In every collection there are records that get played all the time, many of them for years, decades even. Then there are those that, while no less treasured, somehow fall by the wayside to lie in wait, ripe for rediscovery. This occasional series chronicles some of those nuggets as they resurface from my own back pages. So, put the needle on the record, put the needle on the record, put the needle on the record and it sounds like this…
Various Artists – For Dancers Only (Kent, 1982)
Considering this is the record that started it all for me I really don’t play it enough these days. The Kent label was activated by Harboro Horace, aka Ady Croasdell to provide an outlet for the records he was unearthing Stateside and bring back to knock ’em dead with at the 100 Club all-nighters and rare soul nights up an down the land. This was the stuff the first wave of Northern Soul missed a decade or so earlier.
To a young mod-type such as myself this was gold dust. A kindly soul in my local Our Price tipped me off as to the content – all culled from the vaults of Modern Records – and one listen was all it took. In fact, I think hearing the opening bars of Side 1 Track 1, Mary Love’s Turned My Bitter Into Sweet, was all it took. Gorgeous stuff, the voice like runny honey, the delivery dragging just right, the snare crescendo and BAM! the beat kicks in and the oxblood loafers are off our on the dancefloor.
The Intentions’ Dancing Fast Dancing Slow still brings a mile-wide grin to the lips and ZZ Hill’s supercool stretch on the R&B killer Gimme Gimme is a masterclass in the art of restraint. The Marvellos’ In the Sunshine is the epitome of a mid-tempo glitterball floater, while Lowell Fulsom’s sheer authenticity keeps My Aching Back from falling into novelty territory and Ike and Tina’s I Can’t Believe What You Say is grittier than a hen’s dinner.
This being 1982 and Kent being in its infancy enthusiasm was the order of the day and precious little thought was given to educating the audience. It hardly mattered though and by the time the label moved into CD and upped its annotation game we were eager to learn more about these lost legends and many others.
Horace rattled off a sequel in quick succession, For Dancers Also, and he was on his way. Kent now has hundreds of titles to its name, we’re all so much older than we were, but this this will always be special because this is where we came in.