Various Artists

Eastern PA 60's Soul

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Perhaps this would be more accurately titled Eastern PA '60s Blue-Eyed Soul, as all of the music was made by white groups recording for engineer Clay Barclay in the Reading, PA region. Unlike most compilations of impossibly obscure 1960s recordings by regional white American bands, this is not garage rock, although there's an occasional garage flavor. It's soul music, heavily influenced by Motown, James Brown, and early group harmony Philadelphia soul, although there's a degree of naïveté missing from most soul records performed by African-Americans. It's much closer to the frat-rockish blue-eyed soul of groups like Bill Deal & the Rhondels ("May I") or the Casinos than it is to the Rascals. The covers are well-executed but unmemorable; better are the originals -- which are quite derivative but well done -- and occasionally good enough to sound like covers of obscure black soul sides. The Catalinas, for instance, do a pretty classy Philly-styled ballad, "Laughing Through the Tears," as well as a respectable James Brown-styled instrumental, "Summer's Groove." James & the Incredible Showmen's "James Brown Boo-Ga-Loo" is another credible emulation of the JB's, while the same band's "To Love to Love" has good harmonies in the Four Seasons/Beach Boys style. The ten songs by the Motiques are all covers and pale next to their surroundings; however, they're all grouped together at the end of the disc so they're easily skipped.

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