Various Artists (Hotlanta/ GMG)

Sometimes the good guys don’t win – and neither do the ladies. These collections of marvellous soul from the Hotlanta and related labels like Moonsong and Clintone, may not contain many hits, but the standard of the music and the singing certainly deserved a different fate. These releases are meant to show the variety of soul covered by these labels, from cool group harmonising through modern dancers to the deepest of Southern ballads. But the emphasis is firmly on vocal quality since to so many of us it’s the singer’s ability to convey emotion and feeling to a lyric that soul music is all about. Many of the issued numbers here have stood the test of time extremely well, and you can only wonder that some of the unreleased masters have remained unheard till today.

Perhaps the most obvious thread that runs through this CD is the genius of SAM DEES. His name appears as writer or producer, or both, on a large proportion of the tracks here. His unique abilities have been celebrated on two Kent CDs over the past year; but in addition to enjoying one more of his own vocals, this compilation allows plenty of opportunity to witness his backroom activities as well. 

Most of these tracks have never been available since the 70s – and some of course have never appeared before at all. But for those who believe that soul’s Golden Age ended in the 60s, this is further proof that if you dig just a little bit deeper than the charts there were still many great vocalists still performing in the sanctified style we all love so much. Certainly in the South the grittiness and passion of the vocalists remained firmly intact – albeit surrounded by strings now as often as a horn section.

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