Various Artists

Free Soul Parade

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While it's virtually impossible to play favorites with a series as consistently strong and eclectic as this, Free Soul Parade is about as good as it gets. This is arguably compiler Toru Hashimoto's most varied and far-ranging set, effortlessly mixing and matching everyone from Sergio Mendes to Jane Birkin. It helps that Hashimoto's been handed the keys to the vast Polydor vaults, of course. The music at his disposal is virtually limitless in its excellence and scope, and per usual, he goes well beyond the tried and true to recover rare bits and overlooked LP cuts, with a pronounced emphasis on '70s soul that spans from the Spinners' gorgeous "It's a Shame" to Edwin Starr's blistering funk workout "Easin' In." A great introduction to a great series.