Various Artists

Modernists: A Decade of Rhythm and Soul Dedication

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It's a wonder that the title "Modernists" hasn't already been used for a collection of mod-related music, but Ace's 2015 set, Modernists: A Decade of Rhythm & Soul Dedication, lives up to this worthy name. The compilers, who are the team behind Mod Jazz, favor high-energy, snazzy soul and R&B that Mods would've favored back in the mid-'60s. In essence, this means the 24 tracks are often not that dissimilar to Northern Soul -- much of it echoes Motown and Chicago soul, all stylish and upbeat -- but there's a distinct emphasis on hard-charging rhythms and a bit of grit. That doesn't mean there isn't space for John Fred & His Playboy Band riding a Big Easy shuffle on "Shirley," or a dose of tight Memphis groove (Oliver Morgan's "Hold Your Dog," which makes its debt to Rufus Thomas quite plain), but this is generally high-energy good-time music, a party record crafted out of rare elements that never feel obscure.

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