Looking for some decent Christmas stocking fillers for the soul lover in your life? Well, look no further than the WARNER ORIGINAL ALBUM series. It’s an album series that’s been around for a few years now and you’ll remember that in each set you get five original CD albums by a particular artist – packaged and displayed just like the vinyl long players with the original cover art work. There are no inserts or liner notes – just the music and with the featured artists that’s all you’ll ever need.

The latest batch of releases features lots of classic and unmissable soul… none more so than a second selection of Otis Redding long players. This new Redding selection offers a couple of live albums – ‘Live In Europe’ and ‘In Person At The Whisky A Go Go’ along with ‘Love Man’, ‘Tell The Truth’ and ‘The Dock Of The Bay’. The last three, of course and sadly, were posthumous releases, put out after the King of Soul’s tragic death in December 1967. Many posthumous albums which labels release after an artist’s death are cobbled together affairs – hurriedly released to cash in on the sad news. In the case of ‘In Person At The Whisky A Go-Go’, ‘Love Man’ and the monumental ‘The Dock Of The Bay’ that’s not the case. All three are fresh, vivid, exciting testimonies to the massive soul talent that was Otis Redding – incredibly only 26 at the time of his death.

gSoul of a different kind’s on the menu of another unmissable ‘Original Album Series’ set…. this one offers five more long players from George Benson. The albums in this collection are ‘In Flight’, ‘Livin’ Inside Your Love’, ‘In Your Eyes’, ’20/20′ and ‘Twice The Love’. The first two were produced by Tony Lipuma and follow the template of the mould breaking ‘Breezin”, that’s to say a great mix of jazz instrumentals and soul vocals. ‘In Your Eyes’ was helmed by Arif Mardin and contains a number of songs that were become Benson classics – things like ‘Lady Love Me’ and the smooth ‘In Your Eyes’. That last one seemed to point the way towards the mellower ’20/20′ and ‘Twice The Love’- though both those albums have their jazzy and soulful moments too.


rFans of Randy Crawford will be delighted that at last she too has become the focus of an ‘Original Album Series’ box set. The five LPs in her collection are ‘Everything Must Change’, ‘Miss Randy Crawford’, ‘Raw Silk’, ‘Now We May Begin’ and ‘Secret Combination’. Together they show the evolution of a mighty soul talent who, strangely maybe, became more revered in the UK than in the States. ‘Now We May Begin’- a collaboration with the Crusaders – remains of soul’s greatest albums of all time but presented chronologically like this its context becomes much clearer.

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