Various Artists

Best Soul Album in the World

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It's hard to agree with a title like The Best Soul Album in the World...Ever -- too much hyperbole for most tastes -- but it's hard to disagree with the music. The compilers have decided to focus on smooth and funky '70s soul instead of the gritty, deep soul of the '60s. When they dip back into the '60s, it's for the uptown groove of the Impressions' "People Get Ready" and the Temptations' "My Girl," and when they move to the '80s, as with the Commodores' "Nightshift" and Freddie Jackson's "Rock Me Tonight," the songs are merely outgrowths of '70s smoothness. OK, Sam & Dave's "Soul Man" breaks the rules somewhat, but most of the album is silky and funky. As long as you know that going in, you won't have any complaints with this tremendously entertaining 17-song compilation. Any album that contains such classics as "Let's Get It On," "Respect Yourself," "Me and Mrs. Jones," "I Can't Stand the Rain," "Woman's Gotta Have It" and "Tired of Being Alone" is certainly enjoyable, and the record is made more entertaining by a handful of oddball inclusions, such as Isaac Hayes' "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic." Any way you look at it, The Best Soul Album in the World...Ever is a guaranteed good time -- even if it may not live up to the promise of its title.

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