Blue Magic

The Best of Blue Magic: Soulful Spell

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Released in 1996, The Best of Blue Magic: Soulful Spell typified the pros and cons of compiling a set from one of '70s R&B's best acts. It should be easy. During its 1972-1989 run, Blue Magic always had a fierce and devoted fan base and at least 30 essential songs to choose from. The thing that weighs this set down is the omission of quite a few of those tracks. However, the majority of what's here can't be argued with. "Sideshow," "What's Come Over Me," and "Look Me Up" are all powered by Ted Mills' uncommonly strong falsetto and Norman Harris' earthy yet ethereal productions. This set offers essential tracks from 1975's great 13 Blue Magic Lane. "Loneliest House on the Block," "Haunted By Your Love," and "Chasing Rainbows" are all suitably creepy and sweeping. If anything makes this CD less than great, it's the single edits of album favorites like "Spell," "Look Me Up," and "Chasing Rainbows." The diminishing quality of the post-1975 work doesn't help either. "Teach Me (It's Something About Love)," and "Freak-N-Stein" are as deplorable as the core tracks are sublime. The Philip Bailey co-written EWF clone, "I Waited," the retro "Land of Make-Believe," and the synth-heavy "Magic #" are all textbook flops. Fans will note that essentials like "You Don't Have to Tell Me Goodbye" and 1989's "It's Like Magic" didn't make it here. Sure, most of the work here is great, but a few key inclusions would have made it definitive.

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