Various Artists

The Power of Love: Best of Soul Essentials Ballads

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This gets high marks for the inclusion of obscure, and underappreciated gems like "Love Seasons," by Zoom; this marvelously produced ballad features a heart piecing falsetto, a meaty tenor, creative backing vocals, some mighty fine rhythms and a gold star arrangement. Another rarity is Yvonne Elliman's "Hello Stranger," which is not as charming as the original by Barbara Lewis, yet Yvonne does a creditable job with one of the most lovable melodies ever created. Alton McClain & Destiny's original rendition of "I've Learned to Respect the Power of Love," will peak the ears accustomed to Stephanie Mills' version. Other class obscurities include "Hey There Lonely Girl," by Gerry Woo, "Let Me into Your Life," by Creative Source and "Love Song," by Mandrill. Lynn Collins gives a female perspective to "If You Don't Know Me By Know," a hit for Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes, and adds a Denise Lasalle-like rap to the mix. Ray, Goodman & Brown's romantic "Inside of You" features Brown's tough-as-nails falsetto, finger snapping and seasoned harmonies. Issac Hayes' version of "This Time I'll Be Sweeter," ranks with Angela Bofill's earlier recording as the best this song gets. A jazzy "You Sure Like To Ball," by Fred Wesley & the JB's is more than four minutes of laid-back ecstasy; a tantalizing guitar is the lead player on an erotic instrumental of Marvin Gaye's song, with Fred's bossy trombone appearing mid-song. An intriguing compilation that stands a head above similar releases of this type.

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