Can anybody say "pirate recording?" The four volumes in this series sure look like pirates. If they're not, then the producers -- who are all uncredited -- are extremely lazy because other than title and artist, there is no information available about what the contents are, where they originally came from, when they were issued, etc. Not even songwriter's credits are listed. What do you think? In any case, despite the fact that the original artists and their families are being ripped off yet again, no one can argue with the track selections, as this music is truly lost in the archive of popular music history. All of the 24 tracks here come from the Southern soul tradition. With early tracks by Jarvis Jackson ("Danger"), Bobby Womack ("I Wonder"), Syl Johnson ("The Love I Found in You"), Claudia Whitten ("Bring Me All the Love You Got"), and others, this is a startling listening experience if not a complete education. Along with the rare tracks by well-known artists, there are also true gems such as "Just Like a Child" by Little Dooley, with its jolting horn break in the middle eight, Betty Green's amazing "He's Down on Me" with it's deep blues wail and skittering piano and organ duel, and even Willy James' devastatingly anguished "Down on My Knees." In 24 selections, there isn't a weak millisecond of performance. Some of the masters sound a little dodgy, but certainly no worse than a 45 would -- if you could find a 45. And with the music itself so bloody great, the issue of these tracks being virtually stolen makes this a difficult purchase for anyone with a conscience.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek