The first 5 single-CD volumes of "Sweet Soul Music" came out in 2008 each with huge playing times and Bill Dahl written liner notes (1961 to 1965). 1966 to 1970 came at the end of 2009. They were themselves preceded by Bear's award-winning "Blowing The Fuse" Rhythm 'n' Blues CD compilations - 16 volumes covering 1945 to 1960. In each series the thick card spines make up a whole photograph - a live shot of Jackie Wilson from 1963 is the photo for "Soul" - a group shot of people dancing at a Saturday nightclub is the "Fuse" shot (both nice touches). Which brings us to this sampler...
Bear Family BCD 17033 breaks down as follows (28:07 minutes):
1. Turn On Your Love Light - BOBBY BLAND (1961, Duke 344)
2. Something's Got A Hold On Me - ETTA JAMES with the RILEY HAMPTON ORCHESTRA (1962, Argo 5409)
3. Walking The Dog - RUFUS THOMAS (1963, Stax S-140)
4. Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um - MAJOR LANCE (1964, Okeh 4-7187)
5. Hold What You've Got - JOE TEX (1965, Dial 4001)
6. Stop Her On Sight (S.O.S.) - EDWIN STARR (1966, Ric-Tic RT-109)
7. Funky Broadway Part 1 - DYKE & THE BLAZERS (1967, Artco 101)
[Re-issued shortly afterwards on Original Sound Records 05-64 which charted)
8. Tighten Up Part 1 - ARCHIE BELL & THE DRELLS (1968, Atlantic 2478)
9. Snatching It Back - CLARENCE CARTER (1969, Atlantic 2605)
10. Express Yourself - CHARLES WRIGHT AND THE WATTS 103rd STREET RHYTHM BAND (1970, Warner Bros. 7417)
Sporting Lee Dorsey on the cover grinning at you with his pistol of love, there's one track from each year and a photo-adorned page given to each song. A let down (if you could call it that) is that the 15-page booklet inside the gatefold card digipak, although nice, doesn't give you the full impact of the actual compilations.
What do I mean by this? How about these - 80, 72, 80, 88, 96, 88, 96, 96, 92 and 76 are the number of pages in each booklet from 1961 through to 1970! Look at those numbers again - and then think about how a major label reissue would barely push 25 pages if you're lucky. Then there's the really big deal - the SOUND...
Bear Family have gotten all the ORIGINAL master tapes from each record company (good Stereo preferred over Mono) and their resident tape expert JURGEN CRASSER has mastered them with care - the sound is GLORIOUS.
And with regard to content versus sound - as a long-time collector of soul music on CD, I'll admit that I was at first put off this series because of duplications. I had at least 60 to 70% of the tracks already - so why buy them again? What I wasn't prepared for was the blistering sound quality once I bought only 1. You've not heard "Green Onions" by Booker T & The M.G.'s or "People Get Ready" by The Impressions until they've heard them on these sets - they're mind-blowing. In fact, I've played these and other overused songs to the guys in the record shop and to long-standing customers - and jaws fell promptly onto our well-worn carpet tiles...
I can't praise these beautifully prepared and stunning-sounding CD compilations enough. But if you're still unprepared to fork out for all 10 of the "Sweet Soul Music" sets (they're not cheap as imports), then invest in this as a taster.
"Look Out! We Got Soul..." is a few quid well spent, no mater what the year is.
Grammy winning stuff - and roll on 1971 to 1975...
PS: for a more detailed picture, see my reviews of all 10 volumes.