Music Week's round-up of the latest album reissues and catalogue releases. This week, Martika is rated alongside comps from labels Kent and Righteous.
Martika's Kitchen (Cherry Pop CRPOPD 195)
Three years after making Martika's eponymous 1988 debut available in an expanded edition, Cherry Pop accord the same privilege to her 1991 follow-up, Martika's Kitchen. The last album by the Californian singer/songwriter to achieve chart status, it is an arguably better and definitely more substantial album than her more lightweight but fun debut, not least because of the involvement of Prince. He produced and co-wrote four songs here, including both of the Top 20 singles the record spawned, Love...Thy Will Be Done and the title track. One of the most elegant and pleasing of the many songs he bestowed on others, Love...Thy Will Be Done is a lilting, melodic plodder with an underlying gospel feel. The rest of the album is not without its charms, either, with the similarly paced Coloured Kisses leading the way, although it surprisingly peaked a notch short of the Top 40 when released as a single. The album is expanded to a 2CD edition for this 'reheated' and remastered edition, with the second of them comprising a dozen edifying side orders of remixes and edits.
Northern Soul's Classiest Rarities Volume 6 (Kent CDKEND 471)
Choosing quality over quantity, it has taken Kent 16 years to get as far as Volume 6 of this series, with the latest release, like its antecedents, collecting together 24 irresistible floorfillers from across the Northern Soul spectrum. The attention to detail and painstaking research that goes into this series can be gleaned from the inclusion of The Fidels' superb I Only Cry Once A Day Now - which has never previously been released, and wasn't even known to exist until 2015 - and Sad Tomorrows, also newly rescued from obscurity, which turns out to be a gorgeous piece of blue-eyed soul from Nooney Rickett with a big Jack Nitzsche production. Tamala Lewis' You Won't Say Nothing is a slick early George Clinton track, while Little Nicky Soul's is a typically classy Sidney Barnes obscurity. Additionally, the rather more familiar Northern Soul monster One In A Million by Maxine Brown - a real barnstormer with a backing track that is redolent in parts of Stevie Wonder's Uptight - turns up in a previously unreleased take.
Jukebox In Crampsville - 60 Way Out Tunes At A Dime A Piece (Righteous PSALM 23.89D)
Esoteric rockabilly band The Cramps' Lux Interior and Poison Ivy are the curators of this and four previous 2CD compilations in the last three years anthologising offbeat tracks he plays on the radio or she has in her collection. And, judging by the contents of this latest super strange set, stuffed with curios from the late 1950s and early 1960s, they are far from exhausting the concept. Most cuts here are unfamiliar but far from filler - in fact, the only really widely known track beyond the cognoscenti is Betsy Gay's version of Hound Dog, a lusty rockabilly interpretation of the song released a full year before Elvis Presley made it his own. Subject matter includes Frankenstein, The Wolfman, The Devil, Voodoo, Witches and The Creep. Kitty Wells excels, as she always does, with The Waltz Of The Angels; Ken Nordine offers an early and typically offbeat example of his 'word jazz' style in What Time Is It?; and later hitmakers Paul Revere & The Raiders impress with pounding 1961 instrumental Like, Long Hair. Elsewhere, The Earthworms serve up a funky feast on Mo' Taters, and Jerry & Mel prepare the equally palatable (musically if not gastronomically) Cannibal Stew. Finally, it would be wrong not to mention burlesque performer Terri 'Cup-Cake' O'Mason's Triangle, which relates the story of “The husband, the wife and the lover” and their “Menage above the garage”' and the marriage's disintegration in a pleasing vignette that runs to no more than 88 seconds.