Various Artists

Soul Hits of the 70's [Sony]

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Here's proof that it's possible to do a budget compilation (almost) exactly right. Sony Music Special Products' Soul Hits of the 70's surveys a decade in which what was then known as CBS Records practically had the market cornered on great soul music. In addition to boasting stars like Earth, Wind & Fire on its flagship Columbia Records label and Sly & the Family Stone on its Epic subsidiary, CBS maintained a manufacturing and distribution deal with Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International Records, bringing in a raft of hits from its roster. And a sampling of some of the biggest of those hits is here, ten gold or platinum records out of 12 selections, eight of them R&B chart-toppers and three of the others Top Five hits. (And note that "Fight the Power," "T.S.O.P.," and "Bad Luck" are all presented in longer edits than were issued on the original singles.) The only ringer on the album is Earth, Wind & Fire's "Reasons," an LP track from the band's That's the Way of the World soundtrack album that was never issued as a single. It's a good song, but why is it here? If the compilers had just used, say, "Shining Star" instead, this would be a great collection for the money. As it is, it's just very good.

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