Forget your easy-listening prejudices -- The Soul of Paul Mauriat is as decadently rich and smooth as crushed velvet, with sumptuous covers of classic Motown and Atlantic hits that capture the passion and essence of the originals. Mauriat's arrangements deftly balance thickly atmospheric strings with surprisingly potent backbeats that closely evoke the soulful rhythms coming out of Detroit and Memphis. Perennials like "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," "Respect," and "In the Midnight Hour" are given luxurious, thoughtful treatments far removed from the Muzak-style clichés listeners might expect. Mauriat even lets his freak flag fly, trotting out a sitar for the album's centerpiece, "You Keep Me Hangin' On."
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