Various Artists

Eccentric Soul: The Prix Label

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The Numero Group is expert at finding, compiling and annotating the output of obscure independent R&B and soul labels, and they've done it again with this collection of tracks recorded between 1969 and 1973 at Clem Price's Columbus, OH-based Harmonic Sounds Studio for his fledgling Prix Records imprint. Price's label released less than a dozen singles in its history, none of which charted or made much more than a regional impact on the world, but thanks to Numero these delightful rarities are now back in circulation. Several of those singles are collected here, along with recently discovered master takes and assorted demos (and at least one extended remix), and the end result is like an alternate history of late-'60s soul. The very first track is truly stunning, a brilliant and exciting song called "Wait a Minute" sung by lost soul man Eddie Ray, and in a fair and just universe, this one would have been a massive hit. Ray's "Glad I Found You" is only a fraction less amazing, and both songs (and performances) qualify for great lost gem status. Nothing else in this anthology is quite so striking, but only by degree, and cut after cut exhibits impassioned singing and a suitably loose and appropriately ragged instrumental backdrop, usually anchored by saxophonist Chip Willis and/or guitarist Joe King. The promotion and distribution problems facing independent labels have always been daunting, and this is undoubtedly what led to Price closing the doors on Harmonic Sounds and Prix in 1974, but the music he preserved and which is re-preserved by the Numero Group on this fine and fun compilation show that none of it was in vain.

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