Kent Harris' R&B Family

Kent Harris' R&B Family


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Los Angeles singer, songwriter, and producer Kent Harris was involved with plenty of R&B, rock & roll, and soul records on a variety of (mostly small) labels in the 1950s and 1960s. He also had connections to various show business celebrities, DJing for a while on XERB, which also had Wolfman Jack; in addition, one of his sisters went into the Platters, another marrying Redd Foxx. This 25-track collection of recordings with which he was affiliated in some fashion stretches from the mid-'50s to the late '60s, including a few done by himself. None of the cuts (ten of which were previously unreleased) were hits, and none of the artists well known, unless you count Adolph Jacobs, who played guitar on some early Coasters hits. In its way, this is a snapshot of the rawer underside of the Los Angeles R&B side as it went through various changes in an era when rock and soul underwent massive upheavals, traveling from jump blues and comic rock & roll novelties through girl groups and funky soul, though it doesn't contain much of extraordinary merit. These are fair recordings in a variety of styles, often with a bluesier bent than much Southern Californian R&B and soul of the time, though not ones that establish a particularly identifiable sound for Harris-related material. The most notable exception is Harold Jackson & the Jackson Brothers' "The Freedom Riders," a rousing 1961 single exhorting listeners to get on the civil rights train to a jazzy cha-cha-cum-R&B beat. Sometimes the inspirations for some of these tunes are obvious, like Dimples Jackson's "Love Came Tumbling Down" ("Fever") and Johnny Gosey's "Double Locks" (Harris' own "Cops and Robbers," not included here). Not a bad compilation, but one whose interest is largely limited to specialists in the corners of early Los Angeles R&B.

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