Don Varner

Finally Got Over: Deep Soul from the Classic Era

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Don Varner released some obscure singles on several labels, all of which seem to be on this 23-song compilation. But it's still not easy to figure out exactly when the tracks on this CD were originally released and recorded, and what material was issued for the first time on this disc. As the small print does note that it "includes material released 1967-1968," it can be assumed that most or all of this comes from around this era, though no other information is given. At any rate, it's likely the most thorough compilation of Varner's recordings that will ever be produced, seemingly combining everything from his scant official discography with some previously unavailable recordings. If you're a committed fan of the '60s deep soul sound, you'll probably like this, though if you're a less passionate admirer of the style, you'll probably find it somewhat run of the mill. Varner has a strong, throaty, but not exceptionally distinctive voice, rather in the Otis Redding school (although the resemblance isn't incredibly strong). While many of the songs were written by the likes of Dan Penn, Eddie Hinton, Jerry Wexler, Bert Berns, Joe Tex, and Swamp Dogg (with Varner penning his share as well), none of them are among the stronger compositions by any of those major figures. It's amiable stuff with many of the attributes of deep soul, like emotional vocals, a blend of blues-country-gospel-pop, and funky playing. They're just not songs, or performances, that wrest your attention.

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