An Emotions' LP titled Songs of Innocence and Experience was supposed to be released on the Stax subsidiary Volt in 1972. It would have been their third Stax album, but never appeared, though it's a pretty good guess that some of the material they recorded around this time (whether it was released right away or not) would have been included. Much or all of said material is on this 23-track CD, but the title's a little deceptive. It's not exactly the 'lost' album; it's not known for sure what the tracks would have been on the LP, and certainly it wouldn't have included all 23 of these selections. So what you get here are cuts that appeared on various 1970-75 singles, as well as some numbers exhumed from the vaults on LP and 45 by Fantasy in 1977, after that label had bought the Stax catalog. Making things even harder to keep straight, there are also six previously unreleased tracks, one (a demo of "As Long as I've Got You") dating all the way to their first Stax session. The whole head-spinning story is spelled out in the liner notes if you want it, but basically, it's a jumble of odds and ends by the group that didn't find their way on to LP while the Emotions were with the label. As it usually goes on archive collections like this, these aren't the best things the group did, though they're worthwhile for Emotions' fans or fans of the '70s Stax sound in general. "Shouting Out Love" and "Put a Little Love Away" were low-charting singles, with the latter song, unfortunately, becoming more familiar for its use as a bank commercial jingle than it had as an Emotions recording. Much of the remainder is just passable, well-performed period early-'70s soul, mixing (just a few) group originals with covers of little-heard songs by David Porter, Isaac Hayes, Carla Thomas, Homer Banks, Eddie Floyd, and Pervis Staples. It's interesting to hear a reggae beat on Johnny Nash's "There Are More Questions Than Answers," though.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger