Various Artists

The Best of Chess R&B, Vol. 2

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Standing in the shadows of soul bigwigs Motown and Stax, Chicago's Chess label found a way to translate their blues catalog success of the '50s into a tidy and very respectable line in soul records during the '60s; this short but potent mix provides some very enjoyable insights. The key to the whole thing rested on huge hits by Fontella Bass ("Rescue Me"), the Ramsey Lewis Trio ("The 'In' Crowd"), Etta James ("Tell Mama"), and Billy Taylor ("Summertime"). And far from just qualifying as filler, the relatively less-popular fare by the likes of Tony Clarke, Jackie Ross, and the Radiants provides some of the collection's best moments. And one can't forget such blues-fueled classics as the Dells' "Stay in My Corner" and Little Milton's "If Walls Could Talk." A fine sampler for those soul newcomers looking to dig a little deeper.

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