Soul Hits

Various Artists

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Soul Hits Review

by Thom Jurek

There’s plenty to be said for truth in advertising when it comes to the music business. When it comes to compilations, so many fly-by-nght labels issue generic compilations meant to attract the prospective music buyer with a cover, by listing a single big hit, or by listing a series of hits by a legendary artist and not telling you on the outside of the disc that they’ve been re-recorded -- i.e. are not the original versions. Thankfully, that’s not the case here. This budget compilation with the generic title actually does something unusual. It lists well-known soul tracks that were indeed hits, but some of them were only regional ones. After all, how many soul fans can even claim to have heard Brook Benton's reading of “Rainy Night in Georgia,” despite the fact that it was played throughout the South and in the industrial Midwest? Benton’s version is behind Gladys Knight's, and even its songwriter Tony Joe White's version topped Benton's in popularity, but it was a minor hit for Benton nonetheless; and it’s an absolutely stirring take on the tune as well. There are more than few smashes here, too: the Delfonics' “La La Means I Love You” and “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time,” Knight’s early hit “Come See About Me,” Johnny Otis’ “Willie and the Hand Jive" with a 13-year-old Shuggie on guitar, and Billy Preston's killer “Outta Space,” among many others. For the money, this is an interesting and engaging listen front to back.

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