Clarence Carter

I Couldn't Refuse

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A nice sampler of the venerable soul singer's late '80s and early '90s work for Ichiban Records, with a couple of what sound like demos thrown in for variety's sake. For whatever reason, this is a fairly subdued set, with very few of the leering come-on songs that are often his artistic raison d'etre; in fact, while "If Only" is one of his trademark cheating songs, it's probably the only one in Carter's repertoire where he expresses remorse because the husband is a nice guy.

Continuing in the same surprisingly mild vein there's "Slip Away Again," a sequel of sorts to his biggest hit, except here the woman would seem to be his actual girlfriend rather than somebody else's. And don't miss the opening "What Was I Supposed to Do," a story song in which somebody has the nerve to hit on Clarence's woman at a club (hint: he doesn't like it), featuring some of the most jaw-droppingly bizarre guitar and synthesizer riffs ever heard.

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