Over the years, Rhino Records has proven that it can release well-thought-out and well-produced collections of spoken work recordings. With Our Souls Have Grown Deep Like the Rivers, the company has proven yet again its ability to produce a well-balanced and fascinating collection. Spanning from 1919 to 1999, this double album collects some of the finest recordings of African-American poetry available, and lingers not too long in the territories of the old and the young. Indeed, the selections on Our Souls Have Grown Deep Like the Rivers are evenly spread throughout the time that the release covers, featuring a wealth of recordings from the Harlem Renaissance -- not only predictable representatives like Langston Hughes, but Countee Cullen and Arna Bontemps as well. The great poets of the '50s and '60s like Gwendolyn Brooks also get fair time and the collection closes with the recently critically acclaimed performance poets like Gil Scott-Heron and Carl Hancock Rux. Overall, the selections are careful and comprehensive; not only do these poets do a good job of representing their generations, but these poems do a good job of representing their poets. Our Souls... could have easily been twice or half of its size here, but as a double album, Rhino has presented a compilation of great value, artistic and otherwise.
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