Various Artists

Soul Spectrum, Vol. 2: Compiled by Keb Darge

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Soul Spectrum, Vol. 2 takes a different approach than its predecessor -- instead of splitting up track-selection duties with a partner, as he did on the first volume and the entire companion series, Funk Spectrum, compiler Keb Darge goes it alone, culling all 20 tracks from his own vast collection of rare 45s. Darge does include some incredibly hard-to-find sides, but thankfully he has the good sense to pick appealing, danceable tunes. The result is a highly listenable compilation designed for the avid soul fan, not just the collector with a rarity fetish. There are no big -- or even recognizable -- names here save for the Whispers, who are present with the highly obscure single "As I Sit Here." But that's not the point; the point is to reclaim high-quality music that, for whatever reason (usually financial), didn't get a fair shake in its day. In this case, its day was probably the '70s, when the vast majority of these tracks were recorded. As such, most of them have the sort of sweet, smooth arrangements popular with British soul club patrons, but their origins -- generally smaller independent labels -- mean that they don't sound like processed studio creations. They're loaded with horns, strings, wah-wah guitars, keyboards, and funk or disco rhythms, in the best traditions of Gamble & Huff, Curtis Mayfield, and Earth, Wind & Fire. Both the style and quality are pretty consistent throughout, making Soul Spectrum, Vol. 2 just as worthy a purchase as its predecessor for '70s soul fans looking to unearth some surprisingly good obscurities.

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