Various Artists

Philadelphia Roots

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Soul Jazz's releases tend to be groove-oriented, putting a premium on funky, rhythmic grooves -- all the better to sample you with, my dear. Consequently, their loving reissues of obscurities are aimed at third- or fourth-generation listeners mining these recordings for sounds, not people who were there at the time, or collectors looking for great forgotten songs and singles. That's not to discount the material on their recordings, but it's to put them in the proper perspective -- this is minutiae, collectors items only of interest to the diehard, or those who are only interested in arcania, since it'll provide great unheard beats for their own recordings. This doesn't make for bad listening, and for record collectors, compilations like Philadelphia Roots are interesting, since they present largely unknown cuts from a familiar style (you may recognize the horns of Slipp Nobles & Co.'s "The Horse," but you're unlikely to spot anything else, unless you're from Philadelphia). Are there any lost treasures? No. And that is an unequivocal statement, because nothing here deserved to be as well-known as the best and biggest Philly soul singles, since they don't have the hooks, the melodies, the flair to have scaled the charts. But they do have the sound, and they often have the groove, which is why anybody would buy this record -- it sounds like a famous sound, only with unknown songs and grooves, some of which are pretty engaging. Not all of it, though, and it's only for specialists -- but for those specialists, this is a collection that will not disappoint. (And if you find this disappointing, well, you've realized that you're not a specialist.)

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