Various Artists

Big City Soul, Vol. 1

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On the first of three collections from the vaults of various (then) major labels, the folks at Goldmine/Soul Supply have mined rich veins in order to find the excellent as well as rare tracks. Along with early and uncharacteristic tracks by artists such as the O'Jays ("Hold On," "Working on Your Case"), Gene McDaniels ("Strange Neighborhood," "Walk With a Winner"), June Jackson ("It's What's Underneath That Counts"), Jay & the Americans ("Living Above Your Head"), and Garnet Mimms ("Looking for You"), there are lesser-known yet no less valuable acts such as the Jive Five, Betty Turner, Ray Pollard, Marva Josie, Homer Banks, and many others. Tracks like the Crystals' classic "Are You Trying to Get Rid of Me Baby" are shimmied up wig-tight against the Diplomats' obscure gem "Honest to Goodness." The vibe is somewhere between the mid-'60s Motown feel and the gorgeous rawness of Stax along with the vocal prowess of the emerging Philly sound. There are 27 cuts here, and not a weak link in the chain. Given how painstakingly the material was licensed and researched, this is one of the most essential recordings of its type anywhere.

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