Various Artists

Uptown Down South

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The title implies that these are recordings cut south of the Mason-Dixon Line, but with an uptown sound; the concept is flawed. Just as you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, if you use southern musicians and producers, the product is going to sound likewise. If Diana Ross used these same hookups, she would sound like Ann Sexton or Betty Wright. However, the compilation deserves kudos despite its gray area because its selections are so scarce. To have them accessible on one CD is a musical godsend. Highlights among the 24-tracks include Roger Hatcher's glorious "Sweetest Girl in the World"; Marva Whitney's tumultuous "Don't Let Our Love Fade Away"; Skip Mahoney & the Casuals' "Running Away From Love"; Bits 'N' Pieces' "Keep On Running Away"; the Wallace Brothers' "Thanks a Lot"; and ZZ Hill's "Our Love Is Getting Better." Other saucy entrées include tracks by the Kelly Brothers, the Avons (a little-known female group), and Lucille Mathis.

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