Various Artists

Northern Soul of New Orleans Volume One

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Compiled and annotated by Jeff Hannusch, author of the book The Soul of New Orleans: A Legacy of New Orleans, this 18-song compilation forgoes the slinkier, steamier side of Crescent City soul in favor of its lesser-known up-tempo, uptown sound -- the kind of rare stompers so beloved by the denizens of Britain's Northern soul club scene. Dismiss the cover -- a bizarrely misguided contemporary photo better suited to a hip-hop compilation -- because the music inside is uniformly wonderful: should-have-been superstars like Willie Tee (the stupendous "Please Don't Go") and Betty Harris ("Mean Man") inform these lost classics with emotion, grace, and sophistication to spare, and it's mystifying not only that this corner of the New Orleans soul scene failed to make much of a commercial dent during its '60s heyday, but that it still awaits large-scale excavation by musicologists. Other highlights include Gerri Hall's "Who Can I Run To," Maurice Williams' "Being Without You," Robert Parker's "I Caught You in a Lie," and the Rubaiyats' "Omar Khayyam."