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COOLER THAN ICE-Artic Records and the Rise of Philly Soul/various: When it comes to Northern Soul, who could ever get tired of all that great Chess/Brunswick/Motown stuff? And who could ever fail to be impressed with the way Chalkie and his pals find ways into the Universal and Demon vaults to spirit out acetates of records that were never even pressed over 50 years ago? However, one of the tenets of Northern Soul is finding that obscure item that no one else has so you can be hipper than everyone else. And that leads us to this six cd collection of Philly soul that pretty much has never been on cd and mostly hasn't seen the light of day in a zillion years. Before Harvard and CBS schemed to kill Stax to give rise to Philadelphia International, Arctic Records was fueled by the talents of Baker/Harris/Young, Vince Montana, Bobby Eli and Gamble/Huff. You dig what's going on here? A label started by a dj that wasn't content to just control the airwaves, he wanted to control what was on them as well. And the cats were young and hungry as cats often are once an entrepreneur with some juice comes along. In an old school Rhino worthy package with exhaustive notes by Bill Dahl that don't make your eyes glaze over, six 45 rpm singles to add to the fun and a hard cover book style package, this is mind blowing 60s soul that's new because it's new to you. With something of this scope, all of the label's A sides and B sides, punters will always find what to crab about but they are to be taken with a grain of salt because there's nothing you can't overlook with a treasury of riches like this. Why don't you head over to www.amazon.com before you get carried away with filling your gas tank, and let the ailing post office do the rest. A compete journey through the label's singles, if you don't think this will look great on your shelf next to all those Motown singles anthologies from 1960 forward, don't come around here calling yourself a Northern Soul fan. Killer stuff from the golden age of regional music.

CASWELL SISTERS/Alive in the Singing Air: The first time the Caswell sisters have recorded together, this set finds them playing to their respective strengths with pianist Fred Hersch tying it all together. Unlike a lot of sibling acts, the pairing here is violin and voice, not the easiest thing to bring home as a duo but Hersch rounds up some pals that are up to the task of fleshing out the sound and what we wind up with here is an evening with the anti-Callaways. Playing almost like a show, this is a fine way to have an evening out without taking off your headphones. Well done.

Volume 37/Number 117
February 26, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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