A sequel of sorts to Bear Family's amazing R&B series Blowin' the Fuse -- which covered the growth of R&B from 1945 to 1960 and its evolution into soul -- the Sweet Soul Music series picks things up from there, and charts the unfolding of soul music in all of its incarnations from 1961 to 1970 through ten wonderfully packaged and assembled sets arranged chronologically and drawing on all of the music's major players, from Motown and Chess to Stax and Atlantic and beyond. It's an impressive achievement in licensing and vision, and each volume features Bear Family's usual care and attention to detail, but what makes it all work, of course, is the music, which is as delightful to hear as it is historically vital. This volume covers the year 1967 and includes classics like Martha & the Vandellas' "Jimmy Mack," Aretha Franklin's "Respect," the Parliaments' "(I Wanna) Testify," Etta James' "Tell Mama," and so much more. Every track shines and reveals new joys by affiliation -- listening to these 30 sides is like time traveling back to a beautiful summer's night and a long drive with the top down. This is what Bear Family does so well, turning out collections of essential music lovingly assembled, remastered, and restored. Sweet is exactly the right word for each of the ten volumes in this series.
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