Various Artists

Heart Beats: Soul Serenade - Intimate R&B

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Heart Beats: Soul Serenade -- Intimate R&B One is one in a series of genre collections compiled by women and designed for a female audience. This has 16 soul/R&B smoochers from the '50s to the '80s, all of which were big hits in their day, and few of which are difficult to come by on CD these days. The first half of the program emphasizes relatively recent urban contemporary by the likes of Al B. Sure!, Patti Austin, and Taylor Dayne; then it goes firmly into retro mode, with staples like Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman," and Aretha Franklin's "A Natural Woman," the Flamingos' "I Only Have Eyes for You," and the Platters' "Only You." The most offbeat item is the 1955 duet between Ruth Brown and Clyde McPhatter, "Love Has Joined Us Together," a relatively little-anthologized track (although it was a Top Ten R&B hit). It's a serviceable collection of romantic soul, although the split between old-school and warmed-over school eras may not appeal to all R&B fans' tastes.

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