Various Artists

Sweet Soul Music: 1975

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The final volume of Bear Family's Sweet Soul Music covers 1975 and it could easily be subtitled "the triumph of disco." Opening with Labelle's "Lady Marmalade," a high-octane disco revision of the Meters' New Orleans funk, the disc covers all kinds of soul acts going disco, whether it's the Miracles boogying with their "Love Machine" or Ben E. King singing "Supernatural Thing." No matter how fiery it is, the Isley Brothers' "Fight the Power" also reflects like a glitter ball, as does Natalie Cole's "This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)" and Ohio Players' "Love Rollercoaster"; by sticking to his tight, sexy Hi groove, Al Green starts to seem a little out of date, as does Tyrone Davis. Although there are some other older stars here who ride with the times (the O'Jays, for instance) and the Blackbyrds conjure the smooth soul harmonies of Philly, they amount to echoes from another era that get overshadowed by the debut of the Trammps ("Hold Back the Night"), the Sylvers ("Boogie Fever"), Tavares ("It Only Takes a Minute), and Van McCoy ("The Hustle"), all acts that capture the zeitgeist of 1975. Emphasizing this shift from funk and smooth soul to disco is why this is such a satisfying and necessary conclusion to Bear Family's exceptional Sweet Soul Music series. Disco is thriving but soul hasn't disappeared completely, it still occupied a big portion of the charts but in the late '70s and '80s, soul either moved to the Southern circuits or became quiet storm, two niches that found their own dedicated audience. Here, those sounds are in their nascent stages, sharing space with the last remnants of deep soul and the full flower of disco, and the results are an effectively wonderful coda to the golden age of soul.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:20
2 4:11
3 2:55
4 3:48
5 3:20
6 2:52
7 4:21
8 4:12
9 3:29
10 3:19
11 3:17
12 2:51
13 3:20
14 4:45
15 3:18
16 3:16
17 3:45
18 5:15
19 2:55
20 3:00
21 3:22
22 3:19
23 4:26
24 3:23
blue highlight denotes track pick