Various Artists

The Best of Chess R&B, Vol. 1

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After many mutations, the two volumes of The Best of Chess R&B series certainly deserve to be combined into a single-disc edition, ideally with some extra tracks. As it stands, though, the 24 tracks are still broken up, languishing in various independent record-store bins. That said, the music on this initial volume is solid, ranging from vocal harmony cuts (the Moonglows) to blues diva gems (Etta James, Sugar Pie Desanto). Also included are fine sides by the amazingly versatile singer Billy Stewart ("I Do Love You"), uptown-blues great Little Milton ("We're Gonna Make It"), and the hushed-toned Jan Bradley ("Mama Didn't Lie"). Hits, misses, and a whole lot of prime R&B.

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