Local Wire

Various Artists

A favorite talking point of media scribes over the past year has been the supposed reconfiguration of the record industry as a result of the rise of MP3 blogs. The idea is that the snatch-and-grab mentality of these sites has nullified the physical record, lionizing immediacy and brevity and aiding in the so-called disposability trend. But as it turns out, to paraphrase an old saw, all these curators really want to do is produce. The first to shift from ephemeral to tangible is Oliver Wang of the blog Soul Sides. Those familiar with Wang's site will already have an inkling of what to expect from Soul Sides: Volume 1. The album blows the dust off 14 rare and thoroughly unimpeachable soul tracks big on in-the-pocket grooves and clattering breaks. It seems lazy to breezily claim that all of Wang's picks are stellar, but that is, in fact, the truth. Linda Lyndell's "What a Man" is as brash and brassy as the Salt-N-Pepa song it inspired, and Erma Franklin's slow-burn read on "Piece of My Heart," buttressed by easy-rolling bass and twinkling piano, handily bests the inescapable Janis Joplin version. Wang's encyclopedic knowledge is the comp's chief selling point -- his ability to track down and spotlight chestnuts like Weldon Irvine's quiet storm masterpiece "Morning Sunrise" and Ann Sexton's fiery "You're Gonna Miss Me" is what sets Soul Sides apart.
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J. Edward Keyes