Various Soul Spectrum Volume II

The unearthing of rare soul gems on the Barely Breaking Even label by modest crate-digging Scottish vinyl stalwart the Legendary Keb Darge continues with this excellent release. According to Darge, this particular collection largely consists of mid- and up-tempo ‘70s soul that fell through the cracks on their initial release. Consequently the tracks aren’t as old as on previous compilations and even occasionally betray a disco influence. There seems to be a conscious effort to be less obscure here, as the focus seems to be skewed toward irresistibly danceable tracks. Broomfield Corporate Jam’s “Doin’ It Our Way” and Jewel’s “Paradise” are instant standouts among the 20 assembled here, but the real find is Willie Wright’s “Right On For Darkness.” Written by the late, great Curtis Mayfield, Wright applies a Gil Scott Heron style reading, propelled by raw and dusty instrumentation. The heavy influence of these records on the later output of the UK soul scene is especially apparent and Darge’s insightful liner notes are an added bonus, providing interesting snippets of information about the Northern soul scene and the artists behind these criminally ignored selections. (Barely Breaking Even)