Martin Freeman and Eddie Piller Present ‘Soul On The Corner’
Acid Jazz Records
It’s easy to be a bit cynical about celebrity-endorsed compilations and – for that matter – non-soundtracking compilations altogether. And this ticks both boxes! But this is totally fantastic and there’s real love and care here, and a track-record too…
Eddie Piller is a DJ and radio host, also the owner of the Acid Jazz Records label – he knows this stuff (and a lot of music besides) inside out. Martin Freeman is an actor, of course. But he’s also a big-time music fan, DJ, record collector – and Piller invited Freeman on to the airwaves to host a jazz show…
From there the pair released a winning jazz compilation, the sort that slots in nicely to collections already brimming with great bebop, swing and ‘cool’ things as well as being a placeholder to neophytes about to now head out on a journey of discovery.
The same is true with this double album set that explores soul – an easier topic, granted. Who doesn’t love soul music? Who isn’t open to hearing at least some, right? But the big, ‘easy’ topics are often hard to get really right and this succeeds with every single cut.
Mixing well-known and obvious names (Donny Hathaway, Curtis Mayfield, Earth, Wind & Fire) with those ones you forget about or that slip through the cracks when it’s time to name the true greats even though they belong in the upper echelon (Jerry Butler, Brook Benton, Betty Wright), this hits sweet spots often and regularly. A bit of Georgie Fame here, some Bobby Dukes there. Barbara Acklin and Syreeta. Yes, you can make your own mixtapes and playlists so easily in this day and age – but do you remember to start your ones off with Bobby Womack’s How Could You Break My Heart? Until you do – and there’s a case to be made that this could start any and all compilations – you would be wise to check out what’s going on here.
Willie Hutch’s Lucky To Be Loved By You is a gem, Tower of Power’s Don’t Change Horses (In The Middle Of A Stream) is a more subdued piece of sly funk and soul (by their standards) and it’s the inclusion of curio-masterpieces like The Reverend TL Barrett And The Youth For Christ Choir’s Like A Ship (Without A Sail) that really makes this a must-have set of soul tunes. Pastor Barrett was by all accounts a bad man – but he made one of the all-time great songs and that might set your woke-switch to twitch and that’s possibly fair enough if it does – but to simply hear that organ-ground gem and Brook Benton’s classy Shoes too…well, you know, this is what great mix-making is all about. I’ve arrived a bit late to this – it’s a year old already – but much of the music on here has been ready and waiting, or hiding in plain sight for a lot longer than that.
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