Various Artists

Free Soul Heaven

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Spotlighting the shimmering, profoundly spiritual soul of Curtis Mayfield's renowned Curtom label, Free Soul Heaven ranks among the most cohesive and illuminating entries in the series. It's always a safe bet to expect the unexpected from compiler Toru Hashimoto, and true to form he bypasses Mayfield hits like "Freddie's Dead" and "Move on Up" to focus on the label's lesser-known acts. Mayfield nevertheless wrote and produced much of this material, however, and his singular sensibility is the DNA that defines the essence of the Curtom sound and Chicago soul as a whole. Highlights include Leroy Hutson's "Lucky Fellow," the Natural Four's "Heaven Right Here on Earth," and the Staple Singers' remarkable "Let's Do It Again."

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