Now here’s a boxed set that’s sure to get fans of old-school soul/R&B salivating. “Groove & Grind: Rare Soul 1963-1973” collects 112 obscure soul tunes over four meticulously curated CDs. Compiled by James Austin, the set intentionally contains no hits and most of the performers, despite their estimable musical gifts, have been relegated to mere footnotes in the annals of popular music.
Disc 1, the best of the sprawling set, is dedicated to urban soul. It features 27 tunes that emanated from New York, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles during this fertile period. Among the highlights are “I’m Hip to You” by The Jelly Beans, “They’re Laughing at Me” by Gail Anderson, “Suffer” by Cookie Jackson, “Searchin’ for Love” by Tommy Hunt and “Love That Guy” by Jackie Owens. Among the higher profile artists delivering tunes on Disc 1 are Ike &Tina Turner (“You Can’t Miss Noting That You Never Had”) and Betty LaVette (“Almost”).
Disc 2 features the silky smooth vocal groups who followed in the footsteps of The Temptations and The Four Tops. Keepers on the 28-track set include “I Don’t Love You No More” by The Exsaveyons, “Peace of Mind” by The Vontastics, “You’re a Gas With Your Trash” by The Four Pennies” and “Got to Be Your Lover” by The Profiles.
Disc 3 includes 28 tunes focusing on emotion-fueled Southern soul. Among the many highlights here are “Now You’ve Got the Upper Hand” by Candi Staton, “I Can’t Stop Crying” by Sam Hutchins, “A Broken Hearted Clown” by Nat Hall with The Mellow 3, “I Don’t Want to Hurt Nobody” by Ruby Winters and “Everybody Makes a Mistake Sometimes” by Roy Arlington.
Disc 4 brings the funk but, surprisingly, is the least effective part of “Groove & Grind.” Keepers on the 29-track disc include “The Soul Stroke (Can You Handle It)” by King Earnest, “The Bushman” by The Tenth Dymentions, “Original Funky Bell Bottoms” by Ironing Board Sam, “Ratty Ratty” by Maskmen & The Agents and “The Poo Poo Man” by Chet “Poison” Ivey & His Fabulous Avengers.
All told, “Groove & Grind: Rare Soul 1963-1973” offers up more than five hours of mostly excellent music. In addition, the hardcover set features extensive liner notes and plenty of rare photos from the era. This one’s a winner, folks. (Jeffrey Sisk)