Loleatta Holloway

The Anthology

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As part of the Suss'd label's reactivation of the Salsoul catalog, Loleatta Holloway got an arguably long-overdue double-disc overview, giving the prime female voice of the label her own showcase. Divided between a "Dance" and a "Love" disc, the compilation is organized to show off her disco diva and bedroom soul sides in equal amounts, though some of the decisions on what belonged where are a touch arbitrary. There's a lot of fantastic music throughout, and Holloway's abilities are unquestionable right from the start with the barnburning "Two Sides to Every Story," down to the great soap opera-like break midsong. Some of the less familiar curveballs will impress as well, like a gospel choir-accompanied version of "You Light Up My Life" which trashes the Debby Boone version just by existing. Also, listeners more familiar with the prime cuts in their remixed mode courtesy of figures like Walter Gibbons can appreciate these being mostly original album or single cuts, with a couple of exceptions such as Shep Pettibone's extended mix of "Seconds." At the same time, the compilation itself (like many other releases in the Suss'd program) has fallen under suspicion of being recorded not from the original source tapes or even album mixes, but from MP3s -- something slightly reinforced by the album credits, which fail to mention remastering or the like. There don't appear to be any audible glitches, but audiophiles for whom this is a prime issue might want to proceed with caution. The other drawback of the collection comes courtesy of Terry Jones' liner notes, in that he commits the Shakespearean flaw of loving not too wisely, but too well -- while not a constantly breathless parade of exclamation points (thankfully), the background information and observations sometimes get lost in his hyper-enthusiasm. Then again, Holloway's muse was best served by that feeling, so why not?

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