Arthur Conley

Sweet Soul Music/Shake Rattle & Roll

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Casual soul fans know Arthur Conley from his smash hit from 1967, "Sweet Soul Music," a bubbling ode to soul giants like his mentor Otis Redding, Lou Rawls, Wilson Pickett, and Sammy Davis, Jr. (?). Collectables' 2004 compilation of Conley's 1967 releases (Sweet Soul Music and Shake Rattle & Roll) seeks to shed some light on Conley's other work. Sadly, there isn't much going on, as Conley is quite derivative and lightweight. His vocals switch between aping Otis and channeling Sam Cooke (check out his take on "Shake, Rattle & Roll" for the most obvious Cooke homage), and the tunes that aren't covers rarely stick. It is pleasant enough, to be sure, and there are some gems sprinkled throughout, like the driving "Love Got Me" and the sweet ballad "You Don't Have to See Me," but a best-of collection would have served Conley and soul fans better, maybe even a reissue of Ichiban's solid and out of print Sweet Soul Music: The Best of Arthur Conley.

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