Various Artists

Something New to Do: The Phillip Mitchell Songbook

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Chances are, you do not know who Phillip Mitchell is. He wrote, produced, and recorded songs that became beloved in the '70s but very rarely became hits. Mel & Tim brought "Starting All Over Again" onto the charts and plenty of stars cut his songs, but he was a songwriter/producer who never quite broke out of his ghetto, always writing, producing, and recording songs that appealed to deep soul audiences, and never gunning for the crossover. Something New to Do: The Phillip Mitchell Songbook, a 2013 collection from Ace that's part of their ongoing songwriter series, does not do a thing to widen his appeal; rather, it underscores how Mitchell belonged to Southern soul, respecting its boundaries even when he teased its parameters, letting it dip into previously taboo subject matters and letting all the grooves expand and relax and contract into a luxuriant whole. Everything here is redolent of its time: it's that hazy, funky, silky netherland of the early '70s where funk is evident but smooth; where the groove is emphasized over hooks, songs, lyrics, and even performances. Which isn't to say the 23 songs on Something New to Do lack character or personality, because each of the featured artists here do posses a persona, twisting themselves into an appropriate shade of grey. What is striking about Something New to Do is that Mitchell didn't necessarily have transcendent classics -- the closest he comes is "Starting All Over Again," a heartbroken ode to picking up the pieces after a love affair -- but he mastered the sound and structure of his time, so this 23-track collection satisfies deeply.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:37
2 2:38
3 3:00
4 2:59
5 3:11
6 4:13
7 2:42
8 2:59
9 2:49
10 2:40
11 3:05
12 3:19
13 2:57
14 4:15
15 4:26
16 3:00
17 4:01
18 2:32
19 3:33
20 3:50
21 2:36
22 4:29
23 3:36
blue highlight denotes track pick