Various Artists - Soul Hits of the 70s: Didn't It Blow Your Mind!, Vol. 1

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As soul music moved into the early '70s, it became dominated by smoother sounds and polished productions, picking up its cues from Motown, Chicago soul, and uptown soul. By the beginning of the decade, soul was fracturing in a manner similar to pop/rock, as pop-soul, funk, vocal groups, string-laden Philly soul, and sexy Memphis soul became just a few of the many different subgenres to surface. Often, the productions on these records were much more polished than '60s productions, boasting sound effects, synthesizers, electric keyboards, echoes, horn sections, acoustic guitars, and strings. It was one of the most ambitious eras in the history of soul, but it was often overlooked because only a handful of superstars -- Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, the Spinners, Sly Stone, the O'Jays, James Brown -- emerged, and they didn't dominate the charts like Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, and Smokey Robinson did just a few years back. However, there was an astonishing string of one-hit wonders and artists like the Chi-Lites who had a handful of hits. Those are the artists that are spotlighted on Rhino's Soul Hits of the '70s: Didn't It Blow Your Mind!, a wonderful 15-disc series that contains many of the greatest singles and forgotten hits from the early '70s. Vol. 1 picks up in the late '60s, just as this new strain of pop-soul was emerging. There's hippie pop-soul (the Friends of Distinction's "Grazing in the Grass"), gospel (the Edwin Hawkins Singers' "Oh Happy Day"), folk-pop (R.B. Greaves' "Take a Letter Maria"), sweet vocal groups (the Delfonics' "Didn't I [Blow Your Mind This Time]"), seductive late-night soul (Brook Benton's "Rainy Night in Georgia"), and funky pop-soul (the Honey Cone's "While You're Out Looking for Sugar?," the Glass House's "Crumbs Off the Table"), plus Eddie Holman's anguished falsetto plea "Hey There Lonely Girl" and the Chairmen of the Board's stuttering "Give Me Just a Little More Time." There isn't a weak track in this bunch, and if anything, the singles only sound better with the passing years. It's a hell of a start for a series that makes a convincing argument that the early '70s were a glorious time for soul. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

1) Grazing in the Grass - The Friends of Distinction (02:58)
2) Oh Happy Day - The Edwin Hawkins Singers (05:11)
3) Color Him Father - The Winstons (03:07)
4) While You're Out Looking for Sugar? - Honey Cone (02:33)
5) Take a Letter, Maria - R.B. Greaves (02:46)
6) Going in Circles - The Friends of Distinction (04:16)
7) Crumbs Off the Table - The Glass House (02:41)
8) Mind, Body, and Soul - Flaming Ember (03:02)
9) Hey There Lonely Girl - Eddie Holman (03:36)
10) A Rainy Night in Georgia - Brook Benton (03:52)
11) Give Me Just a Little More Time - Chairmen of the Board (02:43)
12) Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time) - The Delfonics (03:21)

Soul Hits of the 70s: Didn't It Blow Your Mind!, Vol. 1
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Soul Hits of the 70s: Didn't It Blow Your Mind!, Vol. 1 | Various Artists