Goldwax Northern Soul

Goldwax Northern Soul


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The concept driving this 24-track compilation might seem at a glance to be a bit screwy, as the Memphis-based Goldwax label is most esteemed by collectors for deep southern soul, not the kind of "northern soul" that's such a huge cult in the U.K. Plus, even some of the collectors to which this anthology is geared might get a little annoyed to find that 11 of the cuts have been previously issued on other CDs on the same label (Kent). But for the many aficionados of this sort of music, it makes more sense than it might at first appear, since Goldwax -- like many prolific 1960s soul labels -- covered a variety of styles, not just the one for which it's most known. In Goldwax's case, that did include, in addition to the wrenching ballads of James Carr that were their most famous releases, a fair number of lighter and more uptempo tunes by numerous artists. That even goes for Carr himself, who's represented by three tracks on this compilation, which also has appearances by the two other most significant contributors to the Goldwax discography, Spencer Wiggins and the Ovations. But on a pure musical level it's less distinctive than Goldwax's deep soul sides, as like many a Northern soul comp it sounds quite derivative in many places, whether of Motown (on numerous selections here, with George & Greer's "To Me It's Storming" even having the nerve to replicate the famous opening riff of the Temptations' "My Girl"), Otis Redding (Carr's "Coming Back to Me Baby"), or the Impressions (whom Phillip & the Faithfuls mimic quite, um, faithfully). Actually some of the better cuts here deviate a bit from the expected Northern soul groove into something slower and more contemplative, whether it's the Lyrics' "So Hard to Get Along" (with more Impressions influence); the same group's Philly soul-flavored "Now Girl"; Wiggins' haunting "Lonely Man"; or Barbara Perry's strutting bluesy "You Ain't Woman Enough." One of the more interesting oddities is an almost unrecognizably different cover of the Animals' "It's My Life" by Timmy Thomas, five years before his smash "Why Can't We Live Together."

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