Rhythm & Views 

Various Artists

The Numero Group reissue label knocks it out of the park again with another in their Eccentric Soul series, The Deep City Label. The focus of this historical largesse, Deep City Records, was a Miami-based label that released a collection of killer sides (all on 7-inch single except for one LP) in the mid- to late-1960s. With deep personal and musical connections to Florida A&M University's famous marching band, the Incomparable Marching 100, they issued a series of highly polished and beautifully arranged sides that are now finally seeing the reissue light of day.

The Deep City sound is big and broad, and perfectly cast in the opening track, "Am I a Good Man," by Them Two, an epic track with sweeping orchestration. The Moovers' massive, charging "Darling I'll Go" has to be heard to be believed. Other tracks lean more toward the funky Memphis soul sound (Johnny K. Killen and The Dynamites' "I Don't Need Help") or the snappy Motown backbeat (Freda Gray and The Rocketeers' "Stay Away From My Johnny").

Deep City was blessed with two standout female singers, the golden-voiced Helene Smith and the incredibly precious dynamo Betty Wright. Their collective seven tracks are highlights, especially Wright's explosive ballad "Paralyzed" and Smith's tearjerker "Pain in My Heart." Look elsewhere, and you will find one Clarence Reid, a one-man soul-factory whose songs pepper the collection, cut several years before he morphed into the XXX-rated proto-rapper Blowfly. Anyone looking for deep soul will find it here.

More by Carl Hanni


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