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Various Artists - Soul Gospel
The links between gospel music and soul are patently obvious, with many of soul's performance standards and stars having a direct connection to the church. Compilation kings Soul Jazz drive this point home with Soul Gospel, which aims to fuse the two genres into a seemless whole over the course of two discs. 

Volume One features heavy hitters like Aretha Franklin, Staple Singers, Kim Weston and the Sweet Inspirations.  This is to be expected as their gospel credentials are indisputable.  It is more surprising to see the likes of Bobby "Blue" Bland offering a slice of Chicago soul in "Let's Get Together" and Della Reese's powerful version of the protest anthem "Compared To What."  Best of all are two sought-after obscurities, the northern soul gem "I Can't Go On Without  You" by Dorothy Morrison and Jessy Dixon's proto-disco "Love Lifted Me."  These alone make a strong case for purchase.

But Volume 2 is even better, offering more consistency and compelling grooves.  With a greater emphasis on overtly spiritual material, this edition also increases the funk quotient by several notches, with the potent "Since I've Been Born Again," "You'd Better Get A Move On," and monster blowout "Let Him Come In" worthy of inclusion on a deep funk collection.  There are also covers of Stevie Wonder's "Have A Talk With God" and "It's Your Thing" by Myrna Summers and the Marion Gaines Singers, respectively. Crate-diggers will find unexpected nuggets in Loleatta Holloway's original version of the disco favorite "Casanova" and Mel and Kim's "Keep The Faith," which was sampled by De La Soul.   Finally, there is ample proof of the connection between dance and spiritual celebration, with several uptempo numbers that predate the current era of praise music typified by Kirk Franklin and Tye Tribbett.  New York Community Choir's "I'll Keep A Light On In My Window" is already an established club classic, but there are also "Keep Trying" by Mildred Clark and the Trammps-esque "Where Will It End" from the Sensational Cymbals.  

These excellent compilations are among the best work that the venerable label has done to date and are sure to satisfy your body and spirit.   

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