Various Artists

In Perfect Harmony: Sweet Soul Groups 1968-1977

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The title In Perfect Harmony: Sweet Soul Groups 1968-77 describes this 24-track compilation well enough, though a scan of the songs tells you that this isn't any old soul anthology for the average oldies radio listener. None of these tunes were big hits, and most in fact were quite obscure. It's good second-level lush soul: exquisite harmony singing and production values (even for the numbers licensed from tiny labels), though bereft of the killer melodies and hooks that might have ended up making these records more well-remembered than they are. Since Kent has licensed from many labels, some renowned (Stax, Hi, Wand, Hot Wax) for their soul output, some known only to soul collectors, that at least ensures a good variety of sounds falling within the sweet soul heading. And actually, there are a couple of fairly well-known artists here: the Temprees and, more surprisingly, the Jackson 5, represented by a rare anthology appearance of their pre-Motown 1968 Steeltown 45 "Big Boy," on which Michael Jackson's high preteen singing is most evident, even if the song's nothing special. A few of the other singles were modest R&B charters, including the Smith Connection's "(I've Been a Winner, I've Been a Loser) I've Been in Love," Act One's "Friends or Lovers," the Brothers of Soul's "I Guess That Don't Make Me a Loser," and the Jackson 5-like "You Send Me" by the Ponderosa Twins Plus One. On the whole it's pleasing if unstartling romantic soul with male falsetto vocals aplenty, the most eccentric aspects being a few of the group names (God's Gift to Women, the Silent Majority, the Philadelphia Story) and the LTG Exchange's funk-soul cover of Wings' "My Love." Also, Elvis Costello fans will want to keep an ear out for Teacher's Edition's original 1973 single version of "I Wanna Be Loved," which Costello covered for a small hit U.K. single in 1984.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 3:24
2 3:05
3 2:51 Amazon
4 3:30
5 3:20
6 2:49
7 3:33
8 2:39 Amazon
9 2:35
11 2:18
12 2:52
13 3:07
14 2:45
16 3:18
17 3:48
18 2:57
19 2:14
21 4:25
23 5:20
24 3:31
blue highlight denotes track pick