As 1972 saw the rise of funk, so too did it witness a bevy of slick soul, replete with lush string charts and heavenly harmonies. Philly International producers Gamble & Huff cut some of the best of these easy R&B grooves, notably Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes' "If You Don't Know Me by Now," which is featured here. Rhino's ten-track survey of 1972 soul spotlights the work of another Philly contributor, Thom Bell, who cut both the Stylistics' "Betcha by Golly Wow" and the Spinners' "I'll Be Around." Sticking to the smooth harmonies and lush production mode, the compilation also includes quality smashes by the Chi-Lites and the Dramatics; even the relatively more rough-hewn Al Green and Aretha Franklin are featured on some mellow gems. But to make sure they don't forget the funk, the disc closes out with one of the music's pinnacle cuts, James Brown's "Talkin' Loud & Saying Nothing," and a rather obscure but still very solid clavinet jam by Billy Preston.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook