Get Low Down

Huge compilations of hardly-known soul and funk, usually based around specific regions, long defunct labels, or hard-to-find studios, are becoming increasingly prevalent.  Mainly, this is great, giving us easy access to thousands of songs that often deserve to be as well-known as more famous R&B, but for whatever reason didn’t make it through to the pop market and national radio in the 60s and 70s.  However, the amount of old-but-new material now available can also be slightly stress-inducing.  The breadth and depth of these compilations is often staggering; the resulting drive to discover the new material can derail other activities for days at a time.

Get Low Down!: The Soul Of New Orleans, ’65 – ’67 is one of these daunting compilations, containing over 50 soul tracks.  In particular, Earl King is excellent as he works over an impeccable blues pattern in “You’ll Remember Me,” supported by a thick horn section, fighting with a guitar for the song’s lead.  Better still is one of the songs from Betty Harris.  Harris has a voice capable of either screaming to the point of cracking or cooing seductively, and she uses both of these sides as she blasts through “Nearer To You.” The rhythm guitar plays heavy punctuation on each downbeat.  Harris has a couple backing vocalists singing “nearer” and “oooh,” but it is the organ that provides the best backup, conveying images of a melancholy Harris trying to sidle closer to her aloof romantic partner.

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