Various Artists

Romark Records: Kent Harrris' Soul Sides

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As soon as Los Angeles-based R&B singer/songwriter Kent Harris achieved some success as a performer and songwriter -- "Cops & Robbers," a song he cut with his Boogaloo & His Gallant Crew hit the R&B Top 10 and was later popularized by Bo Diddley -- he began to build his own modest empire, DJing and producing throughout L.A. while also opening the Romark Records label. This 2013 compilation -- which follows Ace's 2012 set Kent Harris' R&B Family, collecting productions and singles associated with Harris and his extended family, which reached far into show biz (he could claim Redd Foxx as his brother-in-law) -- focuses on Romark, which released singles with some regularity between 1963 and 1971. None of these songs were hits -- indeed, some of these tracks weren't even released at the time and have been excavated for this release, including a handful of disco and quiet storm songs Harris cut toward the end of the '70s and the beginning of the '80s -- and none of the singers turned into stars further on down the road, so this is pretty obscure stuff. That doesn't mean it's not enjoyable. Some of the appeal derives from pure sonics, whether it's the cool uptown grooves of the '60s, the cramped, compressed sound of the demos, the slick urban veneer of the disco material, but there are also some nice, tightly written songs delivered with gusto by talented, if not especially charismatic, singers. In other words, it's soul for crate-diggers, listeners who appreciate texture and flair, or a convincing cover of Elton John's "Talking Old Soldiers" by Marcene "Dimples" Harris. This isn't music that delivers a knock-out punch, but it's assured generic '60s soul that satisfies.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:23
2 2:35
3 3:18
4 4:04
5 3:36
6 2:50
7 2:25
8 2:18
9 2:32
10 2:40
11 2:20
12 2:32
13 2:14
15 4:08
16 4:37
17 3:58
18 3:07
19 2:40
20 3:07
21 2:59
22 2:42
23 2:31
24 4:29
25 3:32
blue highlight denotes track pick