Various Artists

We're a Lover: Brunswick

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Although founded during the 1920s, the Brunswick label did not forge a truly distinctive identity until 1957, when future soul legend Jackie Wilson launched his career with the smash "Reet Petite" -- from there, especially under the watch of A&R director and producer Carl Davis, the company staked its claim as one of the most successful and innovative U.S. soul labels, building a remarkable roster including such Chicago legends as the Chi-Lites, Gene Chandler, Barbara Acklin, and the Young-Holt Trio. In 1967, Davis also formed a subsidiary label called Dakar, which never enjoyed anything remotely close to the commercial success of its parent -- but with Davis at the helm, it was inevitable that Dakar would deliver some truly powerful records, which is where We're a Lover: Brunswick/Dakar's Brothers of Soul comes in. Assembling 24 rare singles from Dakar's brief life, the disc offers a fascinating survey of Chicago soul at the close of the '60s, spanning from the grittier, harder-edged music coming out of the city's South Side to the sweeter, uptown aesthetic of their North Sider counterparts -- highlights include the Persuaders' "Another Time, Another Place," Walter Jackson's "I Never Had It So Good," Cicero Blake's "A Woman Needs to Be Loved" and Chuck Bernard's "Contract on Your Love."

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