3CDs, 75 songs, and a set list that definitely lives up to the title – a collection that not only brings forth the best of Northern Soul from the glory days of the 60s, but also features lots of tracks from that time that have only been discovered in recent years too! Northern Soul isn't just a static concept on UK dancefloors – and instead has been driven by decades of record collectors and DJs with an ever-shifting ear for a groove – one that's lead to a nicely expansive version of the music that's really continued to thrill us with collections like this.
True Audiophile: Best of Groove Note is basically a fancy name for the Super Audio CD label sampler. Groove Note Records began releasing jazz and blues recordings in 2005. They've also expanded their vision and have begun to re-release rare tracks by vintage artists and look to genre-bending vocalists in order to showcase excellent music coming from the jazz and blues traditions.
This 15-track compilation gathers the best of Chicago soul singer Tyrone Davis' Columbia recordings from 1976 to 1981. Cut after Davis made his career defining soul hits for Dakar in the '60s, he scored a few more chart toppers including the upbeat, disco era tracks "Give it Up, Turn it Loose, "This I Swear," and "Get On Up (Disco)." But it's the lush, Quiet Storm material represented exceptionally well on "In the Mood," "Lets be Closer Together" and "Close to You," (not the Carpenters tune), that finds the vocalist in his true element. This is a good introductory retrospective from this romantic soul master and the perfect companion to 20 Greatest Hits which focuses on his Dakar material.
Early Byrd: The Best of the Jazz Soul Years contains a selection of nine tracks from Donald Byrd's mid-'60s recordings, bypassing his funkier fusions of the late '60s and early '70s. These songs – including such numbers as "Slow Drag," "Jellyroll," "Mustang," "Blackjack" and "The Dude" – feature the trumpeter at his grittiest and funkiest. Fans of his early hard bop years will still find enough improvisation here to make it interesting, while latter-day fans will find enough grooves. It's a solid introduction to one of Byrd's most prolific periods.
The U.K. collection The Very Best of Michael Bolton – initially released in 2005, repackaged as a slide pack in 2007 – is a good overview of the singer's peak years, containing all the big hits except "Love Is a Wonderful Thing" (only natural, considering the lawsuit surrounding the song) in a 17-track compilation that should give most listeners all the Bolton they need.
Doug Sahm once sang, "You just can't live in Texas if you don't have a lot of soul," and, as a proud son of the Lone Star state, he seemed bent on proving that every time he stepped in front of a microphone. Whether he was playing roots rock, garage punk, blues, country, norteño, or (as was often the case) something that mixed up several of the above-mentioned ingredients, Doug Sahm always sounded like Doug Sahm – a little wild, a little loose, but always good company, and a guy with a whole lot of soul who knew a lot of musicians upon whom the same praise could be bestowed. Pulling together a single disc compilation that would make sense of the length and breadth of the artist's recording career (which spanned five decades) would be just about impossible (the licensing hassles involved with the many labels involved would probably scotch such a project anyway), but this disc, which boasts 22 songs recorded over the course of eight years, is a pretty good starter for anyone wanting to get to know Sahm's music.