Various Artists

Very Best of Northern Soul

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Its stupefyingly dull title is fairly emblematic of what The Very Best of Northern Soul has to offer -- for each one of the 20 tracks included here, you can think of another 20 songs that would also fall within the "very best-of" parameters, but the selections are still pretty great, the disc is incredibly cheap (about half the price of a pack of smokes in most stores), and for newcomers to the Northern scene, it's not a bad little introduction to what the music is all about. There's not much in the way of liner notes, but the sound quality is fine, and in an ideal world most listeners will find themselves compelled to dig deeper once their appetites are whet -- highlights include Popcorn Wylie's "With This Ring," Frances Nero's "Out on the Floor," J.J. Barnes' "Our Love Is in the Pocket," and Edwin Starr's "Breakin' Down the Walls of Heartache."

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