis Soul, Kent Modern, Jackie Day, Phiily Soul from Ben Lee and the rarest of them all the Shrine Story. the list goes on and on, too many to mention here but it cannot be denied that it is an unrivalled list of releases that has maintained the interest of soul fans world wide. I for one look forward to many more releases including the forthcoming Pied Piper Masters.

Here is what Harboro Horace has to say about Kent

(source Kent Records Website http://acerecords.co.uk/kent-label)

Way back in 1982 a callow northern youth would visit Ted Carroll’s Rock On record stall on Golborne Road in West London. He used to buy the 60s soul singles that the old vinyl merchant had plundered from warehouses and old shop stock on his travels. This interest in a music that was not particularly cherished in London at that time led to Ted asking this son of Market Harborough to stick together 15 singles from Los Angeles’ Kent and Modern labels and come up with an LP. That would satisfy all those pesky young mods who pestered Ted for some “soul like what all the original mods used to lissen to”. Pinching the title from a popular Popcorn single of the time, the soul brother, we’ll call him Horace, came up with “For Dancers Only” a selection of Northern Soul stompers, girl group floaters, male vocal harmonies and low down Rhythm & Blues.

Horace was then asked to rattle off a follow-up, when his first attempt flew out of the shops like shale off a shovel. That was the imaginatively named “For Dancers Also” and with sleevenotes full of wit of that calibre, allied to a crusading enthusiasm and passion for the music, the public were hooked. A deep soul LP came next, followed by a collection of 60s soul classics, an LP of pure Northern Soul dancers, 70s soul sounds and many more sides of soul music’s polyhedron. "¨"¨Thirty years on, we are still coming up with black music compilations from the 60s and 70s that soul fans continue to support and enjoy. These days the CD notes tell you more about the artists than the colour of DJ and LP sleeve designer Ian Clark’s odd socks.

We have grown in knowledge and inquisitiveness and have almost run out of bad jokes."¨"¨Getting eventual access to all the major record labels has given us music from the Okeh, Chess, RCA, Atlantic and even the mighty Tamla Motown. This has meant our supply of sounds from this golden era is virtually limitless. Hugely influential independent labels like Stax, Goldwax, Fame, Westbound, Carnival, Mirwood, King, Scepter/Wand and others have learned to trust our integrity and have thrown open their doors saying “go ahead tell it like it was”. Smaller indies such as Sounds Of Memphis, Dave Hamilton’s Detroit productions and GWP have come up with iceberg sized vaults lying under the water level and have delivered superb soul music that had frequently unheard since its creation."¨"¨Then there are the series like Mod Jazz, Modern Masterpieces, Northern’s Classiest, New Breed R&B et al that just keep on coming.

Chasing one lead will bring us a handful of tracks that we didn’t even know about and the label owner’s ex-partner will sometimes chip in with half a dozen tunes too. We’ve got solo CDs from acts as big as the Impressions, James Carr, Candi Staton and the Staples Singers all the way through runaway successes such as Doris Duke, Sam Dees, Spencer Wiggins, who were previously only known by the cognoscenti, on to O.C. Tolbert, Jackie Day, the Minits and Vernon Garrett who weren’t that well known on their blocks."¨"¨The continued penchant for vinyl has left us with a handful of bendy LPs and a growing 45s discography that will soon be enough to fill a DJs box: what a great set would be played from it too.

Then there’s yer actual downloads, T shirts and beer-mats; further evidence of world domination."¨"¨In the pipeline is a brilliant set of 60s Detroit soul productions from the legendary Pied Piper outfit, further Fame, more Motown, a new trawl of King, Kent Harris’ R&B and soul productions, Darrow Fletcher’s separate 60s and 70s CDs and deals that I dream of even as I type."¨



To mark the occasion Kent release the CD:

"Kent 30: The Best Of Kent Northern 1982-2012)"

Pre order from Ace Free delivery in the UK

30 tracks covering the 30 years of kent Records, some classics form that time but as you would expect some "newies" with the Pied Piper Band, Marva Holiday (which I can't wait to hear) and an alternative vocal to the one record that epitomises Kent and one of the greatest discoveries of the last 30 years Melba Moore's Magic Touch.

