Agent 00 Soul: The Ultimate Live Performance

Edwin Starr

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Agent 00 Soul: The Ultimate Live Performance Review

by Richie Unterberger

At no point in the track listing or liner notes is the important information as to what date or dates this live material was recorded divulged. That's not the greatest of signs; if it was a relic from Starr's commercial prime, they'd be sure to plaster that date very prominently in the package. An educated guess would place it as having been recorded shortly before the CD's 2002 release date, and certainly it postdates his 1960s-1970s salad days. But really, who can speculate on an exact date for sure, leaving hapless reviewers no option but to look a bit like buffoons? Anyway, even working on the near-certain assumption that this is from the 1990s or early 2000s, it's better than you might expect, though not a necessary addition to your Starr library. Starr is in good voice and high energy and the band is punchy and competent, though not up to Booker T. & the MG's' level or anything like that. He gets the big hits -- "25 Miles," "S.O.S.," and "War" -- out of the way right away, throws in covers of "My Girl" and "Let's Stay Together," and makes occasional outings into disco arrangements that the soul fans who comprise the majority of his constituency might not dig. It's respectable, but not something you'll put on nearly as often as his best vintage discs.

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