Various Artists - The Sisters Of Soul

In the high street music stores there are many collections of female soul singers with titles similar to "The Sisters Of Soul". What makes this one different is that it is compiled by David Nathan, aka the British Ambassador of Soul who for many years was 'Blues And Soul' magazine correspondent in America. So what you get is a die-hard soul fans selection of his favourite tracks, ,albeit restricted by what is available through licensing to Sanctuary Records, rather than tried and tested chart hits.

The best known name is Aretha Franklin, whose "One Step Ahead", one of two tracks from her days with Columbia Records contradicts the received wisdom that she under achieved in the six years she spent on the label before Atlantic catapulted her to international stardom. The only other artist represented by two tracks is Thelma Jones whose classic, deeply soulful "Salty Tears" is making its CD debut.

When Lamont Dozier and the Holland Brothers fell out with Berry Gordons Motown and left to form their own Hot Wax and Invictus labels their ability to match soulful vocals to tunes that had a pop sensibility did not desert them. Their magic touch is represented by five tracks from Laura Lee, Brenda Holloway, Elouise Laws, Freda Payne with something that is not "Band Of Gold" and best of the lot, "The Honeycone" with the five minutes plus "Whose It Gonna Be" which is how a female threesome should sound.

The tracks run from the 60s when Mattie Moultrie recorded the gospel inspired "Saddest Story Ever Told" which features three different tempos through to the 80s where Carrie Lucas, manages to stay on the right side of disco with crunching synth bass. If you've never heard the alluring voice of the late Linda Jones then you are in for a treat. Anglophile PP Arnold's "Life Is But Nothing" is a sort of sixties acoustic folk-soul fusion. While Cat Miller's "Be For Real" is slinky eighties soul at it's very best. Add to those first class vocalists like Aretha's late sister Carolyn Franklin and soul legends Candi Staton and Shirley Brown and you have a first class collection. So come on Sanctuary and David Nathan lets have more of this and how about a "Brothers Of Soul" collection.

Derek McCann

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