Sunday, February 28, 2021

VA - Kent Carnival Of Soul Vol. 01, Vol. 02 & Vol. 03 [1994+1995]


VA - Kent Carnival Of Soul Vol.  01, Vol. 02 & Vol. 03 [1994+1995] 

The first of 3 volumes, features the story of Joe Evans, who started out playing jazz saxophone (he played first alto to Charlie Parker's third alto in the legendary Jay McShann band of 1942!) and wound up with his own 60s and 70s soul label Carnival. Always at the cutting edge of Black music, Joe filled the years in between working as a support musician with Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton and Sil Austin, acting as National Promotions Director for Ray Charles' outfit Tangerine Records and becoming a record producer for the tiny Cee Jay label. Seeing the future in soul music (long before many of his contemporaries), he set up Carnival in 1962. The label attracted a red-hot 'house' band of young talent - guitarists Eric Gale and 'Snaggs' Allen, drummer Bernard Purdie and bassist Jimmy Tyrell (later a vice president of Columbia Records), among them - and together they forged a distinct new sound. One of the singers Joe recorded was Barbara Brown and she was instrumental in bringing The Manhattans to Carnival. Joe shaped the group's raw talent and by their third single I Wanna Be, they had charted high (the song leached No 12 R&B, No 68 Pop, and was to be the label's biggest hit). They would chart another 8 times for the label and this CD (and Volumes 2 & 3, KENT 118 &124) tell their story, as well as that of Joe Evans and all the other fine soul talent he recorded.

Two record companies, Collectables and Kent, have taken it upon themselves to reissue everything cut by Joe Evans' Carnival Record label. Collectables has the best idea musically -- it includes six or eight tracks by one known artist and fills the rest of the CD with cuts by the real unknowns. However, Collectables doesn't include songwriters' credits, and the liner notes and artist information are either skimpy or missing. Kent's discs have more than 20 cuts each and extensive annotation, but no more than two or three tracks by any artist, so you get a potpourri of unfamiliar tracks that are average at best. Carnival of Soul, Vol. 1: Wishes, the first volume of Kent's Carnival Records compilations, consists of 24 tracks and one lone R&B hit: Lee Williams & the Cymbals "I Love You More." Two Manhattans tunes made the cut -- the unreleased "Til You Come Back to Me" and "All I Need Is Your Love," an obscure album track. Northern soul fans will love the inclusion of Phil Terrell's "Love Has Passed Me By"; the song went unnoticed in the States, but is considered a collector's item Europe. A female group called the Pets has the most interesting track here, an early production by George Clinton titled "I Say Yeah," originally released and forgotten in 1965. Tracks by the Metrics, the Topics, and the Lovettes are interesting, and the Pretenders cuts always demand attention, but the rest is mediocre at best. (AllMusic Review by Andrew Hamilton)

Volume One of this Carnival Records anthology contained one lone R&B hit; this second volume doesn't include any at all. The Manhattans' second record, "There Goes a Fool," is a good little number, but nothing special. Lee Williams & the Cymbals' second-biggest record, "Peepin' Through the Window," still sounds good, and was one of the few Carnival Records releases to get played outside of New Jersey. The Symphonies' "That's What Love Will Do" is a heart-rending girl group ballad and a bonafide tear-jerker, while The Lovettes' "I'm Afraid (To Say I Love You)" is another good slice of female group soul. The Metrics and the Topics sides are always interesting; Joe Evans (Carnival Records' owner) should have taken them in the studio more. Sides by Barbara Brown and Norma Jenkins may have been recorded in New Jersey, but they're deep soul. (AllMusic Review by Andrew Hamilton)

Many labels and label owners have been given unofficial sainthood by fans (all petitions to the Vatican are pending), but in the world of independent soul perhaps one of the most deserved of this massive praise is Joe Evans and his Carnival imprint. Spanning most of the '60s and taking occasional forays into the '70s and even the indie soul tundra of the '80s, Carnival quietly issued soul-blues rockers, somber ballads, northern classics, disco anthems, and crossover classics before most of those designations had been invented. Among the legends here are Lee Williams & the Cymbals' classic "I Need You Baby" (imagine Marvin Gaye singing lead with the Impressions), Phil Terrell and his fantastic "I'll Erase You (From My Heart)," Wilber Bascombe's bona fide funk anthem "Groove in G," and the sophisticated '80s surprise of New Jersey Connection's "Love Don't Come Easy." This is the third and final volume in Kent Records' reissue series that presents the entire catalog of Carnival, including previously unissued material. (AllMusic Review by Wade Kergan)

If you really want the whole story, though, you'll have to check out all three volumes.



Track lists

Kent Carnival Of Soul Vol.  01 [1994] Wishes

01 Metrics Wishes 2:53

02 Topics She's So Fine 2:38

03 Manhattans All I Need is Your Love 3:00

04 Norma Jenkins Me Myself and I 2:45

05 Lovettes I Need a Guy 2:50

06 Barbara Brown Forget Him 3:08

07 Harry Caldwell Nobody Loves Me (Like My Baby) 2:26

08 Lee Williams & the Cymbals I Love You More 3:11

09 Kenneth Ruffin I'll Keep Holding On 2:52

10 Jimmy Jules Nothing Will Ever Change (This Love of Mine) 2:27

11 Turner Brothers My Love is Yours Tonight 2:54

12 Lee Williams & the Cymbals It's Everything About You (That I Love) 3:10

13 Pretenders I Wanna Be (Your Everything) 2:45

14 Phil Terrell Love Has Passed Me By 2:43

15 Pets I Say Yeah 2:20

16 Leon & Metronomes & Kool Kings Band I'll Catch You on the Rebound 2:20

17 Phil Terrell Can I Come In 2:14

18 Curby Goggins Come Home to Daddy 2:48

19 Little Royal I Can Tell 2:55

20 Rene Bailey I'm Gonna Be Missing You 2:59

21 Tren-Teens My Baby's Gone 2:39

22 Pretenders I Call it Love 2:15

23 Manhattans Till You Come Back to Me 2:41

24 Three Reasons Go Right On 2:39

VA - Kent Carnival Of Soul Vol.  02 [1995] Feelin' Good

01 Phil Terrell I'm Just a Young Boy 2:24

02 Barbara Brown So in Love 3:00

03 Topics Hey Girl (Where Are You Going) 2:47

04 Manhattans There Goes a Fool 2:27

05 Harry Caldwell Please Come Back 2:58

06 Lee Williams & the Cymbals Peeping Through the Window 3:05

07 Metrics I Found You 3:27

08 Symphonies That's What Love Will Do 3:11

09 Pretenders I'm the One Love Forgot 3:21

10 Barbara Brown Sometimes I Wonder 2:17

11 Jimmy Jules Don't Let Yourself Go 3:05

12 Harold & Connie Bugaloo Party 2:34

13 Lovettes Little Miss Soul 2:20

14 Manhattans Love is Breaking Out All Over 2:16

15 Pretenders Broken Heart 3:03

16 Rene Bailey Warm and Tender Love 3:24

17 Phil Terrell Don't Run Away 3:08

18 Norma Jenkins Need Someone to Love 3:14

19 Topics I Don't Have to Cry 2:46

20 Lovettes I'm Afraid (To Say I Love You) 2:46

21 Harry Caldwell A New World is Just Beginning 3:04

22 Lee Williams & the Cymbals Lost Love 2:51

23 Curby Goggins Leave Me If You Want To 3:08

24 Carnival Kings Feelin' Good 2:34

VA - Kent Carnival Of Soul Vol.  03 [1995] I Wanna Be

01 Lee Williams & The Cymbals I Need You Baby 3:03

02 Phil Terrell I'll Erase You (From My Heart) 2:24

03 Manhattans I Wanna Be (Your Everything) 2:42

04 Pretenders I Call It Love 3:56

05 Topics If Love Comes Knockin' 2:52

06 Barbara Brown Send Him To Me 2:44

07 Turner Brothers I'm The Man For You Baby 3:09

08 Jimmy Jules Just One More Time 3:18

09 Lee Williams & The Cymbals I'll Be Gone 2:58

10 Dolores Johnson What Kind Of Man Are You 2:37

11 Curly Mays Oh Why 2:27

12 Little Royal You Made Me Love You 2:17

13 Maurice Simon & The Pie Men The Git Go 2:49

14 Pretenders Just Be Yourself 3:41

15 James Perry April Lady 4:16

16 Three Reasons Take Me Back 3:08

17 Lovettes Lonely Girl 2:54

18 Kenneth Ruffin Cry Cry Cry 2:15

19 Leon & The Metronomes Buy This Record For Me 2:52

20 Trenteens Your Yah-Yah Is Gone 2:02

21 Dolores Johnson Try Me One Time 2:29

22 Rene Bailey It's Too Late For Tears 2:52

23 Manhattans I Don't Wanna Go 2:42

24 Wilbur Bascomb & Blue Zodiacs Groove In G 2:43

25 New Jersey Connection Love Don't Come Easy 3:21




