Various Artists

Eccentric Soul: Mighty Mike Lenaburg

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The Numero Group's 11th release is also its fifth in the Eccentric Soul series that focuses on small-town producers and labels whose tracks have either never seen the light of day or were so obscure they vanished without a trace or even a whimper of interest. In other words, these folks are crazy and thank God they are. This Eccentric Soul platter is truly out there: soul from Phoenix, AZ! The music here was produced and recorded by music entrepreneur/producer, label owner, manager, record store owner, DJ, you name it, Michael Lenaburg. The 17 tracks on this set were recorded between 1962 and 1980, the vast majority between 1967 and 1971. All of this is raw, gritty, and real. One standout is Ronnie Whitehead's killer James Brown rip "Out of Breath" -- it's funky as hell, and so utterly ferocious in its vocal attack that it bleeds soul. (He even name-checks Brown in the tune!) Other highlights include the Soulsations' "Broadway Shing-a-Ling, Pt. 1" and "Funky Nightclub" -- the first is an instrumental and the second takes an Archie Bell & the Drells dance groove over the limit. Likewise, Sheila Jack's "I've Got to Have You" is an out-of-tune, out-of-balance sweltering and sexy ballad. Whew! Michael Liggins & the Super Souls' "Loaded Back" sounds like Othar Turner & the Rising Star Fife & Drum Band meeting Sly Stone's band for some freaky stomp and grind -- the guitar playing on this baby is just nuts too! In all, there isn't a dud in the bunch and all of these tunes, as rare and obscure as they are, are worth hearing -- over and over again -- and dancing to, in order to remind listeners just what the hell they are missing in the music of the present day. Highly recommended.

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