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History Of Soul (SOUL002)

Bobby 'Blue' Bland, Joe Tex, The 5 Royales, Joe Perkins, Earl Gaines, Otis Redding, Fontella Bass, Sam & Dave, Roy Lee Johnson, Arthur Alexander, Shirley Raymond, Little Milton, Cookie And The Cupcakes, Gene Allison, Little Junior Parker,  Oscar Perry, Delores Johnson and more...

This is just one of a planned series of new compilations that explore the different pathways to the genesis of soul music as we came to know it. As well as this superb set, others in the series just coming out include The Soul Of New Orleans (SOUL003) and Wade In The Water - Soul Chronology Volume 1 (SOUL004) and these are themselves tremendous collections that, if we had time and space here, fully justify reviews in their own right.

This Where Southern Soul Began set however is just a beaut, taking in artists, songs and styles that went on to have some influence on the later emergence of southern soul as it became known. Listening to the impressive 54 tracks on these 2 CDs, and reading through the full colour 28 page booklet that accompanies it, these influences are mostly easy to identify and associate with. Not being one to worry unduly about the intellectual rigour behind such concepts, I am not overly worried about tying all these tracks into the fabric of southern soul's history. I just wanna have fun!

And fun is in plentiful supply here, starting with Bobby ‘Blue' Bland's opening I've Been Wrong For So Long all the way to the closing track, Please, Please, Please by James Brown. In between, there are familiar old friends lurking - like Joe Medwick's impassioned I Cried and Ted Taylor's rocking I'm Leaving You (many of us know this best by Howlin' Wolf). And it seems years  since I heard Little Milton's  I Need Somebody. William Bell's You Don't Miss Your Water may seem an obvious choice here but when did you ever open up a CD to find it on there and curse? Never of course.

Plenty of others are new and welcome surprises, the Joe Perkins I'm Not Gonna Leave is a bluesy-gospel treat, and the riff on Arthur Alexander's Sally Sue Brown was enough alone for me to make me purr, the fact that it is a super song and sung so well is just a bonus. Clyde Shelby's Phoney Lover is a gorgeous near-blues big ballad that ends almost as an operatic show-stopper. Sheer genius.  

The overall standard of these 54 tracks is amazingly high and there are hours of fun to be had here. And, in the unlikely event that you ever tire of this collection, there is always the rest of the series to catch up with! Come on now, you love the commitment, don't you? I know I do!

Review Date: April 2013

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