Ronnie Laws

The Ronnie Laws Collection

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First, it's important to get the pure record company hype out of the way. From the git, before one gets the shrink-wrap off, something feels funny, not quite right. Why is there virtually no data as to where these tracks came from except to say that this "compilation" is from APS (try looking it up on the Internet). This is not a collection in any reasonable sense of that word. The Ronnie Laws Collection actually is a reissue of two previously released albums on the Par label, True Spirit from 1989 and Deep Soul from 1992. But don't look in the booklet or anywhere on the CD for that information or any other about where these cuts came from. Fans of Laws' groove jazz material from the late '80s and early '90s will be interested in this material, and more than likely sought it out when it was first released. (So why try to take their money a second time?) These two records appeared on a small label, and secondly they embody the spirit of jazz and funk as interpreted by the disco era (rather than the original '70s jazz-funk). Fans of Laws' earlier Capitol material and Blue Note recordings know better. Of these two albums, it's the latter that fares better. The first doesn't possess the same imagination, soul-based grooves, or arrangement chops. But Deep Soul is worth the price of purchase alone for the simple reason that it is focused, full of beautiful grooves, and is less pristine (read: icy) in terms of its production. Its standouts are covers of the Isley Brothers "Harvest for the World" and "Blue Indigo." But the set is very consistent. The questionable marketing practice by Fuel creates a sense of the dubious, but that's not Laws' fault (why not just spell out what records they are?). Those who had been seeking to deepen their Laws collection, or missed these the first time around would be advised to check this out -- crummy marketing policy and all.

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