Listen to a brief clip of Melba Moore and Darrow Fletcher:


01. OOH IT HURTS ME - The Pied Piper Players

02. BEAUTY IS JUST SKIN DEEP - The Sweethearts

03. BABY WITHOUT YOU - Gene & Gary

04. LOVE KEEPS ME CRYING - Walter Wilson

05. IT'S TORTURE - Maxine Brown

06. I'D BE A MILLIONAIRE - Chuck Jackson

07. HAVE FAITH IN ME - Sugar & The Spices

08. YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE - Lorraine Chandler

09. I'M STEPPING OUT OF THE PICTURE - Johnny Maestro & The Crests

10. GETTIN' TO ME - Ben E King

11. WHAT SHOULD I DO - Little Ann

12. RISING HIGHER - Marva Holiday

13. TRY MY LOVE - Toni & The Showmen

14. TOO MUCH FOR YOU - Bobby Angelle

15. TWO WRONGS DON'T MAKE A RIGHT - The Mayberry Movement

16. THE MAGIC TOUCH - Melba Moore


18. OH, MY DARLIN' - Jackie Lee

19. THINK SMART - The Fiestas


21. WE CAN DO IT - The Shaladons


23. I WANNA THANK YOU - The Quotations

24. NO LIMIT - Darrow Fletcher

25. OH BABY DON'T YOU WEEP - Luther Ingram

26. WITHOUT YOUR LOVE - Bobby Penn

27. THE PANIC IS ON - Lou Johnson

28. (TRUE LOVE IS) IN THE HEART - Alexander Patton

29. CHANGES Lilly Fields

30. SORRY AIN T THE WORD The Paramount Four

This CD is a look at the Kent label’s Northern Soul history, heritage and future. There’s more to Kent than just Northern Soul, but that’s how we started in 1982 when Mary Love’s ‘You Turned My Bitter Into Sweet’ kicked off the “For Dancers Only” vinyl album. We covered the ballad side recently on “Deep Shadows: The Best Of Kent Ballads” CDKEND 342.

The “For Dancers Only” LP gets a nod with Gene & Gary’s duet of Danny Monday’s ‘Baby Without You’, here on CD for the first time. There is a host of exclusives, several not issued in any format before: Alexander Patton’s ‘True Love (Is In The Heart)’ will open traditional Northern fans’ eyes and ears the most, being from the same session and of a similar feel to his classic ‘A Lil Lovin’ Sometimes’, and Marva Holiday’s ‘Rising Higher’ is a fabulous Sherlie Matthews’ song that will be admired by progressive Northern fans.

Modern soul has been a part of the Kent landscape since 1984’s “Moving On Up” album. We celebrate that branch of our music with Darrow Fletcher’s ‘No Limit’ and the Paramount Four’s anthemic ‘Sorry Ain’t The Word’, both debuting on CD. 70s soul fans may well buy the CD for these two alone.

Our forthcoming Pied Piper spring range is launched with the original alternate take of Lorraine Chandler’s 60s Detroit opus ‘You Only Live Twice’; the song that gave birth to Yvonne Baker’s ‘You Didn’t Say A Word’. From the same stable comes the Pied Piper Players (aka Motown’s Funk Brothers) on ‘Ooh It Hurts Me’, a massive 60s newie of recent years as a stunning, unheard instrumental.

Representing the Dave Hamilton chapter are O.C. Tolbert and Little Ann’s rare soul classics, both presented in mixes different from our previous releases. Ben E King with ‘Gettin’ To Me’ heads our legendary discoveries section. Melba Moore, Chuck Jackson and Maxine Brown’s unissued recordings that re-floated the grounded SS Northern Soul in the 80s are here, as are the Magicians, whose vocal to ‘Double Cookin’’ shook up the Northern nation.

