Flashlight/Don't Fight the Feeling

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Here are two underground '70s soul classics issued on CD for the first time in a rather bizarre package. (Other than song titles and songwriting credits, there is no documentation, no years of release, and even stranger, no reference to the fact that Sound Experience's Don't Fight the Feeling contains seven bonus tracks on the CD!) The first of these albums, Flashlight's self-titled debut issued on Philly Groove in 1979, is a boon for Northern soul collectors; walking the tightrope between classic Philly soul, funk, and slick disco, it is a wonder of songwriting, production, and arrangement with killer vocals. Check the slippery disco beat on the opener, "Beginner's Luck," juxtaposed against a Staples-like vocal line. "Don't Feel Nothing (Til You Hear From Me)" features a Gamble & Huff-styled front-line chorus, Motown-infused horn and string sections, and killer Steve Cropper-esque guitar lines. Arranged by Ron Kersey, it is an example of just how profoundly moving the Philly sound could be when assembled properly. Don't Fight the Feeling was recorded six years earlier, and offers a Philly version of the proto-funk sound via the Temptations and early Parliament. Popping basslines and knotty keyboard lines with pure Gamble & Huff-styled horn arrangements are the identifying marks of the FONK on "Your Love Belongs to Me," the title track, and "Devil With the Bust." Of the seven extra tracks, the most notable are "Can This Be True" and a shorter version of the underground hit "Summer Girl." In all, these are two indispensable recordings offered for a budget price.

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