Various Artists

The Soul Side of the Street

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AllMusic Review by

The liner notes for this compilation are part of the fun of the whole, making a good case for native Phoenix DJ, songwriter, and producer Hadley Murrell as a classic big fish in a small pond music hustler of the best sort -- chasing down good bands, keeping his hand in, and trying to make it big. Aside from the opening "Funky to the Bone" by Freddi & Henchi & the Soulsetters in 1972, all the cuts consist of mid- to late-'60s soul and funk efforts recorded and produced by Murrell in his hometown. There's no question that this is an effort that will find its natural audience -- those who can't get enough of such rarities will need it without hesitation, but there's nothing here immediately or uniquely revelatory for the general listener. But as a solid collection of songs ranging from the functional to the randomly inspired, The Soul Side of the Street has its virtues -- Murrell had a good ear for rough and ready, energetic performers and bands, which combined with a preference for echo, results in songs at once direct and oddly dreamy. The title track, as performed by Ray & the Dew Drops, is a great, celebratory rave-up, and other high-energy winners include the Servicemen's "Are You Angry?," Bobby Soul's "Funky Freeze" (with a weird but catchy backing vocal that stretches out the title phrase in a descending melody), and the Soulsetters' rip through "Soul Train." Slow burners like Dumas King's "I Wish You'd Come Home" and the New Bloods' "Self Service" are enjoyable though less distinct, though they do show another side to Murrell's preferences. The out-of-nowhere winner might be the last one, a last bow from the Soulsetters -- "Cecil, the Unwanted French Fry," with Murrell himself providing the crying in the background of the mix.

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