Various Artists

70's Soul Sessions

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The two-CD '70s Soul Sessions is an odd mixture of '70s soul hits, cult favorites, and downright obscurities that'll only be familiar to serious collectors. That gives it a weird, varying value to its prospective audience. Said serious collectors will be put off by the presence of so many big hits that they already have (probably several times over, in some cases). More intro-level fans of '70s soul might be either delightfully surprised to come across cool tracks they had no idea existed, or disappointed by the lack of more of those big smashes. So it's something of a neither-here-nor-there proposition, but the music's pretty solid on the whole, if kind of erratic in both style and quality. Big hits? There's Betty Wright's "Clean Up Woman," Freda Payne's "Band of Gold," Chairmen of the Board's "Give Me Just a Little More Time," Al Wilson's "Show & Tell," the Three Degrees' "When Will I See You Again," the O'Jays' "Backstabbers," Isaac Hayes' "Never Can Say Goodbye," Honey Cone's "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show," the Chi-Lites' "Have You Seen Her," Billy Paul's "Me & Mrs. Jones," and Al Green's "Sha La La (Make Me Happy)" -- classics all. Cult favorites? How about Bobby Womack's "Across 110th Street," the theme to a blaxploitation movie hardly anyone's seen, or Gil Scott-Heron's "The Bottle," one of the jazz-soul-poet's most hard-hitting songs? Also there are not-too-well-known tracks by big stars, including Ike & Tina Turner, the Staple Singers, Curtis Mayfield, the Impressions, Aaron Neville, and the Meters. And there are a handful of tunes by artists hardly anyone's heard of, the definite standout (if for nothing else than its shameless novelty value) of which is the Skull Snaps' "I'm Your Pimp," an ode to -- a pimp. "I'm your pimp, I wear my hat to the side and I walk with a limp," it proudly boasts -- almost as if it's an exploitation of the blaxploitation genre itself!

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