Since becoming a star right out of high school in the late 1950s, Sonny Ozuna remains a living legend in the Texas and Latin soul scene. Compiled from highly collectible tracks released on Ozuna's independent "Key-Loc" label from 1966-1972, Mr. Brown Eyed Soul admirably digs a bit deeper than a typical greatest hits set.
The grittily elegant ballad "My Dream" the mid-tempo summertime groover "Should I Take You Home" and the landmark "Smile Now, Cry Later" are all certified "lowrider" soul standards, not only important historically but timeless musically. Lesser-known selections, such as a scorching cover of War's 1971 Black Power era protest jam "Get Down" and the charming "Give It Away" are just as compelling.
With a career spanning half-a-century, there's obviously more to the Sunny Ozuna story, and hopefully further compilations will spotlight his Spanish output. But as it stands, Mr. Brown Eyed Soul is a lovingly packaged (with liner notes by historian Ramon Hernandez) and informative introduction to an unsung legend. (Big Crown Records)