Various Artists

Soul Cargo, Vol. 1

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The multi-volume Soul Cargo series compiles the best of the so-called "groove" and "popcorn" singles of the mid-1960s, and this first set, which assembles music from 1966, is among the best of the bunch. With the exception of a handful of tracks like J.J. Jackson's gritty "But It's Alright," most of the disc's 20 cuts will be unfamilar to all but the most avid soul collector, a situation which speaks volumes about the myopia of oldies radio playlists but says nothing about the consistently high quality of the music here. Singles like Gwen McCrae's "Lead Me On," Wilmer & the Dukes' "Give Me One More Chance" and Billy Butler's "You Ain't Ready" deserve consideration as lost classics, while novelties like Jamo Thomas' "I Spy for the F.B.I." and Rex Garvin's truly bizarre anti-LSD parable "Believe It or Not" are goofy delights. Although the complete absence of liner notes prevents Soul Cargo from offering a truly definitive portrait of the era, the series is nevertheless a goldmine for collectors; if you've exhausted the riches Motown and Stax have to offer, rarities like these are the next place to go.