Various Artists

It's a Deep Soul Thing

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Here is a semi- or illegal compilation of obscure soul, dating from the early '60s through the mid-'70s. There are liner notes (written by someone or something called "Musashimaru"), and they discuss with a fan's abandon many of the performers included here, but there is literally no discographical information other than artists and track titles. For fans of deep soul, this is a source of frustration, but for the folks who put this out in Vancouver, it protects their asses. Nonetheless, the music itself is ultimately what matters, and these 21 tracks are strictly topnotch. The masters are no big deal in terms of quality, but it seems likely that there are fewer than a couple of handfuls of the original singles on the planet, so what are you going to do? These are definitely mastered from records, not session tapes. Included here are Paul Kelly's "Nine Out of Ten Times" and a couple of numbers he produced, including Janice Tyrone's "I'm Gonna Make It" and Winfield Parker's "A Fallen Star." Also included is Sonny Fishback's monster jukebox smash from 1965, "I Won't Take Back These Words," and Luther Ingram's version of "You Don't Miss Your Water." And while there isn't a weak second on the entire set, perhaps its defining moment is late in the disc with Otis Williams' "Begging to You," followed by James Lewis Fields' "I Really Love You," followed by, at the end, Betty Harris' "Can't Last Much Longer," which will either send chills up and down your spine or you have sawdust for blood. This collection is symptomatic of a genre of music that was widely recorded -- like doo wop before it -- and barely documented. While it's true that this is for the most part only a bootleg, it is perhaps the only source for music that deserves to be studied, disseminated, and -- most of all -- played for perpetuity.

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