There are vinyl-finding tales of two of the biggest big beat ballads of them all and a story concerning picking up a handful of sleeveless singles in a producer’s house and seeing an undocumented Wand label for Walter Wilson’s 60s stomper which had been assumed to exist as tape only. Luther Ingram supplies the mother of all R&B/Northern crossover numbers, while Bobby Wisdom preens over his potential price tag of £4000; if you can find one.

There are classy crowd-pleasers from Toni & the Showmen, Sugar & the Spices, the Fiestas and the Sweethearts that have been marooned on Kent label stories, neglected by all but the pure in heart.

Advances in technology mean that the audio is vastly improved on tracks we first released 10 or 15 years ago. On some titles we were able to access superior quality multi-track masters and in Melba Moore’s case we even found an alternative vocal take. It is the first time the 45 mix of Johnny Maestro’s dramatic ‘I’m Stepping Out Of The Picture’ has been reissued. The quality of Chuck Jackson’s ‘Millionaire’ in particular is awesome, while the Magicians now has a potentially life-threatening dynamic.

The booklet contains 9,000 words of wisdom, re-telling the Kent Northern saga for long-term inmates or explaining where it all came form for the more recent converts. That’s 30 stunning soul sounds; one for each glorious year. It is not only a celebration but a revelation too; we hope you enjoy the hyperbole.

By Ady Croasdell

Kent also has a Birthday Party planned. It will be at the home of the 6t's Rhythm and Soul Club, The 100 CLub and feature's live from the USofA Darrow Fletcher. 8pm until 2pm with Darrow live on stage at around 11pm.

All details can be found at www.acerecords.com or www.6ts.info


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Excellent read, many congratulations to all at Kent, thanks for sharing some fantastic music with us, long may it continue :)

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Congrats to all at Ace/Kent. Massive achievement and could only have happened due to the all round quality of their products.

Here's to another 30 years!



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Well done indeed,a great milestone achieved with passion and hard graft. Personally can't wait for the Pied Piper compilation....Keep up the good work!

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An essential part of anybody's soul music education.

It's in part to the continued enthusiasm and dedication of those at Kent that the music continues to prosper.

Congrats all round.

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Wow thirty years. The label that got me into soul music in the first place. Here's to the next thirty!

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30 Years, a fantastic achievement. I’ve have the full set of LP’s and what an impressive body of work they are. Love Ian Clark’s quirky artwork on some of the early releases. Looking forward to the PARTY on the !st November with Darrow Fletcher.

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A fantastic achievement by Ace / Kent who have kept the flag flying for a long time with an endless schedule of quality releases.

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Got the CD in Head Records in Leamington on Thursday - great selection, thanks Ady and Kent.

For some reason the CD track names wouldn't download; I've typed them all in meaning to upload to Gracenote but for some reason it won't let me do that either. Obviously the internet's working, otherwise I wouldn't be posting this message. If anyone has tips I can maybe send the track names later (or is it just a blip for me and everyone else can get them anyway?).

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There was only the one that I saw. I'd been planning to order it online for £11 and Head was the same price so I bought it there. I didn't ask if they had more stock so no idea if it will have ben replaced.

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There was only the one that I saw. I'd been planning to order it online for £11 and Head was the same price so I bought it there. I didn't ask if they had more stock so no idea if it will have ben replaced.

thanks will pop over on the bus :) it has a good selection so im bound to find something to buy.a pity there isnt a decent record shop here
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Kent, in my opinion, is the greatest soul label ever. If you had all or even half of their back catalogue, you would never need to buy another record or cd, you'd be set up for life. Congratulations to all at Kent for the fantastic releases and taking the quality of the accompanying booklets to another level.

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I've had mine on order from Amazon for ages, still waiting for delivery. Amazon is getting worse with the likes of Kent stuff. Will use the Ace site in future methinks.

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Despite our false start the week previous,got to see Darrow Fletcher at the 100 club,listen to some superb records,and introduce my son (Levi) to the iconic venue /scene..very enjoyable it was too. Congratulations Ady & 6Ts crew!

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