Compiled by noted British soul DJ and discographer Kev Roberts, Essential Modern Soul presents little-heard examples of dance-friendly soul in the '70s and early '80s. As this collection is geared to deep soul fans, rarity is the primary concern and there is a minimal amount of background noise on selections mastered from secondary sources. About half of the 16 tracks are disco or disco-influenced, like Aaron Neville progeny Ivan Neville's minimal, Latin-influenced "Dance Your Blues Away" and the full-on hi-hat attack of the Patrick Adams-produced Four Below Zero's "My Baby's Got (ESP)." There are up-tempo Southern soul numbers as well, like Bill Brandon's anti-drug lament "The Streets Got My Lady" and the Clarence Carter-reminiscent "Gettin' Ready for the Getdown" by ZZ and Company. The Leroy Hutson-produced "Trying to Get Next to You" by Arnold Blair and Dee Edwards' "I Can Deal (With That)" are the standouts here; two mid-tempo songs with appeal on and off the dancefloor, making this collection worthwhile to hardcore '70s soul fans and less-obsessed thrill-seekers, too.
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AllMusic Review by Wade Kergan