Various Artists

Eccentric Soul: The Capsoul Label

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Capsoul, short for "Capitol City Soul," was a small independent label from Columbus, OH, that was extant from 1970 to 1974 and rolled out a small number of singles in that time. Columbus may have been the base of operations, but the label's sound existed somewhere in between the many larger independents of the time: Stax, Motown, Brunswick, and Philly International. One tune more than any other on Eccentric Soul points to the invisible tie to Memphis' grit and Philly's polish: "You Can't Blame Me" by the cumbersomely named Johnson, Hawkins, Tatum & Durr. It's this song that probably made the whole Eccentric Soul collection possible. It's a legend to soul collectors, one of those magical moments when parts that shouldn't work together do and the results knock the dust off of even the most jaded ears. Mix together big beat drums, sweet soul strings, bottomless bass, ringing vibraphone, moody electric piano, and a seasoned vocal quartet who turn in a magical ballad performance and you're close to what "You Can't Blame Me" achieves. The original flip side of the single, "Your Love Keeps Drawing Me Closer," is here too, and while it travels the sunnier side of the street, it's still a great sweet soul showcase for JHT&D. Their follow-up single had one light Motown-esque pop-soul number, "You're All I Need to Make It," and one blatant attempt to recapture the magic of "You Can't Blame Me" titled "A World Without You," which in its failure to do so shines a light on the other Capsoul singles included on Eccentric Soul. There are regional party hits, some of which were successful, like the go-go instrumental "Pure Soul" by Elijah & the Ebonites and label owner Bill Moss' upbeat pro-black dancefloor filler "Sock It to 'Em Soul Brother," but many of the Capsoul sounds that were never identifiable on their own are largely recognizable through larger operations like Stax -- "I'm Gonna Keep On Loving You" by Kool Blues is a ringer for Sam & Dave, Brunswick producer Carl Davis comes to mind when hearing "Too Far Gone" by the Four Mints, and even the big sound of Jerry Wexler and Atlantic is referenced with the deep rich voice of Marion Black on "Who Knows." The story is similar with other fledgling independent labels, but despite the similarities these songs are full of sweat and grit and often equal their better-equipped and bankrolled counterparts, an achievement that other labels rarely made. Even those easy reference points are swept away on Kool Blues' slick, lounge-y, and totally infectious modern soul number "Can We Try Love Again." There's a tune here for every discerning soul taste, but they work even better as a whole, making this release as essential as it is eccentric.

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