VARIOUS ARTISTS: ‘Dedicated To Soul’ (Label: Expansion)

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VARIOUS ARTISTS: 'Dedicated To Soul'

As the booklet to this CD reveals, compiler and former B&S scribe, David Nathan, may have sported some dodgy hair-dos back in the ’70s but his musical taste has always been impeccable and far from hair-raising. This enjoyable new collection focuses mainly on the ’70s and early ’80s and features some of soul’s big hitters (Aretha, Dionne and Gladys to name three) alongside more esoteric acts like the vocal groups Revelation, Dynamic Superiors, Special Delivery and The Reflections. In fact, the CD opens with four tracks from these groups. Revelation, a quartet including Benny Diggs and Phillip Ballou in its ranks, is largely forgotten by all but the cognoscenti – their superlative track, ‘Get Ready For This,’ deserves to be remembered, though. Motown quintet, Dynamic Superiors, also impress with the Ashford & Simpson penned ‘Face The Music’ while New York’s The Reflections, offer more gospel-infused harmonies on ‘Three Steps From True Love.’ A real find is ‘The Wind,’ a deliciously dreamy ballad which is a previously unissued Aretha Franklin outtake from her Luther-helmed 1983 Arista LP, ‘Get It Right.’ In fact, Nathan has plundered the Arista archives for several unreleased buried treasures for this collection: there’s Dionne Warwick’s version of Roberta Flack’s ‘Only Heaven Can Wait For Love’; Angela Bofill’s ‘All The Reasons Why’ and ‘Love & Marriage’; and ‘I’m Not Asking You To Stay,’ a Thom Bell-produced outtake from Phyllis Hyman’s 1983 ‘Goddess Of Love’ album. Add to this a brace of cuts from Trina Broussard’s cancelled So So Def LP, ‘Inside My Love’ (including the lovely ‘Sailing’), and great tunes from Martha Reeves (the gospel-flavoured ‘Love Strong Enough To Move Mountains’), Gladys Knight & The Pips (‘Hold On’ from the Curtis Mayfield-penned ‘Claudine’ soundtrack) and Mtume (‘Closer To The End’) and you’ve undoubtedly got an album that will bring most soul connoisseurs to a state of orgasm. The title says it all really.
(CW) 4/5