Various Artists

Southern Fried Soul: Locals Only

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Absolutely first-rate multi-artist compilation from a label that has done as much to keep authentic southern soul alive at its roots as anyone this side of Rhino Records. And what's more, the production -- if not the packaging -- is a match for anything that Rhino has done. From the soaring lyricism of the Young Guns ("Nights Like This") and the Rhythm Brothers ("Cooling Water") to the harder, raunchier "I Don't Want No Man" by Sea Cruz, there's a lot here for fans of traditional southern soul to enjoy, over and over. The 15 songs are well chosen, and interspersed among them will be lots of names that will be familiar to anyone from the Carolinas: Band of Oz ("Wild Thang"), Clifford Curry ("Intoxicated"), Taylor Manning ("Mr. Wrong"), et al. For those unfamiliar with the beach music scene, this is a great place to start listening -- for the already-initiated, it's a superb sampler and a great hour's listening and then some, like a perfect commercial-free radio set, the pacing and variety devised about as perfectly as the music was chosen. About the only thing missing is some kind of annotation, but the music is good and strong enough to speak for itself.

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