Various Sensacional Soul

It’s no great surprise that there should be a compilation of Spanish soul music; recent years have seen an explosion of soul collections from even more unlikely locales from Thailand to Turkey. The common theme among all: the youth culture of the late ’60s, for so long associated with the lateral shifts in the pop cultures of Western Europe and California is now seen as a many-splendoured demographic phenomenon throughout the world. Sensacional Soul is a collection of rollicking soulful tunes. If it isn’t always bedrock soul, it’s at least a fun selection of garage-y and exuberant two-minute miracles. The popularity of soul in Spain, according to the liner notes, was at least partially a response to the repressive dictatorial regime of General Francisco Franco. The groups represented are primarily Spanish, but also some ex-pat North and South Americans show up. Despite the time span of the comp, from 1965to ’75, the sound is pretty consistently mid-’60s Northern soul with liberal dashes of psychedelia. The best cuts are instrumentals — Manuel Gas’ version of Spencer Davis Group’s "I’m A Man” and Los Pekeniques’ "Tabasco.” But there are also hilarious cuts that could bring an entire dance floor to laughter: "Disc Man” by Koldo is a blatant and awkward plea to a DJ, and prolific arranger Augusto Alguero’s "Laugh Laugh” is a Hullaballoo-worthy chestnut with a snappy spoken prologue. This comp is far from essential but there are a good dozen tracks that are very solid to outright highlights. (Vampisoul)