Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sweet Soul Music

The Sweet Soul Music series has proven a surprising local favorite in the library's cd collection. These cds from the premier reissue label Bear Family Records, based in Germany, collect the original recordings that defined this classic American music style. Mixing the well known (Mary Wells, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye) with the more obscure but equally significant (Don Covay, Slim Harpo, The Elgins) these beautifully annotated and illustrated compilations tell the story of the performers and producers who fused Southern Gospel, R&B, and even Country music into what came to be known as Soul. The library owns volumes from the set that represent each year from 1963 through 1969. Also of interest is the three-cd set Take Me To The River: A Southern Soul Story, 1961-1977. This collection is somewhat parallel in purpose to the Sweet Soul Music series, but sticks to recordings made in the South. It, too, is a mix of the hits and commercial misses that are now judged to have been the most definitive recordings in the history of Soul. In Europe, where American Blues, Country, Jazz, and Soul are still greatly admired, this set won MOJO magazine's Best Compilation Award for 2009. A national treasure.

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