Local Wire

Various Artists

There's certainly no shortage of sex in pop music. Hyperactive adolescents who, once upon a time, had to squint to make sense of a scrambled Playboy Channel can now find fulfillment from the first 30 seconds of a Nelly video. What they can't get, though, is the technique.

Enter Chicago Soul, an all-killer cross-section of randy Northwestern soul circa 1968. Ribald guitar lines tug restlessly at the songs' edges, and expressive solos turn entries like Phil Upchurch's "The Way I Feel" into well-warmed come-ons. It may be natural to expect randy riffing from Howlin' Wolf's glandular masterpiece "Evil," but to find such long licks at the center of an Etta James song ("You Got It") is like having a video store rent you Sinderella by accident. Chicago Soul grinds devilishly forward, driven by this feeling of uncorked sexuality, and even a mournful number like the Soul Stirrers' majestic "Why Am I Treated So Bad" sounds like it's being cooed into the ear of a partner during the course of a very particular kind of badness. Chicago Soul's horny horns and heated howling breed more raw lust than a colony of MTV Beach Houses.

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J. Edward Keyes