Various Artists

Soul Ballads, Vol. 1 [Retro]

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Traipsing through the '50s, '60s, and '70s, Soul Ballads, Vol. 1 makes for a flimsy and unfocused after-hours soundtrack. Bookended by the now-calcified Percy Sledge hit "When a Man Loves a Woman" and Sam & Dave's still provocative "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby," the ten-track set both misses the mark badly (the Drifters' "Under the Boardwalk" and Dobie Gray's "Drift Away") and hits it spot-on (Billy Paul's "Me and Mrs. Jones" and the Chi-Lites' "Oh Girl"). After you get tired of skipping cuts, cue up Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On or Barry White's Greatest Hits and select repeat mode.

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