Various Artists

Free Soul Life

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You wouldn't believe a compilation warped enough to embrace Minnie Riperton, Dexy's Midnight Runners and Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling" could possibly work, but somehow this entry in the Japanese Free Soul series pulls it off. A mind-boggling dive into the depths of the EMI catalog, it assembles 21 tracks as far-ranging in sound and sensibility as you can imagine, yet somehow the finished package is smart, energetic, and best of all, a consistently surprising spin that calls the more conservative leanings of traditional mix-CDs into question. In addition to the aforementioned acts, highlights include Donald Byrd's "Sister Lover," Nancy Wilson's "Ocean of Love" and Duke Pearson's "Stormy."