Various Artists

Rhythm Love and Soul: The Sexiest Songs of R&B Live

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This DVD video gathers highlights from the Rhythm Love and Soul (2004) live television special that aired on PBS stations during on-air fundraisers. The concert was produced by Pittsburgh, PA, affiliate WQED -- whose American Soundtrack series has become a staple of PBS pledge drives. The broadcast is co-hosted by a trio of luminaries: Aretha Franklin, Mary Wilson, and Lou Rawls. The concert, from which both the program and this package are excerpted, is a star-studded soul affair reminiscent of the multi-artist R&B revues that toured throughout America in the 1950s and 1960s. Each performer could easily be a respective headliner in his or her own right. However, in the tradition of these "old-school" shows, legends as prominent as the aforementioned Aretha Franklin ("Respect"), Lou Rawls ("Lady Love"), and Mary Wilson ("Someday We'll Be Together") are joined by the likes of the Spinners ("It's a Shame") and Edwin Starr ("25 Miles") -- whose final live appearance is captured here. In addition, there is a sampling of one-hit wonders whose contributions are definitive. Among the most notable are Carl Carlton ("Everlasting Love"), Freda Payne ("Band of Gold"), Gloria Gaynor ("I Will Survive"), and Billy Paul ("Me and Mrs. Jones"). It bears repeating that this anthology consists of re-recordings from the musicians who put these hits on the charts. The audio quality is superb throughout and the entire collection not only flows well -- which isn't always true of after-the-fact compilations -- but also presents the material as living history, rather than simply nostalgia.