Little Milton

Little Milton Sings Big Soul

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The title of Ace's 2014 compilation emphasizes Little Milton's singing, which is appropriate as that was the featured instrument on his albums for Malaco. Little Milton was with the Southern soul label for nearly 20 years, debuting in 1984 with Playing for Keeps and leaving after 2002's Guitar Man. Little Milton Sings Big Soul culls 18 highlights from these records, slightly emphasizing his ballad side but finding space for some deep soul and funky grooves. This doesn't proceed in chronological order -- it opens in 1984, then hopscotches through the decades -- but that winds up emphasizing how Milton's records were consistent, always working from the same formula and containing the same punchy, slightly too clean production. Record by record, this could get a little wearying, but a cherry-picked compilation such as this is a testament to a giant in winter: it shows he had a mastery of the form, that he never lost his powerful skills and could always be counted on to entertain. As a portrait of the last third of his career, this compilation could hardly be better.

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