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Northern Soul's Classiest Rarities / Various
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  • Performers include: Gene & Eunice, Karmello Brooks, Mister Soul, Unique Blend, Imaginations, Claude Huey, Royal Robins, Eddie Whitehead, Joytones, Diplomats, Delfonics, Five Stairsteps, Charlie Rich, Little Bob.
  • Arrangers: Gene Page; Teacho Wiltshire; Rene Hall; Arthur Wright; Bergen White.
  • Kent might actually be underselling itself by titling this collection Northern Soul's Classiest Rarities. That leads listeners to expect yet another anthology of generic mid-tempo mid-'60s American soul singles that have somehow come to be worshiped as choice rarities in England's Northern soul scene. These couple of dozen tracks are from the '60s (and occasionally from the early '70s), they are rare, and they do go for absurdly high prices among Northern soul collectors. Actually, however, these form a more diverse CD than the usual Northern soul anthology, with a good number of decent, lushly produced ballads and harmonized soul-pop efforts along with the expected dancefloor filler. Some of the songs from the early half of the '60s have pleasing traces of doo wop and girl group sounds, too. Listeners are still not going to know who many of these people are unless they're one of those collectors, with some exceptions: there's a 1962 single by Joe Simon, a rarity by the Delfonics, and items by cult soul vocalists Clifford Curry and Bettye Swann. More surprisingly, there are a couple of blue-eyed soul ringers by Charlie Rich (whose "Don't Tear Me Down" is a fine and convincing cut with unexpected chord changes) and Jimmy Seals, the latter the same dude who was half of Seals & Crofts. The singles were done all over America, and although there's an absence of lost classics, it's pleasurable listening. Sometimes it's more than that, as with Karmello Brooks' "Tell Me, Baby," with its jazzy hue and dense but rocking strings; Clifford Curry's "Ain't No Danger," which holds up well when stacked next to the Temptations' tougher, late-'60s cuts; Pat Powdrill's infectious up-tempo "Do It"; and the Joytones' "This Love That I'm Giving You," with its dreamy harmonies and uptown orchestration. ~ Richie Unterberger
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