Alice Clark

The Complete Studio Recordings 1968-1972

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Obscure even by the standards of obscure soul singers, Alice Clark did get a break that many such artists didn't, as she managed to release an entire album when her self-titled LP appeared on 1972 on the Mainstream label. This 16-track compilation is built around that album, adding late-‘60s singles for the Rainy Day and Warner Bros labels, as well as a previously unissued outtake and the instrumental backing track to the 1969 single "You Hit Me (Right Where It Hurt Me)." Like many soul singers rediscovered by cultists, Clark fell between the cracks because her voice was good but not great, as was her material (none of it self-penned), without fitting into any certain style or trend. As such compilations go, however, this is above average, and perhaps a bit more mainstream (though not in a bad way) than most such items owing to the pop sensibilities of some of the covers. Bobby Hebb (of "Sunny" fame, though "Sunny" isn't among his three compositions here), Jimmy Webb, Billy Vera (who produced her first single), Chip Taylor, and Petula Clark are among some of the writers whose songs are interpreted, though "You Hit Me (Right Where It Hurt Me" has a total Motown feel. For the most part, it's satisfying, though not captivating period soul with only the slightest of funk edges, Clark's vocal assertiveness echoing Aretha Franklin a little, as many singers did during that time. The Vera-Taylor ballad "Before Her Time," released for the first time here, doesn't sound at all like an outtake; it's one of the better tracks, and has, unlike much of its surroundings, a strong deep Southern soul flavor.

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