VARIOUS: Northern Soul’s Classiest Rarities Volume 3 (Label: Kent)

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VARIOUS: Northern Soul's Classiest Rarities Volume 3

This is (obviously) the third in Kent’s wonderful ‘Northern Soul’s Classiest Rarities’ series and as with volumes 1 and 2 no one could take issue with the ‘classiest’ adjective or the fact that the cuts are all ‘rarities’ ( though, remember, ‘rarity’ doesn’t always mean quality). I would, though, take issue with describing all the music here as ‘Northern Soul’. Too many people, you see, have a stereotypical Northern sound stuck in their consciousness and if they don’t dig that particular flavour they’ll surely give this album a wide berth simply because of it’s titling. If they do, unfortunately, they’ll miss out on some truly fabulous, real soul music. True, this generous 24 tracker does have plenty that fits the typical Northern template. Look no further than the opener – Larry Atkins’ ‘Ain’t That Love Enough’. Fast as you like, the cut has a special eerie emptiness, cooing femme chorus, tinkling vibes and a pumping bass line that’s sure to fill floors. Ty Karim’s ‘You Really Made It Good To Me’, the Flowers’ ‘Long Boots’ and several others fit the same bill, but elsewhere there are tremendous floaters, searing ballads and lots of true soul oddities that will have appeal way beyond the Northern fraternity. The Quotation’s ‘I Don’t Have To Worry’, for instance, is a superb harmony ensemble piece, while Harvey and the Seven Sounds’ ‘Glamour Girl’ rivals anything in the early Impressions’ catalogue. For those who like oddities, Tommy Smiley does an incredible Levi Stubbs takeoff on ‘I Won’t Cry’, ZZ Hill offers a soul cover of Tim Hardin’s folksy ‘Don’t Make Promises’ while offerings from Don and Ron, and the Soul Brothers are rustic New Orleans roustabouts. Best cuts though are the ballads and floaters. Al McCarther’s ‘His True Love For You’ is a lovely city sound; Ann Hodges’ ‘You’re Welcome’ is plaintiveness personified; Eddie and Ernie’s ‘Indication’ is a deep ballad; and Brooks O’Dell’s ‘The Heartless One’ will bring a smile to all Chicago aficionados. That just leaves the juiciest cherry – Paul Smith’s ‘I’ll Run’. This one’s another slice of Chicago magic that calls to mind the best of the Radiants and it’s worth serious investigation by any soul collector – which brings me back to where I came in. That one, and many of the cuts here are just wonderful soul artefacts, never mind ‘Northern’ or whatever other tag compilers might want to hang on them.
(BB) 4/5