Various Artists

Blue Light: Chicago Dusties, Vol. 1

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Putting down cold, hard cash for a CD without so much as a cover booklet is a dicey proposition at best, but what the first volume in the Blue Light: Chicago Dusties series lacks in style it more than makes up for in substance. These 26 cuts assemble some of the best and rarest soul tracks rediscovered and popularized via the Windy City Dusty Steppers scene -- not to be confused with the four-on-the-floor stompers popular on the U.K. Northern soul circuit, these dusties instead boast a more fluid, lush sophistication similar in approach to Motown but with more grit and earthiness. Like most compilations of this nature, there are a few clunkers, but by and large the material is excellent, and the majority of cuts have yet to resurface on other vintage soul collections. Highlights include the Radiants' "Don't It Make You Feel Kinda Bad?," Carolyn Crawford's "Forget About Me," Ruby Andrews' "Casanova," and the Notations' "I'm Still Here."