Various Artists

Southern Soul Christmas, Vol. 1

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OK, so it's the latter day Drifters, and some of the acts here are distinctly regional, but this 12-song CD is filled with some of the smoothest soul this side of Atlantic and Stax in their respective late-'60s heydays. All of it is gorgeous and beautifully produced and -- unlike most Christmas songs that come from the rock idiom -- surprisingly valid simply as free-standing soul music. The Breeze Band with Sissy Quinn -- a Ripete Records artist well worth hearing -- was the highlight here, but everything on this CD is worthwhile.

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