Various Artists

Soul Hits of the 80's [Sony]

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A budget three-CD set, Soul Hits of the 80's collects some of that awkward decade's soul moments from the Columbia/Sony catalog. Note the author's use of "moments" and the title's use of "hits," because they are, in fact, talking about the same songs. Not everything here was a hit, with some of the songs just squeaking into the Billboard Top 100; however, regardless of chart position, they do represent the era very well. There's a broad range of work here, from jazz crossovers like Stanley Jordan with "Heaven Sent You" and Grover Washington with "Summer Nights" to straight pop crossovers like Deniece Williams with "Let's Hear It for the Boy" and the classic and true hit "Easy Lover" by Philip Bailey and Phil Collins. Other actual chart-toppers here include "Juicy Fruit" by Mtume, Herbie Hancock with the seismic hit "Rockit," and one-hit wonder Johnny Kemp with "Just Got Paid." Luther Vandross, Teena Marie, Bill Withers, Babyface, and Regina Belle are a few of the others whose tracks pepper this 40-song (!) collection. It's not definitive, but does a fine job of representing just how broad soul music's reach had become in the '80s.

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