  1. Great post, BB. I'm always amazed by how much soul music is out there - yeah, I know this comp. is from the last century :) - but I always wonder how much more undiscovered music is still laying around in someone's basement etc.. It seems to have a been a huge industry - both in big and small towns and cities - back in the 60's and 70's throughout the USA, aspiring soul artists making a record and dreaming of that big break, or just making the music they loved and for the fun of it. Thank you again.

    1. Thanks Arty.
      There are many, many, many recordings of soul artists that I still find new to me. I don't know if you looked at my last self made compilations (VA - It's In My Soul series) always with some new some rare and some known. From years of digging and from recommendations. My favorite music these days is what I dint't know existed. very exciting. Soul music can offer this... The Numero series, Eccentric Soul is wonderful for unknown soul. Marketing of music created a whole new world of opportunities.

  2. BB
    Thanks for posting these. If anyone needs to know these are Kent 108, 118 and 124. I believe there are over 500 Kent collections.

    1. Hi lemonflag.
      I am assuming you have these.
      Do you have a list handy showing each of the 500+ albums in the Kent catalog?


    2. BB
      I don't know how to print my file but here is the link to discogs page.
      It looks a bit messy to me but half way down look for CDKEND numbers.
      I got a lot from TZ but I don't recall who uploaded them, maybe it was the "Madman".

    3. Thanks lemonflag,
      I should create a list for myself and look at whats missing. It is surprising how many of these I actually have.


  3. Hi Butterboy,
    thanks for the anthology.

    1. Hi Il Commendatore
      All good soul stuff here.


  4. Hi!

    Thanx for this collection. Looks like some great R&B/Soul. Sure there are some "new" artists = "new" hears here.

    Ciao! For now.

  5. Great to have you back, Butterboy. Love the sound treatment the guys at Ace Records, the actual owners of Kent's catalogue, give to their releases, such as The RPM Records Story, posted here earlier this week. Hope to see much more of Ace compilations here in the near future. Thanks a lot, mate.

    1. Thanks Guilherme.
      Ace/Kent have wonderful music to learn from.
      Hope you will have fun picking up what I post.


  6. Thanks so much Butterboy, it's grouse to have you back and firing

    1. Its great to be sharing again, Masters 6672.
      I am happy you are enjoying the choices.


  7. Lee Williams & the Cymbals, just one group that blows me away through the songwriting, arrangement, production and then Lee's vocals and delivery as well as the musicians, and were it not for the likes of Kent's vault digging I would have missed this opportunity since as per Discogs, there's no album releases, just those elusive, rare 45's on the Carnival label.

    But then bring together all similar artists and groups that remain hidden, rare and elusive from the same label with the same quality of songwriting, arrangement, production, vocals and musicianship ............ this should leave you utterly speechless !!!!!

    But, without complaining, we're missing ONE Kent release here;

    A Carnival Of Soul: Wishes - Volume One CDKEND 108 1994
    A Carnival Of Soul: Feelin' Good - Volume Two CDKEND 118 1995
    A Carnival Of Soul: I Wanna Be - Volume Three CDKEND 124 1995 ......

    Carnival Northern Soul - CDKEND 327 2009

    However, this last release is a compilation of the 3 Volumes' more danceable song 'a la Northern Soul' style :) The 3 volumes cover approx 90% of all of Carnival's releases.

    Thanks BB - this is such an important share for everyone.