Various Artists

Northern Soul of Shrine: An Ultra-Rare Dancing Frenzy from Washington, D.C.

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Hailed by soul obsessives as "The Rarest Soul Label," Washington, D.C.-based Shrine was founded in 1965 by producer Eddie Singleton and Raynoma Gordy, the former wife of Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. Although Shrine's attempts to recreate the sweeping, sophisticated Motown Sound proved surprisingly successful -- their best singles deserve serious consideration alongside the masterpieces of the classic soul era -- rumors swirled that Berry did everything in his power to squash the fledgling label's relationships with radio and distributors, and when a deal with the Scepter label fell apart, by late 1966 Shrine was essentially kaput. Limited pressings and the loss of master tapes contributed to the scarcity of Shrine releases, and with the rise of the British Northern soul club circuit, the label was venerated as the great lost chapter in American soul. Goldmine's Northern Soul of Shrine: An Ultra-Rare Dancing Frenzy From Washington, D.C. is a single-disc retrospective of the label's most memorable efforts, assembling 30 stellar tracks -- the problem being that the Kent label has itself issued two volumes titled Shrine: The Rarest Soul Label that average 24 cuts apiece, and that's the way to go. Sure, this Goldmine compilation whittles down the absolute best of the Shrine output, but face it -- this stuff is hardly targeted at the average soul fan. Instead it's aimed at collectors who absolutely must have it all, and for them, the bounty of additional tracks spread across the two Kent discs relegate Goldmine's release to little more than curio status. Great music, but an ultimately redundant release.

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