Various Artists

Natural High, Vol. 2: 2-Step Soul, Boogie Fusion & Rare Groove

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The dominant soul labels of the 1970s were imprints like Philadelphia International, Motown, Curtom, and Stax -- at first glance, Atlantic's heyday as a trademark of soul quality ended along with the 1960s, while sister labels Warner Bros. and Elektra never really enjoyed any kind of reputation as soul hotbeds in their otherwise storied lifetimes. The Natural High compilation series certainly isn't going to rewrite soul music history, but it does bring to light enough top-drawer material to demand new consideration of the companies' '70s output -- it's a shame this material never earned any real commercial fame, because it's consistently wonderful stuff. Drawing primarily on deep LP cuts and long out of print material, the second volume in the series assembles 16 sun-kissed mellow groovers that are wonderfully evocative of a lazy summer's day -- highlights include Patrice Rushen's "Forget Me Nots," Gwen McCrae's "Keep the Fire Burning," Roy Ayers Ubiquity's "Simple and Sweet," and Anglo-Saxon Brown's "Call on Me."

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