Various Artists

The Girls Got Soul

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The Girls Got Soul Review

by Richie Unterberger

This 25-track compilation consists solely of Atlantic female-sung soul from the 1960s, concentrating largely on cuts that weren't hits, even when the performers were famous (and not all of these singers were). The only hugely successful Atlantic woman of the 1960s was, of course, Aretha Franklin, and although she has a couple of songs here (the 1967 LP track "Save Me" and the 1968 B-side "Ain't No Way"), they're not among her more familiar ones. Still, the talent aboard this anthology is enough to fill a wing of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Mary Wells, LaVern Baker, Ruth Brown, the Sweet Inspirations, Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles, Barbara Lynn, and Doris Troy, for starters. It's true that if you've been collecting soul CDs diligently for more than a decade, you might have a good deal of this, particularly on the Soul Classics label. Even if that's the case, though, this is a tremendous listen, just below the top cut of soul anthologies of any sort, and certainly one of the very best CD various-artist collections of obscure '60s soul. The brilliant producers and songwriters enlisted by Atlantic throughout the decade ensure a consistent high quality as do the talents of the vocalists themselves. Among the neglected treasures here are Doris Troy's West Indian-influenced "Whatcha Gonna Do About It" covered by the Hollies; LaVern Baker's ebullient original version of "Bumble Bee" covered for a hit by the Searchers; the Ikettes' sultry 1962 Top 20 hit "I'm Blue (The Gong-Gong Song)"; and the lush Bert Berns production of Baker's 1964 flop single "Go Away." As far as insanely rare things that will even whet the appetite of maniac collectors, there's the solid, somewhat Motown 1965 pop-soul single by the unknown Rozetta Johnson and Ann Mason's "You Can't Love Me (In the Midnight Hour)," a strange but impassioned "answer" record to "In the Midnight Hour." Barbara Lynn's version of "You'll Lose a Good Thing" on this disc, incidentally, is a 1967 remake not her original 1962 hit; if you're disappointed by her merely okay reworking of that classic, as compensation there's a previously unreleased 1968 outtake, "Unloved, Unwanted Me."

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 The Sweet Inspirations 02:57 Amazon
2 Aretha Franklin 02:18 Amazon
3 Ann Mason / Little Mac & The Boss Sounds 02:36 Amazon
4 Doris Troy 01:48 Amazon
5 Mary Wells 02:03 Amazon
6 Barbara Lynn 03:04 Amazon
7
Rozetta Johnson 02:19 Amazon
8 Doris Troy 01:58 Amazon
9 Aretha Franklin 04:12 Amazon
10 Patti Labelle & the Bluebelles 03:27 Amazon
11 Mary Wells 02:12 Amazon
12
Barbara Lynn 02:56 Amazon
13
Barbara Lynn 03:15 Amazon
14
Rozetta Johnson 02:41 Amazon
15 Bettye LaVette 02:43 Amazon
16 Esther Phillips 03:25 Amazon
17 LaVern Baker 02:40 Amazon
18 LaVern Baker 02:27 Amazon
19 Ruth Brown 02:15 Amazon
20 The Ikettes 02:32 Amazon
21 Laura Lee 04:00 Amazon
22 The Sweet Inspirations 02:44 Amazon
23 Baby Washington 02:29 Amazon
24 Mary Wells 02:28 Amazon
25 Barbara Lynn 02:45 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick