Albums

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Soul - Released February 10, 2019 | This is Acoustic

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Soul - Released January 18, 2019 | Dockland Music

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Soul - Released December 14, 2018 | Motown

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Soul - Released October 29, 2018 | Innovation Digital of America

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Soul - Released October 12, 2018 | Sounds Of The World

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Soul - Released September 28, 2018 | Rhino Atlantic

John Hammond couldn’t repeat with Aretha Franklin what he had pulled off with Billie Holiday and Bob Dylan. This was his only big failure, in a way… At Columbia (label), the producer felt he needed to turn her into a jazz, or even pop singer, while Jerry Wrexler knew full well that eternal soul would be the only way for the charismatic singer from Memphis. After signing her on Atlantic in 1967, after she had strung together a dozen unsuccessful albums for Columbia, Wrexler knew he had to send her to his native South to have her record with some of the local greats in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, in Rick Hall’s studio. The results were immediate, and with I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You) recorded on January 24th, 1967, the gamble had already paid off! Wrexler understood that Aretha was a gospel artist first and foremost, and that he had to use that DNA and mix it with contemporary rhythm’n’blues, blues, and soul music. What followed, if we put it simply, was the greatest chapter in soul music history. The singer released a handful of albums recorded in New York, in Atlantic’s studios, where the whole gang from Muscle Shoals joined her. As its name suggests, this 34-title compilation features all her singles recorded between 1967 and 1970 and some handpicked tracks from her albums I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You) (1967), Aretha Arrives (1967), Lady Soul (1968), Aretha Now (1968), Soul ’69 (1969), This Girl’s In Love With You (1970) and Spirit In The Dark (1970). Absolutely brilliant. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Soul - Released September 14, 2018 | Rhino Atlantic

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Soul - Released August 17, 2018 | Rhino

If there were better American pop singers in the '60s than Dionne Warwick, there certainly weren't very many of them. Warwick was blessed with a splendid voice as well as the knowledge of what to do with its nuances; there were lots of great singers who were more demonstrative, but the understated warmth Warwick brought to her performances made her hits uniquely effective. And her work with songwriters and producers Burt Bacharach and Hal David was one of the most inspired teamings of the era; they gave her smart, beautifully crafted material, and she delivered it with heart, soul, and style. From 1962 to 1971, Warwick recorded for the scrappy independent label Scepter Records, and her hits for the label have been repackaged multiple times; Odds & Ends: Scepter Records Rarities goes another route, bringing together 25 rare and unusual tracks cut during her tenure with the label, ten of which see commercial release here for the first time. Most of the previously unheard material here consists of alternate versions of songs Warwick recorded for Scepter, while nine find her delivering phonetically translated versions of some of her better-known tunes in French, Italian, or German. Warwick's performances are uniformly skillful throughout, as one might expect, but the non-English tracks suffer from the fact that Warwick literally doesn't know exactly what she's singing and the performances consequently lack her usual engaging feel. And though Warwick is a superb song stylist, some of the tunes she tackles here -- particularly "Monday, Monday," "If You Let Me Make Love to You, Then Why Can't I Touch You?," and "Our Ages or Our Hearts" -- just don't mesh with her style as well as the Bacharach/David classics that made her reputation. Hardcore Dionne Warwick fans will doubtless enjoy Odds & Ends: Scepter Records Rarities, and it does confirm just how far her talents could stretch, but casual listeners are still best off with the outstanding Rhino anthology The Dionne Warwick Collection: Her All-Time Greatest Hits, a definitive overview of the cream of the Scepter years. ~ Mark Deming

Soul - Released August 7, 2018 | Famous Records, Corp.

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Soul - Released July 27, 2018 | Dockland Music

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Soul - Released November 10, 2017 | Stax

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Soul - Released November 10, 2017 | Rhino Atlantic

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This type of album brings on the eternal debate: why fix a masterpiece if it ain’t broke? This is definitely the kind of metaphysical interrogation that you could ask when listening to A Brand New Me: Aretha Franklin With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The idea is simple: take the vocals from the mythical recordings by the great soul singer for the label Atlantic in the ‘60s and ‘70s and place them on new arrangements performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Recorded in the Abbey Road studios in London, all the classics including Respect, Think, Don't Play That Song (You Lied) and I Say A Little Prayer resonate here in a symphonic version. We find Nick Patrick and Don Reedman hiding behind the creation, the same producers who conceived If I Can Dream: Elvis Presley With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Some will find this scandalous. Others, rather futile. And others will enjoy this new staging of careful arrangements that at least has the merit of not damaging the heart of this nuclear powerhouse of groove: the voice of Aretha Franklin herself. © CM/Qobuz
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Soul - Released November 5, 2017 | This is Acoustic

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Soul - Released September 29, 2017 | Rhino Atlantic

Innumerable Brook Benton compilations appeared over the years but his last great run at Reprise/Cotillion remained relatively undocumented prior to Real Gone Music's 2016 set Rainy Night in Georgia: The Complete Reprise & Cotillion Singles A's & B's. Where 2007's The Platinum Collection mined the years of 1967-1972 for 20 highlights, this double-disc set marches through the discography, offering both sides of every single he released during these six years. Clearly, "Rainy Night in Georgia" is the blockbuster here: not only did it reach the Top Five on Billboard's Hot 100 and R&B charts, it's the only one of these singles to crack the R&B Top Ten. A few others came close -- "Nothing Can Take the Place of You" went to 11 in 1969, "Shoes" to 18 in 1971 -- but apart from the song that became a standard most of this material failed to make considerable commercial waves. Of course, "Rainy Night in Georgia" was a big enough hit to overshadow the rest of the music here, but this compilation also shows how the song sat at the intersection of Benton's two styles during this period: the lush adult-oriented MOR of his sides for Reprise and the earthier Southern soul he'd cut for Cotillion. Old pro that he was, Benton could handle both aesthetics without strain, although there are times when he seems a little bit too stuffy to be truly funky on the slow-burning soul that dominates this collection. Which isn't to say he can't ride a groove -- his version of "My Way" is a wonder, a nicely churning groove that undercuts the song's pomposity; "Shoes" is the only other single to achieve this kind of gritty ease -- but he's at home with Joe South's "Don't It Make You Want to Go Home" and the pomp of "Heaven Help Us All," songs written in broad strokes so they sustain the theatricality in Benton's delivery. He also works well with country-soul, partially because a song like "She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye" exists on the spectrum between grit and gloss, but what impresses on these two discs is the elegance of Benton, a singer so skilled he could adapt to any time and setting without seeming out of place. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Soul - Released May 19, 2017 | Stax

A powerhouse soul belter and wailer, Mavis Staples doesn't have to play second fiddle to anyone, including Aretha Franklin, when it comes to pure, house-rocking, testifying authority. She's seldom gotten a complete album of quality material, but on this 1969 debut, she took half-baked material and made it memorable. ~ Ron Wynn
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Soul - Released May 19, 2017 | Stax

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Soul - Released February 20, 2017 | GRUPO CONCERTANTE TALÍA

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Soul - Released January 1, 2016 | Stax

Released in late 1970 on the heels of two chart-topping albums, Hot Buttered Soul (1969) and The Isaac Hayes Movement (also 1970), Isaac Hayes and the Bar-Kays retain their successful approach on those landmark albums for To Be Continued, another number one album. Again, the album features four songs that span far beyond traditional radio-friendly length, featuring important mood-establishing instrumental segments just as emotive and striking as Hayes' crooning. Nothing here is quite as perfect as "Walk on By," and the album feels a bit churned out, but To Be Continued no doubt has its share of highlights, the most notable being "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'." The album's most epic moment opens with light strings and horns, vamping poetically for several minutes before Hayes even utters a breath; then, once the singer delivers the song's orchestral chorus, the album hits its sentimental peak -- Hayes elevating a common standard to heavenly heights once again. Elsewhere, "Our Day Will Come" features a nice concluding instrumental segment driven by a proto-hip-hop beat that proves just how ahead of his time Hayes was during his early-'70s cycle of Enterprise albums. It's tempting to slight this album when holding it up against Hayes' best albums from this same era, but a comparison such as this is unfair. Even if Ike isn't doing anything here that he didn't do on his two preceding albums -- Hot Buttered Soul, The Isaac Hayes Movement -- and isn't quite as daring as he is on his two successive albums -- Black Moses, Shaft -- To Be Continued still topples any Hayes album that came after 1971. It didn't top the R&B album chart for 11 weeks on accident -- this is quintessential early-'70s Isaac Hayes, and that alone makes it a classic soul album. ~ Jason Birchmeier
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Soul - Released January 1, 2016 | Stax

Although this is Isaac Hayes' third long-player, he had long been a staple of the Memphis R&B scene -- primarily within the Stax coterie -- where his multiple talents included instrumentalist, arranger, and composer of some of the most beloved soul music of the '60s. Along with his primary collaborator, David Porter, Hayes was responsible for well over 200 sides -- including the genre-defining "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby," "Soul Man," "B-A-B-Y," "Hold On, I'm Comin'," and "I Had a Dream." As a solo artist however, Hayes redefined the role of the long-player with his inimitably smooth narrative style of covering classic pop and R&B tracks, many of which would spiral well over ten minutes. The Isaac Hayes Movement (1970) includes four extended cuts from several seemingly disparate sources, stylistically ranging from George Harrison's "Something" to Jerry Butler's "I Stand Accused" and even Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself." These early Hayes recordings brilliantly showcase his indomitable skills as an arranger -- as he places familiar themes into fresh contexts and perspectives. For example, his lengthy one-sided dialogue that prefaces "I Stand Accused" is halting in its candor as Hayes depicts an aching soul who longs for his best friend's fiancée. Even the most hard-hearted can't help but have sympathy pains as he unravels his sordid emotional agony and anguish. Hayes' lyrical orchestration totally reinvents the structure of "Something" -- which includes several extended instrumental sections -- incorporating equally expressive contributions from John Blair (violin). Both "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself" and the comparatively short (at under six minutes) "One Big Unhappy Family" are more traditionally arranged ballads. Hayes again tastefully incorporates both string and horn sections to augment the languid rhythm, providing contrasting textures rather than gaudy adornment. These sides offer a difference between the proverbial "Black Moses of Soul" persona that would be responsible for the aggressive no-nonsense funk of Shaft (1971) and Truck Turner (1974). ~ Lindsay Planer

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Soul in the magazine