Shrine: The Rarest Soul Label Ever, Vol. 2

Shrine: The Rarest Soul Label Ever, Vol. 2

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Overview

In conjunction with the first volume of Kent's overview of the Shrine label, this rounds up all the remaining releases by this small mid-1960s Washington, DC-based soul record company, adding five previously unreleased tracks as well. Like the first volume (simply titled Shrine: The Rarest Soul Label Ever), it has well-produced, upbeat (usually), yet rather generic mid-1960s period soul music, with none of the performers being names of any notoriety. Motown, Curtis Mayfield, and New York uptown soul are ably echoed at various points, without much distinction or originality being thrown into the mix. This isn't to sneeze at a compilation that brings together some incredibly rare sides that are avidly sought by serious soul collectors, but it's a caution that it's not going to bowl over non-specialists. For those who like hearing enjoyable knockoffs of other formulas, there's plenty on order here, well-annotated as is Kent's wont. The DC Blossoms' "Hey Boy" sounds much like Motown's more energetic girl groups, and Bobby Reed's previously unreleased "Caldonia Brown" is in the style of the mid-1960s Impressions. In fact there are enough nods to famous harmony groups that it sometimes feel like a gig where the Temptations, the Impressions, and the Miracles had to cancel and the local promoter had to come up with the best similar-sounding substitutes. Some of the source material was so scarce that a few tracks had to be dubbed from the best available discs, but the sound quality is pretty good, and not too bad even on the ones when it's apparent the original tapes were unavailable.

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