Various Artists

Brunswick Lost Soul, Vol. 2

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In the history of American popular music, the name "Brunswick" has meant different things at different times, so it is worth pointing out that the music on this compilation is drawn from the R&B-oriented Brunswick (and its Dakar subsidiary) label run by Carl Davis in Chicago in the 1960s and ‘70s, not from the catalog of the Brunswick Records originally founded during World War I by the Brunswick-Balke-Collendar company, an Iowa piano manufacturer, and phased out at the end of the ‘30s, when it was owned by Columbia Records. Brunswick was revived as a subsidiary by Decca in the ‘40s, but by the time Davis was its A&R supervisor, it was in the process of being purchased by Nat Tarnopol. Throughout this latter period, its flagship artist was Jackie Wilson (whom Tarnopol managed), but, as this collection demonstrates, it also boasted such major artists as Major Lance and Little Richard. This second volume of Brunswick obscurities is more varied than its predecessor, including tracks from a wider time period and material licensed from other labels. It casts back to Isaac Hayes' 1962 inaugural vocal performance, "Sweet Temptation," originally issued locally on Memphis' Youngstown Records, then reissued nationally by Brunswick in 1964. On the other end, it also includes early-‘70s tracks like Walter Jackson's "Easy Evil," which, with its prominent clavinet, recalls Stevie Wonder's "Superstition." That is one of many songs that ape the Motown sound, with Johnny Williams' "Just a Little Misunderstanding" (a remake of a Contours tune co-written by Wonder) featuring an arrangement in the Miracles mold, while Billy Butler's "Burning Touch of Love" and Wales Wallace's "Talk a Little Louder" both evoke the Temptations. But then, so much of the set sounds like the popular R&B of the era that listening is like discovering an alternate historical universe of should-have-been hits.

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