Various Artists

What's the Question, Vol. 2

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This is a 16-song Southern soul smorgasbord from Willie Mitchell's Memphis-based Hi family of labels. Mitchell orchestrated Al Green's chart success and scored some smaller triumphs with Syl Johnson and Ann Peebles, but Hi Records never challenged Motown's or even Stax's crossover success. Al Green's wrenching performance of "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?" is the only mass-programmed cut on this collection. But hearing any of the other tracks for the first time is like receiving a Christmas gift and not returning it. Besides the gritty, relentless performances by Green, Johnson, Peebles, Norman West (ex-Soul Children), Don Bryant, and Willie Clayton, there are fine efforts from two underrated female groups, Quiet Elegance (three selections) and Known Facts, as well as male harmony via Important Moods' aching "What Have You Done to My Heart?"

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