Various Artists

Stone Soul: San Francisco's Loadstone Label

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Loadstone, run by bus driver Walter Curry Stone, issued sporadic soul singles in the 1960s and 1970s without getting any strong sellers, although "Country Woman" by the Cals (which is not on this anthology) saw some regional action in 1962. This is a 24-track collection of the label's output, with just one effort by the relatively well-known singer Jean Knight (whose 1976 cut was done long after her sole big hit "Mr. Big Stuff"). Sly Stone to the contrary, the San Francisco area did not have a large or notable soul scene. This collection would not hold water as part of a convincing argument that the Bay Area contained its share of lost soul nuggets. It's average-to-below-average period soul, stepping from girl group, doo wop-styled efforts by the Chandeliers (some of the highlights, actually) and middle '60s soul to somewhat more funky, bluesier-edged outings from the early '70s and partial-disco tunes from the mid-to-late 1970s, some of which are pretty mediocre. There's a mild chuckle to be had, perhaps, from Charles Leonard's "A Funky Driver on a Funky Bus," written by Walter Curry Stone and based on his experiences as an employee of San Francisco's public transit system. Jacqueline Jones does a decent job with her Southern-flavored, early-'70s soul outings (a couple of which were likewise penned by Stone), and Paula Lamont's previously unissued "Swimming Partners" has a nice bluesy moodiness. On the other hand, Herman H. Harper II's "Inseparable" -- from the late 1970s, according to the liner notes, although it sounds like urban contemporary crud of a much later vintage -- is as lousy a cut as any that have graced Kent compilations, which is really saying something given how many of them there have been. By the way, the sole Loadstone single by Sly Stone, "I Can't Turn You Loose"/"I Ain't Got Nobody" (actually licensed from 1967 demos made at Golden State Recorders), is not included.

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