Rhythm & Views

Various Artists

The second volume in the Soul Sides reissues series--a collaboration between Zealous Records and vintage soul archivist Oliver Wang's Soul-Sides.com blog--features 14 immaculately chosen cover songs. Culled from who knows how many tracks, they run the gamut from instrumental funk and soulful ska to tear-jerking ballads and straight-up, big-hearted R&B.

Appropriately, the tracks lean heavily toward artists who stamp the material with their own sense of style and personality. West Coast Revival funkify Dave Mason's "Feelin' Alright" into a completely new shape. Al Green delivers a sweetly swinging, bluesy version of the Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and gets covered himself by Marcia Griffiths via a reggae interpretation of "Here I Am."

Esther Phillips--who knew a few things about her subject--nails a world-weary take on Gil Scott-Heron's junkie ballad "Home Is Where the Hatred Is." Spanky Wilson's version of Bill Withers' "Kissing My Love" and Cold Grits' instrumental take on the Isley Brothers' "It's Your Thing" are both coolly, methodically funky. The Panamanian combo Los Mozambiques' delightful oddity "Viva Tirado" mixes up El Chicano's version with a bit of George Gershwin and Frankie Valli to arrive at something new under the sun. Even better is El Michels Affair's cinematic, slinky instrumental version of Burt Bacharach's "Walk on By."

Just in time for summer, Soul Sides, Volume Two comes ready-made as a party-starting, rocking-soul mix CD.

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