Wednesday, January 31, 2007

C.D. Review- Various Artists- 45 Kings Volume III (Fat City)

Various Artists; 45 Kings III (Fat City)
This is the third volume in this particular series from Manchester's Fat City label. Apparently many of these songs are remarkably rare, but I still have a hard time accepting this 41 minute release as a double album. I still don't understand why compilations pulled from a wide assortment of 7" records covering multiple musical genres should have short running times. If there was a mind-blowing sonic improvement that only wide vinyl grooves could transmit, there might be an argument in favour of such short records, but repressing old vinyl singles can hardly justify the sonic-superiority argument.
With that aside, there certainly are some rather compelling tracks on 45 Kings III. The opener, Jimmy Gray Hall's "Be That Way" is a gently upbeat song that isn't exactly soul, but sure is soulful in it's resigned delivery. More conventional disco-funk comes through on "Crescent Boogie" by Soul On Delivery. Mike Harper lays on a thick, dancefloor-cut slice of soul with his "Lay It On Me Baby".
"Wanderin' Soul" is a gospel-sounding number from Gary Atkinson, who sounds a bit like Arthur Prysock on here. John Fitch's "Romantic Attitude" is a cynical anti-love song which should probably have been titled "I Don't Care".
Another fine cut is Estelle Levitt's "All I Dream" is a hauntingly groovy pop song that sounds like some forgotten movie theme with the strings and rhythm interplay backing Estelle's moody vocals. Lilly's "Starin' At The Wall" is a good funky blues song a la Denise LaSalle, while a few tracks end the album in a quirky mood. Nino Nardini is probably the best known artist on this collection- he contributes a suspenseful instrumental that sounds like it could have been recorded for the 1980's "Knight Rider" t.v. series about a technologically advanced car and the crime fighter who drives it. Nardini recorded music for French television, so the premise is not without consideration. The spare, bassy and synth-heavy arrangement moves along for almost three minutes, bringing this short collection to a close.
Despite the appeal of many of these rare songs, there are barge loads of great long-forgotten old 7" singles. Given 45 Kings III seems to have been compiled without rhyme nor reason, there is no theme that would have been compromised by tossing a few extra songs on here, or leaving it as a single l.p. It's an interesting collection, but there are plenty of those around, so I would hesitate to implore anyone to run out and get this one.

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