Various Artists

Southern Soul Christmas, Vol. 2

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Not quite as strong as its first volume, this second installment of KHP Productions' Southern Soul Christmas series still has a fair amount to recommend it. Again, it's the latter-day and knock-off versions of familiar acts such as the Drifters represented (though any version of the Drifters, except perhaps the all-white U.K. conglomeration of the mid-'70s, is kind of OK and some of what's here is predictable, such as "Blue Christmas" by Steve Bassett. But at the same time, you do get surprises such as the ethereal Band of Oz track "This Is What We Say to You (Merry Christmas)," and the Coastline Band's intense "Every Year, Every Christmas" is also a definite keeper. What's more,this entire collection is enough fun, within the context of what it is, to justify owning, and that goes double for those who loved the first volume. Little that's here is turning up anywhere else anytime soon, and everything is enjoyable, if not exactly groundbreaking music.